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THWUNK ~

You know that noise that comes from pulling a cork out of a bottle? Try imagining it is reversed, where you’re trying to stuff that cork back into the bottle. I had an after-hours work meeting last night, I typically have several each year, at another venue other than my work office. I’ve been attending these meetings for 10 years now, and the chairs have never been comfortable or conducive toward “wide-load butts” like mine. Frankly, by the end of the roughly 2 hour meeting, my behind is screaming at me “never again”.

EMSTAT chair

So I was not particularly looking forward to last night’s meeting, even though it had been 4 months since I’d attended one. Anyway, after all of my meeting prep was complete, I went to sit in one of those chairs that would squeeze my hips and make them ache for the next couple of hours and afterwards. I began my descent anticipating that awful moment when the width of the chair tries to make the wider part of my butt conform to its own shape, and the uncomfortable squish and splat as my behind adjusts into the space. Instead, I dropped unexpectedly right into the seat! No squish, no conform, no discomfort ~ except the one from hitting the chair hard because there was no resistance. It startled me so that I made a verbal exclamation that caused my work colleagues, and my boss, to glance at me to see what was going on. That few seconds of embarrassment was far overtaken by the joy I found in fitting my butt into that chair with no fat resistance! More than 12 hours later I’m still marveling at the thought that, after 10 years, I can sit in one of those uncomfortable chairs and finally be comfortable! Victory!

As of this morning, I weigh 255 lbs. When I started my journey in Spring 2017, I was at 365 lbs. per my cardiologist. When I went for bariatric surgery on 8-2-2018, I weighed in at 299 lbs. That’s a total weight loss of 110 lbs. over 1.5 years. Yes, no more “thwunks”!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Many blessings,

~ Tamara

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Tomato Soup for Breakfast ~

I’m two and a half months out from bariatric surgery and things are going… not so well. The past 1 ½ months have been sketchy to a living hell. Every day is a new adventure in stomach pain and trying to figure out what I can eat to ease that pain without making me more ill. I did discover that I am one of the 7% of bariatric patients that suffer through post-surgical complications. Somehow, it feels anticlimactic and does not help me feel any better. My current everyday life is spent trying to find ways to make my stomach stop aching. Nothing I eat or drink helps… with the exception of tomato soup. There is no common sense related to this, especially since tomato soup is commonly known as pretty acidic. Yet if I drink about ½ to one cup of it, with a little butter melted in, it gives me some sense of relief, enough to make it worthwhile. I consider myself blessed.
I went to the surgeon, again, last Thursday. This time I saw the associate of my surgeon – the one who actually performed the Roux en Y procedure. He, Dr. Cooper, (the associate) listened intently and asked relative questions as to my pain, my state of mind (which is currently very depressed) and he offered hope by scheduling me for an upper GI the very next day, and then an “extensive” endoscopy scheduled for tomorrow (Monday, 10-22-2018). He did not tell me that “it’s normal” and that “it’ll pass” as I had been told by anyone and everyone to this point. I just cried. And he gave me tissues and held my hands until I could gather myself back together and gain composure.
So, I had the upper GI two days ago, and will be admitted into Crouse Health tomorrow morning for a 1:00 p.m. endoscopy procedure. Not looking forward to that “nothing to eat or drink after midnight” standing order. And I’m not looking forward to have the procedure done at all. The last time I was at Crouse, I left there scarred and with PTSD over the hour long issue of getting an IV line put in. I break out into a cold sweat now just thinking about it. I don’t scare easily, but the fear is real today.
Dr. Cooper suspects something called a “stricture” in the opening between my stomach and small intestine. It’s where the opening narrows, or sometimes even closes. After researching, I see it’s fairly common and is fixable through the endoscopy. I guess my biggest fear now is what if it isn’t a stricture? What if it’s something that can’t be fixed tomorrow? Will I come home as sick as I have been or possibly even worse? No one can possibly understand how awful this is unless you’ve lived it. The constant pain is physically and emotionally draining, and has driven me into a horrific depression that, fortunately, I’m very adept at hiding. Sometimes I just can’t hang on, and I break down in uncontrollable tears. Sleep is fitful, as the pain is 24/7 and sometimes I wake in the night several times. But mornings are the absolute worst when I wake up and am hungry and the pain is doubled or tripled, and I don’t know what to eat to make it ease, except tomato soup. So, this is where it stands right now. I will be having tomato soup tonight at midnight, knowing I won’t be having anything again until late afternoon on Monday. If you’re the praying kind, prayers are greatly appreciated. If not, just keep me in your thoughts and hope that something definitive is found and fixed tomorrow.
Thank you for stopping by.
Blessings,
Tamara

