Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deep cleansing breaths....

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. It's been an exhausting couple of weeks. I've worked every hour my employer would approve; I've also had a lot of other things to take care of outside of work. The nature of Mr. Salted's job is such that he is a missing person during the holidays, so I pick up the slack out of necessity. It's always a relief to have it just be over.

Food has been a challenge this last month or so, as one would expect. It is everywhere, in large quantities, and damn near impossible to avoid. At work, whatever chocolate-coated pile of toxicity is to be had resides right next to the fax machine, which I use frequently. I tried to stick to sugar-free things whenever possible, but I did have a cookie or piece of chocolate (or two) here and there. I definitely felt ooky once or twice, but I have still never had sugar cause full-blown dumping syndrome. This is both good and bad, as I now know my system will tolerate at least a small portion of foods that contain sugar. Feeling ooky and the looming possibility of dumping syndrome keeps me from truly bingeing on sugar. The maltitol and sorbitol in sugar-free sweets has actually caused more discomfort for me than sugar itself has (though I have to admit I eat a larger portion of the sugar-free stuff--whatever the package says a serving is).

I also seem to feel hungrier more often than I did initially--not just for sugar, but in general. Dry meat, bread and grease are my worst enemies, so I avoid them. I used to love almonds and cashews, but nuts have lost their luster. I'm still getting most of my protein from beans, peanut butter, or supplements. I have noticed an increased lactose intolerance when it comes to milk, though cheese, cottage cheese and sour cream have not been a problem. I have also been drinking diet soda--though not a great deal, and not every day. Lately I've been drinking several cups of hot tea with Stevia every day, which I enjoy and which makes me feel full. I used to hate hot tea, but I've found some really good flavors lately. I think my favorites are Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice, and Gypsy Tea Gingerbread Chai.

I haven't gained any weight, but I am a little worried. It is coming off so slowly now, and I still haven't been cleared to work out yet. I feel a little panicky that I'm more hungry and that I know I can eat some sugar. I'm also a bit freaked out by the way my body is changing. Mr. Salted observed that I probably haven't been through anything remotely like this since puberty. He has a point--and no wonder I get neurotic, because my puberty was H-E-L-L. (Don't get me wrong--I don't think anyone's adolescence is any picnic--but I was one of those unfortunate little girls that was visibly developing in the second grade. It was extremely scary at the time, not just because I couldn't control what my body did, but because of the way the world seemed to react--what felt like the whole world seemed not only all too aware of what was happening, but just as uncomfortable with it as I was.)

As I type and articulate this, it begins to make total sense that my world feels full of triggers at the moment. Once again, I am in a transitional period where I can't control what my body does--it loses weight, but only from where it damn well wants to. I've lost 62 pounds, but I'm not proportionate. I can see the loose skin thing happening in the near future, as certain regions are feeling a bit deflated as of late.

There are also the things people say. "Even your head looks smaller," one friend told me. (???) People will say "hey, skinny," which, of course, was a taunt I heard many times growing up. I know the people I know now mean well, but it feels weird--not only am I far from skinny, but I seriously doubt that even my skeleton is skinny. "You're really a petite woman," I've heard more than once since surgery, or "I never knew how tiny you were." I saw some friends on Christmas Day that I hadn't seen since before I had surgery. "You look fantastic," one of them said. Later, when I was walking to the restroom, I heard him repeat to Mr. Salted, "she looks fantastic." Even when it is positive, it is still so, so hard for me to hear my looks being discussed like I can't hear what is being said. I have to remind myself constantly: I'm not thirteen years old, and it's not malicious. Being steeped in dissociation from my body since I can remember, I myself have also been heard to remark, "I don't know what is under there." (Read: I don't know what the body under the fat is like.)

And I don't.


We dumped our old couch and inherited a chair-and-a-half from my boss last weekend. I have always wanted a chair-and-a-half--they are the perfect size for curling up on if you're short and a curling up type--I happen to be both. (This morning, for instance, I was curled up with a cup of tea, reading Stacey O'Brien's "Wesley the Owl".) I put the blanket on it during the day to deflect some of the copious amounts of cat hair that naturally occur on everything we possess. When I came home from work one day last week, they were doing this. Floyd and Nunzio are in the back; Mr. Stash is in the front. Mr. Stash was rabbit-kicking the little cover from the arm of the chair, but he stopped just long enough for me to snap this photo--then he jumped off and ran away.

