Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thereafter 'til Now

For earlier days, scroll down to previous posts. There's one about the day before, the day of, the day after, and Christmas day.

After Christmas Day, things started to improve. The day after Christmas is my brother Corey's birthday, the next day is his daughter Brooke's birthday, and two days later is his wife Audree's birthday. It's a lot of celebrating even when I'm feeling 100%. It was kind of nice to have the excuse of my surgery to take it easy when I needed to, though.

I didn't go to Dad's house on the 26th. I figured they'd just be eating and playing games. I still couldn't eat much, so why do that to myself? I called Dad and explained and of course he totally understood and told me to take it easy. Of course, everyone came to Mom's house for a few hours, so I couldn't totally take it easy 'til they headed to Dad's. Then I relaxed on the couch and "watched tv". Really, I slept. A lot. I couldn't believe how groggy I was! The longest consecutive amount of time I was awake was a little less than an hour. Shiree and Wendy came by at some point but I was dead to the world so they just dropped off a gift - a yummy smelling candle - and said they'd try again the next day. Everyone got back from Dad's that evening and had leftovers at Mom's. I started to hurt, so I went back to Mom's bed. Sarah came by, bringing a poinsettia, and we chatted for a little bit. I have such good friends. I played a game with the family after Sarah left, but couldn't stay awake for long, so I went to bed right after they left. Mom had invited Porter and Brooke over for a sleep-over, so I didn't get to sleep in long. They love to wake me up.

The 27th, I woke up feeling much better. I wasn't as sleepy and not in quite as much pain. It was at this point that I started going longer in between pain medicine. I could barely stand to put the cup to my lips - it was so nasty. I also showered for the first time, Mom's new hand-held shower head making it easy to avoid getting too much water on my healing wounds. I also felt up to putting on makeup and doing my hair myself. I started getting dizzy towards the end but was able to finish. I finally had real solid food - a small, thin slice of ham. It was so yummy! I couldn't finish the slice, but that was okay, it was just nice to have something solid in my stomach finally. Brooke's party was at 2pm at their house, so Mom and I headed out. Kevin got to have Scott again and had picked him up while Mom had taken the kids home around 11. They were playing when Mom and I arrived and it was fun to see how well they all get along. That Scott is so lively and cute. I wish we got to see him more often. We stayed at Corey's house 'til almost 7, leaving only because I was hurting. I refused to take medicine when we got home, though, and was able to relieve the pain by resting on Mom's bed for awhile. Corey's family came to Mom's shortly after we had arrived. They played games while I chatted with Shiree and Wendy, who had come back to visit. I got out of bed to walk them to the door and because I hadn't walked enough that day and my shoulder hurt like heck. I played with the kids a bit then they left and I went to bed.

I had horrible nightmares that night. The only one I remember now caused me to wake up in the middle of the night panicked because Emily Post was trying to take over the world. I couldn't breath I was so worried. The panic wouldn't dispel, so I turned on the bedside lamp and the tv to distract me. Eventually I fell asleep again, only to wake up more times, scared. I wondered if I was having bad dreams because I was in quite a bit of pain, so I broke down and took some pain med. I slept fine the rest of the night.

Sunday the 28th was a quiet day. No one's birthday. Kevin played games at Corey's house 'til noon then headed for home, so Mom and I had the house to ourselves. We enjoyed it most of the day, but by evening we were getting bored. We tried watching a movie but neither of us could get into it. We played a game her sister had given her and really enjoyed it. Then we read and watched tv. It was really relaxing and I'm sure the rest did my body good. I didn't want to, but in hopes of avoiding nightmares, I took some pain medicine before going to bed. It worked and I slept soundly more or less - changing positions still woke me up a few times but I was able to go back to sleep quickly.

Audree's birthday was the 29th. It was also the day I had set for me to move home. My mom was an excellent nurse the whole time I stayed with her. When I couldn't do things for myself, she was there to do it for me. However, she also knew when I wanted to start doing things myself and let me, even pushed me a little. I really appreciate how well she took care of me. It was time to go home, though. I love my home so much and was really missing it. She and I loaded up her car with most of my stuff and then she carried it up my stairs. I helped as much as she'd let me, which wasn't a lot, but I carried as much as she'd give me. She made sure I was settled, then she headed home. It was nice to sit in my home and relax. I overdid myself, of course, by putting away my Christmas decoration s and sweeping off my front porch which was littered with snow salt. So, I watched tv the rest of the afternoon 'til Mom picked me up for Audree's birthday party. Her birthday marks the last day of the week-long party after party that is Christmastime. We didn't stay long because Audree had siblings there that she doesn't see very much and we wanted to give her time to focus on them. Corey and Jason had put together my tv stand, so when Mom and I left, they brought it to my condo after a pit stop at Mom's to pick up my bar stools. Jason stayed after Corey left and helped Mom and me rearrange my living room to fit my new stand. I really like the result. Slowly, my home is becoming more like what I envision it becoming. The rest of the night I had to myself. It was lovely. I opted to not take any pain medicine and didn't regret my decision that night - no nightmares. I haven't taken any since Sunday and don't plan on taking it ever again. Thank Heavens!

Yesterday was perfect. I was feeling the best I had since my surgery. There's still pain, but not enough to warrant pain med. It just reminds me to eat carefully, to move carefully, and to keep walking around. The gas and resulting shoulder pain are gone finally. I decided it was time to write about the experience, so I spent most of the day writing posts. It kept me so preoccupied that I didn't eat. I had about 1/3 of a Yoplait yougurt for breakfast then didn't think about eating again until 3pm. I finished the final 1/3 (I ate the first 1/3 the night before for dinner), then had a little cottage cheese. Mom brought over leftover ham, clam chowder, and chicken. I had about 1/5 of the chicken breast for dinner - about 6pm or so - and was full! I didn't eat again until just before 9 when I treated myself to a sugar-free popsicle. It was a really nice day. I didn't go anywhere. I wrote a lot, read a little, watched a little tv, and I put things away and decorated a bit. I also talked a lot on the phone. All in all, definitely the best I'd felt for a week.

