Monday, August 31, 2009

Hollywood, take note.




You Should Be a Film Writer



You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.

You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.

Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.

And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Ferdinand the Bull (Disney, 1938)

I love Ferdinand. I love the book, too. I've given it as a gift but I need to get myself a copy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Status, almost 30 days post-op

...yes, I am losing weight at the rate of a pound per day. I know this speedy weight loss is not going to go on forever. I think it lasts the first four months or something like that. Just in time for me to get my ankle fixed so I can work out!

I can really see why this surgery works: I just don't eat. I don't really want to. You have to cause yourself major pain and agony to stretch the stomach pouch and eat sugar/rich/greasy/fatty foods often enough (each time with the accompanying agony) to stretch the pouch and gain the weight back. I can't speak for other people who have had this surgery, but food just doesn't look or sound terribly appealing to me anymore. I even bought my granny a bag of bite-size Milky Ways at her request--they are sitting in my living room (I'm taking them to her tomorrow) and they do not tempt me in the slightest. I have fallen into another alternate reality--we're speaking of a person who used to say Hostess was her heroin.

I don't know what's normal, or if there is a normal, but my body is still happiest just drinking protein shakes. Every time I eat something more like people food, I get some stomach discomfort. I have been in major stomach discomfort most of the day and it was either caused by a mocha latte' Muscle Milk Light or 1/2 of a light breakfast taco that had some eggs, some chicken bacon, and green onions in it. And I drank water with it. I don't know what I can do for stomach discomfort...I don't think they make liquid Zantac. They have me on prescription-strength Prilosec (omeprazole) in the mornings. (Mr. Salted takes 20 mg, I take 40.)

I have felt sick from cheese. I have felt sick from fruit. I have gotten really sick from both meat and eggs. My body basically likes nothing but protein shakes in a can or little juice box-like thing. Fortunately, I have all these vitamin supplements and shakes, but can I live on them forever? If I can and be healthy, fine. I can live with that. I'm just worried about the health ramifications.

I'm glad I see the nutritionist Monday.

The good news is: I haven't taken any pain meds for a couple of days. The abdominal incision/bruising healing seems to have turned a corner for the better.

Hard Hats Required Past This Point: Entering Problem Area

My stomach and I have always had a difficult relationship. It's always been where the fat went first. Even when I was a (cuter than most, dammit, despite my low self-esteem) little kid, I had a belly beyond the normal little-kid belly that sticks out. Some shrill woman allegedly in the know (for instance, those succubi on "What Not to Wear") would deem it a PROBLEM AREA. I never noticed until just now what annoying phrase that really is. A problem area should be somewhere with no sharp edges where you can hug a teddy bear or pet a dog (or punch a heavy bag and scream profanities like Tourette's Syndrome has you by the toe). There should be Mexican spiced cocoa there that doesn't cause dumping syndrome. Cookies with similar magical ingredients wouldn't hurt. (There could also be shots of brandy for the patrons who just want to take their ball and go home--that will keep them there. Get them liquored up, they'll hit the heavy bags, the bar and the gift shop. Maybe I should start a chain of Problem Areas and make a bajillion dollars.)

I just hate my stomach so much. I have always hated it. I remember when I was fifteen years old and it decided quite suddenly to have four big stretch marks on it. That derailed me for quite some time. There was no precedent for their appearance, no weight gain or loss of note, I just woke up one morning and they were there. The universe had scrawled jaggedly across my adolescent skin with a big red permanent Sharpie. WTF was that about? What a load. I already had DDs, acne, glasses thick enough to kill ants in the sun and a perm worse than Victoria Principal's that one season of "Dallas". I think I weighed 150, 155 pounds at the time, maybe even less than that. Before I could even legally operate a motor vehicle, I worshiped at the altar of Vitamin E cream. (Of course, now I could win a stretch-mark contest in the childless division, but I don't feel the need to elaborate any further.)

My stomach is huge and I hate it. I don't even like anyone touching it, ever ever ever. I don't like wearing a shirt that even shows any portion of it--we all know it's there--but out of sight, out of MY mind. I wish I could spend my life in one of the trenchcoats of my '80s Batcaver youth (I even slept in them sometimes, over my pj's, like a security blanket) or in a huge Big and Tall men's hooded sweatshirt, which is like wearing a hug made of fleece. Who gives a rip what size your stomach is when it's covered by such a benevolent, fleecy, oversized hug? This is probably why some bulimics, recovering or otherwise, like big clothes. I am definitely one of these. I want everything too big because it makes me feel smaller. I always sit with a pillow on my lap, too, if I can. I'll use my purse in a pinch, but a pillow is better. Actually, I'll take more than one pillow if I can. I know big clothes don't make you LOOK smaller--no shortage of makeover succubi in the media AND in real life to helpfully point this out, so concerned are they with the appearance of every woman in sight--so I am trying to more balanced in my noggin about some of this.

I wanted a tummy tuck, like, yesterday. I can't wait to get one. I don't care how much it hurts or costs, I'm having one when I get down to whatever weight I get down to. I am not going through all this work and pain and CRAP to still have this THING I despise so thoroughly still attached to the front of me. It feels like a growth that just needs removing. I used to be obsessed with obtaining a breast reduction, and I'd like to have that too when all is said and done, but when the stomach surpassed "the ladies" it became more of a priority to get the ol' tuck. It motivates me as much as anything else.

Saturday 9: The Waiting


1. Have you ever stayed online for a very long time waiting for someone?

It's been years since I did that. I remember waiting an hour for someone once--I can't even remember who, probably just one of my friends. Instant messaging was a godsend when I first had it because it cut down on the phone bills ten years ago, I was making minimum wage, and I type 106 wpm. Now it kind of annoys me. People can only IM me on Facebook.

2. How do you eat Oreos?

I don't, now. That would be like an alcoholic chugging antabuse. I look at packages of chocolate anything and all I can think is how sick it would make me. When I did eat them, I favored the Halloween ones and the ones with the chocolate middles. The fudge-covered ones were also good on those nights when you just wanted to test what insulin could and could not balance in the human body. I liked them with milk, and I just bit into the cookie and ate it like any other--no taking it apart or anything. Boring, I know.

3. Are you cocky?

I maintain a defiant well-worn level of confidence in my own goodness as a person, my intelligence, my writing skills and abilities as a photographer, and the fact that I am about as honest and straightforward a person as one will ever meet. About the way I look, I am so far from cocky as to be in another galaxy. Seriously, my self-esteem pretty much blows--what I am is strong-willed. Try to hypnotize me. Just try.

4. Did you have an imaginary friend as a kid?

Apparently as a little kid (preschool/kindergarten age) I had a number of them and it really freaked out the family I was living with at that time. This must really date me, as now this would be called IMAGINATION and hailed with all kinds of wonderful complimentary adjectives. In the 1970s in my family of origin, all it did was make me odd. As I got older, my best friends were in books and in my writing, so they were all imaginary. They were nice to have when real people (I had many of those friends as well) fell short. I'm so proud to be odd. Nerds are the chosen people--they can get stuff done.

5. What t.v. station do you watch the most? Probably A&E and Vh1. I also like TLC and Investigation Discovery, and Comedy Central. When I'm slumming, TruTV.

6. Have you ever seen the ocean?
I have seen the Pacific and the Atlantic. Mr. Salted and I did a helmet dive in Cabo San Lucas in the Sea of Cortez--way cool! I love the ocean like I love nothing else in nature. It has always fascinated me with its beauty and power.

7. Have you ever been hospitalized?

Several times. For a broken ankle, for my hysterectomy, and for my recent gastric bypass surgery. I had a couple of outpatient procedures too.


8. What's your favorite brand of rootbeer?
If I could drink it--A&W. I also like the Diet Hansen's. There's a kind that comes in a brown bottle that is really good--is it Thomas Kemper? That sounds right.

9. Could you live without a computer?

I could, but I wouldn't like it. My friends live in there.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Granny: catching up

I woke up today at 10:45 AM (!). That's insanely late for me, but I have been perpetually exhausted and I needed the sleep. I was so confused when I woke up that I thought it was Saturday. I called Mr. Salted's cell phone: "Are you still at the dentist?" He laughed: "Sweetie, that's tomorrow. I'm at work."

So, Tuesday: my friend that drove dropped me off at Granny's care center. I went through the hall, looking at all the names. I had been to this same facility years before to visit other people, and it looked very different--much nicer and larger. There had obviously been extensive remodeling and expansion. It also didn't have that ammonia and urine smell I remembered. There was a cat on someone's bed and a parakeet in a cage in the hall. Someone had a service dog, a black Lab. In about the sixth room I peeked into, I saw my grandmother. She was sitting in a wheelchair facing the door, and she saw me immediately, lighting up like a Christmas tree. "Hi!!!!" she said, "Oh, you look so pretty!" (I tried not to react--that isn't something she ever says to me.) We had a really nice chat. I made a list of the things she needed from her apartment. They brought her her lunch and offered me a tray as well, but I wasn't hungry. "She just had that surgery to lose weight," she told the nurse. The nurse and I talked about it and people we knew that had had it and had success. Granny just picked at her lunch. "They are after me because I don't eat enough," she said. I asked her about Ensure, and she said they did bring her things like that. Several staff people popped in and out and they were all very friendly. Grandma kept telling me how good they were to her. "But I don't want that cat on my bed," she said. (She hates cats.) I told her the feeling was probably mutual, and we laughed. For some reason, most cats have gravitated toward her although she can't stand them, but this one was giving her a wide berth. Apparently the facility has a total of three cats living there. Granny told me about calls that needed to be made (I have since made them). She was worried about a couple of bills being paid and the fact that it had been laundry day when she was taken to the hospital. I told her I would take her laundry to my house, do it and bring it back to her in a few days. I asked her what she thought she might want to do in the long run, and she said she wasn't sure yet. I told her I understood. I also told her how sorry I was that all this had happened on her birthday. "Me too," she said. "I was sicker than I have ever been in my life." Someone had brought her balloons and a card--her COPES caregiver. I was so, so glad for that. She also had all the cards family had sent her in the mail. This visit, I brought her a little Beanie baby ladybug that she seemed to like.

