Thursday, January 29, 2009

Virtual Route 1

My friend, Sarah, came up with the idea of tracking exercise by traveling a virtual route from one place to another. I loved it and asked if I could copy the idea; she benevolently said I could. My goal is to go from my home town to the Empire State Building in New York City. I started last Monday; it will be interesting to see how long it takes me to get there. Like Sarah, I'll be tracking whatever exercise I do. Though now I'm only riding my stationary bike, when the weather gets warmer I hope to walk and swim as well. And hike.

Here's my virtual route so far:

I know it's kind of hard to see, but you can click on it to see it better. If you want. In case you don't want to, here's a summary:

Start date: January 18, 2009
# of "travel" days: 11
Miles traveled: 87.2
Hours traveled: 6.25
Calories burned: 2343
Miles left to go: 2268.8

New York City, here I come!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Doctor, Doctor

Today, I had my first post-op appointment with my doctor.

It should have been my second, but last time I failed to turn on my alarm after setting it and slept late, missing my appointment. No biggie, I was feeling fine and dandy at the time so was happy to forgo the expense of driving south.

Instead, I waited to drive down in a snow storm. Woohoo! I woke up at 6 this morning to ride my bike before getting ready to go. I listened to the radio while getting ready and the announcer kept warning people to stay home if planning to drive on the freeway. Had I not missed my first appointment, I probably would have climbed back into bed (after riding my bike) and slept some more before calling to reschedule today's appointment. As it was, I kept the appointment. I'm not scared of a little snow! And, once I got through a certain pass, the roads were fine the rest of the way. And, there weren't a lot of cars on the road, which was nice.

I made it to my appointment on time (I plan ahead), but my doctor didn't (he must not). I hate waiting for doctors no matter what but especially when I'm their first patient. I can sort of understand that sometimes they have patients that take longer than expected, but I honestly believe that there are few times when a doctor should be late for their first patient. It's a sore spot with me because my boss is always late for his first patient and I think it's rude. At least Dr. S apologized for being late (my boss rarely does) and explained that he hadn't slept well the night before. What an excuse. He's lucky I was in a good mood and am such a nice person.

He asked me bunches of questions; how many meals a day do I eat, how frequently do I snack, how much water do I drink, do I exercise - what, how long, how frequently, do my bodily functions seem to be in working order, how much of my diet is protein, etc. He seemed pleased by my answers and suggested holding off on a fill 'til next month. I said that would be ok because I seem to be losing weight fairly consistently except I get hungry quickly. I eat a small amount of food and feel really full, but the fullness only lasts an hour and a half or so. Last week, I really struggled to not snack between meals because I felt hungry almost all the time. He nodded his head and said that a fill would definitely help. I told him of my worry that the band would be too tight and I wouldn't be able to eat solid protein, but he assuaged my worry by recommending "just" 2 cc's of saline.

He left to get the "fill nurse" (not their label, mine), telling me to be sure to come back before the next appointment (in a month) if I get any of the symptoms that come with having a too-tight band. Autumn, the fill nurse, came in and we chatted a little to become acquainted. She assured me that she'd explain the filling procedure while she went so I would know what was happening. I asked if there was any way I could get her to not because I didn't want to know. She laughed. She thought I was joking. I wasn't.

I laid down on the "bed" and adjusted my clothing so she could access the port. To my relief/delight, my breasts obstructed my view of the area in which she would be working, so I wouldn't be tempted to see what was going on. Not that the temptation would be great - so small, in fact, that a dust mite could step over it without breaking a sweat.

I commented on this fact, unfortunately, as she then felt the need to show me everything before using them. By everything, I mean the two needles. The first was to inject an anesthetic into the area to get it nice and numb. It poked a little going in (thank heavens I didn't have to watch) and burned as it spread, but soon I was nice and numb. Had she not shown me the second needle, I would have been sitting pretty. It was long. And thick. And curved at the end. It scared me. A lot. Bleh. *shudder*

Thank heavens for numbness and big breasts. I had no idea when she inserted the needle until she told me it was in the port. Couldn't feel the saline being injected. Didn't see the needle come out or the tiny spot of blood that arose from the puncture mark. Of course, she told me everything so I wasn't in the dark as much as I would've liked, but life isn't perfect, is it? After applying the Band-Aid, Autumn sat me up and had me sip some bottled water. Evidently, sometimes people get their band so tight that even water can't make it through. I noticed a difference immediately - the water didn't flow as easily as before, but it made it down. That was that. My first fill.