Sunday Stealing

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?

Lost more than fifty pounds.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't believe in them. They're made to be broken.

3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?

With my Mr. and some dear childhood friends that are more like family.

4. Did anyone close to you die?


5. What countries did you visit?

I made it out of state once, but otherwise stayed pretty close to home.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More stable employment and therefore more money.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The day I had the bariatric surgery--August 3, 2009

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Other than the work I did around the surgery, weight loss and lifestyle changes, I didn't achieve much...but it felt like enough.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Remaining my own worst enemy, and I wouldn't call that a failure, just part of being a human being.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The aforementioned bariatric surgery and an ankle repair surgery in October, which is still healing.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Lots of books and lots of clothes.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Other than the books and clothes, it went to bills and various and sundry vitamin and protein supplements. And copays.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Anything by Lady GaGa.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

I wish I could have had more fun, but I did pretty well.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?

I wish I hadn't had to miss so much stuff when I was recovering from surgeries.

16. What was your favorite TV program?

"Breaking Bad"

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is a waste of time and energy.

18. What was the best book you read?
"Columbine" was really good, and so was "Olive Kitteredge".

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

I dunno, I discover music constantly and it's not always new.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?
"The Wrestler" was great.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Went to the Northern Oregon Coast

22. What kept you sane?

Prescription drugs, my spouse, my friends, the words I wrote and read, going to the WA & OR coasts

23. Who did you miss?

I will always miss Jeff.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

I didn't meet anyone new, but I got to reconnect with people from the past (thank you, Facebook) and that was wonderful--both fun and therapeutic.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

There were two: (a) food is not my friend, and (b) no one gets to live in my head rent-free.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

still losing!

I lost two more pounds this week. This makes me very happy, since I have been testing my limits a bit--not bingeing or going crazy, but experimenting with food as part of the process of seeing what my system can tolerate. I tried a sliver of pumpkin pie without a problem, but I cannot eat a French fry or part of a grilled cheese sandwich. I can eat half a McDonald's hamburger (an occasional guilty pleasure). Any kind of soft bread, part of a bagel, is a no-no. This whole process remains a learning curve.

I hit a great big sale at Old Navy with a friend on Friday. It is so cool to be able to go into a store like that and buy myself decent clothes that are cheap--I can't even express how cool. They didn't have stores like that when I was growing up, at least not in this area. Plus-size stores were full of clothes that were appropriate for 70-year-olds only, and there was no Target. After my Old Navy shopping spree, I came home with about ten shirts and hoodies for myself, two for Mr. Salted--a huge bag of clothes for $120. Plus or super-size women would be hard-pressed to purchase two or three decent-quality articles of clothing for that amount. I will not miss the fat tax!

I had to go to Costco today for protein bullets. They have them for the cheapest price I've seen. I can hear you saying, Costco the Sunday before Christmas, are you inSANE? No, but I do need protein. I arrived shortly after the store opened--the place was already chock full o' lemmings. I kept my head down, a determined grimace on my face, and kept mentally repeating the words, "reconnaissance mission". (I don't know if that's truly the proper term, but it's French and sounds cool.) I swooped in and gathered my case of water, presliced apples for Mr. Salted's lunch, his coffee, three cases of protein bullets--the essentials. Everyone else had decadent delicious food piled in their carts, hemming and hawing about whether or not Aunt Madge would like these slippers, completely unaware of anyone else's personal space or existence in the universe. I made it in and out of there in half an hour--ankle throbbing, patience gone.