~ Transparency

When I began blogging way back in 2012, I promised myself from that day that I would be open, honest and “transparent” about the things I write. And I have kept my promise thus far. I have posted on Facebook often of my weight loss achievements, and how good it’s going, and it is. I always want to be positive, however, like most things, there is always the “dark side” of things, and my bariatric surgery indulges in that as well.

Tammy Aug 26 2018

For at least the last month or so, I’ve been having “complications” due to my surgery. Complications that may or may not even be fixable. Complications that are very hard to cope with on a daily basis, as they are so very unpredictable. I have posted on Facebook about my difficulties with excess gas, which is not a humorous matter when it’s this severe. And it won’t go down through my system and out, it remains in my stomach and then eventually forces its way up and out through burps in an uncontrollable fashion. But, while the air is internal, it wreaks havoc on my stomach and my digestion causing often severe pain and nausea. Always pain of varying levels. I have great difficulty eating and drinking as it always feels like there’s no room for anything nutritious to get in. I’m unable to get my required allowances of protein.

I have a “proven” list of foods/drinks that I can indulge in, in very small amounts, with the knowledge that (most likely) it will stay down once swallowed, but that is never certain. I can never indulge in something “new” and unproven unless I am at home, for fear of the infamous dumping syndrome. If I am out somewhere, away from home, like at a meeting or gathering, I always try to seat myself closest to the door, and get knowledge of where the local bathroom is, just in case. Anything can happen without notice and very quickly. But living like this is causing me to become a hermit. I no longer like to leave my home, except to go to work… and if I could retire, I would!

As I’m typing this, I have a wicked stomach ache… it’s afternoon, I always have a stomach ache in the afternoon. Usually by the time I get home I need to climb onto my bed and get into the fetal position just to be able to tolerate the pain. I’m assuming it’s gas. So does my surgeon and my primary care physician. I’ve tried every type of gas/anti-acid remedy on the market. A couple have worked temporarily, but then petered out and left me back where I started. I’ve tried prescription Protonix (an acid reflux med), Gaviscon (also an acid reflux med OTC and suggested by my PCP), Tums, Gas-X, Phazyme, liquid generic OTC anti-acid/anti-gas, peppermint tea, Beano, even essential oils (Digize). Often I’m so full of these meds that there’s no room for food!

What do I actually eat? Scrambled eggs once or twice a week for breakfast, unsweetened applesauce, cream soups, breakfast sausage on occasion, ricotta bake (a special keto casserole with just cheese, eggs and a tiny bit of Ragu spaghetti sauce), sugar free pudding made with my Premiere Protein shakes, sugar free gelatin sometimes. Just this week I’ve tried a little bit of bread and a little bit of mashed potatoes, as they seem to calm things more. I’m talking ¼ slice of whole grain/wheat bread dipped in my soup, and a tablespoon of mashed potatoes for breakfast once or twice a week. For drinks I have my Premiere Protein shake and Premiere Protein Clear drinks, and sugar free flavored water. And sugar free popsicles. That about sums it up. I’m trading out the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower asap, and keeping the bread to an absolute minimum. I’m trying to stay carb-free. I’d like to audition some new foods just for something different, but the fear of dumping is more than very real. I have to be prepared to spend an entire day at home, sick in bed for hours and then asleep for more. I haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe next week.