My friend came back to get me about an hour later. She is someone I have known since childhood, and Grandma hadn't seen her in many years, but she remembered her. We were telling funny stories of things we had done as kids. Then my friend and I went to the apartment to get things from Granny's list.

We went off the list, and found everything she had asked for. A neighbor was taking in the mail and kindly offered to continue to do so. I told her I would be back in a few days and that my uncle would be arriving after Labor Day. We cleaned out the fridge, took out the garbage, watered the plants, found the bills. We went through her closet to find her a few more things to wear. When she had arrived at the hospital and care facility, she had had nothing--they had had to dress her in spare clothes they had in their laundry room. Her COPES caregiver had brought her a few things since then, but she needed a few more and was still a bit confused as to what was hers and what had come from the facility's laundry.

My friend was such an immense help--she kept me moving and laughing, and she hauled the big stuff, knowing my ankle is still on the fritz. I don't know what I would have done without her there, and she acted like it was no big deal. Good friends are worth more than can ever be expressed in words, especially mine. Friends have been the greatest gift of my life, bar none.

When we got back to Granny, she was lying down. She said her physical therapist had been there and that she was tired. We arranged her clothes. My friend had had the smart idea of bringing her her Bible, and Granny looked absolutely delighted to get it. I helped Granny with her checkbook--wrote out a check for a bill, she signed it and I mailed it for her. We chatted for a bit longer, and I said I'd be back on the weekend. I hugged her and kissed her. She seemed so small, and her hair and skin is so soft, like a baby's--maybe that's another way we regress as we age. It was the first time in my life I had seen her with completely gray hair--she has always dyed it brunette. It has become a pretty silver white. "I always wanted it to be silver," she said. "I guess it just decided to do it all of a sudden now."

I can't say I had no emotion seeing my grandmother in a nursing home, but it was not unexpected and I was not really upset by it. She was absolutely sweet and it was the most pleasant visit I've had with her in probably fifteen years, maybe longer. I know she is taken care of there. She also seemed happier and more contented than I'd seen her in recent memory. I was just glad that I was finally able to see her, to actually be of some help when there was no one else to do it, and to just hug and kiss her and tell her I loved her in person. I had been feeling so helpless being unable to drive up there and take care of business, so frustrated not being able to know what was going on. I left still not knowing much of what went on or what was going to happen, but feeling good because at least I was able to do the basic, preliminary stuff. I went home so exhausted I was barely able to move and fell asleep for about twelve hours.

******

So, the next day, I was about worthless, which is what I expected. There has been a lot of calling and emailing among the family and my friends checking in re: Granny. There has been much sleeping and watching of bad TV, and it has been good.

Yesterday, I got a call from her COPES case manager. It was a very productive conversation; I learned things that I didn't know, she learned things that she didn't know. Nice lady. She wants to find a way to make Grandma going back to her apartment successful, and so do I, and so do my uncles. It was obvious this woman cared and was doing everything in her power to advocate for Grandma.

I called Granny today and reminded her I would be up on Sunday. It looks as though I may become the person that handles her finances, which is something I dread. I have a lot of caveats for agreeing to be that person, though. (a) The minute she stops cooperating, it's over. (b) The minute anyone in the family tells me I'm doing it wrong or gives me one iota of BS, it's not only over, but they've instantaneously gotten themselves a *BRAND*NEW*JOB*! I'm going to check into what the state payees cost--I would rather have it handled by a neutral third party--but none of us really has the cash to spare to pay such an individual.

Sigh.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

8 Things (stolen from Slacker-Chick)

8 things I am looking forward to:

1. Fitting into cool clothes that I really like--vintage, goth-y, hippie stuff--instead of only being able to do the shoes, bags, and hats due to my size
2. Buying and wearing said clothes
3. Feeling better physically
4. Doing more stuff because I feel better physically
5. Someday finally having my own dog
6. Finishing a book
7. Publishing a book
8. Growing old with Mr. Salted

8 things I did yesterday:

1. Vacuumed
2. Found a new family doctor to do my pre-op stuff for the ankle surgery
3. Talked to Grandma's COPES case manager on the phone
4. Looked at catalogs
5. Left feedback for some Ebay purchases
6. Organized my shoes (They're probably already disorganized again. I think they reproduce quite frequently when left alone in the closet.)
7. Reviewed "Strip City" by Lily Burana on Goodreads
8. Facebooked

8 things I wish I could do:

1. Sing like Joan Osborne.
2. Play the piano.
3. Suffer fools gladly. (It would certainly improve my career.)
4. Like people more than I like animals. I just don't see this happening.
5. Live in Cannon Beach, OR.
6. Eat chocolate, French fries, and many other wonderful yet evil foods that I can no longer have.
7. Wear a backless dress.
8. Be the most gorgeous woman in the room just once.

8 shows I watch:

1. Intervention
2. Breaking Bad
3. The Riches (Is it coming back? It better.)
4. Two and A Half Men
5. The Daily Show
6. Big Love
7. United States of Tara
8. Divorce Court (I get a boot out of Judge Lynn)


8 places I'd like to travel:


1. Europe
2. New Mexico
3. Alaska
4. Hawaii
5. San Francisco
6. Scotland
7. Caribbean
8. Philly

8 places I've lived:


1. Bremerton, WA
2. Woodinville, WA
3. Framingham, MA
4. Rancho Cordova, CA
5. Kalispell, MT
6. Salem, OR
7. Corvallis, OR
8. Bolivar, NY

General chitchat

I am losing weight at about the rate of a pound a day--approximately 23 pounds since August 3. It is absolutely beyond my comprehension. Before I had this surgery, it would have taken me months and months to lose 23 pounds--months and months of faithful workouts and total deprivation. And, once I lost it, I could never keep it off for over a year.

I really don't care about food at all now. I watch people eat things that I used to live for and feel almost completely indifferent. Sweets are a little bit hard, but I immediately think how sick they would make me and the bloom is off the rose. I am fine with protein shakes, low-sugar juice, Crystal Light, water, a little fruit, string cheese, and oyster crackers--those seem to have been my staple foods thus far. Unfortunately, I have gotten sick from salmon, beef soup, and salad, sometimes to a greater or lesser extent. I think it's all part of the learning curve and my body still being in the healing process.

I still have a lot of pain when I bend--the one site that was so bruised obviously still is inside. Aesthetically, it looks a lot better, but to bend down and stand back up makes me want to throw up--and I think I stay tired because I'm fighting it. That site is still sore all the time. Unfortunately, it is located on the side I most often sleep and lie on. I have used up every kind of pain medicine I had, and the surgical center gave me a small bottle of liquid Valium earlier this week, which will be gone soon. I see my nutritionist Monday, and I'm going to drop by the surgical center in person and speak to them about what to do with the fact that this still hurts. I am allergic to all the -codones, but there has to be something they can give me for a while longer--even if it's Valium.

I was going to try to return to work next week, but decided to put that off until after Labor Day because that is when one of my uncles is going to be here. I still need a lot of rest, and I want to be available for anything Grandma might need. (I'll write about that whole situation when I have the energy to post about it.)

I drove to the post office today--a short trip (about 3 miles each way). I waited until afterward to take any pain pills, and I did okay. Sometimes I feel like everything is a milestone--My First Trip to Costco! My First Trip to the Post Office! My First Trip to the Movies!

I still can't make many of those whey protein isolate powders edible. Today I tried putting some of the sugar-free caramel syrup in with a chocolate Bariatric Advantage meal replacement. It tasted just barely okay and was relentlessly lumpy despite much blending. That's one thing that really recommends the Ready to Drinks--the lack of lumpy.

I have several friends that are supposed to be sending me clothes. I'm excited waiting for them to get here. I cleared out a couple big garbage bags full of my men's big and tall stuff (shirts and hoodies) to make room for the things I've been buying myself. I'm not going crazy--I can't afford to--but I have been Ebaying a bit. I've thought it was too much trouble to list my own things, but I am beginning to rethink that. I usually just donate everything to friends or friends of friends or charity, but some of the nicer, professional clothing could certainly be sold on Ebay. I'll price it to move, and it will buy me more clothes! I love clothes, whether they are new or just new to me.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Allowed to dream

BariatricEating.com is Susan Maria Leach's website, and it seems to be a great one. I like her book very much, and I just perused the site for the first time night before last. They have all kinds of products for post-WLS folks, plus recipes, support, etc. I haven't ordered from them yet--I have to work my way through the stuff I've already bought. (I don't know what to do to make choking down some of these protein powders palatable. I'll keep searching and trying different combos to make them taste okay.)

