rain. 

Good afternoon, y’all! It’s been a while… I’d start by apologizing for being a slacker about my blog, but if you’ve been reading these last few entries, you know that my life has been a wee bit overwhelming.  Let’s review😃

First and most importantly, my husband DID come home from rehab on February 4th! Just in time for our daughter’s 18th birthday! Haley received wonderful birthday gifts from her family, but the greatest was having her Daddy home to celebrate with us.  We did kind of a low key celebration. Jason and I took Haley and her BFF to the Cheesecake Factory. It’s kind of becoming a tradition since she chose the exact same thing last year. We celebrated her entrance into adulthood, and also celebrated Jason’s Independence Day!  He was in the rehab hospital from 12/23 to 2/4, (due to his stroke) and was in ICU at Duke for a week before that. Each day was filled with 3 different types of therapy. Five days a week. Jason went from almost complete paralysis on his right side to walking out of that hospital just weeks later!  His progress has been a miracle. That same weekend, he was able to enjoy watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of his couch, rather than a drab and dreary hospital!

Each week since then, he’s gained more and more mobility, confidence, and strength. We started going to outpatient therapy 3x per week in February and have recently cut it back to 2x a week. His physical strength is improving. He’s really focused on occupational and speech therapies now. He’s been back to work a couple of days a week, though not at his former position. He’s not ready for emails, conference calls and spreadsheets. But each day he goes, he reminds his brain of duties he’s done in the past.  I tend to think of it as reopening a path that once went a particular direction but got suddenly,closed off when he had the stroke. But he’s trying to find a new path to the same distinction.  It’s wonderful to witness, but it’s not without challenges.

Now that Jason  home, I’d estimate he’s about 95% physically independent. He needs help getting shoes and socks on most days.  Getting showered and dressing himself is an effort for him that takes about an hour from start to finish.  It’s an exhausting process for him.  His right arm, hand, leg and foot are all still swollen, which we are told is normal.  He experiences significant discomfort in the nerves in the shoulder and leg. It is often difficult for him to sleep. His right arm kind of has a mind of its own and kind of floats about at times.  But all in all, he continues to surprise and amaze us with his fantastic recovery.  We continue to work on his communication abilities, which suffer more than the physical abilities.  Jason speaks very clearly…it’s just his brain telling his mouth what to say.  Sometimes it comes out backwards.  Sometimes he needs more time to process what he wants to say.  But all the while, he remains positive about his speech therapy and looks forward to strengthening his verbal and written communication.

Update on my mom-  I requested prayers and again, they were answered.  The recurrence of breast cancer was caught in time and did not spread to her lymph nodes! I feel very blessed to have made the call for prayers and to have them answered.  Mom is well.  THANK YOU to anyone who thought of her and prayed for her!

With these issues and their progression, I still am surprised by all of the people who have been touched by Jason’s story…my mom’s, too.  I am asked each day about one or both of them.  “How can I help?”  “What do you need?” are all questions I receive on an every day basis.

Friends of Jason’s, as well as friends of mine have followed our “story” on Facebook, since that is where I tend to post most of my updates.   All of this support from so many places feels like it’s raining on us…rain makes things grow.  And Jason continues to grow healthier each day.  We are showered each day with prayer, love, and guidance.  It is hard to describe, to be honest.  It’s a comfort.  Kind of like the rain you hear from the comfort of your warm bed on a day when you don’t have to rise early.  More than a drizzle, but less than a storm…the kind of rain that makes it easier for us to drift back to sleep.  That’s how I’ve felt these last few months.  And I am happy for the rain.

But there’s another rain I am also feeling at times.  The kind that makes you dread getting out of bed on a Monday.  Rain on a Monday morning tends to make us rushed to get out of the house. We end up dropping our laptop bag in the driveway en route to the car…or spill our coffee on a newly ironed white blouse in order to avoid getting wet. It’s a hard rain and the windshield wipers can’t seem to swish back and forth fast enough to make things visible. Unfortunately, it’s been raining at my house.  A lot. Haley (my 18 year old) and I have a code for this type of feeling.  We both experience bouts of depression at times. We will ask the other “Is there any sunshine today?”.  It could be sunny outside, but we may not be feeling the sunshine.  That’s where the depression finds us.  Cloudy days.   75% of the time, we both feel pretty good! But there days where the clouds are heavy and we just need to let it rain. And then we hope the next morning is really sunny.

I am kinda known for sugar coating things- or have been known that way in the past.  I’d rather not say something at all if it’s gonna be ugly.  Or if it’s gonna hurt another.  I find a way to deliver bad news but with good news somehow.  But since this has all happened, I find that I have no time to sugar coat and just blurt out what needs to be said.  That’s a surprise to my inner peacekeeper.  I am not going to lie, y’all….Even with the blessings abound, this season in our life is difficult for us.  The constant running here and there to appointments each week can sometimes be overwhelming.  Jason goes to his office a couple of times a week for therapeutic reasons.  I work from home on most days, so my environment changes very little.  When/if he returns to work on a more regular basis, perhaps I too, will get out of the house and return to my office.   There are so many unanswered questions about Jason’s recovery and our future.  Insurance will only pay for so many occupational and speech therapies, and we’re more than halfway through, but we feel he’ll need more of them.  We’ll likely have to pay for them out of pocket.  We’ll find a way.  What if the pain he feels in his right shoulder never goes away?  There are nights it is so painful that he cannot sleep.  And not sleeping makes everything that is already running a muck even more complicated. It is hard for his brain to “Wake” some days.  And on those days, I feel the bad/Monday rain.  I find I pray a lot more.  We didn’t get through this ordeal to not celebrate and thank the Lord for his Mercy and Grace. It seems every “little” thing is not so little to me or unimportant. Personally, my eyesight is terrible…but this life I live lately- is like seeing things with new eyes. As if our lives together have much more color and vibrancy  than before.

