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!

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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!

Major Accomplishment

As most of you saw yesterday on Facebook, I have officially reached over 200 pounds lost from my highest weight. That was completed in about 19 1/2 months! That fact continues to astound me! I can’t get over how much that, even though I still have a long way to go, that I have my life back in so many ways!

My NP at the weight center is very happy with my progress. It was kind of funny because we kept looking at why the numbers have slowed down. She repeatedly said that she didn’t want me thinking she was harping on me, it was just that she can see that I am doing everything right so we wanted to rule out any possible issues. We pretty much came to the conclusion that the body is still trying to catch up to me. Having lost so much in the year before surgery, the body is probably still in shock and saying Hold Up Here!! That is why I am paying attention to the numbers less and less. I know how I feel, how my clothes feel, my diabetes is gone essentially, blood pressure under control, down to less than half my original prescription medications, ,etc. I could not have done this without my tool, and I still plan to continue my success!

They took some blood to make sure vitamin levels are still good, and also I finally got to discuss my sleeping issue. She wrote me a prescription for a low-dose of Ambien to try, so as soon as I can drop it off and pick it up, I will give that a shot. If I experience any of the side effects or wake up with dirty dishes in the sink that weren’t there when I went to bed, I will stop it. But hopefully this will help me sleep throughout the night!

I don’t go back to the weight center until October 9, and it seems crazy that it will then be 9 months post op! This year has really flown by!

Elsewhere, I have not been back to the gym since Tuesday, as my back is better but still not great. Yesterday, after finally getting home, I had to take a pain pill. It seems pretty good today, but I wanted to be safe and give it one more day to relax. As long as I am up to it tomorrow, I will return and do both cardio and strength training, but at an appropriate pace. Again, I am not giving up, just listening to my body. I hate when things like this happen, because I am really enjoying trying different things at the gym, and if you don’t work out, you don’t know that feeling of being wiped out and totally energized at the same time!

My quest for a new place to live continues, with little progress, but a few epiphanies. I realized that I should not be limited to locations due to transportation, because the most important thing is to have rides for medical appointments, and insurance transportation should take care of that no matter where I am. And, if I am in a better location closer to shopping and a gym, my other transportation costs won’t be so high as they are now. Also, I am trying to get out of Section 8 housing and looking for strictly income-based leases. Here, I am penalized for trying to earn and save money. Just doing my work-at-home part time job for under 10 hours a week, they raised my rent over $100 a month, and this place is not worth that much. Before that, I was just thinking about looking for a part-time job outside of the home, maybe working 20 hours a week or so somewhere, as my confidence is getting so much better. But if I did that, all that money would go to rent. The next few months here are going to be pretty tight for me. I found a couple options, but not a lot yet, so if anyone has any leads, please let me know. I would love to be in a semi-central location like Livonia, Farmington, etc, but really anywhere north or west of River Rouge would be an improvement LOL!

I think there were other things that I wanted to discuss this morning, but they have escaped my mind at this time, so I will bring this to a close. Your support and encouragement still amaze me, I love you all so much!

Some Updates

I realized its been a few weeks since my last entry, and that is a good and a bad thing. Not too much relating to my journey has happened, positive or negative. I just keep plugging away, and not paying attention to the numbers on the scale but rather all the things I can do now that were not possible less than a year ago.

Most of you that follow me on Facebook have seen that I have been pretty successful at adding new strength and cardio exercises at the gym. I am loving the new variety, and my confidence at trying new machines that seemed intimidating or foreign. Just in the last couple weeks, I have tried the arc trainer, the rowing machine, and the regular exercise bike, along with adding in three leg machines. The arms are going well, with the exception of the bicep curls. For some reason, those just seem to kill my arms, especially my left one. This may be just me, or it may be due to a trait that the Martino men have where we can not fully straighten out our arms. I may try the machine another time or two, and then if I still am feeling too much pain I will discontinue it and perhaps find a replacement.

Meals and eating have gone well, and I treated myself last week by purchasing an air fryer that I found on sale for a great price. I am excited to try it. I think tomorrow night I am going to make chicken breast tenders and brussel sprouts in it! If it works, I will post a picture of the finished products! For those unfamiliar with them, air fryers are like mini convection ovens where you cook or “fry” all sorts of things with no or very little oil, so it is a lot healthier for you. With my oven not working that great, this will be nice to have some crispy food again!

