Monday, January 31, 2011

If I Wanted Your Opinion...

I haven't blogged in a while so this is what has been going on...

1) I am now almost 6 weeks post-op

2) I have been to my GP as well as the Bariatric center for follow-up appointments and the results are these:

  • They are both very proud of my weight loss so far (approx 25-30 pounds since surgery)My blood tests say I am doing great on my total protein, calcium, B12 etc. (all of which can be poor after a surgery that makes it hard to absorb nutrients and easy to become defunct in various vitamins) and am only slightly low in iron and potassium which will be addressed in my eating hopefully. I am now on level for Vitamin D, which I haven't been before :o)
  • Both doctors are actually happy I am eating out a good deal as I have to get used to my portions and good food choices anyway and they love that because I don't cook fish at home, I am ordering that a lot.
  • Apparently, I am a model patient because I am eating right and working out. YAY! I don't think they have ever said that before haha

3) I have fallen on and purchased new pants for my ass. These are really two stories but they, in fact, do relate to one another. On Saturday, Evan and I decided to brave the dog park in the Winter. We took Cali to the park in Liverpool that contained maybe 15-20 dogs total. Everyone was having a great time watching the dogs run, slip and slide. Now, you always have to be able to brace yourself in case the dogs decide to wrestle around the feet of their owners but in non-Winter months, all one has to do is brace your knees and legs for the hit of a 4-5 dog pack. However, having never tried this on packed down snow, I had a split second decision as 4-5 of these dogs (mine included) barreled towards me in full run. I did not have enough time to move and my caring husband saved himself first (I thought that was only the rule for airplanes), so my only choice was to brace myself. In my brain, the slow motion "Ohhhh Noooo" began to cycle through and suddenly I was being knocked, face first, off my feet and into the snow. I had the good sense to put my arms out in front of me AND land on a dog (thanks pooch) which helped soften my fall. The best part of this story is that I think it is absolutely hilarious when people I am sitting there in a sitting position, the dogs licking my face and laughing my ass off wishing someone had caught it on video. My one and only concern at that point was not "Am I hurt?" or "Is the dog I landed on hurt?' My ONLY thought was about my pants. Before the hit I had literally been holding my pants up by putting my hand in my coat pocket and holding up my waistband. Now, I am on the ground and all I can think about is "Holy shit, is my ass showing?!" I had to have Evan help me up so I didn't lose my jeans all together and thank GOD I had been covered the entire time. When I say that these Jeans were too big, I mean that I had to continue holding them up (from inside my coat) as I walked through the mall to Lane Bryant to get new jeans. It was a hilariously traumatic event. 

4) I have picked up my matron of honor dress for the wedding of my best friend in June. Back in the summer, when none of plans for surgery were actually set in stone, I had to order my dress. I decided that since there was a good chance I was already losing, I would order the dress in a size down. Upon picking it up last week, I realized that not only does it fit, but it is a bit too big already...smiles all around. AND I don't have to have it altered until the beginning of June...more smiles.


5) I have lived through my very first negative reaction to me telling someone that I made the very difficult decision (for me, anyway) to have Gastric Bypass (RNY) surgery. The situation has since been resolved and apologies made on both ends, but it stuck with me all day until things could be sorted out. Happy Monday morning to me...I am having a conversation with a friend at work, raving about the low calorie Ruby Tuesday Petite plates that are perfect for me calorie and portion wise and less money to boot...another co-worker in the room asks something like "You're not still hungry after eating that?" to which I reply, "No, I can't physically eat much anyway and I feel completely full." She asks "Why can't you eat much?" I reply "Oh, well I had GB surgery about a month ago." She then says something to the effect of "Man, I am so sick of people cheating." I instantly see two things...tears coming on fast and complete and utter RED. I say "Get out of my classroom"...twice. Before turning around so that no one sees me cry, I say finally, "Get the EF out of my room." I am now shocked, looking back, about two things in this scenario. 1-That I said "EF" and not the actual word and 2-That I didn't say more at the time. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I can't really say more about it now because, as I said before, it has been sorted out and apologies have been made, but I felt very hurt. I don't expect ANYONE much less EVERYONE to agree with my choice...hell, I didn't even agree with WLS for a very long time. However, it goes to show that it is like ANY decision any of us make in our's not about anyone else but you, no matter what. No one knows what it's like to walk in your shoes and only you know what is going to make your life healthier. I do not have to answer to or defend my actions to ANYONE and neither do you. We all do what we have to do to live a long and healthy life or a short and unhealthy one, as the case may be, but they are OUR choices to make. I do not feel shame, guilt or remorse for what I have done in my life...I am simply glad I am here one more day to make choices of my very own. Make yourselves happy in the ways that work for you...and kick some ass while doing so. 