I am not a fan of the season of unreason. I despise, loathe and resent Forced Holiday Fun, both with relatives and at work, and so choose to participate in neither. I like giving gifts to a few people, and I played Santa for a family I know this year who needed a little TLC, which felt fantastic to do. I enjoy doing cards, so I do quite a few of them. I also love getting pictures of everyone with their families and/or animals--that's probably my favorite part of the entire holiday. The rest of it I can take or leave and would frankly prefer to leave. I'm SO ready for it to be over--yesterday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Beef, hair,and sexy boots

I am a dedicated carnivore, particularly when it comes to red meat--or I used to be. I attempted to have a few (what I considered very small and thoroughly chewed) bites of Mr. Salted's steak a few nights ago and paid for it for the next couple of days. Not in any terribly disgusting ways that would offend the sensibilities of others if I described them--it just felt like I had a board lodged horizontally across my chest cavity for a couple of days. Logic tells me this means that the steak got stuck in the pouch. It was an extremely uncomfortable feeling physically, so much so that sleep was impossible that night. As the next day or two wore on I stuck mostly to protein drinks and very soft things, thinking they might help everything move on through. It took a full 48 hours to feel okay again. It scared me a little--I was getting ready to call the surgeons, but thankfully giving it time to work itself out seems to have been the right thing to do.

I found out at my nutritionist appointment a few days that most post-operative hair loss occurs from month three to month seven. (For those keeping score at home, this is month four.) As if on a time release, I blow-dried my hair the next day, looked down and was coated in my own hair--I had to lint-roll my shirt. Having three cats, there are lint rollers aplenty chez moi, but I was a tad freaked out. However, I am a big believer in keeping perspective, and the patented SaltedWithShadows technique in this instance included a gentle reminder that several people I know--all my age or younger--have had cancer in the last couple of years. All of them lost their hair at some point during their treatment, and one of them eventually lost his battle with the disease. In the end, I'm grateful for not only the obvious, but that I have hair at all (I have never had much hair, or favorable hair genes).

Today was an interesting day. I had to see my ankle doctor, who did not clear me to start working out--he wants to give it another month, even though the x-rays and ankle look like they are healing very well. (I joked that he gets better-looking every time he says, "Don't exercise for another month", although not to his face! I didn't want to scare the poor man.) I had on a new black dress, brooch, leopard-print tights, and new-to-me black leather boots--they come up to mid-calf. I had completely forgotten how confident boots make me feel--I haven't had a pair in probably twenty years. The recent U2 song about sexy boots annoys me, but I today I remembered a song from high school days that the Jesus and Mary Chain did that had the line, "I feel so quick in my leather boots/there's nothing else but me." (I don't remember the song title, but it was on the "Psychocandy" album.)

I always personally found boots a lot sexier than heels (in part because uncomfortable does not spell sexy to Salted and boots have never made me think of foot-binding or gotten my feminist hackles in a twist, unless they are those thigh-high stripper things with the ridiculous heels, which are not sexy at all in my book). Boots feel--and can sound--pleasantly powerful when you walk in them. I don't find the power of a domineering nature, but more of a confident one--the sound says, "Here I am. I feel good, and I'm not hiding".

Hiding is a theme/battle/motif/albatross with me (and with a lot of people that have body image issues, I would imagine). I have spent most of my life actively hiding myself physically. I have always preferred my clothes to be a size or two too big--I liked feeling lost in them, never caring how it might look because it made me feel safer. Ultimately, I never got to be "pretty"--and if I was indeed ever "pretty" (some men do like their jelly to jiggle), I never got to really enjoy it. I think I was finally ready to have this surgery and go through this process because, for whatever reason, I was able to deem it safe--in part because of my age. I have done and am still doing the work mentally and emotionally to make this process a healthy and viable option for long-term health. The operative word here for me is work: I know in my bones that I will always be doing some work somewhere on some layer of my being when it comes to this; the work never stops. I am hit with the work aspect of this in some fashion every day now--it is not comfortable to have people remarking on how I look all the time when I spent the last forty years hoping no one would remark on how I looked, at all, EVER. Even though 98% of the people in my immediate orbit are--thus far--supportive and complimentary, I still steel myself and wait for stones to be thrown, hoping the inevitable accompanying wince isn't visible on the outside.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"Enjoy your body."