Today, I've set a few goals for myself. I'm going to finish blogging, then put in a walking cd. I need to start exercising a little every day now that I'm feeling better. Mom has offered to pay for a few months of a gym membership. After some thought, I've decided to take her up on her offer. I love my stationary bike, but I need to strength train, too. I'm going to put all my dvds into the tv stand cupboards, sweep off my stairs - darn snow salt! - and finish putting away my stuff from the stay at Mom's. I have no New Year's Eve plans. It's not a big deal unless you have someone to kiss at midnight, so I'm not expecting to do much. Maybe Mom will come over and watch a movie. Maybe I'll just read. Who knows. I feel really good. A cold might be coming on, but I think resting will thwart its advance. Only one wound still hurts with any force but even it is feeling better. The tape covering my wounds is finally starting to come off, so my stomach is beginning to look more normal. Woohoo! Basically, I'm set to enjoy all these days off, alone in my lovely, beloved home. Aaahhh. Does it get any better than this?

Oh, and I've lost over 30 pounds. :)

Happy New Year!

Christmas Day

By Christmas day, I was tired of taking medicine, feeling pain, not being normal, and not being able to eat solid food. So, I was also a little cranky.

Mom came in to check on me and, when she realized I was already awake, wished me a Merry Christmas. Kevin came in a little later and we exchanged Feliz Navidads (not really). I had decided that rest would be the best thing for me, so I opted to stay home while Kevin and Mom drove out to Corey's house to watch the kids open presents and to see what Santa had brought them. Mom said they'd be back around 10am, so about 9 I drug myself out of bed, gave myself a sponge bath, medicated myself, and got ready for them to come back.

At 11:30, I started to feel neglected. Please remember that I hadn't slept well and was drugged. Oh, and I'm naturally ornery when people are late. I finally texted Mom and asked if they were coming back anytime soon. I tried to make it sound light-hearted, but I was feeling hurt. They finally came back and I tried to stay upbeat, but after everyone kept apologizing for being late almost jokingly, I lost it a little. Mom asked if I had felt lonely, and I nodded, trying not to cry. PLEASE remember I was on drugs! Everyone felt bad, so I felt bad. We all apologized then moved past it.

We opened presents and I enjoyed what I got and seeing everyone open their presents. I got to just sit there while everyone handed me my presents and babied me a little. I don't like to be babied too much, but they kept it to just the right point. :) See my other blog for a list of what I received and gave others.

For lunch, I had my first bite of solid food - a slice of a canned peach. I actually had to chew it! It was sweet, which was less-than-ideal, but at least it was solid. I managed to eat the whole thing even! Woohoo!

For the first time in forever, we didn't go to Dad's house on Christmas. I kind of felt bad that we weren't but was glad to be able to stay put and rest, especially after what happened the evening before. We played games, everyone ate yummy food, and I rested a lot. I did manage to steal a tiny handful of Chex Mix, though. Teehee. It tasted so good even though I didn't make it so it wasn't as overseasoned as I like it. Later that evening, Mom made her traditional clam chowder, one of her best batches ever. She gave me a couple tablespoons of just the chowder - nothing solid. Holy cow! It felt so good to eat something normal. I couldn't finish it all, believe it or not. So, so, so yummy.

It was a pretty mild day. None of the usual stress that I feel because we didn't go to Dad's. I was still taking pain med every four hours or so, so I was kind of out of it. And sleepy. I went back into Mom's room while everyone played some of the new games we'd received this year. Kevin came back at one point and played a couple games of checkers with me. He killed me the first game then I killed him the next time. We were going to play a third time, but the kids came in and wanted to hang out with me. Like the night before, people periodically came back to keep me company. I really appreciated it.

Eventually, Corey and his family left and we went to bed. Another day down and I was finally starting to feel a little better. Finally!

The Day After (aka Christmas Eve)

I woke up the day after my surgery feeling loopy and not very well-rested. Oh, and thirsty. And a little hungry.

I was extra sore when I got out of bed - it had been a rough night. Like I mentioned in a prior post, I woke up several times throughout the night. Also, it was hard to sleep comfortably because I normally sleep on my stomach and it was off-limits. I was suppose to sleep on my back but I occasionally shifted over to one side or the other. It hurt to shift and it hurt to sleep on either side, making sleep difficult. Mom came in to check on me and to give me more medicine. I seriously couldn't stand the thought of drinking it, but I knew I needed to in order to help my body heal quickly. I walked a few times up and down the hall while Mom prepared my breakfast - beef broth and apple juice.

I rested awhile after eating, then Mom suggested I give myself a sponge bath. It hurt quite a bit to stand in the bathroom and gently wash my body. The five "cuts" hadn't bled since the day before, but they still looked pretty gross. The tape from the guaze had left marks on my skin (I'm pretty sensitive) which made the scene look even worse. Oh, and I started to get really dizzy. I hurried to put my contact lenses in after I had "bathed", but almost passed out before making it to Mom's bed. I rested for a bit, then when I felt better, Mom washed my hair in the sink - a painful process as I had to lean forward against the sink - then blew it dry and styled it for me. It felt really good to be relatively clean and to have my hair done. Totally worth the pain and dizziness.

Mom ran to the store while I rested some more and bought me extra food that my doctor said I could eat - pudding, cottage cheese, and applesauce. She forgot the applesauce. For lunch, while everyone else ate ham and funeral potatoes, I had cottage cheese and apple juice. The cottage cheese, though not exactly solid, was the closest thing to solid that I'd had in what felt like forever.

Kevin had his son Scott for the day, so he opened his presents from us and his dad. We let the other two kids open a few presents, too. I love watching them open presents! Brooke always says, "This is just what I've always wanted!" She says it sincerely, packed with enthusiasm and glee. She chose to open my present to her and insisted on wearing the tutu the rest of the day.

Though in a lot of pain, tired, and woozy, I decided to go to Dad's house because everyone was opening their presents from him and I wanted to watch. The trip across town hurt, but once I got to Dad's and was able to rest on the couch for a bit, I started to feel a little better. We opened presents and it was fun to see what everyone received. My dad gives the adult children money right after Thanksgiving and instructs us to buy whatever we want. Then we take our purchases to him and he and Paula wrap them. So, we already know what we're getting; the fun comes from seeing what others bought themselves. When I bought myself a PlayStation2 a couple years ago, my brothers, knowing I'm not much of a video game player, thought it was just the box - it was the big surprise that year.