They have one section of the site that is all before and after pictures, and it is nothing short of astounding. I found myself moved to tears by some of the photos. I could tell the people in them just felt better, more themselves in the "after" pics--often their new bodies came with new ways of dressing and doing their hair. Mr. Salted was standing behind me at one point, and I turned to him and said, "Look at that. I've always wanted to wear a dress like that. I'd love to be that size. Oh my GOD--I could actually get to be that size. Do you think that could really happen?" I actually surprised myself--my voice sounded more passionate than it had about anything in recent memory. He looked at me a little strangely--he had just told me a couple of hours earlier that he has never been all that conscious of his body. (That was in response to me belting myself into the car beside him and saying something, "You know, I lost 20 pounds. I look the same, but I don't think my stomach fat sticks out as far." He just shook his head; he tells me often that he loves my bluntness, but it takes him aback, too.)

The whole battle to get insurance to pay for this surgery has consumed me for the last several months. I was job hunting, I was freelancing, I was temping. I was seeing the nutritionist and the exercise physiologist. I took part in the food addiction support group and dug way back into my whole life to find every gnarled roots of my personal Fat Girl Tree. I just took it one step a time, because there were a lot of steps that had to be taken. I've learned in my life, time and time again, that you just keep taking the steps. Sometimes your feet are dragging and you think you're never going to get there, but you do. You just keep walking. If you have to take a seat and rest for a minute, you do, but you get back up again. My most concrete example has always been graduating from college. I put myself through with no help, dropped out four times, and it took me eight years to get an Associate's degree, another two to get a Bachelor's degree, but I did it and I'm extremely proud of it--and I'm much prouder of the process (and the simple fact that I KEPT TRYING!) than the product. I'm still making the student loan payments, and I wouldn't change the experience now for the world. I've always identified with Sisyphus for a reason!

I know that I've just started this journey, and that it's never really going to end, but it will evolve and allow my life so many more possibilities and opportunities for change. For much of my life, I've felt like dreams were all I had, and that every single one I had just seemed impossible. Looking back on it now, it seems that I never allowed myself to dream, because dreams were just one more luxury I couldn't afford. Now I feel like I'm allowed to dream, because I may actually be able to make some of my dreams happen. The little frivolous ones, like being able to wear a certain kind of dress or owning a dog, and the bigger ones--like publishing a book, going back to grad school, jumping out of a plane, and last but not least, growing old with Mr. Salted, who is both my good luck charm and my home. I want to squeeze every drop of juice I can out of whatever life I have left. I want to spend as much time with my friends as possible, because I feel good when I'm around them. The biggest transformation hasn't been physical, and even if I lose another 100 pounds, the non-physical transformation is what matters the most--I almost can't recognize the woman I am now as the extremely lost young adult I was twenty years ago, when I looked in the mirror and saw a monster, and didn't think she would live to see twenty-one and wasn't sure I even wanted to. I'm so glad I (somehow) held on. I'm extremely grateful for this second chance to treat myself better. I know not everyone gets one.

Monday Crazy Questions meme: Love It Or Hate It

1. The new sports season is about to begin...do you love it or hate it?

The only sports I follow are gymnastics and figure skating. The figure skating season starts in September or October, and that seems to be when Nationals and Worlds take place in gymnastics, though those events are hard to catch because the television coverage is almost nil. There's no shortage of coverage of poker, though. Grumblegrumblegrumble.

2. What's your favorite of the sports and what team?

I like gymnasts and skaters from all over the world.

3. Do you get snow where you live? Do you love it or hate it?

We don't get much, and my pet peeve is that no one knows how to drive in it. Last winter was pretty hairy, as we were without water for several days--no plumber could get to us. We had to melt snow in order to flush our toilet and then pour it into the toilet tank through a strainer. I could not believe how much water it took for one flush. I lost my patience about Day 3 and screamed, "What IS this, Little House on the #$%^ing Prairie?" When the plumber got there, a pipe broke. Oh, we had some fun! Sorry, lost myself on a tangent there. In short, snow looks pretty and I'm fine with it if I don't have to drive anywhere and have operable toilets and showers.

4. You got stopped by a cop who tells you were speeding. Do you explain some made up story as to why you were speeding or deny it and try to get out of it?

I tell him the truth--that I probably just didn't notice how fast I was going.

5. You just had a fight with the person you are closest to. Do you not speak to them until they apologize...or do you apologize first? It depends. I don't like to fight and I don't keep a scorecard.

6. What do you love about this time of year?

The weather is usually pretty good, and I love back to school sales because I love fun stationery, pens, notebooks, post-its and goofy stuff like that. I always find good deals on shoes and stuff about this time.

7. Your doctors says you need more exercise....what do you take up for exercise?

Swimming, walking, dancing around my house like a fool when no one is around.

8. If you could travel in time...where in time would you go? Why?

I would go to the Renaissance, to ancient Greece, be a flapper in the Roaring '20s, work with Mel Blanc and the people at Looney Tunes in the '40s and '50s, be right in the middle of the music in the '60s, go back and hang out with my mom for a couple of days (she died when I was two), go dancing with my dearly departed best friend in the early '90s one more time, and make sure I saw Nirvana live before Kurt Cobain died.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Grandma

Rifftrax on Thursday night was a riot--Mystery Science Theater 3000 alums riffed on Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space"--Mr. Salted and I laughed ourselves sick. I promptly passed out for about ten hours the second I got home. First thing Friday morning, I got a call from my uncle (who lives hundreds of miles away) telling me that my grandmother was in the hospital. It wasn't really clear what exactly landed her there; he said she was confused, having some anxiety, had fallen last week, and that the doctors were trying to have her transfer to assisted living and that she had railed against it.

I called her; she sounded like a deflated and stomped-on broken balloon, somewhere far beyond exhausted. She recognized my voice, and I was glad about that. "I'm not doing good," she said. "Not doing good at all. I'm so cold." I told her to ask the nurses for an extra blanket, and she said, "I have. It just doesn't help." I told her I loved her. She said, "I don't want you bothering about me and trying to come up here." I said, "Well, I can't, Granny. I just had that big abdominal surgery, I'm on pain pills, and I can't drive." She said, "I know." We told each other we loved each other again. It was really the reason I called, of course.

Upset that I couldn't do something as simple as bring my grandmother a jacket, I then called one of the sanest people I know, who told me that a lot of times people who are ill will obsess about something like being cold to keep their mind off the bigger matter at hand. She made a lot of sense and, as she always does, made me feel a lot better.

Then the idiot hospital called me a couple of hours later and asked, "Is this (Grandma's name) granddaughter?" I said, "Yes." They said, "Well, she is being transferred to (nursing home),and she doesn't have any shoes or glasses. You have a local area code, and we were wondering if you were able to get those things for her." I told them I wished I could, but that I had just had this surgery, wasn't able to drive up there, and didn't have a key to her house anyway. They said they were going to call her COPES case manager and track down her caregiver's information and take care of it that way. I didn't hear any more about it. I just kept thinking, how did she get to the hospital with no shoes?

Saturday was her 89th birthday. I didn't know if she had been transferred to the nursing home, so I tried calling the hospital first. She wasn't there. I tried her apartment and she wasn't there. I tried the care center and they verified that she was there and gave me her room number, telling me how to dial the room directly. I tried three different times throughout the day and there was no answer. A recording came on and said messages couldn't be left. I just really wanted to hear her voice and not being able to was upsetting.

I tried around dinnertime and a nurse answered. "She's at dinner," she said, "but she'll be back in her room in about half an hour. Do you want me to get her?" I said no, don't interrupt her dinner, just please tell her I have been trying to call and will call her again in a little while. I did call her again about 45 minutes later and she said, "The nurse told me you were going to call so I picked it up. I haven't been taking many phone calls because I've just been too sick." She sounded the same as she had the day before--oriented, just extremely exhausted. I told her I was glad she had taken my call, and that I hadn't forgotten that it was her birthday, and that I was really sorry all of this had to happen on her birthday. We talked a little bit about how she had volunteered at this particular nursing home for years so she knew a lot of the people there--she actually seemed glad to be there. I told her I loved her and she said, "You take care of yourself." (That felt almost ominous. I don't believe she has ever said that to me--she tends to think I am selfish and would be far more likely to tell me to take care of my husband, who she is very fond of.)

A friend of mine is going up to my hometown on Tuesday so I have the opportunity to ride up there with her and visit Grandma. I'm really grateful for that. Maybe if Grandma still wants or needs anything from her apartment, I can get it for her then.

She really needs to be in a place like she is in right now; I'm not sure what it's going to take to make that happen, but one or both of my uncles have to be here to deal with it. Her apartment is HUD-subsidized and since I have worked in the subsidized housing field for several years, I know she can't get subsidy in two places and will probably have to give up her apartment fairly soon if she is to stay in the care facility. I dread having to clean that apartment out; I dread the whole thing. I dread the phone ringing now. Privately, I have felt for some time that she was probably not going to make it through this year. You can prepare yourself for this psychologically ad nauseam, but you're never really ready for these things to happen. More than dreading the inevitable, I just hate to think of her confused, suffering, or afraid. We have had considerable differences throughout my life, but I still love her very much. I want to do more for her but there's nothing much that can really be done. I can't make her younger or healthier, and I can't stop time.