Thankfully,  most days, I feel the good rain. Because PEOPLE are good and they seem to know when I need a good dousing of friendship. A couple of weeks ago, our very good friend Chuck arranged a party at Jason’s favorite brewery to celebrate his health and recovery.  There were a couple of hundred people there.  Not all of them were there for the party, but a good number of them were! Even some from Jason’s childhood, which was amazing to see! Chuck arranged for an awesome rockabilly band (The Rusted Rails!)  to play, and the weather was magnificent! I don’t think Jason realized how many lives he’s impacted over the years.  He is a laid-back, very quiet, kinda shy person.  I don’t think he envisioned his circle of friends to be as large as it really is.  To have all of those kind, giving people in one room, to celebrate his “homecoming” was an amazing experience that neither of us will forget.  Whether you were there in spirit, or there in person, THANK YOU for your thoughts and well wishes.

Now I am just rambling, so I probably need to wrap this up.  Last thing- some have asked about how my weight loss journey is going now that I’ve surpassed the first year after weight loss surgery (VSG). I wish I could tell you I’ve progressed more, but I have not.  I find it is hard to care for yourself when someone you love needs a different kind of care- a more valid, more prolific care.  I’ve not given up, but have not been exercising enough and making “pour”  habits.  (See what I did there?!) Now that Jason can enjoy a beer here and there without it messing up his INR checks, I find that I will enjoy a glass of wine with him.  Wine is not out of the question after VSG, but for months I didn’t really indulge that often.  We’re not talking “she has a problem” indulgence, but more so a “maybe you should go to the gym more even though you pass 2 breweries and 2 taverns along the way.” LOL. I am still stuck around 165-170.  My goal was/is 145-150.  I am out of plus-sized clothing and have been for some time now.  The best lifestyle for me is a ketogenic diet, which is very low carb/high fat….but I fall off the wagon too often to say I am following any diet except the see-food diet. And I know it’s partially because of my time constraints and sometimes depression.  But I also know when the time is right for me, I will pick it back up and hit the goal. I mean…if only 20 pounds separates me from my life long goal, it would be silly for me to stop!

There you have it, folks.  After reading all of that, you likely think I am a little loco.  And I don’t mind it because life is loco for me right now.  But I’d take a little crazy over the alternative any day of the week.

Thanks for stopping by to read.  We are incredibly blessed and have never been more certain of how GOOD our GOD IS.

Love Much,

DMG

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Post Op: week 11. Milestones and Mayhem

Hello Again:)

I feel like this might be a rambling session today since my thoughts are all over the place, hence the mayhem reference in the title today.

Lots of things going on in my world.  Yesterday was week 11 post op Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.  It was also the day for my check-in with Dr. Bruce. I wasn’t scheduled to go until my actual 3 month post op visit on 6/3 but we scheduled some time last month for a weight check since his staff knew I was concerned about how slow I am losing.  Since the visit lasts month, I only lost THREE pounds.  Yep.  Their scale yesterday showed only a 3 pound loss. I was heartbroken.  Not surprised, but still heartbroken.

I am losing far slower than anyone could have guessed.  Many VSG patients lose double digit numbers in a month.  I try not to compare myself to others, but it is really hard not to do that when I’ve seen with my own eyes the good this surgery can do on an obese person.  When Dr. Bruce talked with me yesterday, I jokingly said “Last month when I was here, you told me you had only 3 patients out of 900+ who were resistant to sleeve surgery.  I think I may be your 4th.” He replied and said “It looks like you might be.”

And I felt as if each word went directly to my soul and stabbed me.  Immediately, the tears started pouring. I recounted all the pre-op testing, the lifestyle changes I’ve made, the financial burden I’ve put on my family…and the tears just wouldn’t stop. And what’s worse, is that there is no rhyme or reason that a person is sleeve resistant.  You’d think cutting away 2/3 of your stomach would make anyone lose weight, right?  Not so much.

But even though it is POSSIBLE that I am resistant to it, it’s also possible I am not.  Maybe I am just losing slowly and steadily.  Maybe I am being impatient.  Maybe I am doing something wrong with my diet.  I have been very comfortable in this food stage.  I’ve had no issues reintroducing new foods into my diet. Have never really gotten sick…have had no complications.  I weigh my food.  The only time I’ve colored outside of the lines is when I had a cocktail and that has only happened 3 times.  I realize alcohol can slow down weight loss, but I don’t think 3 cocktails at different times is gonna halt it.  I think I got carried away with how comfortable I was and though I log my food in MFP, perhaps I ate too many carbs too often.   I don’t know.  But I DO know I’d rather lose slowly than have complications and lose quickly.  And losing slowly will also help prevent sagging skin and losing my hair.  Those are 2 things commonly associated with rapid weight loss.

The doctor and I talked about next steps to jump start the loss again.  I am going to try to do the protein shakes during the day with a lean/green meal for dinner, much like I did with the pre-op diet.  I did that yesterday and am following it today.  And I am HANGRY.  That is another oddity in this journey.  Most people who have VSG do not feel hunger.  But I do, and I have since the surgery.  I am really reeling in the carb situation.  I thought I was doing really well since I often am under 50 carbs per day.  But I am examining the types of carbs I eat and really trying to eat the good ones.  We’re also trying something I said I’d never do again.  I am back on Phentermine again for a few months to jump start the loss again.  I had tremendous success with it a few years back when I lost 80 pounds. I gained it all back, though….because I didn’t wean myself off of it.  I will follow the rules this time.  It’s for the short term.  I will have to go back each month for a check of my vitals and make sure my blood pressure doesn’t rise. Phentermine gives me a lot of energy, which I love.  But it makes me quite thirsty, which isn’t a terrible thing since I am supposed to have a lot of water anyway:)  I just never thought I’d have a NEED for it again, certainly not after a life-changing weight loss surgery. So, I’ll take my 3 pound loss and move forward.  I was really very upset yesterday.  For a lot of reasons, but that appointment was at 9am and set the mood for the entire rainy day. And I so want to dislike Dr. Bruce.  But each time I am there, he makes a faith reference- almost as if he knows I am really digging deep and finding strength in my faith. I let him know that I’ve been chatting a lot with Jesus about this situation lately:)

There’s another situation at my house that the Big Man and I have been in talks about, too.

