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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

                  Good Changes Revisited

So let me finally wind this long story down, lol!  I spent 13 days in the hospital recovering from the whole thing.  And for the last 15 years my health has been going downhill.  I was put on blood thinners after the embolism, I started having problems with my blood pressure and went on medication for that.  I just never felt well and began to deal with a lot of depression.  Then a couple of years later I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which explained the lack of energy and the constant pain I was dealing with.  I was already on some meds for diabetes and as I wandered through this world of pain and depression I ate and I gained and I ate and I gained and everything became worse.  Then the docs determined that I needed oxygen so that added another level to the mix.  Having to wear oxygen is the pits.  It is like always being on a leash, your nose gets sore, you get deep, ugly lines in your face and it drives you crazy causing dryness and tickling in your nose.  Then my diabetes got worse and worse until I was finally on 4 different meds trying to keep it controlled.  I was getting to the point where I just wanted to give up.  My quality of life was nil.  I just wanted God to take me!  I had talked to my doctor about bypass surgery but she was very negative and discouraging, saying I just had too many health problems, I wouldn't survive the surgery, etc.  Then 2 years later at my hubby's doctor visit they ended up discussing my health rather than his issue and the doc said, "I think maybe Colleen should consider bariatric surgery."  When he came home and told me that I was like, "Hello!  I talked to her about it a long time ago!"  But never mind that, I was on the phone and making my first appointment before she could change her mind!

So what are the good changes I have been alluding too these last few days!  I have mentioned some of them in previous posts but I am going to list them all here.

  1. I am off of all my diabetes medication!  Insulin, Victoza, Glimeperide, and Metformin, all gone!
  2. I am off of Coumadin (blood thinner) a medication I so wanted to be rid of!
  3. I no longer require oxygen during the day time.  And soon, after a sleep study, I may get off entirely!
  4. I no longer take Celebrex (you can't with this surgery) and my joint pain is manageable without it!
  5. My evening blood pressure meds were cut in half and if things continue I will probably be able to drop it completely!
  6. My cholesterol is 120 so I will be able to drop that medicine soon I think.
There are probably many more things I am not thinking of but the reason I started this particular post about GOOD CHANGES is because on Sunday I went with my hubby to Costco and managed to walk the whole time we were there.  The poor man has done all of the shopping for the last several years because I could not manage a long shopping session.  He said it was the most fun he'd ever had at Costco, lol!  And today, after getting our hair done, my daughter and I did a long shopping trip to Walmart buying Halloween stuff for my grandkids and the kids a friend of ours just adopted!  I was on my feet for over an hour and I survived!  Yay! 

This may not seem like a big deal to some but for me it is an awesome improvement to my life.  My family has had to take care of so many things for me and to even be able to take back some of those things is incredible.  WLS is not the answer to all my problems but it has been the catalyst to get me to a place where I can take on the challenges that confront me every day.  I am looking forward to many, many more nsv's (non-surgical victories). 

I hope and pray that there are people reading this who feel encouraged to move forward in their own struggles.  WLS is just a tool, as you know, but we need tools for just about any project we take on in life.  Use this tool to help yourself change and create good things in your life, too.  I am rooting for you!

Monday, October 28, 2013

              Good Changes continued...

Continuing on with my story so I can then explain why I've titled this "Good Changes."

After I was given the TPA, which by the way, did not dissolve the clot, I was moved into the ICU.  There I lay for a couple of days being constantly monitored, taken for VQ lung scans, MRI's, X-rays and ct scans.  The big event that occurred was my mom coming to see me.  Mom was in an assisted living home a good distance from this hospital.  She felt like she wasn't being told everything by the family and somehow she managed to get a taxi to pick her up and bring her to see me.  I was shocked when she rolled into my room in her wheelchair.  She basically said she had to see me for herself to know I was okay :(  It was kind of sad, she thought I had died and no one would tell her.