I scheduled my next appointment and was out of there. As a reward for a) being so brave through the fill and b) losing 44 lbs AND because I spilled chocolate in milk in my old one, I stopped at Target and bought a new purse. I wanted a yellow one so much. I crossed my fingers as I walked into the store, hoping they had a cute yellow one. They did. It was the last one that color in that style and I love it.

The drive home started off quite well despite the numbness fading and soreness setting in. The road was clear most of the way, which was a nice treat, but they got really bad before I got home. At times, I wouldn't have known where to drive had there not been a car in front of me. Had they gone off the side of the road, I would have soon followed. Well, probably not because I believe in following at a safe distance, but you know what I mean - I followed in their tracks. I made it home safely, and by home, I mean work. It's still snowing, so no one has come in. Our patients don't brave snow for something so trivial as their hearing.

Eating lunch was like eating right after my surgery. I had slowly started eating bigger bites of food without a problem, but today I had to go back to eating really small bites. And, I had to wait in between bites to determine how that bite affected me; could I eat another bite, how full was I feeling, was I finished? Three hours later, I still feel full. It's great. Before, I would have been starving by now. Woohoo! I wasn't going to get a fill, but now I'm glad I did.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Support Group

Before my surgery, I discovered that there is a weight loss surgery support group here in my home town. I was told it was small and still developing, so I wasn't sure if I'd attend it. I had really enjoyed the support group I attended in November in SG and had learned a lot. I wondered if I'd get enough support from a fledgling group. My frugal side argued that I could save money by attending the local group. If I felt it wasn't supporting me enough, I could switch to the SG group.

Last Monday, I attended my first meeting with the local group. It meets at the library, which pleases me because I'm always looking for an excuse to go to the library. I've decided to grab a couple books or so after every meeting. Woohoo! My informant was correct, it was a small group - the leader, her husband, two others, and me. As the newbie, lots of attention was focused on me. Fortunately, I don't mind being the center of attention for awhile.

The group leader, Peggy, had gastric bypass and within 9 months had lost 150 pounds! She still has a bit more to lose, especially since she gained 25 pounds back. Gaining some weight back motivated her to start attending the SG support group, but she grew tired of traveling south every month, so she became certified as a leader and started the group here a few months ago. She's really nice and funny. Her husband comes along to support her - he hasn't had weight loss surgery (WLS).

The other two members in attendance were Paul and Maylene. Paul had gastric bypass 8 years ago and lost 90 pounds. In 8 years he's put 10 pounds back on, spurring his attendance at the group - he's still overweight and would like to lose the 10 pounds plus more. Maylene has the band and had it put on in Mexico 1 1/2 years ago. She went from 202 lbs to 135 (her goal weight) and hasn't put any weight back on. Since we had the same procedure, Maylene and I chatted afterwards and she offered to answer any questions I have.

For part of the meeting, we discussed topics we'd like to cover throughout the year. I suggested Creative Cooking and Nutrition and WLS (something that really concerns me). We're also going to have speakers discuss exercising (someone is going to teach us yoga!), dealing with saboteurs, emotional changes with weight loss, setting goals, and a whole slew of other topics I can't recall right now.

The rest of the meeting involved discussing challenges we're facing right now. I wasn't facing any, so I listened to the others, taking notes on the suggestions for coping because I'm sure someday I'll be facing the same challenges. At the time I didn't know I'd be going on a work trip, or I would've asked for suggestions to help me drive without eating!

I decided I kind of like that it's a small group. I felt very welcomed and not just another person among 30 who could come and go without being noticed. We're going to plan activities outside of the meetings like walking the canyon trail, learning line dancing, and miniature golf. I think it will be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better, supporting each other, and learning more.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Driving and Eating, Eating and Driving

To me, they go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly or Oreos and milk or...(trying to think of something unrelated to food)...or...pen and paper (aha!).

Not that I grew up eating in the car a lot. Mostly, I slept on our family trips, making the journey seem shorter. However, since sleeping while I drive isn't an option nowadays, I eat. I tried to eat healthy food while driving, but looking back on last year's plethora of trips, I definitely fit in a lot of unhealthy food. Seriously, whenever I'd stumble across a bag of mint crispy M&Ms I'd buy at least two bags - one for immediate consumption and the other for the next day. I'd eat out at diners (heavens, I still remember that delicious bacon, lettuce, tomato, and egg sandwich in Guernsey!), fast food, corn dogs at Flying J, and the occasional bag of chips. Even my "healthy" choices were nutritionally-lacking; licorice, pretzels, and sunflower seeds.