There are 2 topics I always talk about.  Weight loss progress (me)  and Type 1 Diabetes (my daughter).  Haley’s 17 and has been a T1D for nearly four years now.  May 29th is her Dx anniversary.  So, we’re not new to T1D but we still learn something all the time.

At her checkup last month, her doctor asked us to try to be more vigilant about taking Metformin, which is actually a drug used in Type 2 Diabetes, but is really helpful for Haley, as it helps break down carb digestion and helps drive her blood sugar down.  We’ve done as the doctor asked.  Unfortunately, Metformin works a little TOO well.  She prescribed 2 pills with food each day.  When Haley takes 2 and also does insulin, her blood sugar plummets to unhealthy numbers.  We have had a series of “lows” in the 40,s, 30’s and even once in the 20’s.  I was with her a couple of years ago when she crashed into the 20’s and I never want to visit that again.  I was losing her.  Haley lost her ability to speak, her eyes were rolling back in her head…her vision was blurred.  My girl was simply checking out on me.  I never ever wanted her to feel that way again.  But it happened again last night because she is still trying to find the balance with Metformin and her insulin pump dose.

When she is low, she starts to feel shaky.  Haley says when she’s in the 40’s, she’s shaky and starts to sweat, and feels sick to her stomach.  In the 30’s or below, she said it’s like a slow, easy, calm drift to sleep.  She loses functionality.  She checks out.  During this time, we guzzle juice and wait for it to come back up.  We have a glucagon kit, which is also nicknamed the “oh shit kit.”  If we’re breaking out Glucagon, we’re past the need for juice, cake icing, etc.  We’re in trouble and a Glucagon shot in her hip/behind area is intended as a last resort before calling 911.

Luckily, the juice (and a PB&J sammich!) did the job because in just  a few minutes, she was laughing and joking with me again.

It is still amazing to me that she can come that close to danger and a few minutes later, she’s completely normal. It’s scary. Amazing. Exhausting.  After a low like that, her body needs time to recover.  She feels terrible for the day.  Kind of like recovering from the flu. I asked if she’d like to lay down with me for a little while and just relax.  Maybe take a nap.  I expected her to say no, to go play video games or watch TV.  Instead, she crawled up in my bed beside me and chatted with me for a few minutes (after she’d drank all the juice and her blood sugar was good) and then drifted to sleep.  My five foot 9 inch , 17 year old “baby” was lying beside me in the guest room.  I laid there with her and played with her hair while she slept.  And a million memories instantly poured into my brain. My husband kept texting me, asking what our plans for dinner were going to be.  I think I texted back and said we’re skipping it because I didn’t want to move from my cozy spot with my girl.  The house would have had to be on fire for me to move.  I wanted to breathe her in and the comfort having her beside me brought me.  I am hoping that she, too, found comfort while she slept next to me.  Sleeping is an issue for me and has since really elevated since her DX.  It is my greatest fear that the “low” will not wake her from her sleep and I will come to find her gone.  It is such a morbid thought, but any parent of a kid with a life threatening illness knows this fear. We’re trying to get a CGM for her)(Continuous Glucose Monitor)  that will show trends in her sugars- whether they are going up or down…and alarms that will be sent to my phone when she’s too high or low.  It’s a pretty penny, but it is needed and will help alleviate some stress in her life…and in mine.  Later when I told her goodnight, Haley said “Hey mom, thanks for saving my life today.” I giggled a little bit and thought…whew…that was a close call today! All a little too overwhelming.

So you take her near-death experience yesterday, combined with the disappointing doctor’s appointment and very little sleep and that’s a yucky day.  My old friend depression showed up yesterday for a little bit….but.  To use the verse from Lamentations 3:23, “God’s mercy and grace are new every morning.”

And a new morning it was.  I reached a new milestone today.  My first in this journey! I weighed myself today and I am happily writing to you from “Onederland.”  Don’t know what that is?  If not, you must not have a weight issue LOL. ONEderland is where you find yourself when your weight begins with a ONE instead of anything else.  That’s right…I just sorta put my weight out here on the crazy internet for all to see.  it’s not like ya’ll were blind to the fact that I am a heavy girl.  SOOO- since my pre-op phase in mid-February, I’ve dropped 31.4 pounds. It’s a little less than 3 pounds a week.  I still call that a win. 31.4 down.  54 to go. Easy, right? Pffffffffftttt.  No, it’s not easy.  But I am doing it.

Thanks for reading and letting me get the emotions out.  Whether 1 person reads or 100 read, it is nice to be able to document my journey and pour my feelings somewhere that people may be able to understand.  Weight loss is super hard.  If it were easy, we’d all be skinny!

I hope everyone has a great evening.  Thank you again for spending your time with me today ❤

Be Blessed,

Dawn

 

 

Week one after weight loss surgery is done! So now what?

Well hello there, from your newly “sleeved” blogger-friend!

On March 2nd I had a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. We call it VSG or “getting sleeved.”

From my last posts, I mentioned that I was on a really strict liver shrinking diet and wasn’t much of a fan of it. The first week I could have 2 Ketogenx brand protein shakes, 2 Keto snacks, and a lean/green meal at dinner.  The second week, I could have liquid only.  It had to be the Bariatric Advantage protein powder and it had to be 5x per day!  I could fill in the day with clear broths, sugar free Popsicles and Sugar Free Jello. During those 2 weeks of liver shrinking, I lost 10 pounds.  Yay, right?  That’s kinda the point of all this.  Yes.  YAY.  But that doesn’t mean that the preparation for this process doesn’t still suck, ’cause it really does.