Finally I was moved from ICU to a regular room.  A couple of days went by and it was a Sunday morning.  Hubby, of course, was spending all of his free time at the hospital and we were just talking when the hospital Chief of Staff came in, can't remember this doctor's name but Steve was just waiting for someone to pounce on.  He told this doc that we had not been given any real info since the night in the ER and that since they had done a ton of tests on me there must be some news.  This doc seemed surprised and said, "You have the absolute right to see and know the results of any and all tests that have been performed.  I will go round up all results and be back in about an hour."  When he returned I was on the phone with my eldest brother, Walt, who was in Mexico helping to set up churches.  I told him to hold on and laid the phone down.  I then heard again words you do not want to hear from any doctor.  The doc said, "Well, we have looked at all of the films and scans and it is not good news.  There is a mass in your chest unrelated to the blood clot and from the way it presents we are pretty sure it is cancer.  I have scheduled you for a bronchoscopy first thing tomorrow and we will go down the throat and biopsy the mass."  I was in total shock.  I kept telling God I had only signed up for a minor scope of my knees and that He must have my file card in the wrong slot!

I got back on the phone with my brother and after filling him in on the turn of events, he told me he would start a worldwide prayer chain with his many contacts.  Steve got on the phone with church members and family members and did the same.  I believe that within hours hundreds of people were storming the gates of heaven on my behalf!  Next morning at 7am I was wheeled into surgery for my biopsy but when I woke up I was told that they were unable to reach the mass and they had scheduled me for a thoracoscopy at 3pm.  By then it was about 10am so Steve decided to go to the cafeteria and get some breakfast.  As I lay there alone pondering the situation I suddenly had a very strange sensation in my chest.  The best way I can describe it is an effervescence similar to Alka-Seltzer fizzing except this was inside of me.  It tickled a lot.  Out loud to myself I suddenly said, "Well, there goes their cancer!"

That afternoon they did the thoracoscopy which is the insertion of an endoscope, a narrow—diameter tube with a viewing mirror or camera attachment, through a very small incision (cut) in the chest wall. When they got to where they needed to be they found nothing there!  So they performed a thoracotomy where they cut a very large incision, spread the ribs, and collapsed the right lung only to find - NOTHING!  Now don't get me wrong, I believe it had been there but I believe God chose to heal me.  The next time I was able to speak to my pulmonary doc and the thoracic surgeon they basically said, "We don't know what to tell you, we have reviewed all of the films and it is there!  We even flew in a specialist from CA and it is there but as you know it is not there."  They also mentioned that they imagined we would want to sue.  Steve told them, "No, we are not litigious people and besides we believe without a doubt that God healed her."  They responded with, "Well, we do not have a better explanation!"

Now this was a very major surgery.  I had a tube in my side to remove air and fluid from the pleural cavity.  I had some major recovering to do and recover I did, however, I have never been the same physically since that day.  It is now 15 years later and that surgery has caused me lots of breathing problems and I have always had a spot in the middle of my chest that is very painful.  For a long time I really believed they had left an instrument inside me but later tests proved me wrong :) 

This is again a very long post and I am going to finish it up tomorrow.  Hang in there with me, I am telling it in as few words as possible! 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

                      Good Changes

I wish I could really express how my life has changed in these last few months.  It is hard to explain how bad, how sad my life had become these last few years.  Actually if I am really honest the changes began about 15 years ago.  I was 48 and having problems with my knees.  I went to an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Richard Evans.  He told me that he would do arthroscopic surgery and fix both of my knees at the same time.  He was highly recommended and I decided to go for it.  My surgery was on a Monday and Dr. Evans assured me I would start therapy on Wednesday and I would be driving within 2 weeks.  Sounded good to me.  I awoke from surgery to hear the words you never want to hear from a doctor. "Honey, I am really sorry but things were so much worse than we anticipated.  You are going to be non-weight bearing for 2 months."  "You mean 2 weeks", I said.  "No, I mean 2 months." 

I went home, we got a hospital type bed and put it in my living room.  I was strapped in a contraption called an immobilizer that pretty much kept my entire right side from the hip down from moving.  My sweet husband began to sleep on the horribly uncomfortable couch in our living room.  I had an adult potty chair IN MY LIVING ROOM! And so the waiting to heal began...