After presents, everyone ate and I tried a little chicken broth. Not as tasty or filling as beef broth. The others had pizza and it sure looked good. I was just about sick of not eating solid food, but I also didn't really feel like I could handle anything beyond broth and apple juice. By the time everyone had finished eating, I was feeling really tired and sore, but I didn't want to ruin anyone's fun, so I agreed to play a new game Dad had gotten for the family. It was a lot of fun but took a long time. I was really close to winning but could have been stopped, but the others were ready for the game to be over and they could tell I was in a lot of pain, so they let me win. My sister-in-law told me later that I was really pale and my eyes showed I was in a lot of pain. I wish I was better at reading eyes. In stories the characters can always tell what someone is thinking/feeling by looking in their eyes, but I don't think I could.

Anyhoo, we packed up and headed back to Mom's house. I barely made it to Mom's bed before letting the tears start to fall. My neice had followed me back and became really worried when she saw me crying. She ran down the hall shouting for Grandma (my mom) to come quickly. Mom came, saw me crying, helped me into bed, and hurried to get my pain medicine. She gave me a sip, waited, then tilted the cup but nothing came out before she took the cup away again. I told her I didn't get any and it reminded me of the numerous times this had happened in the hospital and I started to laugh. Laughing hurt like a mug, so I cried more, then laughed. Mom started laughing while admonishing me to stop laughing so it wouldn't hurt more. We both couldn't stop laughing so Mom left the room, laughing down the hall. We finally calmed down enough for her to give me the rest of the medicine. Bleh! That stuff is so awful! It worked, though.

I stayed in bed most the evening, only getting out to say goodbye to Corey's family and wish them a Merry Christmas. I wasn't lonely, though. Every so often, someone would come talk to me, then someone else would take their place. The kids stopped by often. They thought it was fun hanging out with Aunt Julie on Grandma's bed. After awhile, Brooke became really worried that Santa would be coming soon and she didn't want him to pass by because they weren't there. We tried to explain that Santa doesn't come until midnight or later and it was only 9:30, but she wasn't taking any chances. So, they left.

I stayed up a little longer to talk to Kevin and Mom, but the medicine makes me tired, so I finally went to bed. Mom, Kevin, and I had decided to go to Corey's house the next morning to see what Santa had brought the kids and to watch them open up their family's presents, but as I laid there, still in quite a bit of pain, I wasn't sure I'd make it. It was hard to think about not being there and participating but after being in so much pain from overdoing it at Dad's, I didn't want to overdo it again. I decided to decide in the morning then drifted off into a troubled sleep - I still woke up everytime I changed positions and sometimes just because. It was a long night.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Day Of

Scroll down to the previous post for the day before.

I woke up on Tuesday the 23rd to my mom's excited "This is the first day of the rest of your life!" Ah, Mom, you gotta love her enthusiasm sometimes. I still felt calm and unworried. I showered, washing from the neck down with a special sponge the surgeon's office gave me. It smelled weird. I couldn't use lotion ,and my hands were already starting to panic - they like to be well-moisturized. I brushed my teeth, making sure not to swallow even a drop of water, as per my instructions. Mom was kind enough to eat the hotel's breakfast while I was in the shower, so I didn't feel any deprivation. Frankly, it was kind of a treat not to have to drink a SlimFast!

We drove to the hospital, later than I had wanted, but as usual, I had given us plenty of time, so we arrived perfectly on time. We checked in and only had to wait a few minutes before being called to the back to be weighed (just me, not her) and taken to my pre-op room. A kindly nurse came in, gave me my hospital gown, and instructed me to change into it. I did, thinking of the funny scene in As Good As It Gets where Jack Nicholas's character is loopy from the heart meds and runs around in the hospital gown with his bum peeking out - my mom and I couldn't stop laughing when we saw it the first time - it still makes me giggle. The surgeon and anesthesiologist came in to talk to us and see if we had any questions. I asked for clarification about my post-surgery diet, glad Mom was there so we'd both understand. My surgery was scheduled for 10am but the doctor before us finished early, so they wheeled me into the operating room about 9:40am. I don't remember a lot - they'd already given me the anesthetics - I was out before they even had me count backwards from 100. However, I heard afterward that I was cracking jokes, making the nurses, doctor, and anesthesiologist laugh.

I woke up wondering when they were going to ask me to count backward from 100. The pain hit and I realized I was post-op! Wow! That was fast. I found out from my mom later that I was in the operating room for about an hour and a half. I saw a nurse bustling around me and tried to tell her that I was in pain but couldn't make the words come out - my throat was so dry. Finally, I managed to tell her, she gave me meds, and I asked her how my liver had looked and if it had done nicely. She looked surprised and said that my liver was fine and had done fine. She later said she had never heard anyone ask how their liver was after a surgery for anything other than the liver. I was glad all that SlimFast hadn't been for naught. I started chatting with the nurse. I couldn't believe how talkative I was, especially since my throat was dry and my mouth was becoming more so with every word. I asked for water but she said I'd get some when I went into my room, I was still in Recovery. I still felt a bit of pain, so the nurse gave me more meds, keeping me in Recovery 30 minutes longer. Mom said she had started to worry when it had been over an hour and a half since the surgeon came out to tell her everything had gone well and they still hadn't brought her back to see me.

Finally, they took me to my room and I finally got a bit of water. I couldn't handle much, but the little bit I got sure felt great in my mouth. A few times, Mom would tilt the cup to give me water, nothing would manage to get into my mouth, but she'd pull the glass any way. I'd have to ask her to try again. Each time it made us giggle. I slept intermittedly, but surprising not a lot. I was pretty alert. After a seemingly short amount of time, the nurse had me get out of bed to try walking. I did so without a problem (thank heavens for pain med!) and even tried to use the restroom (to no avail). They finally released me. I dressed in my comfy exercise pants and t-shirt, Mom carrying my personal stuff, and headed out. Mom left before me to pull the car around to the front of the hospital. I got to be driven down in a wheelchair by a former NASCAR driver. Seriously, she took curves like she'd forgotten I had came out of surgery a few hours previously! I thought I was going to be sick.