Since last Wednesday, I’ve been on all liquids and will be until this coming Wednesday when I can have pureed foods.  Although the word “puree'” still sounds icky, I am going to enjoy the week long phase and add in some yummy soups that I will stick in the blender.  Like creamy potato soup, maybe some Wendy’s chili…that kind of thing

During this current phase, I am not really hungry.  Fun fact: the part of the stomach that is removed also is the area where the hormone lives that makes us think we are hungry.  So, the sensation of hunger is not here now, but I hear it will return later. I am challenged with drinking 64 oz of water, and getting in 60grams of protein each day.  Sounds easy, but isn’t.  Considering I am training myself to take very small sips by drinking from a shot glass, it takes all day- and I didn’t really accomplish that goal until a couple of days ago. (I know my way around a shot glass very well, but never did I think I’d use it for WATER?!?! Sleevers must sip.  NEVER gulp, or it hurts like hell.  And whatever is in our small stomachs may even come back up.  On our way home from the hospital Thursday morning, I quickly figured out the difference between what a sip IS and what it is NOT.  Jason was driving.  I had my Atkins “Lift” drink, which is 20 grams of protein water.  I had a bag in the back seat that I had planned to take to Good Will.  After my first drink on my own outside the hospital, I grabbed that bag and endured the worst feeling!  It felt like a bullet going down my stomach, exploding and then rising back up. You know that feeling in the back of your throat when you’re about to puke?  Get kind of a tingle in your body?  Yep.  All that happened in a matter of seconds.  But thankfully, there was no need for the bag and it can still be donated:)   I have not made that mistake again.  It’s a pain I cannot describe.

Some ask me “if you’re only drinking liquid, how are you managing your protein?”  Since I started this journey, I’ve learned what protein shakes are good and what aren’t.  I try to choose one that has 20 grams or more of protein, has less than 10 sugars, and less than 15 carbs per serving.  My favorite is Premier Protein because it is about 11oz of fluid but 30 grams of protein. If I can get 2 of those, or similar ones down per day, I’ve met the protein goal. I use broths, flavored water, popsicles and jello as other resources for liquid.  FYI- a popsicle is 2oz of water!  Until I can eat real food, this is the way I manage it.

My surgery went really well.  Kind of uneventful.  I arrived at the surgery center at 10am Wednesday for a noon-time surgery.  I did not have this surgery in a traditional hospital.  Since I was a self-pay patient, we had to cut some corners.  Bigger hospitals had bigger fees.  So we went the surgery center route.  The Sleeve is gaining more popularity, so Rex Surgery Center in Cary is where I went.  They only do sleeves on Wednesdays and only 2 per day are done.  I met a delightful young lady  named Jessica (and her mom) there while we recovered together.  It was like being in a hospital, but in a smaller setting with only one or 2 nurses on shift.  They took great care of me.  As long as they kept the pain meds coming, I didn’t really care where I was.  6 hours after surgery, I was able to chew ice chips and sip Isopure that I brought from home. If you don’t already know, Isopure is likely the best protein-fortified clear beverage out there as far as getting protein in at 40g per bottle- but it is by far, the most disgusting tasting liquid on the earth.  Think of the way dirty socks smell and then try drinking that crap.  I say that now….but after going 24 hours without food/drink at all, some red Isopure was tasting pretty damn good.  That’s all I got to say about that….

I also have some unflavored, odorless protein powder that I can put it other stuff, like broth.  It changes the texture to a more creamy soup, but its a nice way to get the protein in.  I will also add it to other protein shakes that are maybe not so high in protein to boost the count per gram. When I graduate to softer foods next week, I can add it to soups, mashed potatoes, yogurt and pudding.  MMmmmmmm pudding…. sound so great to me these days!

My first night at home was not a fun time.  In fact, if you had asked me at 3am Thursday if I made the right decision, I may have told you a big fat NO.  the first night at home was painful but not as painful as like maybe a birth or a hysterectomy – and I have had both.  It’s just that I was so thirsty and I couldn’t drink as fast as I needed or wanted.  That familiar pain I felt in the car the prior day was very much how I felt each hour that I woke up Thursday night.I had pain meds to take (by syringe…remember- no solid anything at that point. It’s a combo of Tylenol/Hydrocodone maybe?  I don’t know, but it was my BFF that night. And though Thursday night was rough, Friday came like it always does, and I was a new woman:) The pain was less, and I realized when I woke that it was a little easier to sip.

And since then, each day has gotten progressively better! I am not in any pain.  just a little discomfort from the incisions, but that is all.  I am walking a little in my neighborhood just to get some exercise. I can’t walk the dogs yet or do any pushing, pulling or lifting more than 5 pounds, but I am managing just fine. My husband and daughter, sister, cousin and my mother have been amazing with their support.  I thought this was gonna be way worse than it has been.  I think I am just really blessed to have such a great support system. I went back to work Monday, but from home. I plan to work from home until the soreness goes away, and then I’ll go back.  Would love to see my co-workers, who have also been wonderful supporters.

If you know me at all, or even if you have just come to read my blog as a stranger, you know that my battle with health and weight have been ongoing since I was a teenager.  It is a battle that I have never been able to win.  The Sleeve is a tool to help me combat morbid obesity and win back my health. This process is challenging, but I already feel that it is really going to be worth it.  If you’re on this journey, I would love to hear about your experience, too.

I guess that’s it! Except…since surgery I’ve lost 5 pounds. For those playing at home, that is a total of 15 since I started the pre-op diet:)   It doesn’t sound like a lot considering I am only taking in 400-500 calories per day.  Some patients actually gain their first week because of all the fluids and meds and stuff they give you in the hospital.   I can feel clothes fitting differently. 15 is a great start to my long journey ahead.  I am so looking forward to the coming months  and really getting back into my groove.

Thank you for reading!

Cheers!

Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Weight Loss Surgery Journey: Pre-Op week 2. Can’t say I am looking forward to this…

Hi Friends!

A week from tomorrow, my VSG (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy) is goin’down! I am so flippin’ excited for this to happen…but not so excited about the final stage I have to complete before surgery.  It’s a doozie.  LOL.

So, for the past week, in an effort to keep shrinkin’ my liver as the doctor prescribed,  I’ve eaten only protein shakes 2x a day and  one  lean/green meal per day.  I also could have 2 healthy ketogenx snacks or stuff like a cheese stick, veggies, etc.  I ate out a couple of times and had a green salad with grilled chicken and vinaigrette dressing.  Not too terrible.  It’s very much the way I should have eaten all along, but didn’t.  One of those meals was with a terrific friend at my favorite pub.  Was definitely great seeing her, and definitely weird sitting in my favorite pub on a Sunday afternoon eating a SALAD and having water instead of beer!