About 2 1/2 weeks into this drama, a really good and wonderful friend, Darla, came over to my house to cut and color my hair.  We got me into the wheelchair and through trial and error and a  lot of laughter, managed to get my hair washed in my kitchen sink.  Just after she had finished my phone rang and it was my mom.  I told Darla I could get myself into bed, hugged and thanked her and then proceeded to talk to mom.  Part way through our conversation I started having this really bad, sharp pain in the right side of my lower chest.  I felt just like when you get a stitch in your side from running.  I told mom I was going to have to get off the phone and I rolled myself into the living room and got into the bed.  Lying down hurt as bad as sitting but I got myself into a half sitting/half lying position kind of on my side and it wasn't too bad.

A couple of hours later another good friend, Teresa, stopped by on her way home from work to visit, bringing me a beautiful gift of 2 little candleholders and candles.  We visited and she could see I was in some serious pain and asked if I wanted her to take me to the hospital.  I declined, telling her I would be fine.  She kept trying to talk me into it and about then my hubby came home from work.  He wouldn't listen to my protests that I was fine and he called my PCP, Dr. Greta McClaren.  After he explained the entire situation she said, "Get her to the emergency room, immediately!!"  I could not climb up into our big van and I could not get down into our little Dodge Charger.  I managed to get into the back seat of Teresa's car kind of on my side again.

I kept protesting about the need to go to the ER but when we arrived at St. Joseph's hospital they took one look at me and moved me to the front of the triage line and then after a pulse ox of 57% suddenly they were running me back to a room and there was a doctor standing on either side of the door.  At that point I began to think, "Hmmmm, maybe something is going on!"  They immediately sent me for an MRI, x-rays and a ct scan.  Turned out I had a massive Pulmonary Embolism.  I was given a drug called TPA and we were told it was extremely dangerous and could cause a bleed in the brain.  We spoke with our PCP, whom we greatly respected and she told us we really had no choice.  The embolism could kill me as easily as the brain bleed so we chose to go ahead with it.

I am going to stop here and continue this saga tomorrow.  What you have read so far is the easy part of what happened to me during my 13 day stay in the hospital.  I promise I won't leave you hanging, I will continue tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

                         Real Food!

I guess that title is a bit of a misnomer because I have been eating real food all along but when you are on the soft diet phase there are lots of things you really can't add.  So last Thursday I met with the nutritionist, Erica.  We went over lots of stuff, like am I still staying away from straws, yes, am I still not drinking caffeine or carbonated drinks, yes, do I still wait 30 minutes before a meal, during a meal and 30 minutes after to drink anything, yes, am I chewing my food very, very well before swallowing, yes, am I making sure I am focused on the eating and not distracted, mostly yes, am I still making sure I take 20-30 minutes to eat my meals, resounding yes!  Why would people stop doing these things, they work! ! I lost over 20 pounds before my surgery by following these rules, my hubby has now lost about 17 following some of these rules (and he is not eating diet food!).  Apparently a lot of people stop doing these things after surgery.  People, that is not a good idea.  You are trying to make permanent changes to how you eat!  This surgery is a wonderful tool but you can still gain back all your weight.  Some of these little changes may seem silly but think about it.  The reason for no drinking before, during and after meals is because all that liquid washes the food out of your stomach quicker and you can eat more and you feel hungry sooner.  My brother has been trying to do just that one thing and he is amazed that he is eating less and not getting hungry so soon.  I tend to be a little OCD and when I am given a list of things to do I do them faithfully. We must change or we will eventually find ourselves right back where we were.  I quoted this before but here it is again, "Just because you got the monkey off your back does not mean the circus has left town forever."  That monkey is just waiting to jump right back on!
I'm melting!

Okay, enough preaching! I finally reached that milestone of 50 pounds lost!  Yesterday morning I weighed in at 194.4!  I have been blessed to stay in the 100's since I reached them, so many people blog that they got under 200 and then bounced back up over, sometimes more than once.