After my surgery, I figured I'd have awhile to figure out what I would do once I started driving again. I certainly didn't expect to get a job offer on my second day back to work! I panicked a little, not knowing what I would eat, how I'd stay awake, and if I would have the energy needed to get through a day of testing.

I consulted with my mom and she suggested almonds (good fats and protein) and string cheese. I bought both and caved in and bought a bag of BBQ sunflower seeds, too, just in case. (It's unbelievable how much they help me fight off fatigue!) Oh, and a bag of cinnamon hard candy to relieve my sweet tooth. Oh, and water. A big bottle of water because I get thirsty very easily nowadays. Finally, I brought along my leftover pork medallions for meals. I didn't want them to go to waste and they're the perfect size!

When I set out, I made a pact with myself to only eat when I was 1) physically hungry and not just bored and 2) going to fall asleep if I didn't. It worked quite well really. No mindless snacking. The two books on CD that Mom loaned me helped a lot, too. They were really interesting and kept my mind occupied. The pork gave me two healthy dinners then I had to throw the rest out because my Casper hotel didn't have a fridge. I ended up settling on Chicken Selects from McD's because I couldn't think of what else to buy. I ate one a meal. I've gotta say, I'm going to save a bundle on food now!

I did make some unwise choices, though. The hotel offered chocolate chip cookies at the desk. When I checked in, I took one. It took me a long time to eat it, but it was so good! The next night, I stopped by the desk and had another one. I couldn't finish it, but what I ate was divine. The last night, they didn't offer any cookies. I was so looking forward to one that I bought a package of Hostess cupcakes from the vending machine right next to my room. I could only eat 1/2 at a time, but throughout the night, I ate both cupcakes. I was so sick!!! Now the thought of them makes me want to puke. If only they would have had a cookie available! Really, if only I would have been strong at first and not taken the first cookie! I learned a lesson, though, I need to give myself healthy sweet options for after dinner or I'll turn to less healthy options. I wish I could say I'll never want dessert again, but I'm not there. I may never be there. At home I have sugar-free popsicles and sugar-free jello. When I'm out at a job, I'll need to come up with something so I don't eat cupcakes again. (Though I don't think it'll be cupcakes again. Bleh!)

All in all, though, I think I did fairly well. I even managed to exercise every day! Most of the time, I just walked up and down the hallway several times, but Saturday night I finally discovered where the fitness room was hiding and rode the stationary bike for 20 minutes while watching The Empire Strikes Back. It felt good. I love stationary bike rides.

Weight loss for the week: 4 pounds
Total weight loss: 36 pounds

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Life

Today, I officially returned to the real world. I went back to work after almost 2 weeks off.

It wasn't too bad coming back. My boss isn't in today, so my coworker and I had plenty of time to catch up on our holidays. Also, not a lot of people come in when my boss is gone, giving me plenty of time to take care of a lot of the things that had piled up while I was off.

I hurt, though. Wearing real clothes is uncomfortable after lounging around in sweats and t-shirts for most of the past two weeks. The waist of my skirt hits my most sensitive and biggest incision, causing pain. And, I miss my slippers. They are so warm and comfortable and my "office" is the coldest room at work, so my feet are chilly.

There is big plus, though, about coming back to work. As I've started feeling better, I've started wanting to snack more frequently. My band doesn't get filled for another 2 weeks, so there's nothing keeping the food from going down to my stomach at a fairly normal pace. I can only handle a little less than 1/2 a cup (I've worked on eating about that much) before getting uncomfortably full, but within 2 hours I'm hungry again. At work, there are enough things to keep me busy so I don't think about being hungry. Woohoo! Once my band is filled, I should stay satiated for about 4 hours. I can handle this for 2 more weeks. Heck! I lived off of SlimFast for 10 days - this is easy! At least I get to chew my food!