The ride home wasn't bad. The weather had cleared, thankfully, and we were leaving before 3pm, so there was still plenty of light. The toughest times were when Mom stopped and started - it really pulled my stomach and hurt like a mug - even with the liquid loritab in me from before I left the hospital.

Speaking of which, that stuff is nasty! I realize they gave me liquid meds because of my particular surgery, but I really wish I could've had it in pill form. There were times I dreaded taking my pain med so much that I'd almost cry. A week later, I haven't had any since Sunday night. I'd rather suffer a little pain and try to relieve it with rest than take any more of that poison. Bleh!

Anyhoo, we got home and I laid down on the couch. More than anything, I craved water. I could only handle a couple drops at a time, but it was seriously the best thing in the world. I slept a bit, had the yummiest beef broth ever - it was warm and not sweet!!! - then got a visit from Cardine. She brought me flowers. (I'm pretty sure it was Tuesday that she visited, but details are a little sketchy due to the meds.) It was so nice of her to visit! My little brother arrived that evening and we chatted a bit. I'm always happy when he's in town. I watched a lot of tv and slept off and on. I remember having to drink that nasty loritab periodically. Yuck! Oh, and Mom kept making me walk up and down the hall a couple times every hour or so. I also remember my brother and mom discussing who was going to sleep where. Mom kindly gave up her uber-comfy bed to me for my entire stay with her. I was so relieved to be going to bed and getting to sleep.

I woke up a few times during the night, every time I changed positions, and a couple times to take more medicine. Oh, and to walk a couple times.

Let me explain the walking. The nurses and my surgeon all told me to walk to dispel gas. They had to inflate my stomach cavity with lots of gas so the surgeon could see what he was doing. Before sewing me up, they tried to get as much out as possible, but there was still a lot inside me. Walking is the best way to get rid of it. They warned me that I'd feel pain in my shoulder from the gas and they were right! It hurt so much! And the pain med didn't seem to help. So, I walked as much as possible. To keep it real, I'll tell you that it took a couple days before the gas started to...ahem...leave my body. The first time was such a relief. Okay, enough of this subject!

All in all, the day had gone smoothly. The nurses and doctor all expressed how impressed they were with how well I did in surgery and afterward. My body recovered so nicely that I left the hospital a couple hours earlier than Mom and I planned on. Really, it was as good an experience as surgery can be. Nice, caring people took care of me. No complications. Recovered quickly. What more could I ask for?

The Day Before

The surgery is now a week behind me and I finally feel up to writing about the experience. However, it could be lengthy (I write like I talk), so I'm going to break it down into (hopefully) short segments.

The day before going on vacation is always hectic and full of trouble-shooting; however, since I wasn't going on vacation exactly, I had hoped for a peaceful last day at work last Monday. Twasn't to be.

I had a huge to-do list before leaving the office for practically two weeks; pay bills, payroll and paychecks, phone calls, errands, etc. I had settled in to work long and hard when Dixie Regional Hospital called me to verify my information. At the end of the call, the lady mentioned that they hadn't received my blood work yet and asked when I was having it done. What??? I'd never been told I needed blood work done! I ended up having to leave, at 10:30am, to run to the local hospital to wait for an hour before giving a lab tech two vials of my blood. To add to my stress, the Dixie Hospital lady had said they also needed a urine analysis, but the request she faxed to my hospital didn't have the UA marked. I told the lab tech I was told they'd need the UA, but she refused to do it since it wasn't marked on the form. I worried about this all day. Not enough to do anything about it, though, I figured when the woman got my blood work and not the urine analysis, she'd call me and I'd tell her I wasn't leaving work again and it was her fault for not marking it. I felt belligerent, so I'm glad she never called. And no, I never ended up having a UA. Of course.

I hurried back to the office and tried to get back into work. I received another phone call from the hospital around 1pm informing me that my surgery was scheduled for Tuesday at 3pm. I was stunned because I had been told I'd most likely be the first surgery since I was the first one to book the surgery AND because I was the only one travelling. I told the nurse that 3pm was unacceptable and they'd need to change it. I explained that I was travelling from the north, the weather was suppose to be bad and the roads icy, and by the time I was released from the hospital it'd be dark and I didn't want to drive home in bad weather and darkness. Plus, I'd been told to expect early morning so had already reserved a hotel room for Monday night so Mom and I wouldn't have to drive south mega early Tuesday morning. I was transferred several times and no one "had the authority" to change the schedule. Frustrated, I called my surgeon's office and spoke to the coordinator. She couldn't believe I'd been scheduled so late; she'd speak to the surgeon and get back to me with an earlier time. While I waited for her call, the hospital called telling me someone had cancelled and would I like my surgery to be at 12:30 instead of 3? I asked if they'd heard from my surgeon, explaining I had called his office, she said no. I said I'd take the 12:30 for now but was hoping for something earlier. A couple hours later, my surgeon's office called and said my surgery could be at 10am if I'd like that time. I took it. The hospital called a short time later to confirm the time change. Whew! I hate being the squeeky wheel, but I really wanted my way. Does that make me a brat? Honestly, I don't care if it does, I'm pleased with how it turned out. I should mention, though, that, having learned my lesson here, at no time did I get upset with the people to whom I spoke. I stayed pleasant but firm. I used honey, so I was never left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Yeah for me!

It snowed practically all day Monday. I worried about driving south in the dark with the roads slick, especially through a particular pass that had been closed numerous time in the recent weeks due to the weather. So, I decided to leave work a little early (wishing I had packed Sunday night like I knew I should but didn't want to at the time). Then Dad called and offered to give me a priesthood blessing before I headed south. I was thrilled with the offer, partly because it showed that Dad cares and because there was a long time when he couldn't give me one. However, it was another thing to fit into an already crammed day. At this point, my boss came in to the office and noted my stress. He has a way of getting me to tell him everything, and I broke down in his office. That man! He was really sweet and I actually felt a lot better after talking to him. He told me to get out of there right then, but I still had work to do, so I hurried to finish it and left 40 minutes later than I had originally planned. I rushed to Dad's house, wondering how in heck I was going to feel the Spirit when I was felling so hectic and worried. I chatted with Dad, Paula, and Macey for a little bit, calming down a little. As soon as Dad started the blessing, I was filled with peace and calm, it was amazing. And wonderful. I appreciate the blessing I received from my home teacher, but getting a blessing from my dad was so special. He knows me, loves me, and I believe that as my parent, he receives inspiration that no one else could get. He touched on more than my surgery, aspects of my life that had nothing to do with the next day's event. It was so sweet, so special. I renewed the pledge to myself and unborn children that I would only marry someone who was worthy to offer these blessings to my family.