20 pounds--gone.

I weighed myself this morning, and I have lost a total of 20 pounds since August 3. (25 since the blog photo.) That's about a pound a day. I can't even get my head around it; I don't look any different to myself. I guess some clothes are looser, and I feel pretty good, but it's just like, holy cow, 20 pounds already. Maybe this is really going to work!

My stamina is still just not there at all. I tested it by going to Costco with Mr. Salted this morning. He wouldn't let me lift anything, of course. By the time we were leaving the store, my face was pouring sweat, like I'd had an aerobic workout. He made me sit in the car while he put the groceries in the trunk, and I was grateful because I was completely tapped out. When we got home, he instructed me to go sit or lie down and he would unload--he didn't want me overextending myself. I immediately stretched out and took a nap. It's humbling to have your body say to you, this is all we can do now. I believe in listening to it! But like I told him, I want to make myself do little things like that and not just be bedridden constantly so I can begin to build myself up again for real life. When the twisting and bending over stops hurting, I'm going to start doing Sit and Be Fit (because of my ankle). I have that surgery coming up in about six weeks as well. (I hope I can get back to work for a couple of weeks at least and make a little money in between.)

I had also been concerned about my calorie intake since my nutritionist appointment. Actually, I'd been obsessing about it and I finally emailed my nutritionist for guidance. I was fixating on "300-400 calories a day post-op", which I had read somewhere, and I told her I fall more in the 600-700 category. Every protein shake is about 160 calories. Four tablespoons of Amino 2222, which I like to put in a bottle with water and sugar-free drink mix, is 160 calories. It seems to be the magic number, and it adds up quickly. She told me my goal should actually be about 400-600 calories a day and that I was right where I needed to be and doing a great job. She also told me she was glad I emailed and to email anytime (she's so nice). Weighing myself this morning, of course, made me feel better. Just like not obsessing about calories, I have to really work at not obsessively weighing myself. Old bulimic thought patterns is all it is. I'm just glad it's working.

I think I am going to be able to go off pain pills this week and just do ibuprofen and muscle relaxers or something. I hope so, anyway--then I could conceivably start driving before too much longer.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Saturday 9: I Ran

1. When's the last time you ran? I think it was about 1988.

2. Do your jeans have rips, tears, and holes in them? No.

3. What are you dreading right now? Ankle surgery. And some other things.

4. Do you like Mexican food? I love it; nachos are my favorite food. I doubt I can eat them anymore, but I might be able to have a couple of bites of refried beans.

5. Favorite ice cream? Seriously, I haven't met many I didn't like, but my favorite ones involve chocolate. Rocky Road is a classic. Can't eat it anymore either.

6. When was your last doctor's visit? I saw my bariatric surgeon last week. I saw my nutritionist this week.

7. Do you get the full 8 hours of sleep a night?
I have been lately, thanks to pain pills and Seroquel.

8. How many pets do you have?
I have three beautiful cats--Nunzio, Mr. Stash, and Floyd.

9. "First Loves Are Never Over;" is this true for you? No.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Still healing

Everyone keeps telling me to "take it easy, I just had major surgery". So I am. I think I need to be at home at least another week, because (a) I have no stamina and (b) I'm still in enough pain to have to take painkillers.

My incisions don't hurt at all anymore. Now what pain I have seems to be based inside my stomach. Since my salmon fiasco, I have pretty much stuck to liquids and my beloved mashed potatoes. One of my aunts had this surgery back in the day, and mashed potatoes were apparently her thing too. We had a chuckle over that. I've also been able to eat green grapes without a problem (without peeling them) and apples (I am peeling them).

I can't think of one thing to do with the protein powders to make them palatable. I really like the Amino 2222 liquid (I got it at Super Supplements, but I'll bet GNC has it too), because you can put 4 tablespoons in a drink bottle with sugar free drink mix, barely notice it's there, and it's 22 g of protein. Huzzah!

Speaking of "Huzzah!", Mr. Salted and I are going to Rifftrax tonight--another Mystery Science Theater 3000 offshoot. Should be fun.

Thursday Thunks Meme 8-18-09

1. Your thoughts on hunting? I don't have a problem with it if you're going to eat what you kill. If you just kill for "sport", I have an issue.

2. Swine Flu vaccine... will you get it? No...frequent exposure to human pigs early in life has made me immune.

3. What is one job/profession that you think there are just too many of? Holier-than-thou judgmental soapbox dwellers; miraculously, most of them don't seem to have to work, which gives them more time to hone their craft.

4. I want to go on a diet, what advice will you offer me? Diets don't work. You have to change your entire lifestyle. Cut out the white stuff and exercise. And good luck. I've been on every diet there is, so I'm the wrong person to ask.

5. You are going out on a date with someone for the very first time. When you get into their car, you see a box of condoms on the floor. What do you do? I think, "My, he's well prepared" and kick them under the seat. He's not going to be using any with me on the first date, at any rate.

6. Name something in your bathroom that shouldn't be there. I dunno...the linen closet? I didn't build this place.

7. What was your Kindergarten teacher like? I don't remember her well, but her name was Miss Newton and I still have a book she gave me. I do remember that I liked her.

8. What kind of oil do you use when you cook? I don't really cook, but we try to use Pam or olive oil.

9. If someone takes an unflattering picture of you and posts it online, do you beg them to take it down or do you laugh at yourself with everyone else?
Laugh at myself, usually, though I'll definitely comment on the hideousness of the photo.

10. What brand of dishwashing soap do you use? Usually the Costco stuff for the dishwasher, and Joy for the regular dish soap.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows

...is a really annoying song. I love "You Don't Own Me", though. An early feminist classic.

Yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and sunny, and today the invisible, yet all-encompassing cloak o' fatigue draped itself around my shoulders and whispered in my ear, "You are going to be worthless today." And so it came to pass that the cloak, by cracky, was correct. I was going to try to do a fun thing with some friends, and knew there was no way it was going to happen. I was not asleep most of the day, but neither was I awake. I was nodding off while I typed, nodding off while I talked on the phone, nodding off while I watched TV. I felt like a heroin addict looks. (I don't want to know what I looked like.) I don't feel down mood-wise or anything--I'm just very, very tired. My incisions still hurt, and I know the heavy-duty narcotics they have me on aren't known for their juicing-up powers.

I passed the day by dozing in front of bad court shows, canceling my plans with my understanding and supportive friends, and calling my aunt, who just had a knee replacement and is in a rehab center for a couple of weeks. It was nice to chat with everyone. I was roundly ignored by all three of my traitorous felines--no wonder I want a dog.

I also looked at clothes online on my laptop and bought a couple of things on Ebay, a size or two down, of course. I don't know why I'm looking at clothes so much all of a sudden, except that once I have to start all over, I get to start all over! I still love the vintage, goth, and hippie-inspired things of my youth, and now I'll be able to fit into some of them. I can't dye my hair blue, but I have to get past wanting to do that. Speaking of dyeing hair, a lot of people have commented that they like the blonde. I wasn't expecting that.

Today's food experiment was to peel, chop, and puree half an apple, two tablespoons of peanut butter and a cup of chocolate Soy Slender in the blender. It was pretty good--only slightly lumpy. 14 grams of protein, at any rate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Feel a bit better.

Saw the nutritionist and she was great. She was happy with my weight loss and with what I had to say. She said that salmon was actually one of the tougher fish to eat and that she had heard of other people getting it stuck like that. She thought I should stick pretty much to liquids for the next couple of days and I told her that was the plan. She gave me a few ideas of things I haven't tried and talked about a recent obesity information seminar she and the staff there had attended which included a talk by a chef who contributes to bariatriceating.com, the Susan Maria Leach website. She actually drew a diagram of the post-bypass stomach anatomy and how the pouch works that made a bit more sense--"just think of the pouch as a funnel"--and explained why it was better to eat protein first in a meal and all that happy stuff.

I have not been sticking to the drinking half an hour before and half an hour after eating--I'm going to have to get more on the stick with that. She was glad I wasn't working and told me that they actually encourage people to be off work for six weeks (!) if they can swing it. I don't know. I don't want to jeopardize my part-time job, since they work around me and since it just sort of fell out of the sky. We do need the money.

I also confessed to her my bran muffin transgression--"it was a carrot one and I took like three days to eat it and it was soooooo good". She wonders if I might have more symptoms of binge eating disorder than actual food addiction and recommended a book to me that might help. She also thinks I should have a counselor to talk to about my feelings about food if I'm transferring it back to how I feel about myself. She also suggested the post-surgery support groups. They gave me all that information before, so I have handouts about it around here somewhere. I might look up the online ones first. The thought of walking into a room full of people I don't know to talk about me -n- my fat does not thrill me right now. Binge eating disorder? I dunno. That's a lot like bulimia without purging, so it seems like a no-brainer. I've always thought of myself as a recovering bulimic.

I had a really nice, encouraging message from my aunt and uncle when I got home. That made my day.

Naptime.