Now to my original thought about real food.  I wanted to let you know some of the things I've been eating since last Thursday.  I made an awesome Turkey Chili that even my family liked.  I measured out 1/2 a cup and shredded a low-fat string cheese on top, then a teaspoon or so of plain Greek yogurt on top.  It was sooooo good!  Today for lunch I grilled a salmon filet from Costco, they are about 7 oz. so I cut it in half and will have the other half tomorrow.  I mixed some of that plain Greek yogurt and a teaspoon of spicy brown mustard together and spread it on top of the salmon, yummy!  I also have had a few of those little grape tomatoes with a couple of meals.  On the way home from the doc's office last Thurs. I stopped and shopped a little and bought some veggie burgers.  I have had a couple completely vegetarian meals and enjoyed them completely.  This is strange coming from someone who has always been a major carnivore, lol!  The biggest thing I am trying to be aware of besides the things mentioned above is portion sizes.  With just a little pouch for a stomach I don't need a ton of food to be happy and satisfied. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

                                                  Plugging along

So yesterday I was supposed to have my 6 week post-op appointment with the nutritionist at my surgeon's office but at 8am I got a call that they were going to have to reschedule because she is sick.  I am going to go tomorrow (thought I'd give her another day to recuperate) and I am really looking forward to it.  I am still on the soft food diet and with the doc's office blessing I will be moving to stage 1 of the regular diet after I see her tomorrow.  Having some extra time must be in God's plan because I suddenly found a bunch of healthy recipes I would like to try and printed them off to take with me and have Erica (the nut, short for nutritionist) take a look and give me some feedback about them.

My weight loss this last 2 weeks has been pretty slow.  I know part of it is a bathroom issue.  I have always been so regular you could set a clock by it but now it is every 4-5 days and it is very difficult for me to go.  I know my iron supplement may be contributing but hey, what gives?  Am I gonna be like this the rest of my life??!!  I sure hope not because it is not pleasant.  Maybe once I get onto a more regular diet and get more vegetables into my life things will change.

Had a birthday party Sunday for my daughter, Shannon, at Red Robin.  Shannon is 46 years old and she is developmentally disabled.  She lives with us and is a joy in every way.  When it comes to birthdays and Christmas, she is still very much like a child.  We had balloons and took her cake to the restaurant.  Red Robin has been really good to us over the years with our crowd of crazies.  They always give us an extra table to put the cake and gifts on and let us take all the time we need.  I cut the cake and had to be very conscious not to lick my fingers as I got tons of frosting on them.  I ordered the Chicken Ensenada plate and immediately put 1 and one half of the 2 chicken breasts in my to-go box.  It also came with salad and I got a balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side.  I didn't eat much salad because it was my first time having some and I am so wary of upsetting my little pouch.  I've already done that twice (2 times because I didn't figure it out right away).  People on the blogs have talked about adding a little peanut butter to their diet and since I dearly love peanut butter I thought it sounded like a great idea.  On Sat. we were at Target shopping for Shannon's birthday and I bought a jar of natural peanut butter.  Sunday morning I put a heaping teaspoon in my chocolate shake in the blender.  A little later I wasn't feeling too great but it went away pretty quickly so I didn't think too much about it.  On Monday morning I made another chocolate shake in my blender and again added some peanut butter.  About 45 minutes later I started feeling so nauseous and my head began to ache.  I finally had to lay down for a while.  I finally figured out that my new stomach did not like peanut butter (too much fat I imagine).  :(  Oh well, perhaps I can try it again in a month or two!

The weight today was 196.6.  I need to get to 195 for a 50 pound loss.  Then I will be half way (weigh) to my goal.  Wow!  When I put it that way it sounds a bit exciting.

Several of you have posted comments here on the blog and I finally figured out how to respond and have done so.  So if you want to go back and look at your comment you will see I didn't ignore you!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

                Happay Happay Happay!

Okay, you would have to  have seen Duck Dynasty to get that title completely but I'm sure you get the point!