41362926_10155919979337613_843129048304451584_n

So this is my life for now, such as it is. I’ve been asked if I would recommend this surgery to others seeking weight loss. I hesitated. Yes, I would. Not everyone experiences these little complications, in fact the majority do not. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones that God has chosen to give me extra challenges for now. Sometimes I don’t feel so chipper. I can be smiling to your face but fighting off a cold sweat and gritting my teeth without you even knowing it. It’s taken years of practice to learn how to effectively hide pain and discomfort, and, by George, I think I’ve got it down pretty good!

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  Next time I hope to have better news!

Blessings,

Tamara

 

 

 

 

Getting There ~

I’m tired.  Still.  At almost three weeks post-surgery, I thought I would be a little farther along in my recovery than I am.  My months of research didn’t tell me that, in effect, this is a major big deal for my body to handle.  I mean, I knew that in my head, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of living it.  I’ve been out of work for almost three entire weeks, and able to do… nothing.  Nothing of substance anyway.  I look at all the things around my house, inside and out, that need to be done (cleaned, rearranged, organized) and I can do none of it.  I try.  Sometimes I can accomplish small, menial tasks, but most days no.  Anything that requires lifting, bending, stretching ~ is extremely painful.  So is daytime television!  Just this week I’ve gotten back into my sewing room and have been able to do a little bit of cutting and sewing.  I get exhausted quickly and easily.  My insides feel like they’re falling out.  Gravity is currently my enemy.  The pain to stand and walk is stupid bad, and the only relief I can get is from wearing my Spanx – like 24/7.  I have faith that it will get better.

Maple Leaf 8-18-18

My new way of eating is settling in, however.  Thankfully.  I’m taking these mega-vitamins in the morning, they’re specifically for bariatric patients and our “special needs”, as well as a probiotic from the same company.  I’m able to eat about 2-4 ounces of semi-solid foods now and keep it down.  My diet currently consists of:  Sugar free pudding, sugar free popsicles, scrambled eggs (1 per meal), Spam (minced and usually eaten with an egg), pureed carrots, minced chicken (Tyson packets), and I’m hoping to add in some cheddar cheese and maybe some other vegetables this week.  I also drink Premiere Protein “shakes” and Clear drinks, to help me get all the protein in that I can.  I drink on those all day… well, except for the “30 Minute Rule”.  Bariatric patients are supposed to drink all day long, pretty much constantly, to keep hydrated.  But we have to stop drinking 30 minutes before a meal, and cannot drink again until 30 minutes after the meal.  You don’t drink before the meal to ensure the best chances of protein/vitamin absorption by having an empty stomach when you eat.  You don’t drink after your meal because the liquid will wash all of the vitamins/minerals/protein out of your stomach before they’ve had the chance to be absorbed.  You also are at greater risk of dumping either way.  Just “everyday eating” takes a great deal of planning, concentration and conscientiousness.  It ain’t easy!

So anyone who would think these past 3 weeks off work has been enjoyable, think again.  It’s been anything BUT enjoyable.  It’s been hard work trying to assist my body to heal, learning an entirely new way of eating for life, and adjusting to my “new best friend”, my “pouch” that is my stomach.  It only holds 4 ounces at a time, BTW.  About ¼ cup or ½ cup.  Think about that if you want to know what I’m going through.

Almost forgot… I’ve had my first “dumping” episode on Sunday.  What bothers me most is I don’t even know why I dumped.  I’ve been so careful to follow all the rules and safety precautions, but it happened anyway.  I had a scrambled egg for lunch, nothing else, and went outside to try to do a small task.  Task was completed, I was breathless and came back inside and it began.  Cold sweats, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea and weakness.  Fortunately, I did not actually vomit.  But the rest was violent enough to put me to bed for several hours.  From that I’ve learned that you can and should take all measures necessary to avoid dumping, but it can and will still happen at random, with no notice.  No rhyme or reason.  I just need to know that this will be a part of my life, for the rest of my life.

Stats:  I lost 63 lbs PRE-SURGERY since last fall, then another 27 lbs since surgery August 2nd.  I’m currently at a standstill for about 3-4 days.