Monday

I'm feeling pretty glum and trying not to. The sun is shining, and my incisions are healing and looking less like a horror movie, though I can tell I still have some healing to do inside my stomach--that still hurts. I'm watching Night 2 of the Women's National Gymnastics Championships. I've watched gymnastics since I was a little tiny girl--even tried to do gymnastics briefly, but the puberty fairy came early, tied one on and ended the suspense. There is no sport I was built for. I was also on the swim team briefly, and I love to swim to this day, but my physical body is incapable of moving quickly. Only my brain does.

I can't find the USB part of my wireless mouse, so I'm having to use the pad on the laptop--not my strong suit. I also can't find my new car tabs, which I paid for and which came in the mail and are somewhere in this house, where the piles of paper, no matter what size, turn into black holes simply by being.

Edit: found USB, found and installed car tabs.

Last night I was an idiot. Actually, I've been an idiot for a couple of days, and last night I got schooled. I'm supposed to be doing puree, and I ate a couple of things that were not technically puree, thinking if I chewed well enough, it would all be okay. Needless to say, it was not. It was fine for a couple of days, and then last night I attempted to eat a (boneless,skinless, moist) baked salmon fillet and got really sick. It felt like I had a 2x4 wedged horizontally in my chest cavity, and I couldn't breathe. It was terrifying. I just tried to breathe, tried not to panic, and threw up sporadically for about an hour. I scared the crap out of myself and Mr. Salted, and was really g-d annoyed with myself. And I still am.

All the instructions say that if you have any issues with vomiting, you should go back to liquid for a day or so. I see the nutritionist today and we'll be talking about it. Now I'm just worried I screwed myself up for good.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monday Crazy Questions for 8/17

1. Last Tuesday, which was Good Friday, we came to tell you something we know nothing about.You were asked to pull up a chair and sit on the floor. What do you make of this?

I'd think I hadn't woken up yet.

2. The answer is YES...what is the question?

Are you crazy?

3. The cops are banging on your door late at night. What are you thinking they are there for?

To tell me somebody died or is injured, or that they're evacuating the area for some reason.


4. Children learn what they live....so they say.. what would a child learn in your household??


The importance of saying please and thank you, unconditional love, that no one is better than anyone else, that working hard and trying is more important than winning and being perfect all the time, that there is more than one definition of beauty and pretty is as pretty does, to ask questions and think for themselves, how to be a good friend, how to take good care of animals...lots and lots of stuff.

5. Tell us about 1 family ritual your family does every year. We try to go away for our anniversary.

6. What is the favorite food that you would eat everyday 3 times a day if you could?

Chocolate. And bread.

7. Tell us about your fantasy.

My fantasy is that I'm down to whatever weight I'm going to get down to, that I have a job I like, that we can finally move into something we picked out together and both like, and that we can go on vacation once or twice a year. I'd also like to have a yard so I can have a dog. Pretty basic stuff.

8. You are stranded on a deserted Island. You have plenty of food, a person to keep you company, shelter and life seems stress free. what do you tell the rescue ship when it arrives??
In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny: "go away, kid, you bother me"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lazy weekend

This morning, Mr. Salted and I had to go out in search of the refill of liquid Demerol. We ended up getting it from the same clinic, but they didn't have enough of it and Mr. Salted has to go back there and get the rest of it after work on Tuesday. I can't believe how hard this stuff is to get; there must be a lot of other people who are allergic to the -codones as I am. Hopefully I won't need it much longer.

I have slept most of the day today. Everyone keeps telling me my body's been through a huge shock and I need to just listen to it and take it easy, so I'm trying to do that. It is hard for me to wear any clothing that touches the incisions, and being in a prone position is the most comfortable place to be. We had a wedding to go to, but Mr. Salted went without me. I knew I couldn't make it through a dressy social situation like a wedding, and I always end up taking lots of pictures, so instead I'm laptopping and watching bad TV.

We went out to lunch at our favorite restaurant. I ordered a deal they have with a cup of soup, a dinner salad and a carrot bran muffin. I ate about 1/4 of it and will probably get two or three more meals out of it. I was afraid the bran muffin would make me sick, but it didn't. (Of course, I only ate a couple of bites of it.) I guess I'm not doing right, eating this stuff when I still should be on puree, but I take small bites and chew very carefully and have had no problems.

I have also discovered the joys of GNC online--they delivered cases of Pure Protein shakes right to my door, flavors you can't usually find in the stores and the price is about the same. Yay!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Post-op appointment with surgeon

It happened today. My surgery was nine days ago. I have, indeed, lost fifteen pounds. (!) They very kindly whipped out a letter to send to the insurance with my appeal claim for not covering the g-d bloodwork. How can insurance deny it with a nice letter on letterhead that says, "We sent her to the lab, please apply in-network coverage" and signed by my surgeon? Well, I certainly don't know, but I will be saving a copy just the same.

They said my incisions looked good (they're pretty disgusting if you ask me, but not bad as incisions go) and they were happy with everything. It actually was a pretty brief appointment. I see them again in three months. I am glad to have the bandages off--and no more Glad Press and Seal showers--but the sites are still sensitive so I am careful to position myself with a rolled-up towel or something, which helps. Each one is maybe an inch long, and I know they won't show much when all is said and done. They said my color looked good and that it was good that I was up and walking around. I told them I still have a fair amount of pain and fatigue, and they said that was all normal and recommended that I still rest another week or two and just don't push myself too hard, and prescribed more of that lovely liquid Demerol.

I decided to go out to lunch with my friend that drove me, so that was my first post-op restaurant trip. I ordered a cup of clam chowder and a glass of water, and finished about half and have no need to eat for the rest of the day or night. I drank a protein bullet to make sure I got my RDA in.

After that we went to TJ Maxx and I bought a few things--bras in smaller sizes (a gamble, but hard to pass up at $9.99) and some shirts. I won't buy anything smaller than a 1X, and I won't buy any pants because I will need to try those on when the time comes. I actually stuck mostly to 2Xs. I can't imagine myself being smaller than an XL, ever.

Just being out for three or four hours completely exhausted me. It was good to be out in the world a bit, but now being at home mostly horizontal seems like the most fabulous thing ever.

I see the nutritionist Monday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sigh.

I really, really want to believe people mean well. I do. Not the vast majority, because I haven't been wrapped in cotton my whole life--I know what people are like. I will never cease to be surprised, even pleased, by unexpected, spontaneous kindness from strangers--and I spend some of my time aspiring to practice unexpected, spontaneous kindness myself. (Not in a fake way, but if someone is a great waitress, I've been known to leave a note to that effect with my tip. I'll tell someone I love their hat if I love their hat. I ask the cashier how HE is. And so on.)

When it comes to this surgery, most people have been kind--at least to my face. People who have known me at all well and for any length of time have inevitably observed my lifelong struggle with weight, and some of them also know about my other medical issues, history of bulimia, abuse history, blahblahblahm***f***ingblah.

I did start writing in this blog, at least in part, to educate people in my life as to this surgery and what might motivate someone like myself--someone who was formerly a vocal opponent of said surgery--to surrender to the possibility that it could help me. The friends I know who read the blog have indicated that it has served its purpose in that way. It has helped me to process things, and it has gotten me to write, which I need to be doing more of, all the time. These are all positive things.

My favorite people in the world are the ones who don't bring my weight up at all--because it just isn't important to them. I don't see how questions like "Have you lost/gained weight?" are even relevant to any friendly conversation. Just having someone ask me that ruins my day for awhile. Oh, THAT again. (Probably because the most blatant offenders ask that before they even ask how I am.) Frankly, I find this not only offensive, but disheartening. I lose both respect and regard for the asker immediately; somewhere in my subconscious, a box gets checked, and the result is this: I know this is someone who focuses on the least important thing that makes me me. The end result: I think less of them. Fact of life.

I have a hard enough time trusting people. The fact is, I'm never going to be able to trust anyone who asks me that question--ever--because they care too much about how I look and not who I am. It also makes me question their motivation--as in, why do they care (am I going to be graded on this? WTF?) Do they ask their average-size friends if they've lost or gained weight when they see them, too? I seriously doubt it. Any apparent outward acceptance of me they seem to exhibit is immediately determined to be, at best, conditional, and at worst, an outright lie. If they're just projecting their own body issues onto me--and yes, Virginia, this happens quite frequently, and I am perceptive enough to spot it at twenty paces--it actually bothers me slightly less because I make note of their obvious Achilles heel; I'm still irritated, but we can all just hang with our various preexisting neuroses.

Recently, I have found myself feeling hurt--at least in passing--by things people have said or done. The most toxic family member that I still communicate with, THE DAY I GOT HOME FROM THE HOSPITAL, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Do you feel any lighter?" I was all doped up, in pain, barely conscious really; I know not to expect any better from her, but you know what? I just didn't need this bullshit. She then chuckled and said, "Of course, I had to ask you that." My mental response (thank you, Demerol, for keeping me silent) was, "Really? Really, you had to? Well, aren't you the clever one. Have a nice day. Buh-bye." Or the shorter, direct version, because I am a fan of brevity: "Bitch, PLEASE."