I saw the nutritionist on Thursday. I was fifteen minutes late, which sucked, and she was rushed, but I think I'm a fairly easy patient now, being on point with the weight loss and not needing much in the way of guidance. I lost eight pounds in the last month. It had been thirteen the month prior, but she assured me that the pace with which it is being lost is normal or better than normal, particularly considering that I still haven't been cleared for physical therapy or working out. (I see the ankle specialist next week, and am wondering how that's all going to play out. I went to a trade show a few days ago where we walked around quite a bit and my ankle is still a bit sore from that.) I also discovered sugar-free candy from Harry and David, who have handily replaced Ben and Jerry in my heart--damn these dangerous men and their delicious concoctions! Thankfully, sugar-free candy does have that built-in deterrent in the form of its sweeteners, which have an adverse effect on anyone who overindulges in them. The warnings are on the packaging: "may have a laxative effect".

My nutritionist talked about the long-term importance of body sculpting and strengthening the core. "I want 2010 to be the year of the core for you," she said. I have long since established that I was in the bathroom when they were passing out the core--and besides, core is literally a four-letter word. The word "core" in the context she uses belongs in the same category as "team building", "holiday party", "three-legged race", "bridal shower" and "colonoscopy" in the English language lexicon for me. In short: eyes will be rolled; faces will be made.

I countered with, "2010 is going to be the year of having fun again." (Because it is!) If I can make myself stick to a workout regimen, ANY workout regimen, that will be the victory. I certainly don't see myself doing sit-ups until I vomit.

Her eyes got wide when she asked me if I was eating really good food. Food isn't anything I consider all that good. When you can have a few bites, how good can it be, and seriously, who cares? I have a lot of supplements to get in and that takes precedence. I told her the majority of my protein comes from the bullet supplements. I have heard that a lot of people stop using them, but I don't see myself doing that anytime soon. They are easy enough to choke down and I want to make my RDAs. Hair loss apparently happens predominantly from month 3 to month 7, according to a handout she gave me; I thought it was only month 2 and 3, so imagine my joy at this news. It is month four, and I have noticed more hair in the brush than usual, but I don't think it's enough to be noticeable to anyone but me. (I am not coloring it indefinitely just in case.)

We talked about the strangeness of being a weight I was at a much younger age, and how this process is, in some ways, like turning back the clock. I get around so much more easily, even with my ankle still in its healing stages, and physically I already feel 1,000 times better. I tell everyone--and will say again here--that even if I don't lose another ounce, this surgery has been totally worth it.

She talked about her passion, which is follow-up for two years post-op, and pointed out that the surgical center statistics of "only 5% will maintain weight loss" does not apply to those who participate in nutritional counseling and guidance before and after surgery; their success rate percentage is much higher. "I will see you in 2010," she said quietly. "Just...enjoy your body."

Enjoy your body. Those are not words that have ever been said to me. I have said them, angrily, several times, in reference to the barrage of verbal abuse I received growing up: "If people had just left me alone and let me enjoy my body, I..." Fill in the blank: been healthier, felt better, wouldn't have developed an eating disorder, wouldn't have flunked PE, wouldn't have become morbidly obese. The only message I received regarding my body as far back as I remember was one of constant and complete failure: my body looked wrong; it was not good enough. It was ugly and disgusted people. ("Fatandugly" was one word for a long time. It took decades to occur to me that I was not necessarily ugly simply because I was fat.) I felt--and still feel--much more comfortable when it is hidden. (There was also plenty of shame about being female and therefore dirty, an issue which is both different and the same.) As an adult, I have learned hard-won gratitude for my body--for its mobility and functioning senses. Actually enjoying it? I can make an educated guess: that will be something I work on for the rest of my life. I think enjoyment of my body will come in moments, much as true happiness does, fleeting revelations that cross my mind: Wow, it is easier to walk now. It feels good to dance. That workout felt good. I am already having those moments from time to time, and they are such a gift.

The world would be a completely different place if people learned from a young age that it was their right to enjoy their bodies, to appreciate what their bodies can do rather than focusing on the ways they fall short. This relatively simple concept would make a much larger dent in "the obesity epidemic" and eating disorder percentages than whether or not you can purchase bottled water at a fast-food restaurant or buy soda in a vending machine in school.

Thursday Thunks a couple of days late

1. Isn't showing a condom commercial during Sex Rehab With Dr Drew almost like showing a pain narcotic or an alcohol commercial during Intervention?