Worried about the upcoming drive, Dad sent me on my way. I "rushed" home (it was snowing really hard), packed, then called Mom to say I was ready to go. Though I had left work late, we got on the road 20 minutes before we thought we would. A miracle. Another miracle - the roads cleared enough that the pass I worried about was not a problem. It was still snowing, but we made it to our hotel without a hitch.

The rest of the evening, Mom and I rested in our room. It was kind of nice to be in a hotel room with someone else - I've spent so much time alone in hotel rooms this year! I read up on pre- and post-surgery expectation, rules, etc. and found something interesting. The ten days I was on SlimFast, I drank 3 a day, supplemented by the occasional popsicle or glass of apple juice - about 600 calories a day. Well, I discovered that I should've been drinking SIX SlimFasts a day and averaging 1200 calories a day! Oops! No wonder I lost about 20 lbs in ten days! Teehee. Oh well, I'm kind of glad I didn't discover this until it was too late. I despise SlimFast and I'm not sure I could've had more than 3 a day. Plus, it took me about 2 hours to finish one, so I would've been sipping on a SlimFast from sun up to sun down. Yuck!

I went to bed around 11pm, drinking as much water as I could before the midnight cutoff - absolutely no liquid or food after that time! I was surprisingly calm and not worried about the surgery at all. I wasn't excited for it, but I wasn't stressed. I felt ready. The time had come and I was prepared.

And so ended the day before.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holy Cow!

I'm so hungry I could eat a holy cow!

Last night, my brother asked me if I'd do this "fast" if it weren't in preparation for surgery. I said "NO!" before he finished the question. It's not just the ever-present hunger that makes this so unpleasant. Here are a few other side-effects I've noticed:

1. Fatigue. I'm so tired. I have no energy whatsoever. I'm a car that has been running on fumes for the past 5 days. It's a little ironic, actually, because all day I dream of being able to go to bed, snuggle up in my blankets, and sleep. Instead, this diet has given me...

2. Sleep Deprivation. I'd been suffering from insomnia for a few weeks before I went on this diet, but it was waning. I had started getting some really good nights of sleep. Now, I'm on a sugar high and as soon as I lay down, my body starts fidgeting. It can't get comfortable and doesn't want to stay still to save its life. My legs are the worse.

3. Headaches. Speaking of a sugar high, I have a constant dull headache. I don't normally get headaches, and this isn't one caused by eye fatigue, stress, or anything else. Don't ask me how, I know I'm not a trained medical professional, but I know it's related to poor nutrition. It just feels the way I feel when I'm not getting enough healthy food. And, I'm not. Not even close. Everything, except the 64 oz of water I drink everyday and the French onion soup broth I had last night at my mom's birthday dinner, contains sugar and lots of it. The SlimFast has 17 grams of sugar. In between meals I suck on a Werther's Original. I add apple juice and a popsicle at dinner. Sugar, sugar, sugar.

4. Appearance. I'm sure part of this is due to the lack of sleep, but I look horrible! I took a picture of myself today with my cell phone and I looked 80-years old and on my death bed. Dark bags and wrinkles under my eyes, listless hair, pallid skin, dull eyes. Oh, and a big zit on my cheek, but I'll give the diet a break and not blame it for my acne.

5. Many, many trips to the bathroom. Sorry, I'm just keeping it real (as Pioneer Woman says). An all-liquid diet does this to you. This is definitely the cause of my...

6. Weight loss. The big positive about this ordeal: I've lost 13-16 pounds (depending on from which doctor's scales I measure) since Friday morning. That includes my office party at a steakhouse Friday night and pizza, chicken, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake on Saturday! Can you believe it?? I couldn't last night when I stood on my mom's scales and it showed my weight. I just hope this extreme diet is accomplishing its task of lowering the fatty content in my liver, making my surgery safer.

I know that this post sounds pretty negative, but I'm actually doing okay. I mean, it's killing me slowly, but I'm okay. I really thought I'd be irritable and mean, but I think I'm too tired to get mad. And, I know I'm doing this for a reason, that it isn't for forever, and it could save me money (leaner liver = safer surgery = less complications = smaller hospital bill). I'm pretty proud of myself for sticking to the regulations as well as I have AND for not becoming intolerable to be around in the process.

Thank heavens this diet didn't coincide with PMS - that could have been scary! Again, just keeping it real. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's Official

I'm ready to go for surgery on December 23rd.

I paid today. In full. I wish I could say I didn't have to go into debt for this surgery, but I can't. I'm counting on it being worth going into debt for. AND, I'm hoping to have it paid off as quickly as I paid off my teeth.

I still don't know what time I'm having surgery; the hospital will call on the 22nd to tell me. My surgeon's nurse speculated that I'd be the first in since I've had it scheduled for a couple months. That could mean being at the hospital at 6:30am and going into surgery at 8am. We have to leave at least an hour before we need to be there (depending on the weather and roads and how OCD I'm feeling). My beloved mom is driving me down and bringing me home, bless her. They're putting me under, so I'll get some good sleep. If she manages to catch a few winks, it'll be on uncomfortable hospital chairs. Now that's love.

You know, I really am blessed to have parents who care about me so much. One is helping me pay for the surgery and the other is supporting me physically (I'm staying with her for a few days) and emotionally.

Thanks, Mom and Dad! I love you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Week Away

Hopefully this time next week, my surgery will be a fait accompli, and I'll be sleeping in my brother's uber-comfy bed, or at least dozing in front of the living room TV. It hardly seems possible that it's been three months since I started looking into having Lap Band and almost two since I decided to go through with it. Time flies.

Except this week. It's going slower than a snail with a broken leg*.