During this past week, I HAVE been a little hangry at times.  You know…Hangry= hungry and Angry at the same time?! But in those cases, I’d have  small snack or have a couple of glasses of water to make me feel full.  I’ve tried to keep busy to keep my mind off food.  So, all in all, this past week didn’t really suck.  I’ve lost nearly 6 pounds this week, so there’s the silver lining in this week!

I ain’t even gonna lie.  This week is so gonna suck.  Here’s what I can eat this week:

IMG_0314

This lone bag of vanilla flavored protein powder is my new BFF for a WEEK. Five times a day.  NO FOOD.  Just liquid. Sigh…

I can use sugar free sweeteners like SF kool aid packets or drops like Mio in it to give it different flavors.  My sweet mama bought me some SF syrups in various flavors like Chocolate, Smores, Belgian Sugar Cookie, etc to make it tolerable for a week.

So, tonight is my last night of real food for a long time.  My husband is going to take me to dinner (YAY!).  I will get a healthy meal that I can actually CHEW for the last time until about the 3rd week in March.  After bariatric surgery, patients are on a liquid diet for about 2-3 weeks.  We can have protein shakes, broths, SF jello, SF Popsicles.  Around the third week is generally where we introduce our new, much smaller tummies to foods again. Like yogurts, puddings, applesauce, etc. This portion of the diet doesn’t suck so bad because I won’t be hungry.  Fun fact: the part of my stomach that is removed is also the part that has the hormones that tell my brain that I am hungry.  I won’t feel hungry AFTER surgery, but I am betting this upcoming week and until March 2nd I am gonna be one hangry bitch.

SO. My plan is to keep busy, busy, busy! Go to the gym…go see friends….go walk outside with my dogs…clean my house….just get out of the house so I don’t think about food.  And of course, on my outings, make sure I take my trusty shaker bottle with me to mix me up some protein shakes! If you have ideas on how to keep me busy, you just name it.  I have a lot of time to keep myself busy. I  will sleep as much as I can to avoid being awake to think about food:)

When my teenager says something is not fun, or she didn’t enjoy something, she’ll say, “Mom, that was not “lit”. That means it was horrid and she isn’t going again or doing again.  This stage isn’t gonna be lit!  But even though this stage will suck, it is still for the betterment of my health and I am gonna stick to it.  I see the bigger picture. I am still feeling strong and undeterred!

Through this journey, it has become so clear to me how much as a society, we place so much emphasis on FOOD.  Someone gets married= we go to a reception and eat/drink.  Somebody dies, we immediately take a casserole to their home. (nothing wrong with that!!) We meet up with friends, and we meet for lunch/dinner with drinks.  Everything we  do is about food. We go for coffee…ice cream…we go to the movies and gorge on over-sized sodas and popcorn.  Whether we are celebrating or commiserating, we incorporate food into each event.  That will surely be a struggle for me later, when I choose foods that apply to my new low carb lifestyle.

But I have an idea on how to celebrate with food.  For each pound I lose, I am going to donate a pound of food to a food pantry or food bank in my area.  For my local folks reading, if you volunteer at such a place, let me know! It will be a while before I get a good bunch of foods together, but I do plan on donating.  So, if I lose 80 pounds, a shelter/food kitchen/food bank is gonna get 80 pounds of food!  I think this is a much better way for me to celebrate with food as opposed to actually eating it!  So far, I have about 6 pounds to start off with! That’s like 6 boxes of 1 pound pasta. When I put it in a visual perspective, it seems like a lot.  I hope it’s a lot and benefits a lot of needy people/families! Not sure where I am gonna store all this food.  Maybe I’ll start an area in the garage and build from there.  SO exciting to share food in a different way!

As always, thanks for reading.  I hope you’ll continue to follow me on my exciting journey to a happy, healthy me.

Be Blessed,

Dawn

 

 

 

My WLS journey- phase 1: liver shrinkin’! 

2 weeks from today I’ll be having weight loss surgery! Yay! I have to follow a strict diet in order to shrink my liver. Most people have a fatty liver. People who eat not so healthy with a diet full of carbs and fat tend to have fattier livers. I reckon mine is fatty, hence the reason for this phase in my journey.

I went out with girlfriends last night for Mexican food as my last supper. And when I got home I drank my last glass of wine. All to prepare for this big step!

This week I must have 2 ketogenx protein shakes a day, 2 ketogenx snacks, and a healthy dinner with stuff like chicken, fish, veggies, etc.  The way normal people are supposed to eat!  Easy peasy, right?

NOT. The protein powder is nasty. I must mix it with water only. This morning I tried putting it my single serve blender. Gross. Even with a little PB2. This afternoon I put it in my shaker bottle and chugged it before I ever had a chance to taste it. LOL.

Here’s this week’s meal stuff… Plus dinner with protein and veggies each night.

Bon appetite! 

Wait until you see what I get to have the whole week before surgery….this week’s haul looks like a smorgasbord compared to next week!

But- a little inconvenience now is worth my good health later😄

Thanks for reading about my journey💜

I Wanna See You Be BRAVE.

“I wanna see you be brave.”

These are the words to one of my favorite Sara Bareilles songs. And it’s also my personal mantra for 2016.  My heart is really full today and I’d like to share why…

You’ve likely gotten my blog link from my Facebook profile.  I share things on FB about my family and my life in general.  I tend to keep it light and funny most days but as you know, in the last few months, I’ve shared my struggle with depression and how I’m dealing with it.  (Wonderfully, by the way!)  I’ve also shared with you my struggle with being overweight since I was a teenager. Being overweight is a very common bond that many share.  In my case, it has gotten to the point where the excess weight is affecting various parts of my life.  I was growing more and more detached from friends and family because I’ve been embarrassed of my size, especially because just 3+ years ago, I was almost to my goal weight, but gained nearly  every ounce back again because I got injured, lost my motivation.  My blood pressure has had a steady rise over the last year.  My body hurts as it hasn’t before.  The body weight has really taken its toll on my knees, ankles and feet. I find myself always fatigued in one or all of those areas.