Yesterday, during a benign back-and-forth on Facebook about life in general between several people, an old friend said, in reference to me, "Just call her Slim." I felt like screaming. Are we passing notes? What grade are we in? I replied from the heart (that's how I roll) with something along the lines of "I'd kick you in the stones for that if you were close enough to reach." I added that my goal was basically to be average. Average, my friends, this is what I fantasize about. His response: "I meant it as a compliment. You're going to do great." Well, okay. Fantastic. Could he have just said I was going to do great? Yes, he could have. Another friend of mine--someone who has had her own weight struggles--called me today after having read that exchange and asked if she could be mad at him for that. I sighed and just said, "You could, but you know, he doesn't get it." If I said anything to him, he would probably think I was just oversensitive. It's pointless.

Also yesterday, I received an otherwise nice note with a gift that included, inexplicably, my head Photoshopped onto a body wearing a bikini--a body thinner than mine was at the age of twelve, a body that does not exist in nature on anyone over the age of sixteen. I said to Mr. Salted, "Yeah. This is a very generous gift, but this graphic kind of bothers me. WTF?" He made a pained face--it came from someone in his family--and said, "Yeah, it is weird. I'm sorry, sweetie."

A lot of people just don't get it. And you know, bully for them that they don't have to. Everyone has obstacles in life--everyone. But fat is clearly visible to every sighted person within range, and adds an inevitable wrinkle to the wearer's life--instant and constant prejudgment. Your body is public domain when you are fat. It's an extremely distasteful reality. Some people assume that you are lazy and stuffing Big Macs or Ho-Hos into your mouth whenever you pause for an intake of breath. Some wonder if it's your glands. Some act as though you are invisible/blind/deaf/stupid and speculate or editorialize aloud to their heart's content. Fat in and of itself isn't a disability, but I will hypothesize that fat people are viewed largely the way many disabled or disfigured people are--with the fear of difference, the barely restrained curiosity ("how did they get that way?") or even flat-out repulsion. When people go so far as to be visibly or audibly repulsed, I know damn well they were either a fat kid; had a fat relative and so becoming fat themselves is their biggest fear in life; or some other knee-jerk, projecting bullshit. None of that excuses their rude behavior. Even when someone's little kid is screaming out how fat you are in a public place, someone will (usually) shush the kid, but everyone knows--especially the fat person--that most people within earshot are thinking, "Well, too bad. The kid's right. How did she let herself get that big in the first place?" I've been asked that very question more than once, and by people who purported to love me. There is not one iota of love anywhere in that question. Conjugate it any way you like: it remains insulting, demeaning, and borders on accusatory. That and many other weight-related barbs that I've received and addressed in this blog over the past few months are, sadly, only the tip of the iceberg. 40 years is a relatively long time on the planet, particularly when you're paying attention.

"Slim" sounded to me like something a teenage boy would say to a fat girl, thinking himself hilarious. It also seems to presuppose that I finally caved and had this surgery for the sake of vanity. No, for the 5,036,678th time, I am trying to improve the quality of my life. I have watched that quality deteriorate, with no small degree of alarm, over the past ten years due to numerous health problems. I finally chose to undergo a risky, permanent, radical medical procedure in an attempt to facilitate the lifestyle changes I have been making for the last several years to eat well and exercise actually pay off with some results that might cure my high cholesterol, type II diabetes and sleep apnea, never mind what the number on the scale is. I have tried to achieve similar results all these years without any type of medication and not one bit of it made any difference for any length of time. I have been torturing myself about my weight, with the world as my Greek chorus, since I was a freshman in high school. People have been telling me I was fat since I was three years old, but I'll be generous about that fact just this once and only count the last twenty-five years of my life--more than half--where I have not been allowed one day, not one blessed day, where I didn't think about how fat (disgusting, repulsive, ugly, etc.) I am at least once. Not when I graduated from college. Not when I got married. NEVER.

I acknowledge that I chose a thankless--but I hope not pointless--battle to fight a long time ago.I want it not to matter. The outside world, the general public, the people I don't know, even the doctors--I don't really care about them. They can get under my skin a bit, but their digs don't cut to the quick. The battle I'm talking about involves people I love, or like--people I call my friends, family, sometimes colleagues; people I have some personal regard for. Whether you like me, and find me in some way valuable, or if you hate my guts and burn me in effigy--I want it to be because of WHO I AM. Because I can assure you, whether I weigh 520 pounds or 120, I am the same person I always was, good and bad.

Do I hope I reach an average weight, or even a slim one? Sure. I'd love to actually know what it was like to feel pretty--after all, I'm a female human being who grew up in shallow America and got bombarded with all the same pressures and images as every other female human being who grew up in shallow America. I'd love to have more physical energy. I'd love to do a whole bunch of things I'm too self-conscious to do now. But I don't know what is going to happen. I may lose a bunch of weight and gain some back. I may never get below a certain weight. I may fail miserably altogether. I don't expect these things to happen, not at all; I completely expect, and am working toward, a positive outcome. But my point is, if you know me, if I mean something to you, but you still insist on judging me--for God's sake, make your judgment on the basis of some other factor that is deeper than the average mud puddle. I am the same person I always was. I will always be that person.

Puree Day 2

Last night I had potatoes for dinner--the instant butter and herb kind with some bacon in 'em, and pureed. They were so yummy. It felt so good to chew something. Of course, about six bites and I was done. I had 'em for lunch today, will probably have 'em for dinner too. Also got to put part of an actual banana in my baby cereal...yum!

Tomorrow, I see my surgeons. There are fun things going on with friends the next few days, but I still don't really have the stamina to participate. I'm not taking quite as many doses of narcotics to get through the day, but I'm still taking some and sleeping quite a bit because I still have a fair amount of pain. I'm sure the surgeons aren't going to want me to stay on this stuff much longer. I just hope I can take these damn bandages off and take a real shower without Glad wrap around my midsection.

I got on my scale and it says I've lost fifteen pounds. In a WEEK. That has to be wrong; Murphy's Law would dictate that I will weigh more at the surgery center. I don't look any different. I guess we'll see.

Thursday Thunks for August 13

1. Hypothetical question- you are in a building with famous works of art, old manuscripts of famous novels, and original sheet music from famous composers. The building is on fire and looks to be completely destroyed. Do you grab any of the famous works before fleeing, and if so what?

I think the art is the most important because it's needed to make more copies, right? I'm assuming there are copies of the novels and the sheet music. I grab as much as I can, except for the stuff I've never heard of that I think is crap. ;)

2. In August 1969, the Manson family went on a 2 night killing spree. Do you think 40 years later they have paid for their crimes?

No way. They butchered those people.

3. Power Outage! What's the longest you have been without power?

A couple of days. It was not fun. Day three I checked into the Travelodge to prevent frostbite in my feet. Power was restored the next day.

4. Just bought a new tazer gun. Will you let it be tested it on you to see if it works, and how it feels to be tazered?

No--they must have some kind of "tazer dummy" for stuff like that. I've seen "Cops"; being tazed doesn't looked like fun, and I don't have any crack in my pocket, so I'd rather skip it.

5. A neighbor's mail was delivered to you. In it is a magazine not wrapped in plastic. Is it ok for you to flip through it before giving it to the neighbor? Do you tell them you looked through it?

I think it's okay and they don't need to know about it. I know damn well the mailman reads my Rolling Stone and my People. Probably The Utne Reader too. I also know my neighbors would do the same thing. As long as I end up with my magazine in a timely fashion, I'm not too tense about it.

6. If I went through your purse/wallet right now, what all would I find in there?

ID, credit cards, a couple of pictures of me and the Mr., some change, insurance card. I'm not sure if there is any paper money in there right now; I doubt it. Boring.

7. Have you been living under a rock?
Don't we all live under a rock of our own design?

8. Tell us something crazy you did this week.

I ate a piece of string cheese when I was still supposed to be on liquids post-op.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Puree Day 1

I consulted my nutritionist instructions, and it turns out today is the day I can start puree. I had some baby cereal (it was Beech Nut whole wheat with raisin) and it was pretty good (I put some Splenda in it). That was fine.

A couple of hours later, I tried to eat some lunch meat--thin-sliced--and immediately got sick after about four bites. I think it was a mild dumping episode, and it was miserable! Nausea, sweat, dizzy, praying to the porcelain God (and I don't have the knees I used to when my lifestyle necessitated frequent prayers to the P.G.). That will teach me not to look at the label--I bet it had sugar in it. Bleargh.

Overall, I feel somewhat sore and still very tired. The worst of the bruising is beginning to heal and turn interesting colors in the interim, but I can't take any of the bandages off the incisions until I see the surgeons on the 13th. I'm just not up to doing ANYTHING, so most of the time I stay horizontal. Books, TV, and the laptop are keeping me from losing my mind. I feel like I should be doing more, but Mr. Salted says, "You just had major surgery. Just rest." It's hard, though. I hate for him to have to work all day and then come home and do all the chores too.

My ankle surgery has been tentatively scheduled for October 1.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Experimenting with protein powder

Tried some of the Isopure Mango Peach with some Diet Tropical V-8 Splash instead of water; it was so disgusting I threw it out after one sip.

I'm hoping that, when I can eat fruit again, I can put some actual fruit in one of these concoctions and it will taste okay. I wish I could find some unsweetened applesauce with a low enough sugar content, but as yet I have not been able to. Even the ones that say "no sugar added" have had more than 5g per serving. And those smoothies at Coldstone Creamery that are made with Splenda? Still way beyond my sugar limitations. I'm seriously bummed about that. The lowest sugar content of one of those was 15g for the smallest size--I think that was the berry one.