Thank you for stopping by and checking in.

Blessings,

Tamara

“Mindful Eating”

I’ve spent 59 years eating a certain way.  I’m kinda used to it.  Now, that must change, and I’m finding it incredibly difficult in these beginning stages to adapt.  I’m one week (7 days) out from bariatric surgery, and am well aware of the “obvious changes” with my new way of eating ~ smaller portions, no carbs, no sugar ~ but there are so many small nuances associated with eating that I never took into consideration that I’m now having to contend with.

**First, let me explain the term “dumping” ~ it’s something that potentially happens to a bariatric surgery patient, for life, post surgery:

“Dumping syndrome after gastric bypass surgery is when food gets “dumped” directly from your stomach pouch into your small intestine without being digested. There are 2 types of dumping syndrome: early and late. Early dumping happens 10 to 30 minutes after a meal. Late dumping happens 1 to 3 hours after eating.  What are the symptoms of dumping syndrome after gastric bypass surgery?

Most people have early dumping symptoms. Typical early dumping symptoms can include:

Bloating

Sweating

Abdominal cramps and pain

Nausea/Vomiting

Facial flushing

Stomach growling or rumbling

An urge to lie down after the meal

Heart palpitations and fast heartbeat

Dizziness or fainting

Diarrhea

About 1 in 4 people have late dumping symptoms. The symptoms of late dumping syndrome can include:

Heart palpitations

Sweating

Hunger

Confusion

Fatigue

Aggression

Tremors

Fainting”

**From the University of Rochester Medical Center Encyclopedia**

Nobody wants to go through this, right?  Least of all me!  So, basically, from my perspective, the rest of my life will be dedicated to avoiding this very possibility.  Although, I do understand that, as time progresses, you learn what to avoid from experience.  I also understand that, just because you might eat a hard boiled egg in the morning and be fine, doesn’t mean you won’t eat the same thing in the afternoon and not dump.  And I knew this going in.  I’m just trying to help ya’ll understand.

So, imagine going through your life thinking about, thinking ahead, reading ingredients of every morsel that may enter your lips and gauge it for whether or not it’s going to make you sick.  I’m already at that threshold.  What I didn’t count on are all the little ways we put food in our mouths without much forethought.  I went out into the world today, my first post-surgery solo drive to pick up a couple of things at the local WalMart.  I had to keep reminding myself that there was literally nothing in that store that I could “safely” eat right now.  I’m so used to just picking things up off the shelves, grabbing fruit that looks yummy, some decadent ice cream, and how about that checkout?  FULL of temptation!  Every single thing there designed to make me sicker than hell.  Reese’s peanut butter cup?  So innocent!  Surely!  Ummmm, no!

I managed to leave the store purchasing only a few food items that would be yummy for my husband.  I got into my car and sat there for a second.  Something from a drive-thru was missing.  I typically would go to a drive-thru after shopping, or to a smaller store to get some awesome goodies before I head home.  Or maybe stop at the drug store and, while there, just pick up some crackers ~ they’re surely harmless.  No again.  What made things worse is that I wasn’t even hungry!  Imagine if I were even hungry a little bit how much stronger the temptation would be!

I’m probably reeking of paranoia right now.  I can currently only eat about 5 items (water, protein drinks, bouillon, sugar free popsicles and just added sugar free pudding.  But, even those 5 items were “tolerance tested” prior to consuming.  I tried just a taste on my tongue or lip and waited about 5 minutes before even sipping 1/8 of a teaspoon.  Sip, wait.  Sip, wait.  So far, so good!  This weekend I can start pureed foods!  (digging out my Ninja!)

Tammy mums

Lavender mums as a get-well from a very special friend.

Indeed, it’s early in the game for me and I’m pretty much scared of everything.  I’ve already experience the abdominal pain associated with sneezing and coughing ~ 6 incisions are still healing and very sore.  I cannot even think of how painful and frightening it would be to vomit at this point!

Thanks for stopping by, and pardon my paranoia.  This, too, shall pass.

~ Tamara