They show "male enhancement" commercials during that show, too. I think that's worse--condoms are at least preventive!

2. Burger King and Ronald McDonald met Colonel Sanders in a dark alley. They beat him down for just serving chicken and not sharing his "11 herbs & spices". The Colonel goes down. Begs for his life. Where do they go to eat afterwards?


3. You take a shower, go to leave the bathroom and the door is stuck. Due to humidity and moisture it won't budge. It will not open. No one else is home. You can't go out the window. How long do you sit in the bathroom and how do you occupy your time?

As long as it takes. I listen to the radio and organize the linen/medicine closet. It always needs it.

4. You are a rockstar, but you need a cool rocker name. What is it and how did you decide on that name?

Black Ice--it's my name in Mafia Wars. I love it so much I almost wish it was my name all the time.

5. Have you ever gotten naked at a family function?

Good Lord, no, unless I was 2 years old and don't remember it.

6. If purple ate yellow, what color would come out?

Brown. Mixing colors always comes out brown.

7. The closest paper and pen to you right now. What color are they?

Pen: Dr. Grip with turquoisey tealy barrel and blue ink. Paper: neon pink Post-Its.

8. Corn chips or potato chips?

Corn tortilla chips. Not a huge fan of either.

9. You are forced to swallow either a diamond or a piece of coal. Don't ask. Just do it. Which do you choose?

Diamond. It's going to be smaller and smoother going down.

10. If your mouse decided to attack your keyboard, who would win?

The keyboard. I secretly believe it has ninja tendencies.

Monday, December 7, 2009

60 pounds gone

As of today, I have lost 60 pounds!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today, I am 41

For the past few days, I have been in my happy place--the northern Oregon Coast. The skies have been clear and blue each day, save the one we arrived. We pulled into town with the rain coming almost horizontally and I still couldn't stop smiling. I simply love it here--we both do. We dream of retiring here, and today we started talking about Ways to Make Moving Here Happen Sooner--which is fun, even if it remains hypothetical.

I have not been able to weigh myself for a week, which is another blessing. I am still figuring out when to say when portionwise, and I am getting better at it. We did hit Harry and David and discover their sugar-free goodies, and I discovered quite unexpectedly that I rather like hot tea. So far, the Stash Chai Spice Black Tea and Harry and David's Ginger Spice Tea are my favorites, with one packet of Stevia in a cup. Lovely.

My greatest pleasure on this trip has been being able to find T-shirts (and two hoodies). It has chapped me for about 20 years that I could never buy a shirt when I traveled somewhere or went to see music. (Fat people have money too! Merchandisers, take note.) An XL either fits or almost fits me now, which is a really big deal for a person who wore 5X/6X at her heaviest. I have gone a little crazy this trip making up for lost time in the T-shirt department.

I am at peace with being 41, despite my eye bags (which, to be fair, I have had since I was in grade school--damn the genetic lottery). I am glad to be breathing and mobile with senses and brain intact. I am trying to make peace with my body's lumpiness, which is definitely easier since the number on the scale is getting smaller by the day.

Today at lunch we had an attractive young waiter who was on the cusp of being young enough to be my son. I finished my portion of my entree and Mr. Salted helped with the rest, so I went up to pay while he was still eating. I gave this waiter my driver's license and VISA debit card. The debit card bears a photo that is about two years old, while the driver's license photo is only from a couple of weeks ago.

"Is this you?" he asked quizzically, brow furrowed.

My grin immediately became a mile wide. "Yes, I've lost almost sixty pounds since then," I replied happily. He was the first service person to note this particular discrepancy in my appearance--at least, out loud.

"Well, you look GOOD," he responded without a beat. Not 'you're looking well' or 'healthy' or whatever generic, tactful thing most people I know would say, but "GOOD" with the heft of, dare I say, actual appreciation behind it. This event was somewhat of an anomaly for me to experience at ANY age, dear reader, and to be 41 and have it come from a handsome stranger almost young enough to be my KID--I will take it as a compliment. Whether he was aiming for a better tip or not--it made this old bag's day!

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
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