I'm hungry. I know I should try not to be hungry, but I haven't figured out how to convince my body that downing three cans of SlimFast, a glass of apple juice, and gallons of water is sufficient for its survival. Oh's not. Huh. I try to supplement this meager diet with the occasional hard candy (Werther's Originals) or piece of gum. Last night, I even treated myself to a Lemonade popsicle! I'm not sure these are exactly "by the rules" but figure that they have to be better than eating solid food. (You have no idea how appetizing the unadorned tortilla residing in my work refrigerator seems at this moment!)

At work, not eating really isn't too bad (despite the scrumptious-looking tortilla taunting me from the refridgerator!). I stay busy enough to not think too much about eating, even when my boss and coworker are warming up their lunches in the kitchen/my office. I sip on my can of SlimFast for about an hour, after which time I proceed to sipping on water and sucking on candy or chewing gum. Last night wasn't too bad, either. My roommates are really sympathetic and ate before I got home. Then they kept me occupied by playing games with me. I went to bed early, so the night was over before I knew it.

Sometimes I think, This isn't too bad, and at other times I can't fathom how I'm going to make it 'til next Tuesday. I'm doing some heavy praying and trying to remember to take it one day at a time.

Honestly, after 10 days of SlimFast and a week of clear liquids/jello, a half-cup of a food is going to seem like an absolute feast!

I'm really looking forward to that half-cup.

'Til then, I'll enjoy not having to decide what to eat, visiting the bathroom every couple hours, and losing 5 pounds in two days (true story).

There's always a silver lining, right? And being skinnier and healthier will be worth it, right?


*I know snails don't have legs - I was being funny. And witty. And a little bit charming. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Weeks...

...and counting 'til the Big Day! (No, not Christmas, though that is close behind.)

Yesterday, I met my surgeon for the first time. We had a nice chat and he explained a few things and answered a couple of my questions. One thing he cleared up was the post-surgery diet. Instead of three weeks on liquids, it's only going to be 1 week! Yippee! He said that they say three weeks on the website and in the seminars to simplify matters; it's the diet for the gastric bypass and sleeve patients. I'll get to start adding small portions of solid proteins into my diet about a week after the surgery because I'm having Lap Band. Yet another reason I'm glad I chose that as my option.

I've lost my appetite. I'm not sure if it's because of the events of recent days (see here to learn about my first ever vehicular - I love that word - accident), how busy I am lately, the fact that I have no food in my home except popsicles, Ritz crackers, and a box of couscous, or that I'm nervous about the upcoming changes in my eating lifestyle. Or, most likely, it's a melange of all of them. I believe in melanges. (Can someone please tell me how to get blogger to do accents??)

This is my last week of eating food "normally" - at least, the last week for a very, very long time. You'd think I'd be living it up, eating everything I love and maybe won't partake of for who-knows-how-long. Even last week, in Denver, I ordered things that I'll be able to eat - in much smaller portions - after the surgery (except the bacon cheese burger). I even only ate half the meal each time (except the burger, but I did leave a lot of fries on the plate). I'm not worried about missing the foods I love. I'm more worried about not being prepared for this lifestyle change. I'm ready to change and want to get my foot in the door, so to speak.

I'm scared of failing. The last few years I was in school, I had this same fear, so I studied a lot. I made sure that when it came time to take a test I was prepared to be able to pass it with flying colors. I practiced presentations, looked over projects and papers with an eagle-eye for detail, and worked every homework problem religiously. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't always perfect, but that fear of not doing well drove me to do my best.

It's now driving me to get ready, especially emotionally, for life after Lap Band. I'm especially worried because I don't know what to expect, really. To continue the above analogy, it's kind of like having a professor for the first time and not knowing what his tests are going to be like, how well he'll prepare you for the tests, how generously he grades, etc. So, I'm doing my best to prepare for every eventuality I can think of without really knowing what it's going to be like for me.

I think I need more sleep. I'm sure I'd be able to deal with this better if I were sleeping. Sleep cures a lot of ills. Maybe then I'd relax just a tiny bit. Aaahhh. Relax.

Anyhoo, Thursday I get to travel down south yet again to have a pre-op class that will tell me in more detail everything that will go down before and after surgery, including diet and checking in and out of the hospital.

Just think, in two weeks at this time I'll have had the surgery and will be resting comfortably (hopefully) at my mom's. Wow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

10-Day Liquid Diet

I discovered the reason why I can only have low-calorie liquids the 10 days before my surgery. Tonight after work, I checked my surgeon's website for some answers to other questions I had and found the answer to this one.

Ten days on a low-calorie liquid diet (think Slim Fast) reduces the fatty content of the liver. The liver sits directly over the upper part of the stomach (around which the band is placed) and needs to be moved during the surgery. Turns out that a fatty liver is more fragile and can be hard to lift. It can also more easily fracture and bleed. Not good. Ten days of Slim Fast is a small price to pay for a safer surgery.

This helps a lot. I needed a good reason to not eat solid foods before the surgery, now I have one.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am a bastion of good mental health! Woohoo!

I ended up having my psych evaluation earlier than I planned and with the doctor that wasn't the one with whom I'd originally scheduled an appointment. Remember? Turns out that honey really works well, because Leslie called me yesterday and offered me an appointment for this morning. The doctor with whom I actually had the appointment has never called me back to confirm I have an appointment, so I decided not to risk saying no to this opportunity. Plus, I had already filled out Dr. M's hour-long questionnaire, which felt like a big waste of time when I realized my appointment was with Dr. C from a totally different practice. By the way, because we'll be talking about the questionnaire in a bit, I want to say for the record that I was absolutely as honest as humanly possible on it!

I arrived before my appointment, in case I needed to fill anything out, etc., which was good because they took height and weight measurements (I've lost 6 lbs since Oct. 28th!) and took my blood pressure (a tad high, but not too bad). I sat down and my cell phone showed 8:28, my appointment was for 8:30. I'm not a very patient person and am at the height of impatience when people are late, so imagine how not happy I was when I called my coworker at 9:25 to tell her I'd be back to work later than planned because I was still waiting to see the doctor. Yeah, not very happy at all. Fortunately, I only had to wait 5 minutes longer.