Speaking of which, yesterday I finally got back in the kitchen and cooked! I made turkey bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin medallions (wow - what a name!) with a maple-mustard sauce. Mmmm. It was so yummy! The medallions aren't very big, smaller than my palm, but I can't eat a whole one. Last night, while talking to my roommates, I wasn't paying attention and almost ate the entire medallion (it was about 2/3 the size of my palm). All of a sudden, my chest started to hurt and I thought I was going to throw up. I had definitely consumed too much. Fortunately, the feeling didn't last long, but it taught me a valuable lesson: Pay attention to what I'm eating!! I took it slower when I had one for lunch today but still couldn't manage to eat the whole thing before starting to feel full. At least I stopped before I started feeling sick.

Even though the past week was pretty nice, laying around and watching tv, reading, and sleeping whenever I felt the urge, I'm glad to be back to normal life. It's great to be back at work, being able to eat, and feeling really good. I'm happier than I've been in a long time. Woohoo!

Weight Lost: 34 pounds (give or take a few ounces) as of this morning.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What They Don't Tell You

I don't have a lot of experience with surgery, thank heavens, my only other surgery was on my hand - I broke it playing volleyball in 1995. They gave me a local anesthetic and some pain pills afterward. I didn't even have to have a cast because the screws inside my hand were holding the bones in place; I just had one of those Ace bandages wrapped around a splint. I only took 2 pain pills because I got sick after the second one.

That was my reference point when considering my Lap Band surgery. I figured I'd be up and going shortly afterward and that my body would be more-or-less what it was like beforehand. No one told me differently. These are some things they didn't tell me about life immediately after surgery.

1. Dry Throat. I woke up from the surgery and started talking. Probably not the best idea, but I didn't know better. My throat dried out instantly and it's never recovered. Seriously, to this day, if I talk more than three words in a row or do anything more active than walking to my bedroom, my throat dries out like an overcooked steak.* I carry water with me everywhere to combat dry throat, even to the grocery store!

2. Dry Skin. I never realized how much my shower poof helped my skin! At least, I've never had such dry skin as I did when I was only giving myself sponge baths or using the bar of soap at my mom's house when I was finally able to shower. My legs, stomach, arms, and everywhere else started to get flaky! Bleh! I used lotion, which helped, but now that I'm using a poof again, the dryness is disappearing. Being able to drink more water during the day has helped, too.

3. Loopiness. Pain medicine = drugged. I know that sounds like a "duh" statement, but since I don't really take a lot of pain medicine, I wasn't prepared for its affects. I had a hard time remembering some things, said things that didn't make sense, and sometimes couldn't make sense of what others were saying. I got dizzy easily and was constantly sleepy. I hated feeling that way, hence why I stopped taking it (that and it tasted like the devil).

4. Activity Level. I really felt I'd be up and going fine shortly after my surgery. I knew I was probably jumping the gun a little when I went to Dad's the day after, but I figured that by this week I'd be fairly normal. Nope. Yesterday, I exercised with a 20 minute walking tape, went grocery shopping, then went to a movie with Mom. By the time I made it home, I was in a lot of pain. Enough pain to make me consider taking pain medicine again. I didn't, of course. Bleh! I couldn't believe that such minimal activity could wipe me out this far removed from my surgery. How annoying!

5. Surgery tape. It's a pain. I have 5 incisions, 4 pretty small and 1 big (maybe an inch and a half long), and all 5 were covered with surgery tape. I was told to let the tape come off on its own, no helping it along, and that it should be off within a week to 10 days. Two of the small incisions lost their tape by New Years. The third was so close that I helped it along yesterday. The fourth small incision is really, really close but there are a couple stubborn spots. The big incision's tape sticks like it was put on yesterday. It's going to take a month for it to come off! It wouldn't bug me except the edges start collecting lint and turn dark, and I'm OCD enough that I can't stand less-than-pristine tape. Oh, and the tape smells funny and has since they put it on (not just because it's almost two weeks old).

Have I complained enough yet? Here's a positive one:

6. Eating less. Yes, yes, I had a band put around the top part of my stomach, but it hasn't been filled yet. My surgeon said that some people don't feel any sort of restriction with it on at this point, while others feel just a little restriction. I'm having a hard time wanting to eat anything more than about 1/4 cup of food. I know I need to work myself up to a 1/2 cup so my body is getting more nutrients, but it's hard. I'm enjoying solid food, but after a few bites, I'm ready to stop. I went to a New Years party with lots of yummy-looking food and wasn't even tempted! Amazing.

Weight Lost: 32 lbs, as of Thursday morning.

* I really wrote this post just so I could use this line. Teehee.