“Mrs. Graham, you are Morbidly Obese.”  These are not the words one wants to hear from her doctor. But I heard them last year.  And I heard them again this year.  Not “you’re overweight”. Not even  that I’m obese.  Throw in the word “morbidly” and it the “obese” part takes on a whole new meaning and sense of urgency.

At 47 years old, I am heeding the warnings.

Exciting things are happening! My life changes on March 2nd for the better. A few of you know that I have spent the last several months researching Weight Loss Surgery. I’ve spent hours and days educating myself on the different procedures, and have chosen the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, also known as VSG. My stomach will be reduced to about 25% of its normal size. I will follow a life long high protein/ low carb diet.  I’ve attended informational seminars from 3 different hospitals, talked to surgeons, joined online support groups- but mostly, I’ve been fortunate to have 2 excellent resources in my life who have had this surgery. My sister, Teresa- and my cousin, Regina. Both of them are younger than me…I thought the older sibling and cousin was supposed to be the wiser one?!?!?!? Not in this case! Both of these ladies have had wonderful results from this surgery and they’ve been fielding my 4654647874 questions for the last several months 🙂

Before you even THINK about saying the words “She is taking the easy way out.” I respectfully ask you to retract those words and let me tell you why it is anything but easy!

For the last 3 weeks, I’ve had test upon test. Psychiatric Evaluation, Sleep Study, EKG, Nutrition Classes, Blood work, Upper GI and an Ultrasound to name just a few. Next week, I will begin a strict, physician supervised diet that helps shrink the liver. Most people already have mildly fatty livers. People who are overweight tend to have more fatty livers- so before I have the surgery, they want me to try to shrink the liver so the surgeon gets around it easily when he operates on my stomach. I remain on that diet for 2 weeks. Week 2 of that diet is gonna be a real test of my willpower. Only liquid protein for 3 meals a day. Oy. When I come home from the surgery, I will go 2 more weeks of JUST LIQUID while my stomach heals itself. After that, I will introduce foods again. One by one.

My relationship with food will totally change. For the very first time in my life, I will be eating to LIVE as opposed to living to EAT. AND- I am paying for this myself because my insurance does not cover it. We are talking thousands of dollars. So all of that is the easy way out. Right? This will test my physical and mental willpower like nothing else.
Why am I doing this? I’ve lost weight dozens of times in the past. In fact, if you take all the times I’ve lost weight, it would add up to about 400 pounds lost. Unfortunately, with each time I lost, I also gained. That roller coaster of highs and lows is not just depressing, it’s terrible for my body. The Sleeve is a tool to help me keep the weight off. Secondly, I am getting older, and it’s not getting any easier no matter how I try to get the weight off of me. Other reasons….because there is a shame associated with obesity. There is a dark, lonely depressing side that you can’t truly understand unless you live it. I am tired of the dark. It’s time for my health to take a front seat in my life.

Quite simply, I want the rest of my life to be the BEST of my life!

The Sleeve is not a miracle. It is not a quick fix. It is a tool to help me with my obesity problem. Can I fail? Sure. If I substituted my protein shakes for milkshakes, yes, I can fail. Is it likely? NO. I can’t remember in my adult life ever wanting something more than I want this, even though for a short time it will be a huge financial burden. But it will be so worth it. My health is worth it. Look- this process is hard. But being fat is hard, too. I am just picking a different hard.

Before actually deciding to do this thing, I looked at myself in the mirror. There was NOTHING I liked in that mirror, so I vowed to change it. And the words that just kept coming to me were from the Sara Bareillis song, “Brave.”

“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live. Maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me how big your brave is.”

And with that, I called Bariatric Specialists of North Carolina and scheduled my consultation! In 3 weeks, I will have the Sleeve and learn a new way of life. And I simply cannot wait! I have a list of things to accomplish along this journey. They are scale victories and non-scale victories. I hope you will stick around to read my updates along the “weigh.”

Until then, I want to show you pictures of my role models!
This is my gorgeous sister, Teresa. She’s four years younger than me but clearly a lot smarter:)  Sleeved in November 2014, she’s lost about 90 pounds!!

Teresa

To show you that true beauty really does run in the Barnes Family…meet my beautiful cousin, Regina! She was sleeved June 2015 and has also lost over 90 pounds, and still losing:)

regina

Aren’t my mentors terrific!!?? I love them so much!

For me, this journey is not about being thin.  It’s about being healthy.  And if Ilook better, then that’s just a bonus for me.

I know there will be doubters. I know there will be people who don’t think it is necessary.  My circle of friends has recently decreased and it may get smaller still.  The friends who know my struggle will understand and the ones who don’t care or want to sabotage my efforts simply won’t be in my circle. I’m serious about this lifestyle change.

With my faith, and the support of my family and friends, I know I’ll be ok and obtain the healthy goals that I want. I’ll update the blog with each phase.  I hope you will stick around to witness my journey- I’d be happy to have your company. And if I can support you in your weight loss journey, I feel I am a great cheerleader!

Chat with you a week from today.  Until then, I just might eat pasta with every meal and chase it with a beer.  LOL.

It feels good to finally be BRAVE.

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Love, Dawn

Watch and sing this with me ❤  How big is YOUR brave?

 

Deja-boo, the heart of the matter,and Pinkv.2

Did y’all miss me? All seven of you that read my blog. LOL. Turns out I’m not a good blogger! I’m trying to make a good effort, but I’ve kinda had a busy few months! Hence the catch-all title of today’s entry.