Fortunately, Dr. M is a really cool guy. AND he had lots of nice things to say to me - that always puts me in a better mood! He told me that the questionnaire contains 5 pysch tests and I passed all of them. He said that one of the tests shows that I'm a passionate person - dependable, loving, independent. Passionate! I've always wanted to be passionate! The tests also indicate that I'm not prone to depression, delusions, or anxiety disorders. Wow, I exclaimed, the good new just keeps coming! He laughed. I also don't have eating disorders (except for the obvious one that made me overweight), personality disorders, or anger management problems. Woohoo! And, here's the kicker - no signs of OCD! Awesome! I was kind of worried.

We chatted about my job, family, life goals, and some other stuff. We laughed a lot. I had him in stitches, quite honestly. I wasn't even trying that hard! Towards the end of the appointment, he checked something in my file then verified that I'm single. I nodded enthusiastically and he said, Are the men up there (I had to travel south for the appointment) crazy or what? How are you not taken, you're absolutely delightful! I blushed and beamed at the same time, I'm sure. (And, before you start thinking what you might be thinking, he was married and in his mid to late 40's.)

We talked about my expectations for life after the surgery and he said he feels confident telling the surgeon that my expectations are realistic and healthy and that I am a good candidate. I asked why a psych evaluation was necesssary, and he told me that one of the major reasons is to check for potential depression. In gastric bypass there is a 30% rate of depression after the surgery. The percentage is a lot lower for lap band, but it's still possible. So, I asked him if I should expect to feel kind of down afterward. He assured me that after looking at my results and talking to me that I should feel just fine. He said he'd be really surprised if I wasn't. No pressure. He laughed. We also talked about my support system and I was proud to say that I have a wonderful support system - lots of loving family and friends who are super supportive. (Thank you!!!)

I've never been psycho-analyzed before. It was kind of neat (probably because my results were so positive and happy!) but it was also a little disconcerting. I have self-diagnosed restless leg syndrome and halfway through the appointment my right leg started bouncing. When I realized it, I stopped it, wondering if the doctor would think it was a nervous twitch that meant I was lying. I wondered if he was analyzing my posture and body language. It was kind of weird to know I was being analyzed even if it wasn't to the degree I was imagining.

The end conclusion is that I'm mentally healthy and am clear for the surgery. Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'm kind of proud of myself.

Tonight, leaving work and contemplating the lack of food in my kitchen that belongs to me, Arctic Circle - which is right next door to my office building - tempted me almost to my breaking point. Lately under these circumstances I would have given in and turned into Arctic Circle. I almost did. I slowed considerably as I passed the turn and was thisclose to turning, but I decided that eating fast food tonight would completely cancel out this morning's fabulous exercise.

I had worked hard this morning. I got out of bed earlier than normal - my warm, comfortable bed - to ride my stationary bike for 20 minutes and 4.7 miles. I love this time of day; the bike is in front of my east-facing window and I get to watch as the horizon lightens and the sun finally peeks over the mountain. It's lovely. It's also a good workout for me. My legs start to ache and I have to work to keep going when it would be so easy to quit. So, the thought of this hard work becoming null and void just because I hadn't gone grocery shopping was unacceptable. I came home and ate cereal and swiss cheese and crackers.

I've made several good decisions lately. Small decisions, but together they add up to important changes. I'm going to do something very drastic to lose weight but that doesn't mean I'll be able to sit back and watch the weight melt off. The surgery is a tool. I use it to remind myself why I want to make good decisions. Once I have the surgery, it'll be harder, but not impossible, to make unhealthy food choices. Tough choices will still have to be made time after time after time. You might say that once I'm on the right path, I'll have to continue to work hard and endure to the end. (I love the gospel analogy game!) Small decisions, like waking up to exercise and eating cereal instead of french fries, are even more important, more necessary, than the big decision of having the surgery.

You might say that by small and simple things great things can be accomplished. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Honey, Vinegar, and Humble Pie

No, these aren’t the ingredients for some fabulously odd Thanksgiving dish I’m planning to make next week. You wish you were that lucky!

Today, I should have used honey, but instead used vinegar, so my slice of humble pie was even more difficult to eat.

I had a message on my cell phone from a psychiatrist’s receptionist informing me that they had received the medical history form and questionnaire I had filled out. She said their next available appointment was in January so I should call quickly to schedule an appointment. I already have an appointment! I said to myself, so I called her back, figuring she’d overlooked my appointment and all would be well in no time. Nope.

She looked in her book at the date I said I had scheduled for the psych evaluation and said my name was nowhere to be seen. She looked on the days before and after and still my name was not written down. I started to panic, and I don’t always function at my best when I panic, unfortunately. You see, December 23rd is really the best day for me to have the surgery and if I waited ‘til January to have the psych evaluation, I’d have to have the surgery some time in January. PANIC!

Leslie (not her real name) kept saying she wasn’t the one who I had spoken to because she wouldn’t have made this kind of mistake. It frustrated me that she wasn’t trying to come up with any solutions, just absolving herself from any wrongdoing. Finally, my voice dripping with vinegar, I asked her if she was willing or able to do anything to help me out of this predicament. She said she couldn’t think how she could. I asked if the doctor was willing to come in early or stay late at all. She wasn’t sure. I was really close to losing it, so I said I’d call my surgeon’s office and see if they had any suggestions. I didn’t mask my frustration as well as I could have.

So, I called my surgeon’s office and informed the receptionist of the problem. She was very sympathetic and gave me the name and phone number of a psychiatrist they don’t use very often but who is capable of doing the evaluation. I called his number and got the answering machine, so I left a message pleading with them to call me back.

I have a piece of paper in my bariatric surgery folder that lists the steps I need to take before I have the surgery. On this sheet, I have the names and phone numbers of the doctors and nutritionists that my surgeon’s assistant recommended I call to complete these steps. The doctor for whom Leslie works was on that list; next to his name was a notation I made after calling them in October, which reads, “Appointment avail mid-December, they’ll send packet, but calling somewhere else to see if earlier appt avail.” I looked at the other psychiatrist and found this notation next to her name, “Set appt for December 2nd, 9am”.

Two words: humble pie.

I called this psychiatrist's number to confirm the appointment, but no one answered, so I just left a message. I’m positive my appointment is with her, though, because at the bottom of the page I wrote her address and directions to the office. Yeah, I felt kind of stupid.