Went to see my PCP yesterday to see if there was any chance that my health has improved enough that I could possibly get off of oxygen.  They put me through my paces wearing the pulse oximeter and the good news is that my stats did not drop below 91% so I am now oxygen-free during the daytime except while walking on my treadmill or a long shopping trip.   I still have to use it at night for a month or so and then we will do an overnight test to see if I can get rid of it then too!  For those of you who have never had to deal with oxygen you can't imagine what a burden it can be.  At home you feel like you are on a leash, everyone steps on it and that makes them feel bad even though it doesn't really hurt anything.  When you go somewhere you have to always think several hours ahead so you can fill your portable tank.  The tank itself, even though not huge, is fairly heavy.  The strap cuts into your shoulder and it is very uncomfortable.  And then there is the cannula in your nose, making it sore, making ugly lines on your cheeks.  So hallelujah, I am halfway to being rid of it completely. 

The second good thing was my blood pressure.  It was in a really good range 118/74 so we are halving my medication.  I believe with more weight loss and more exercise I may be able to get off that medication completely.  I was on 11 medications that included a total of 19 pills a day!  As of now I am on 5 medications that include 7 pills a day.  That is a major change.  I am glad I had this surgery even though there are some things that are tough.

The weight is not coming off very fast right now.  I was at 197 this morning and I am happy to be staying in the 100's but that is only 1 pound this week so am a little bummed about that.  I am eating a little bit more but am still generally under 700 calories each day.  I still struggle getting all of my liquids in so that could be part of the problem.  I am remaining optimistic and expecting to have a loss of 2 or 3 pounds one of these mornings.  Maybe it will happen tomorrow.

One more item and I am not happy about this one.  I had the doc take a look at a spot on my right forearm.  I always thought it was just a big freckle or one of those "age spots" we old people get but the last couple of weeks it has begun to change. It has grown and become more red and has also become kind of rough textured.  My doc thinks it looks like melanoma (a type of cancer) so I am getting a biopsy on Thursday afternoon.  To those of you who believe in prayer, I would appreciate you lifting me up this week.  It is probably not much of anything to worry about but just to be safe...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

               Help!  I am not me!

So for the last couple of days I have felt so down, so depressed and there is no particular reason why.  Oh, sure, I have all the usual troubles and situations that most people,  finances, friends that need help that I can't fix things for them, kids driving me nuts (adult kids), etc. but nothing that should make me feel like this!!  The only thing I can figure is that I'm experiencing something that they call "Weight Loss Surgery Puberty".  Apparently most of the hormones in your body reside in the fat cells and when you lose weight fairly rapidly you experience a sudden influx of these hormones in your bloodstream.  I sure hope this is what is going on with me because I don't like feeling this way.  Even as I sit here writing this I just feel like crying and I have been doing just that for the last hour or so.  Yuck!  I want to be me!  I am usually a fairly positive, upbeat person but not today!

I am stalled again!  I wonder if this is going to be a pattern?  If I could just stop myself from getting on the scale every day then I probably wouldn't even notice but like last week I have stayed at 198 -198 -198!  Before it was 202 then a 4 pound drop.  I hope the 4 pound drop part happens again.  I think we kind of get spoiled after wls.  The pounds come off pretty fast in the beginning and then when it slows it is hard to deal with.  It makes me want to kick myself a little because from the beginning I have asked God not to let me lose too rapidly because at my age the skin is not going to tighten up like it did in my 20's and 30's.  I tell myself that if I  lose it slower it won't be so bad, lol!  Then when God gives me the desire of  my heart, here I go complaining! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

             Still looking at the big "Why"

A few days ago I was talking about why I overeat, why I let myself get so big, why food has this hold on me.  I have been thinking a lot about it.  I can't really blame it on genetics.  My parents weren't fat, my brothers are all normal weight.  We don't really know much of anything about my father's side of the family.  He was an abused child and he ran away from his home in Pennsylvania when he was just 12 years old and never went back and as far as I know never had any kind of contact with his father again.  His mom had died giving birth to him.  My father was an alcoholic since the day I was born. His drinking made for instability, fear, and sorrow. As changeable as he could be and as much as he was hurting us all by drinking himself into oblivion, I loved him so very much. When I was thirteen years old, he died of alcohol related problems, cirrhosis of the liver and other complications.  He was only 47 years old! I tell you all of this because I think it is why I used food as love for most of my life. I loved food and food loved me. Amid all the chaos and insecurity, I could control the food I ate. When I felt nervous, food was reassuring. When I was anxious food was soothing. When I was sad, food lifted me up. When no one was home, food was my babysitter. For every emotion I could turn to food.  I am just realizing this and remembering some things surrounding food when I was a kid.  I didn't have a weight problem til maybe 10 or so years after my dad died but the food issues started then.  I will continue to explore this.