At this point, puree sounds like heaven because at least I can puree some regular soup. Only a couple more days!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eating pureed worms

This was how I felt yesterday--nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna go eat worms. (Of course, they would have to be pureed. And then I remembered: I don't get to start on puree until the 11th, and that annoyed me even more.) I wonder if it isn't some kind of postpartum depression sans bambino.

I'm in pain, my incisions itch but I can't scratch them, I can't shower properly because I have to wrap my middle in Glad Press and Seal wrap so the bandages stay on and I can't really bend or twist certain ways...it's lovely. I looked at Susan Maria Leach's book and was relieved to see that she felt this way at first, too, and look how it turned out for her.

I am HUNGRY. It wouldn't take much to get me full, but I would love a couple of bites of fruit or mashed potatoes or SOMETHING that isn't a g-d protein drink. I like the premade protein drinks better than the powders so far; it seems physically impossible for the powders not to be chalky. The Bariatric Advantage meal replacement ones seem to be the chalkiest of them all, which is rather ironic in my estimation. My favorite so far has been the Muscle Milk Light Peanut Butter Chocolate powder.

The Demerol is making me out of it--sleepy, sweaty, and stupid, which segues seamlessly into cranky and mean. I will be glad when this part's over. Mr. Salted has been a rock. He's been doing all the housework and getting me what I needed and just tries to be the sweetest husband on Earth, which of course, he is. I'm just sorry he has to put up with ME right now.

I am worried about eating (or drinking) too much and messing up the pouch. They want me to have something like 84 ounces of fluid a day, which I have been, and I've had over 100 grams of protein every day too. I guess if it was too much, it would come back, and it hasn't.

Saturday 9: On Broadway

1. Have you ever seen a Broadway play? If yes what and when?

Never have. I would like to.

2. Tell us about one strange event in your life this week.

Gastric bypass surgery was plenty strange.

3. Have you ever lied to "get the guy/gal"?

No. If you have to lie to get them, they're not worth getting.

4. Tell us about your best friend.

See my blog entry "Ten Years After" from May 2009.

5. What was the best vacation that you ever had?

All the ones I have had with John--to Mexico, to the Olympic Peninsula and to Cannon Beach.

6. What was the last big purchase you made?

My laptop.

7. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink and when did you start drinking it?

Crystal Light--I probably started drinking it about 2000.

8. When was the last time someone did not believe you?

They know who they are, and that's their problem.

9. You have signed on to direct a romantic comedy. Who are your stars?

Jack Black and Amy Adams. I love both of them and they could be a lot of fun as a movie couple.

The Love Meme--stolen from Through Thick and Thin

What are your middle names?

Mine: Sterling. His: Andrew.

How long have you been together?

A little over 3.5 years.

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

We talked on the phone and online for a couple of months before we met. Once we met, we were a couple.

Who asked who out?

It was mutual.

How old are each of you?

We're both 40. He is five months older.

Whose siblings do/ did you see the most?

Neither. I don't have any, and I haven't met his brother yet. We see my chosen siblings all the time, however.

Do you have any children together?

None together or separately.

What about pets?

We have three cats--a grey one named Nunzio, who is five years old, and tuxedo brothers who are about two named Floyd and Mr. Stash. Nunzio came with me into the relationship.

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?

Health problems and money.

Did you go to the same school?

We graduated from the same university at different times.

Are you from the same home town?

No.

Who is the smartest?

He would probably say I was, but he's just as smart as I am.

Who is the most sensitive?

Me.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?

I'm not sure since I had this surgery.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

Mexico.

Who has the worst temper?

I'd call it a draw.

Who does the cooking?

He does.

Who is more social?

He is.

Who is the neat Freak?

Neither of us, though I clean more because it gets on my nerves faster.

Who is the more stubborn?

Me.

Who hogs the bed?

He hogs the blankets. The cats hog the bed.

Who wakes up earlier?

Usually me. I'm not a good sleeper.

Where was your first date?

He came over and spent New Year's Eve with me and slept on the couch like a gentleman. We lived about three hours apart at that time, so it made sense to do it that way.

Who has the bigger family?

Mine has more people in it.

Do you get flowers often?

No, because our cats destroy them.

♥ How do you spend the holidays?

Thanksgiving with two of our dear friends each year. Christmas we both hate and lay low. He works for Fed Ex, so he's justified, and I have many justifiable reasons of my own that I won't go into here.

Who is more jealous?

We're not jealous people, but I would say this is equal.

How long did it take to get serious?

Right away. We were and are very compatible.

Who eats more?

Him

Who does/ did the laundry?

Usually me

Who’s better with the computer?

I know more stuff on it, because most of my work has been on them.

Who drives when you are together?

We try to switch off.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Adventures in pill-crushing

In an ideal world, you take liquid meds after gastric bypass surgery, probably to aid absorption. I haven't even checked into getting my full med regime in liquid or chewable, though I found all my vitamin and mineral supplements that way without a problem.

Crushing pills has been fairly challenging. I bought a little pill crusher, and have found that while some pills transition into a nice, tidy powder, others hold on to their shape for dear life. I usually have to finish up the crushing with a butter knife.

The next logical step is--how to get the pills down? I tried dumping the powder into my mouth and flushing with massive amounts of Crystal Light, but it was NASTY. Sometimes I pour the Crystal Light into the pill crusher, stir it around and choke them down that way, flushing with massive amounts of Crystal Light afterward. So far, the latter seems to work better.

Sometimes I just get fed up and take them whole. I wonder what happens then?

Hit by a truck

Yesterday I started to feel like I'd been hit by a truck, and I still do. One of those Stephen King horror-movie semis--towering, shiny and silver.

I called the doctor in the evening to see if it was okay to take my Phenergan (generic name: promethazine) for nausea, and he said it was. He asked me if I was having a lot of pain, and I said yes. It's the incision sites and probably what's immediately inside them, because the right side is okay. Anytime I have to roll over or sit up or bend/sit down...ouch. Maybe I really do have a core after all, because that vicinity is what hurts. If I didn't have the oddly thick abdominal wall, I'm sure I would have been fine.

The first 24 hours or so that I was home, I could just drink an 11-oz. protein shake in a sitting and not think twice about it, which worried me because I thought it was too much. Now I can only drink half or 2/3 of something that size and drink the rest later.

Other than one occurrence of food smelling good--Mr. Salted had a chicken pot pie last night that smelled like heaven--I haven't even thought about wanting any. When you feel like this and you're nauseated to boot, nothing sounds delicious.

People keep wanting to make plans with me for the next few weeks, but I don't know how I'm going to feel. With my "core" this sore, I don't even know if it would be safe for me to drive--not to mention that I'm on liquid Demerol with a liquid Valium chaser. Without warning, at times I have to just stop and breathe deeply and clutch my ribs. I may even try to find a driver for my follow-up surgical appointment, because Mr. Salted has to go back to work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Necessity is the mother of invention

A nurse in the hospital showed me this one. I have a lot of big elaborate bandages on my abdomen at the moment, and the surgeons want me to keep them on until I see them on the 14th, but also not get them wet when I shower. So, I wrap myself in Glad Press and Seal Wrap--it has to be the Glad, because the generic versions are too tentative to really press and seal--and voila, dry bandages. The abdomen is causing me most of my discomfort. I am even feeling a bit nauseated for the first time tonight; my scopolamine patch lost its mojo. I tried to drink one of those vanilla meal replacement powders with a half-teaspoon of coconut extract and it still tasted yukky. Vanilla just doesn't seem to be agreeing with me--too chalky. I am liking Muscle Milk Light's peanut butter chocolate powder, and the Pure Protein shakes, which come in banana, strawberry and cookies and cream if you look hard enough. I think GNC online and I are going to become very good friends.

A question

Q.: How much Demerol does it take for my insurance company not to piss me off?

A.: A damn sight more than I have.

They said they denied almost all of the (gulp!) $800+ laboratory work claim because the lab wasn't in network, and if I'd gone to a lab they approved of, it would have been covered at 90% or 100%. I called the lab, who said they are in network. I then called the insurance company--who called the lab with me on hold--and they came back and told me whoever picked up the phone when they called said that the lab in question is not in network. It's crazymaking.

So now I guess I will fill out an appeal form, and I'm going to say that I did call ahead and that I was told the lab was in network. Because, you know, I just did. I'm more than willing to punt if they're not going to play nice with me.

With that, I'm going back to bed.

Flowers


People have sent me some nice flowers and cards and left all kinds of encouraging messages. Sunflowers are my favorite, but no one has ever sent them to me before! They are such a big, cheerful flower.

Demerol

I am *so* glad to be home. I had sat in my hospital bed for hours with my laptop calling every pharmacy in the known universe, trying to get that !@#$% liquid Demerol, or if you prefer, Demerol elixir. One pharmacy I talked to in a snooty nearby town was a complete joke. I asked if their pharmacy stocked liquid Demerol, and got this guy who spoke barely passable English--I couldn't pin down the accent. He got alllll excited. "That is illegal! I cannot tell you that," he said. "It's a controlled substance and you could be planning to rob us." (Kudos for your customer service, there. I always try to give stores my business when they call me a thief, are you kidding?)You could not even measure how annoyed I was by this whole exchange. I had already called 12 pharmacies at least, I was sitting uncomfortably in a hospital bed, and I just wanted to find where I could fill this prescription so I could go home.

