Saturday, July 31, 2010

Notice anything different?

I had my 6-month surgiversary celebration this week (even though it was actually last week that I hit 6 months).  So that meant some new jeans, a blood panel, a visit to the doctor, a new photo, and a new look for the blog (it's a library, see?  cause we're 'rewriting' our lives, see?  get it?  scribblinginthemargin?  I knew you did!).

So last week I went to Kaiser to get my 6-month bloodwork done in time to take the results to my bariatric surgeon this week.  It takes at least 3 times to explain, yes--this is for another surgeon.  No, he isn't with Kaiser.  Yes, I still need the bloodwork done.  Yes, I do enjoy hassling you. Etc., etc.  When I finally had the bloodwork ordered in the system, I headed down to the lab to get my blood drawn.  I remembered to take a list from my bariatric surgeon of the names of all the tests he wants taken, which he nicely typed up and put on his letterhead.  So I show up to the phlebotomist with this paperwork, hand it to her, and she says, "Bariatric surgery.  Oh that's great!  Good for you!  When is your surgery date?"


"Uh, January 21.  Last January 21."

Now, to her credit, she didn't even miss a beat or realize the enormity of her faux pas.  "Wow, that's fantastic!  How much have you lost?"  God bless her little phlebotomist heart, because her genuine enthusiasm kind of took my mind off the fact that I apparently still look like I need surgical intervention.  On top of it, she was REALLY good at drawing blood--super-fast, no prodding, no second pokes (or thirds), and NO bruising.  I told her she was so fast she should have holsters for her needles and that I was going to call her "Quick Draw."

So my blood work came back fine, although a little anemic.  My triglycerides are down into the 200's (hey, they've been up in the 500's before) and although my cholesterol is higher than before, it's still within the normal range.  I'm down 120 lbs since my pre-surgical appointment, and 125 lbs total.  I just tried on a size 22 pair of jeans and they fit (although I opted for the "skinny" cut and had to go up to a 24 so that they would fit in the waist).  My t-shirt size is almost to the 18/20 range.  My feet are smaller.  I can stand in line and the only impatience comes from the idiot in front of me who is still using checks, and not from the fact that my back hurts so badly that I might fall down on the floor and not be able to get up.  I can cross my legs, and fasten my bra strap by reaching behind me.

So yeah, so far so good.  Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop and start gaining weight back.  But I've gotten better at telling that negative nelly to just shut the hell up 'cause I don't want to hear it.

Thank you to those that have been following my journey so far.  Thank you for your support, and for listening to my rambling.  I'm sure there will be a lot more of it to follow, and I thank you for continuing to read.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It puts the lotion on its skin...

Creepy (but so funny out of context).

I just wanted to answer Miss Tina M, who asked about lotions.  If you go to Sephora, or Nordstrom, or Ulta, or any other place that sells lotions and potions (and I do love them so...but that is for another day), they will tell you that lotions will help with sagging skin.  They say it increases circulation and diminishes cellulite, and that it does just about everything for you except wash your dishes and give you an orgasm (well, unless you are using the lotion in a VERY different way).  They will sing promises and dance dances of mighty lotions that will turn you into a slender, gazelle-like creature with big boobs, big eyes, a round bum, and a flat tummy. 

*They LIE.*  That's right, like sleeping dogs, like a braided rug, like Tiger Woods in front of a microphone.  You can pretty much bet that if it's on the back of the tube, or in a glossy ad featuring an already-thin woman, that it is not entirely true.

What you can do is maximize what you have.  Stay out of the sun, drink lots of water, eliminate caffeine (in beverages only, however, because studies have shown that lotion with caffeine has a slight, and temporary, tightening effect).  Get a faux tan, because it will make stretch marks and wrinkly skin less apparent.  Work out regularly and build your muscles to help fill out the skin a bit.  Exfoliate to increase your circulation, and indulge on a massage occasionally for the same reason.  Hydrated skin is healthy skin, so use moisturizer liberally.

But stay realistic.  While all of these things will help slightly, they won't fix the shriveled balloon appearance of someone whose lost the equivalent of an Olson twin.  Your skin has only so much elasticity, and can only recover so much.  If I had stopped losing at 90 lbs, I would have no problems at all.  It was at about 115 lbs that I really started noticing it.  And I have REALLY good skin.  I've seen some people lose half of what I have that are as withered as a raisin.  What you end up with is a product of genetics, how much weight you had to lose, how quickly you lose it, and how badly stretched your skin was to start with.

I suggest getting yourself a drug-store brand (Nivea, Aveeno and Neutrogena are consistently rated highly) that won't break the bank, and slather it on.  It won't hurt you, and if you are losing less than 100 lbs it may be enough.  Otherwise, save your pennies for a good, experienced plastic surgeon and vow to donate the skin that's removed to burn victims (yeah, you really can do that!).  And maybe by the time I lose all my extra weight they'll use my extra skin to create a new Olsen twin triplet. 

The skin after the thin...

Okay, it clearly has been far too long since I posted anything.  Let's get up to speed, shall we?

I've been insanely busy lately.  I know people always say that, but I really have.  It's amazing how much you can do when you can, you know, actually DO stuff.  So I went to Colorado Springs for a weekend for a post-bariatric seminar, I almost went to the local renaissance festival (temps of over 100 degrees scared me into seeing the next Twilight movie, which cooled me off but made me feel like an old pervy lady going to see tween boys without their shirts), I've been to several farmers markets, went antiquing, a gardening show, and even to the gym a couple of times (dude, I even tried Pilates, which I loved!).  Whew.  I'm exhausted just reading the list.

