Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's been a year since surgery.

As the tumbleweeds continue to dance through this blog, I knew it had been a while but I didn't realize I hadn't posted at all in the month of August--and it is September in a couple of days. This summer got away from me in a big way. I finally got off swing shift about a month ago, and that helped everything immensely. I learned not to take two classes simultaneously and work full-time, because I wasn't effective anywhere. Mr. Salted and I both got sick and couldn't get over it--we are both still hacking a bit, weeks later--and I had a couple of migraines to boot. It's been the longest period of Just Getting Through the Day that I've had in many years, and I can't say that I care for it too much. But things are on the definite upswing.

As the year anniversary of the surgery approached, I was starting to shut down. With everything else going on in my life, it definitely wasn't my primary focus as it had been, though I was still following the basic rules. I got incredibly anxious when it came time for the follow-up appointments, since my weight hadn't changed between the 9- and 12-month mark. In fact, it went up a pound or two. On swing shift, I went up eight pounds almost overnight; when I went back on day shift, I immediately lost five or six of it without any behavior change, lending credibility to all those studies out there now that inadequate and poor quality sleep causes weight gain. Before my appointments, I couldn't sleep for days, thinking the nutritionist and doctors were going to yell at me and feeling like a failure because of that one or two pounds. I also still hadn't found time to start working out.

The appointments all went incredibly well, so I worried for nothing. My bloodwork is stupendously healthy. The Simcor (20 mg simvastatin, 500 mg niacin) lowered my cholesterol considerably. I have lost 80 pounds since surgery, 100 pounds since my highest weight. My surgeon could not have been kinder or more encouraging. Sitting and talking with him, I was again reminded by his passion for what he does, and moved by it as well. He was training a physician's assistant I had not previously met who is an absolute doll--she made me feel better before he even got there.

My weight hovers around the 205-210 range, and my 18-month surgery anniversary is in February. The surgeon wants me to try to lose 20-25 pounds by then and to ultimately shoot for 180 pounds. (That is what I weighed when I graduated high school. It's funny how I remember what weights I've been by the age or period of my life I was in at the time.) He said how much I lose will depend on how hard I work (duh) but both of us agree I probably cannot get much below 180 pounds without cosmetic surgery to at least remove the excess skin. While this may sound discouraging to some, I really appreciated the realistic approach. He talked about the absurdity of the old weight charts--how they would have just looked at my height and determine I should weigh between 120 and 140. (I joked that my skeleton weighs more than that, and he laughed like he had never heard that before.) Basically, he reiterated that I am doing what I am supposed to be, I am about where he would want me to be, and reinforced the message that the first year had been a complete success. I thought the fact that I was not working out yet would be the biggest bugaboo, but he even managed to turn that into a positive. "This is the perfect time to start," he said. "You aren't going to lose any more weight unless you do. It's a great motivator."

Yes. Yes, it is.

A few days later, I joined the YMCA. I paid slightly more for a membership that allows me to use any Y in three adjacent counties. I have been swimming three times a week, and it feels great. I hadn't swam since before I had lasik in 2007, and it's great to both see what I'm doing and feel how much more easily I move through the water. The first couple of times I swam for 40 straight minutes, but within a week I was shooting for 50. I don't try to go super fast the whole time, only to keep going. Breaststroke is the easiest for me, and I concentrate on a gentle, strong, consistent movement. (I discovered that flutter kick still hurts my ankle a little.) The first couple of times I went, I felt like the lifeguard was looking at me like I was about to stroke out. Other people remain the most annoying part of any workout for me--particularly people that act like the pool is their own personal possession and are visibly annoyed that someone new is there. Of course, I encountered the most obnoxious person to date on my first time going. In the past, that might have driven me out of that pool. Now I say to myself: "My money is worth just as much as yours, I paid just like you to be here, and you're not going to get in the way of my goals". I just keep swimming.

(My grandmother turned 90 recently and I asked her if she thought she would make it to 90. "I never gave it much thought," she said. "You just kept going?" I asked. "Yeah," she replied. "Just kept going.")

My weight still hasn't changed since I started swimming; I was warned that loss happens much more slowly now. Stuff is still shifting around, though, so I know muscle is being built. I went down another cup size, and some of my jeans are 16s now--a size I haven't worn since high school! The hardest part of it all is my skin getting looser. I can fit everything but my stomach into a lot smaller clothes, and if that apron (that's what I call it) wasn't there, I could wear very different clothes, too. I try not to focus on that, but sometimes it gets to me. I am going to want it surgically corrected ASAP.

I am still not small by any means, but I definitely feel that the world perceives me differently. I am sure some of this is because I am projecting more confidence and positivity, but the world remains unabashedly shallow. Men, in particular, are a damn sight nicer. I get a lot more smiles, doors opened, and conversation in general; sometimes (more often than I can even believe) I even get checked out. While I enjoy that (I cannot tell a lie!), it also sticks in my craw a little. I am the same person I always was--kind, funny and smart, no matter what I weighed. The idea that a person, particularly a female person, has to fall within the parameters of looking a certain way in order to receive basic acknowledgment as a human being will never be okay with me. 100 pounds lighter, I am still too large for many to acknowledge. I find myself caring a lot more about my appearance, dressing better--I even started bleaching my teeth (something I've wanted to do for years, and I finally found a dentist with a reasonably priced option for doing it).

I resolve to keep fighting the good fight, and I resolve to post more often! I am leaving for the pool in about half an hour.

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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