Deja-vu means you’re in a situation you’ve been in or felt before. I have that situation but I’m calling it Déjà-boo because it’s a situation I’d rather not have been in more than once! Haley’s T1D Dx anniversary was Memorial Day weekend. We’re waaaay more well-prepared now, 3 years in, than we were then. Or so we thought. Stinkerbell landed her cute self in the hospital shortly before her sugar-versary. She was feeling awful one morning in May and pleaded with me to stay home. There’s an urgency in her voice when she has a diabetic issue that is far greater than any other. There’s a look in her eyes. Like a glassy, dull expression that I’ve come to recognize. She gets winded. She gets lethargic and it sucks. She didn’t even have to plead her case. I knew by looking at her that she felt bad. She measured for ketones. Our test strips indicated none. She still couldn’t breathe and her heart “hurt ” so to the pediatrician we went. Imagine our surprise when we learned she had a LARGE AMOUNT OF KETONES in her urine. They urged me to take her to Wake Med’s children’s hospital ER. Haley was in mild diabetic ketoacidocis. It’s awful. No wonder she felt bad. Luckily we didn’t have to spend the whole night. If you don’t know what DKA is, and you know/love a diabetic, I urge you to go look it up. Too much of it can send type one’s into diabetic coma.
We chugged water like crazy, she was dehydrated so they pumped her full of good hydration via IV. She rested. We talked. It was an awful day until very cute doctor came in and told her she could spend the night in her own bed. LOL. Diabetics lead a life of highs and lows. Literally! She’s fine these days and enjoying the first few days of summer vacation, and she has her drivers license now!

Before the craziness in May, rewind back to late January, when my husband was sick. If you know me well, you know I’m not one to stay idle even when I’m sick, so it’s hard for me to comprehend how my husband can. And it’s my general opinion that men are the weaker sex when it comes to sickness. In my house I can be crazy sick but the kid needs to get from point A to B, dishes need washing and so do clothes. I still take care of stuff like women are programmed to do. Meanwhile, husband is laid up in bed with NyQuil because he has the sniffles. For the first 2 days of Jason’s illness, I immediately thought he must’ve been hungover. LOL. Or really embellishing because his version of sick and mine are NOT THE SAME.😆

I can tell you that crow does not have nice flavor! I had to eat my words. On day 3 he looked so bad that his skin was gray. No energy. Hard to breathe. Racing heart. Vomiting non stop. He let me take him to urgent care, which is a big deal since he’s only been to the doctor a handful of times since we’ve been together, which is about 20 years! The PA there called EMS immediately and off to Rex we went. His heart rate was 200+ bpm! I followed the ambulance over I my car. Lots of crazy thoughts went through my brain during that drive. Please, Jesus… Let him be ok. …. And he is now. Jason developed an arrhythmia. The ER doctor used the scary paddles on him to reset his heart…. While he was AWAKE! He said it was the worst pain he’d felt in his life. After a series of tests, and a week in the hospital, he left with a shiny new pacemaker at the ripe old age of 44. Yes. I said 44.

So- my family has had some issues of late. In comparison to what’s happened to Jason and Haley, my issues are minor. I’ve had chronic pain in my lower abdomen for several months. Ultrasounds and CT scans showed nothing wrong, though I have sporadic pain that rival pain of childbirth. Tired of having this pain and not figuring out what it was made me turn to an alternative….and so far, I’ve had positive results and minimal pain. Why?

The infamous pink drink you may see my friends post about on my Facebook page. Plexus and I are not new friends. I’ve actually taken the Plexus slim powder for quite some time, but I was not consistent with it. I’ve been really diligent for about a month now. The benefits I’m seeing and feeling are feeling more rested, minimal tummy pain, more energy and I AM SLEEPING, YALL! I have suffered from insomnia for about the last ten years. Now, my sleepless nights are few. Plexus was originally formulated to help type2 diabetics control their blood sugars. Haley is type 1, so she will always require insulin by injection or pump until a cure is found. But- when we visit her doctor this month, I plan on showing her doctor the ingredients in Plexus and have Haley try it with the doctor’s blessing, of course.

Now listen… I’m not so naive to think that some pink power is gonna make me lose a ton of weight. It has worked that way for others. But it’s working for me in various ways.

Plexus is wellness in a bag. If I lose weight with it, GREAT! But if I don’t, I’m good with that, too. I’m FEELING SO MUCH BETTER! And my bloodwork is showing it, too! Cholesterol like check. Blood pressure is perfect. A1C is spot-on. I’m not anemic nor are my potassium levels low like they used to be. I’m 46 and was beginning to feel every single one of those years and I don’t mean that in a good way.

I started hearing about the benefits of Plexus from my sweet girlfriends Micah and Heather, who’ve both had phenomenal results from it. Then I became friends with their friends, Tracy, Melissa, Dee and
Carol. ALL of them have experiences similar to mine. These are not stories from complete strangers. These are people I know!
I’m giving this a second go of it and stay diligent. I added the probio5 and Biocleanse. I need to keep my tummy healthy and out of pain. So far, it’s all good!

My fitness routine has suffered since my ankle surgery last October. I’ve gained all but 23 pounds of the 80 I lost. I gotta resume the activities that made me feel strong. Now that things have calmed down on the home front, I feel like I can turn my setbacks into a big comeback.

Do you want to join me on my Pinkv.2 journey? Whether with exercise or Plexus or both… I’d love to have some company on this journey. It’s easier when you have support from your friends. And I’d love to cheer you on as well.

Thanks so much for reading. I’ve been wanting to post an update for months but had too much going on. And quite honestly, I’ve not felt good. I’ve felt old. Weak. Brittle. But no more. The woman who was a force to be reckoned with took a long hiatus. TOO LONG. But I’m finally ready to enjoy getting that cheerful spirit and healthy mind and body back:)

Shew… That was a LOT of typing! Thanks for taking the time to spend with me. I’d love to hear from you! For all the prayers, calls, emails, texts regarding my family these last few months, THANK YOU! I felt every single one!

Xoxo
DMG

“against my better judgement”

hi:)
My half marathon is in 26 days. TWENTY SIX DAYS, I tell ya! And unfortunately, I am not prepared. But I am still doing it! Read on. I will explain.
A lot of my facebook friends, neighbors, co-workers and family have asked about the status of my weight loss journey, and my participation in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon next month. So I thought I’d write it up- share it, and hope that it answers those questions.

I finally went to have my elbow injury and old Achilles injury looked at. The pain in my elbow was getting to be unbearable. Imagine grabbing a drink at a drive through window, Even to lift OUNCES would send sharp shooting pain into my elbow and sometimes, I’d drop stuff. It was affecting nearly everything. I stopped boxing, stopped Body Combat and Body Pump- even using the arm things on the elliptical would hurt!