After basking in my foolishness for a bit, I called Leslie and explained what had happened and apologized profusely for getting frustrated earlier. She said she totally understood why I had become frustrated and apologized for not being more helpful. She informed me that they had some spots that had opened up due to cancellations and did I want to see the doctor tomorrow? I was tempted. I had already spent an hour filling out the mental health questionnaire (for the wrong doctor!!!) and it would be really nice to have this evaluation over and done with, but the open spots were around 3pm. My coworker would have to work late and she really doesn’t like to, so I thanked her and said I’d have to pass, explaining why.

Which led me to wonder if I had handled the situation better the first time I talked to her, would she have offered those open spots right then? Would the honey really have attracted the fly better than the vinegar?

By the way, have any of you actually tried this experiment with real honey, vinegar, and flies? I’m assuming the honey really does attract more flies, because it’s such a “tried and true” expression; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if flies liked the vinegar. I for one really enjoy vinegar, especially salt and vinegar chips or as a dip for French fries, so maybe flies like vinegar, too. Odder things could happen.

To sum up: in the future, I need to remember to express my frustration in a better, sweeter, way. Not only may I reap immediate rewards (the other person’s increased willingness to help) but the slice of humble pie will be smaller if it turns out that I play a part in causing the frustration.

In other words, not only does it attract more flies, but honey also makes a tastier humble pie than vinegar.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Support Group - November

Last week, I attended my first weight loss surgery support group. It was one of the requirements I had to complete in order to have the surgery. I'm glad it's a requirement because it was really helpful! And, since I have to travel 45 minutes to get to it, I needed the motivation. Now that I know how wonderful the group is, I'll be more likely to go.

I invited my mom to come with me. I felt like I need her more than anyone else to know what I'm going to be going through. We got into a little fight on the way down (we're too alike), but we cleared it up quickly and got along fine the rest of the time. We both learned a lot about what to expect and I know she'll be a lot of help to me after the surgery.

Here are some of the things I learned:

1. 4 oz = 1/2 cup NOT 1/4 cup. This was the best news! There was a girl my age sitting by Mom and me and I decided to become friends with her, so we did. When the group leaders mentioned that 4 oz is roughly 1/2 cup, Heather (my new friend) almost choked because she had just started to consider surgery and was appalled at how little food she'd be able to eat. I was THRILLED though! After a month or so of thinking I'll only be able to eat 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup seems almost like a feast! Woohoo!

2. One bite of vegetable/carb for every 3 bites of protein (mainly meat). I expressed my concern that all I'd be eating was protein and wasn't that kind of not good? What about fruits and vegetables (which I love)??? This is what I was told. They also said that the maintenance diet allows for fruit and more veggies. That's better, I guess.

3. Small bites (pea-sized) and chew each bite 20 times. I heard about the consequences for not following this and they are NOT pleasant! So, I've begun to practice. It's harder than you might think.

4. Tracking exercise and food intake helps you be more successful at weight loss. I've heard this so many times it makes me want to scream. I guess it makes sense, I just hate having to do it. To that end, I'm borrowing this idea and will have weekly updates on my exercise progress. I haven't figured out how I'm going to work the food intake part.

5. If you don't eat enough protein after the surgery, you'll lose hair! It's not like you go bald, your hair just gets thinner. And, they said that it comes back after awhile, but I'm not going to take any chances. I like my hair. I guess I'll be following that 3 bites protein, 1 bite carb rule after all!

6. To get rid of gas, walk! I guess gas is a bit of a problem after the surgery. Oh goodie! One lady felt it in her shoulder and chest! So much so that she went to the hospital thinking she was having a heart attack. Boy, the good news just keeps coming, doesn't it??? :)

7. My "ideal weight" is 135 lbs. There's a formula that supposedly tells what you should ideally weigh. The nutritionist said it isn't foolproof, nothing is. Yeah, I'm not aiming for 135; it may be a little extreme. I'd love to get to 170, maybe 165. 135???

It was really interesting to listen to people talk about their experiences and to get their advice for adjusting to post-surgery life. It was also really motivational! One woman had gastric bypass on Jan 2, this year, and has lost 105 lbs! She looked like a skinny person! I would never have guessed that she hadn't been skinny all her life. Another woman had Lap Band surgery a couple months ago and had already lost more than 30 lbs. One has lost almost 60 lbs in 4 months! Wow! It was good to see the positive results! None of them regretted having the surgery (maybe those people don't go to support groups) and all of them said they wished they'd had it done sooner.

Maybe next month I'll invite Dad and Paula to go with me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me: November 2008

I'm not going to tell you how much I weigh yet. I'm too embarrassed. Maybe someday.

Every time I post a picture, I'll include any weight changes.

This first picture is special - it was done by a professional! Ooooo. I had to get it taken for work. I was super excited. (please note the excessive sarcasm) I had just cut about 5 inches off my hair and was unprepared to see how it looked in pictures (I hadn't figured out how to style it yet), so I opted for curls. I rarely do my hair this way, so I didn't have the I-can't-believe-I -look-like-that-everyday! reaction. So, it doesn't reflect how I usually look, but it accurately shows me at my current weight.

Enough chatter. Here I am:

Starting Weight: not telling
Current Weight: starting weight
Difference: 0 lbs

Let's Get Started

I recently decided to finally do something to help me lose weight.

I'm having weight-loss surgery. Lap-Band, specifically. If I manage to pass my psych eval (fingers crossed!), the surgery will be December 23rd. I'm nervous and excited.

Not that I've done a whole lot to lose weight in the past, but the few times I've tried, I haven't done exceptionally well, mainly because I haven't stayed committed to losing weight. I didn't want to have to give up eating my favorite foods. I didn't want to walk in subzero temperatures (I kid, but it does get pretty cold!). I didn't want to have to wake up any earlier to exercise. I wanted to lose weight without trying, basically.

I need to be committed to this if I'm going to be successful in losing weight with this surgery. It isn't a free pass; it won't be easy. So, I decided to create a second blog (go here for my first) that is devoted to my weight-loss journey. I'll talk about the preparations before the surgery, what life is like post-surgery, and I how I feel about the whole process. And, I'll record my successes and failures, post goals and when I reach them. And, I'm going to be brave and post pictures of the journey so I can remind myself where I've been. Yikes!

Hopefully all this will help me stay committed to losing weight!