Here's the long and short of it, my 6-month check up is this Thursday, and I'm down about 125 lbs.  My triglicerides went down about 100 points but my cholesterol went up a bit (still in the normal range, but much higher than before), my hormones are all over the place (reference old pervy lady comment above), and because I get a period for 3 out of 4 weeks in the month I'm slightly anemic.  Otherwise, doing well--all things considered.

So, Miss TinaM wants to know the question of the hour--what about all the skin?  Actually, I get asked this more than any other question, so apparenlty inquiring minds want to know.

I have good, thick, German skin.  Pasty as all get-out, and every scar hangs out as a red mark for at least a year, but it heals good.  No keloids, no pitting, and FAST healing.  Oh, the skin cancer scares aside (and I've had a few--before I even turned 30), I got good skin.  So even though I've lost an Olson twin in less than 6 months, I have a lot less of the droopy, withered bits that almost everyone who has had successful weight loss surgery gets.  Yea me!

I do have some weirdness.  There is a slightly deflated-balloon appearance to my lower abdomen.  And some weird dangly bits that weren't there before.  But all told, it isn't too bad.  How do I know this?

At the aforementioned post-surgical seminar I went to in Colorado Springs there were several different lectures on post-op life, including a segment done by a plastic surgeon.  I learned several very important things:
1.  Ya gotta WARN people before you start flashing up enormous slides of naked people, whether or not they are post-op.  I looked at my brochure to catch the Dr.'s name, and when I looked up I got smacked in the eyeballs with ENORMOUS NEKKED BOOBS.  Not that there is anything wrong with enormous nekked boobs (in fact, I am a proud owner of a pair).  It's just that after a very tame discussion of converting recipes to weight-loss friendly foods I was not prepared.  I'm telling you, it's weird to have the black "censored" box over a FACE and not the boobular area or the naughty bits.  Honestly, a person should have a warning that this is about to occur so that said person does not almost spray the person in front of her with half-chewed protein bar.
2.  Ya also gotta WARN people that it is an actual plastic surgeon who will be discussing the horrifying details of what they do to people when they are passed out naked on the table.  Remember the Seinfeld episode with "The Assman", and how proctologists always have the best stories?  Yea, plastic surgeons are so freakkin' close.  As in, "You should have seen the size of the skin flap I took here.  It took three of us, pulling and stretching so tight (insert pantomine of wrasslin' and pullin') that we had to start the sutures with superglue."  Poor black-box-faced lady.  It's better she doesn't know.
3.  When standing in a room of post-ops from bariatric surgery, it's easy to spot the people who have had the skin removal/tummy tuck/neck lift/etc.  They are the only people in the room who look proportional.  Everyone else looks like a normal person from the waist up, and then a tire worn around the waist, and then normal legs.  You see, it's not just me--everybody's like that.  Until they get with a surgeon who evens them all out.

All things told, I'd like to have surgery on my midsection at some point.  Half the point of this whole process is to be "normal" and proportional--I'd hate to lose nearly 200 lbs (my ultimate goal) and still look like I'm smuggling waist-level bags of whatever people are smuggling these days.  But I'm only 6 months out and hoping to lose another 60+ lbs before I can even go there.  So I can say, loudly and proudly, that my shar-pei belly is here, it's weird, get used to it.  For now, anyway.  We'll see where the poochy goes in a year or so...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Boundaries, the final chapter

So we talked about my personal boundaries and lack of impulse control (remember the marshmellow experiment?).  We talked about boundaries with men.  Let's just finish this damn trilogy and talk about boundaries with food.

I am a compulsive eater.  There are foods that call to me, that whisper sweet nothings into my ears, that like to remind me how out-of-control of my eating I really am.

What's hard about weight loss surgery is that while my stomach has changed from COSTCO-sized to fun-size literally overnight.  Yet all of that out-of-controlness and compulsion is still there.  It doesn't get cut out with the surgery.  So what do you do when the object of your compulsions makes you ill?  When you have no way to channel those impulses?

Hell if I know.  But I'm trying to learn.

Sometimes it is easier for me to say "I can't eat that", than it is to say, "I can have just a taste."  A taste is sometimes just a taste, and sometimes it turns into an eat-a-thon.  And I'm finding that I don't experience "dumping," which is a big part of was usually makes the surgery successful, because it makes you sick if you eat too much sugar, fat, or carbs--like pass-out, vomit, and severe poop issues kind of sick.  I was actually hoping I would be a "dumper."  Those people are much more successful in the long term because you learn to respect your body's limits real quick.  Only I don't have those limits.  And it's only a matter of time before I can eat from 1/2 cup to 1 cup of food at a time.  It can be a slippery slope.

So I'm going to have to learn how to instill my own food boundaries, without having to rely on the surgery.  If I could do that without the surgery, I wouldn't have had it in the first place.  Duh.  But the other option is to gain it all back, and I don't think I can face that.  Instead, I'm finding that I have to draw my own line in the sand when it comes to food--limited carbs, high protein, high nutrient density.  And if I can manage to do that 90% of the time, I think I can be successfull (and yet forgive myself for the occasional slip). 

Next post--more info on the Shar-pei that lives under my clothes (see Tina, I did read your last comment!)  :-)