I took a deep breath and tried reasoning with him. "Sir, I am well aware of the HIPAA laws. I am not having Mr.Salted drive all the way to Snootytown to try to fill this prescription on the outside chance you are just playing coy with me and don't really have it." Finally, he spit it out that they did have it. However, the other place who stocked it was closer and their employees didn't sound like they had been huffing spray paint, so I went to the second place. Mr. Paranoia is probably still wigging out from my phone call and wondering why I never showed up. Oddly enough, I don't feel too bad about that.

Thursday Thunks meme

1. What the hell were you thinking?

That it seemed like a good idea at the time.

2. The tornado sirens go off in your neighborhood - what do you do? Take cover.

3. Give us a recipe. Vanilla protein powder + coconut extract = post-bypass people's version of a pina colada.

4. It's the middle of the night, there isnt a car in sight and you are stuck at a red light that just won't change.... how long do you wait until you run it?

About 30 seconds.

5. When was the last time you got all dressed up fancy-like? Where did you go? To Pat and Noemi's wedding.

6. Have you ever had a mole removed? No, but there are a couple I would like to get rid of.

7. Are you in an area of record highs or record lows for the temps this summer? Are you lucky and stuck in the middle where it's somewhat normal?

8. When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? A couple of months ago.

9. What's your favorite type of frog? Michigan J. Frog from "Looney Tunes".

10. If you were to go on America's Got Talent, what would you do for your talent? (and choosing not to go is not an option....)

Photography, I guess.

11. Have you ever been on a rooftop of a building?
Yes, that's a cool place to watch the stars.

12. What is the first website you go to each day when you sit down at your computer, other than your email? Facebook.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2nd night in hospital

After rhapsodizing about the loveliness of the surgery experience in my last blog entry, the proverbial doo-doo hit the fan. As in, within half an hour of hitting "publish post" yesterday, I got up, looked down, and there was blood on the floor. Needless to say, I freaked out and basically had a mild panic attack. The culprit turned out to be one of my surgical incisions. The left side of my stomach around one of them is very badly bruised to about the circumference of a healthy grapefruit, though the incision itself is quite tiny, less than 1/2 inch. When the surgeon's assistant came in this morning to touch base with me, he informed me that my particular anatomy consisted of a much thicker abdominal wall than most and therefore they had had a difficult time passing the instruments through during the laproscopic bypass, which explains the bruising. I have been up and walking--I did four circuits around this hospital floor today--and I can do that without unbearable pain, just an occasional deep breath like a stitch in my side or ribs.

I am also one of those people who is allergic to almost every pain med on the planet. No Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycodone, Darvocet, etc. I can now add Dilaudid to the "no" list. The itching was so bad I was not going to get any rest, and for some reason, they just plain didn't want to give me the Demerol I suggested--they don't like the way it metabolizes in the body or something like that. However, it's the only pain med that's ever worked for me, and I told them this. This afternoon, they finally consented to give it to me in a shot. I took the first shot, but balked at having to have a shot every four hours, so they removed the anchor from their asses and got me some liquid Demerol that can go in my IV. I am a LOT more comfortable now. (Now I have to find a pharmacy that stocks liquid Demerol for when I go home. Apparently it's an unusual item.)

So between the incision woes and the drug allergies, they decided to keep me another night. Mr. Salted and I are both more than ready to be out of here, but they gave him a cot, and we have our iPods, our books, the laptop, and each other. So we will make it. They did tell me I might have to stay two nights when we scheduled this operation. He's been great. I'm reading one of Lewis Black's books, which is the perfect thing to be reading in the hospital.

I got more flowers today from the people I work with, and was very touched. People have really been much kinder than I expected, which is always a most pleasant surprise.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Surgery is done!

I'm blogging from my hospital bed while Mr. Salted goes out to get himself some dinner. (I have been provided with ice chips, Diet Snapple, ice water, chicken broth, and Jell-O, and every bit of it tastes like manna from heaven.) It's wonderfully quiet now in the hospital, all the noisy visitors from earlier have gone, and there is not as much staff buzzing around. I'm on the eighth floor and it's a beautiful sunny evening, and I even lucked into a private room.

I logged onto Facebook shortly after I got settled to tell everyone surgery went well and there were so many messages of support that I felt like Sally "you really like me" Field for a moment. Mr. Salted's brother, who I've yet to meet, even sent me flowers! Our friend Izaqueen (for the record, that is a nickname, but a fitting one) came down today just to sit with him and visit with both of us. She stayed for about eight hours, and we actually had a great time just shooting the bull. The hospital staff have all been extremely nice and helpful, comprised of people in every color of the rainbow and every conceivable age group--a beautiful, beaming woman who was 80 if she was a day even delivered my flowers. They all appear so different from one another, but they obviously love what they do and just radiate that love. Maybe it's the Dilaudid talking, but as surgeries go, this one could have not have gone better. Everyone has taken the time to explain why things are necessary and just been perfectly lovely in general. Mr. Salted wants to stay the night with me, even if he has to sleep in an uncomfortable chair. They just announced that visiting hours were over, and he isn't moving a muscle. It is so wonderful just to be taken care of well, both by professionals and by my loved ones. My heart is so full of gratitude, and is there any better feeling in the world than that? I doubt it.

We checked in this morning at 5:30, spending about an hour and a half with a cheerful, funny former military nurse--he was even a Trekkie, much to Mr. Salted's delight. He had to put an IV in, but it was the easiest IV I have EVER had by a mile (his secret was to wrap the wrist in a hot towel and to have me close and open my fist for about five minutes before he stuck me. I will definitely remember this trick for future reference.) They then took me to the pre-op room, where I met my anesthesiologist, put a sterile bonnet on me, and before I knew it, I was in the operating room. My surgeon came by and chatted for a moment, and I woke up in the recovery room. It took me a couple of hours to come out of it and get lucid; I always get really bad chills, and I was definitely groggy. Then I ended up in my little room here.

One of the hardest things is coughing to clear my lungs, and they are making me wear little tubes pumping oxygen that go into my nose into my nostrils, which is driving me batshit. (They found out I had sleep apnea, and this is my penance.) I also have to blow into this contraption once every hour to further clear my lungs. (Mr. Trekkie Nurse had enlightened us with an interesting tidbit--anything that you eat or drink can end up in your lungs during surgery if you don't fast as you are instructed to do. Yikes!) They told me not eat after midnight, and it was the damnedest thing--I woke up a bit hungry at 11:56 pm and enjoyed a protein shake, getting as full as I could at the last minute, but still not breaking the rules. Speaking of rules, after all my angst about the g-d low carbs, the doctor was pleased with what he saw and my pre-surgery weight loss.

The only pain I am really having is in my stomach, which totally makes sense. The incisions, though small, hurt a little, but my insides hurt like hell if I have to bend, such as to get out of bed or onto the loo. I have already done two laps walking around the floor, and the worst that happens when I stand upright is just feeling like a stitch in my side with a wee stab of pain, and that's after I've walked a few minutes. I hold my breath for a second, then just keep going. They are keeping me pumped full of narcotics, but I am having to have a Benadryl chaser with it because there is some skin itching. (The only drug I seem to be able to have without itching is Demerol.) They tell me all my vitals look fantastic and that I will definitely be going home tomorrow. :) Yay!

I'm just so happy. It's done! I know I have a very long way to go, but I am so full of hope (and gratitude, and love) right now that I could explode. I feel so fortunate to have been given this second chance to treat my body the way it should have been treated all along.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Surgery time!

I check into the hospital at 5:30 AM tomorrow. I should already be in bed. I'm heading there fairly quickly.

We went to Super Supplements today and got more protein shakes and liquid vitamins, and they had the 42g protein bullets, so I don't have to order them online. We also went to another GNC and bought more stuff, and to Top Foods for some extract flavors so I can be a creative post-surgery bartender. Vanilla protein powder + coconut extract = pina colada. At least in theory. I thought of many combos I could make. Drinking all those foofy drinks with umbrellas in them has finally come in handy for my health. Who'da thunk it?

I'm ready.

Monday Crazy Questions for August 3

1.The aliens have landed...they have invited you in for dinner....what do you think they are up to?

Finally, the people who worship big white women have come for me. Where's my crown and scepter?

2. Remember that 20 dollar bill you found on the ground a few memes ago?? Ok you picked it up and someone comes to you and says..hey that's mine...what do you say? Here you go!

3. you got offered a part in a movie... they will pay an enormous amount of money....but you have to play the town she slut/he slut.. do you play the part or do you refuse to compromise your values? It's acting, I don't see a value compromise. I don't do public nudity, but it would probably be a hoot to play.

4. Do you have a name for your private parts? Good Lord, no.

5. You are driving north on Hell avenue and can only turn west on to hell Terrace. There is a car coming toward you on Hell avenue also, which also can only turn west onto Hell terrace. what does this prove?? That hell has no traffic signals?

6. where is the strangest place you ever did the deed? Vroom vroom. Not very strange.

7. Have you ever been caught doing the nasty...who caught you and where were you? No.

8. What can put you in the rottenest mood ever? People treating vulnerable people or animals badly.

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About Me

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other words...life.
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