The Achilles gets no rest because well- quite honestly, I am stubborn, and if I can’t do the fun fitness activities, I could at least walk/run, right?

NOT.SO.MUCH.

How about I have something called Haglund’s deformity on my heel. They call it “pump bump” because many women get that pointy looking thing from wearing high heels. I assure you that was NOT the case with me:) LOL. Lots of women get it from running on an incline. BINGO! DING< DING< DING! That’s probably what did it.
If you wanna know what it is all about, here’s the wikipedia version of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haglund’s_deformity

In addition to this bump on the heel, I have a bone spur. Fun times, huh? It is not impacting me so much that I cannot walk and it doesn’t really bother me so much right now. But as I get older, and if it continues to bother me, they recommend surgery.
Oh.hell.NO.

My doctor says this race is against his better judgement because I haven’t properly trained. AND I have this injury. 13.1 miles is a ‘lil too far in his opinion. And in any other case, I would agree with them. But- this race is more than 13.1 miles. It’s for my daughter. My T1D rockstar!
You can read more about that here:

http://www2.jdrf.org/goto/dmgraham

She puts her body through SO MUCH. All T1D’s do. It’s all for her. I can do this. It’s gonna hurt. I know it is. But she fuels my passion to push myself to do this. Every day is a struggle for her. I can struggle for a day for HER.

Moving on- back to the elbow thingy.
Dr. Wonderful gave me a cortisone shot in my elbow and prescribed 6 weeks of physical therapy. I’ll  admit- I am really skeptical about stuff like that. I immediately doubted that a little stretching and exercise would alleviate the pain in my elbow…Which turned out NOT to be an elbow thing! It is actually a neck injury and that muscle is some kinda JACKED UP! But with various muscle manipulation, exercises and some fun procedure they call dry needling- I am ALMOST as good as new!

I have never been so glad to do even a modified push up in my life. I did 30 today in the PT’s office.
We do exercises with resistance bands to build strength in my shoulder, elbow and arm. Right now, I love my physical therapist about as much as I love JESUS. He has really helped me feel so much better! I am not done with PT yet. We are working strength right now and then we will work on…..
you guessed it- striking! punching! Praise BE! I am gonna get to go back to boxing in the immediate future!!!!

In other news- if you were not already aware, I stopped boxing/kickboxing due to said injury last May.
Subsequently, the combination of stopping my favorite activity PLUS losing my way in my fitness trek has cost me about a 25 pound gain. I got very lazy.  Very fast.

Yes, friends….25 pounds is about 2 jeans sizes and I am not a happy girl. I am currently on the “lose as much weight as possible in the next 26 days so I don’t have to haul ALL that ass across the finish line” diet and fitness plan! But I will continue long past finishing the race. I know what it feels like to feel strong and proud of myself.

I know how I feel right now ain’t a happy feeling.

I have been so incredibly hard on myself. The things I say to myself in my mind and to my reflection are horrible. I wouldn’t say those things to an enemy, if I had any, so why do I say that sh*t to myself?! I KNOW that happiness and beauty are not defined by a number on a scale. But part of feeling strong and healthy, and beautiful IS defined in part about how we feel about ourselves. I loved that feeling last summer and I MUST strive to make my way back there.
Plus, if I don’t. I have a closet full of clothes that are too tight right now…and I am determined not to buy new stuff.

I think I need y’all to physically come to my house and drag my ass to the gym more.  Really, I think that’s what it’s gonna take to get myself moving like I used to!

So, I am still doing the race. I have to do it. I committed to it. The team I am running with are all JDRF supporters. They’ll be running. I’ll be walking/jogging/skipping/dancing or even crawling across the finish line. It’s important to me.
If you’re a friend reading, I would so love to have your support in whatever way you would like to participate- whether it’s a donation, if it’s running or walking with my team…or even if it’s a high five as I hurl myself over the finish line, I would love to see friendly faces there for my girl. Even a prayer for my daughter- or for me that I don’t further injure myself, which is my fear- and is very, very possible.  I could be doing so much more damage- but am willing to take the risk.  I’ll keep doing the stretches and exercises that “PT /almost-Jesus”  wants me to do.
I am so proud of how Haley’s handled her diagnosis, which has almost been two years! I want to show her how proud I am of her:)

Part of making her proud of me is to stop beating myself up about this gain and be kind to myself. I am not showing her how to properly deal with mistakes and disappointments by shaming myself. Picking myself up after admitting to setback, and then kicking it’s ASS is a much better way to show her a strong, confident, smart Mama. Gonna turn my setback into a comeback and be as healthy as I was.

She and her sister make me want to be better. So no more of the nasty talk to the mirror. More kindness to myself and realizing I am human…realizing that the scale does not define me.

Thank you for reading:) I will have another post soon about Haley’s progress as a T1D. We had our 90 day checkup yesterday that woke us up and is steering us in the best direction. I will write more about it later:)

In the meantime, I hope to see you on race day!

Kindly,
DMG

pity party officially OVER!

The pity party is officially over. Yeah- I gained weight. Yeah – it sucks! But I’m not gonna stay down about it. Gonna get mad as hell at it, lose what I gained and a couple more pounds. I don’t like whiney me! Sassy me is so much better! Off to find my sexiest boots and kick ass!

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Low-carb life – begins tomorrow!

Making a huge change in my diet beginning tomorrow – and fitness changes on Monday!

Gained some weight over the summer. More than the ten pounds I’ve talked about. More like 18. They gotta go. My daughter is a type 1 diabetic so a low carb diet would lower the carb intake and lower the units of insulin she has to inject daily. I’m hoping to lead by example. I feel like if I can get through the first 2 weeks, I can do anything. Please don’t ask what I’m gonna do about my love for beer…. Will have to reserve for special occasions;)

Memorial Day marked the start of summer. I lost my senses and gained a sh*t ton of weight since then. Labor Day divinities the unofficial end of summer. These extra pounds can leave with summer, too!

Off to find my willpower and change my eating habits – and return to bad ass gym girl!