Short one today, folks :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

                    Day 39 Post-Op

Some days it seems like I had this surgery long ago and I have to remind myself that I am just a little more than a month post-op.  The reason I say that is because I tend to be so hard on myself and think I should be farther along than I am, mentally, physically, pounds down, etc.  I struggle a lot with worrying about the future and I think that is why I think I should be farther along.  I need to live more in the here and now!

In my last post I was telling you about my plateau, my stall at 202.  Drum roll...It finally broke, moved, quit stalling, whatever, lol!  On Friday morning when I got on the scale I thought it said 202 again but then I squinted my tired old eyes and realized the scale said 200.2!  Then Saturday morning it was 199.6 so I made DH come upstairs, got on the scale again so he could see it and I could have a witness!  Yes, ladies, he does know how much I weigh and loves me anyway, lol!  This morning I weighed in at 198.8!  I have been a little afraid it would bounce up over that 200 again and still am so I am going to wait a few more days before I officially declare myself in "Onederland"!

I have been sick for the last few days with a cold and/or sinus infection so I am a little surprised that I lost any weight at all.  I have been in bed, not eating much, no exercise.  Just trying to get in enough protein and all of my supplements.  Several people have commented that it is probably because I had this surgery, that my immune system is compromised because of it.  I am taking it in stride but it makes me a  little angry.  I mean, for crying out loud, it's not like I never had a cold before this.  My daughter was sick with this all of last week (really, really sick) and the odds were good that I would get it from taking care of her so I don't believe the surgery  has anything to do with it.  In fact I am feeling much better today and she was sick for a whole week.

I told you a few days ago about a friend of mine who had this surgery and it took 10 hours and he has 8 incisions.  Well, I found an update on him on Facebook.  Apparently he ended up back in the hospital and is now on a ventilator and they have been worried about his kidneys and bp.  He is 31 and I am 63.  I came through with flying colors in less than 3 hours.  Just goes to show you that you never know how anything will go in this life.  I am praying every day for him and his family.  I will keep you updated too.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


It's been a few days since I posted and it is partly because I guess I am having my first plateau or as everyone in wls land seems to call them, my first stall :(  I know I shouldn't weigh every day but I just can't help myself!  Sunday - 202, Monday - 202, Tuesday - 202, Wednesday - 202 and today, Thursday - 202 and just in case you missed that I am stuck at 202!  LOL!  I'm really okay because I know it will move, it has too because most days I am lucky to get in 600 calories.  Maybe I am in that boat where my poor body says, "Hey, if this is all you're going to give me then I am going to hold on to this fat for dear life!"  I have heard people say to eat more or drink more water but for right now I'm going to wait it out.  In fact I am believing that tomorrow will be the big day and I will drop into "Onederland"!  Hey, it could happen :) 

So Tuesday night my brother-in-law was in town from AZ for work and we went to dinner.  We went to Red Robin and I checked the menu out before hand and knew what I was going to have.  I ordered the Chicken Tortilla soup without the tortilla strips on it.  I asked them for a to go container when I ordered and I put half the bowl of soup in the container immediately.  It was pretty good, not hot enough for me because I like soup really hot and I know I was very light on my protein for the day because there were only maybe 3  little pieces of chicken in there but it felt good to go to a restaurant with family and have something to eat and do okay.  One of my grandsons was there and sat next to me and we played the games on the kid's menu which kept me distracted and not feeling deprived at all.  Anytime spent with a grandchild is better than eating anyway in my book.  Love, love, love my grandchildren!
I have a really goofy look on my face but if you look at the before picture at the beginning page of the blog you can see I have lost a substantial amount from then.

That is all for today, peeps!  Hope everyone has a great night!