To get a little down on myself, there is one issue that is causing both physical and mental trouble. Below the extra skin of my stomach apron is a bulge between my stomach and inside left leg. This area has been around for quite some time, and is most likely the source of my lymphedema. However, with my weight loss and ever-shifting body shape, the bulge is more pronounced than ever. I can only wear certain pairs of shorts out in public now because it sometimes comes through the legs of them when I sit down. The only real long pants I have for everyday wear are sweats, which I do wear every time at the gym now, but are not great during these summer months. I have a couple inexpensive pairs of lightweight active wear pants on order from Walmart and should get them next week. The physical trait is not only a burden for getting around in certain situations, I have become so self-conscious about it and just catching a glimpse of it makes me want to cry. Unfortunately, this is part of what I will have to wait to have removed surgically until I have been at goal weight for about six months, so I am guessing I will have to deal with it for at least another year. I’ll take flabby arms and thighs any time, I just can’t wait to get rid of this problem. It’s crazy how large and heavy it is!

This Monday I go for my next round of eye injections for the swelling, and then the following Monday I see my NP and psychologist at the weight center. There I will definitely inquire about a prescription to help me sleep. Most nights I am still averaging only about 4-5 hours, and that is usually broken up into segments. Brightness, temperature, etc, do not seem to make a difference. I have tried so many natural remedies that I think it is time for the strong stuff, at least on a temporary basis.

I think that is about it for now. I apologize for not writing sooner. I love you all, and your continued support and encourage still amaze me every day!

Diet & Exercise Appointments

Wednesday this past week I visited with the dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Weight Center. Both visits went fairly well.

Jessica, the dietitian, went over all my medications, fluid intake, diet, and everything in between. Interestingly enough, I discovered I had been taking half of the recommended amount of calcium citrate, but because the kidney stone was most likely caused by too much calcium, she said to keep doing what I have been doing. She did confirm that I can now try things such as bread, brown rice, and pasta, as long as they are whole grain and I eat my protein and vegetables first. I am going to start out slow, but it will be nice to incorporate some more variety into my life.

Truth be told, the visit with exercise physiologist Lori was more interesting to me this time. It was nice to hear that I am making the right kind of progress, even with my setback with the kidney stone. She likes that I am easing into new things and not pushing myself as much. She thinks that my plan to do about an hour at the gym 4-5 times a week is good instead of the 90 or so minutes I was doing before. I did find out that I was doing exercises in the wrong order. I should be doing some kind of cardio warm-up before doing the strength training, something to get my muscles and joints moving. So that is why today I did the treadmill, then arm machines, then the recumbent bike. She also says that shorter times on each cardio machine will make it more diverse and allow me to play with things like speed and resistance more often. She likes that I am working on things like incline and going hands-free on the treadmill as well, working them in a little at a time rather than during the whole routine. I have to say today I went hands-free for several shorter periods, and I was a little sore, but nothing like I was the last time where I could not bend over for 48 hours afterwards!

We also discussed adding in leg exercises, and so next time I am at the gym I am going to try those along with some cardio. She recommended starting with the leg press first a couple times to see how I like it, and then slowly add in leg curls and leg extensions. She said to add one at a time so that if something doesn’t work for me, I know which one it is. We talked about other machines as well, but those are designed to concentrate on specific areas of the legs, so she said let’s master these first and then get more specific if we need to.

I am also going to add the rowing machine into my cardio rotation soon, so that I have three different exercises to choose from and don’t have to do the same thing every time. And, I will also try the Planet Fitness 30-minute express workout soon as well, as that has a little bit of everything and should be low-impact enough to not hurt myself on any machine. Lori also told me that I can do chair squats if I have a day that I don’t feel like going to the gym, or just want to get a little something in at home. Once my whole apartment mess is resolved I will get into those.

Just like my surgeon, I am blessed to have a team of Jessica and Lori that celebrate all of the victories and benefits I have achieved apart from the scale. It is so nice to have such great support. I won’t see these two for three whole months (unless any issues arise), and it will feel strange not seeing them for that long, but that also shows that I am getting better and stronger in my journey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. Nothing exciting here except laundry tomorrow LOL! I love you all!