In closing, just a few that make me giggle, feel free to add your own...

     "If I wanted your opinion...
          *...I'd give it to you."
          *...I would remove the duct tape."
          *...I'd beat mine into you."
          *...I'd take your foot out of your mouth."
          *...I'd actually read your FB posts." 

Monday, January 17, 2011


     I promise you, the title of this entry doesn't exactly mean what you think it does but it does serve a great purpose. I was watching Dr. Oz on my day off (Thank you MLK Jr. for doing such courageous and wonderful things during your lifetime), which I never ever ever do. My mom likes Dr. Oz but I find that I generally do not have any interest in these "Dr." shows. Anyway, the only reason it was on was because I was in between my DVR and Wii Pacman and it drew my attention as I drank my half caf coffee with sugar free creamer (YAY my taste buds remained loyal to coffee! Woohoo!) which I now maintain that I will only drink on the weekends...and I still digress from the matter at hand. So the topic was obesity and addiction. Now, I find addiction to anything to be frightening and intriguing at the same time. People all around the world are addicted to countless varieties of things: alcohol, cigarettes, food, sex, sleep, drugs, gambling...themselves. Any/all of these are dangerous in their own rights but eating was the focus of this episode and the stories I heard scared and relieved the hell out of me at the same time. I can honestly say that I have been where these people are but I don't quite live on any of those planets anymore. To top it off, I travel farther and farther away from them with every day that passes.

     F.L.A.B was the acronym that Dr. Oz/addiction specialist used to describe the common triggers for eating, and not just eating but OVEReating. As I have probably said before...I will eventually be able to eat and tolerate most things as others do but the trick is moderation. You can love food and still be smart about consuming it in every scenario. Here is what F.L.A.B. stands for:
Boy do I agree! I think they hit the nail on the head here. However, in order to adequately and accurately describe the reasons people "stress eat," so to speak, they need to add some emotions/situations here:
* Break-ups, make-ups, stress, anger, loss, sadness, celebration, grief, happiness, relief and the big one...everyone around you is doing it! 

     I read an article once that stated that people that are obese should not hang out with obese people because it results in a chain of fatness...well, to a degree I guess I understand that. After going through a surgery like this or when beginning a new life change, it is frustrating to see how many of your friends truly understand and want to help versus those that tease you at dinner with "Oh that's all you are going to eat? You are so different, you've changed!" A person who shall remain anonymous from my support group shared how he used to go to dinner approximately 5x a week with two of his best female friends (who are considerably overweight). Because of the pressure to go out so often, he continued to do so after his surgery. His friends would insinuate that he wasn't as much fun because he wasn't joining them in stuffing their faces. They swore he had changed for the worse and was a complete downer. I am so glad I don't have friends like this. The article also said "don't run out and change all of your friendships" which I agree with more than anything else the article stated. Change only those that are unhealthy for you...because at the end of the day, you have to be happy with you, no one else matters. 

     We are not in this fight alone but so much of the time it feels like it, even when we have a great support system. We need our good friends (no matter what their size) to be there for us and us to be there for them throughout all of our struggles. We need to all support each other in being whatever makes us happy as individuals (although I struggle with some of the unhealthy habits of my friends as I am sure they have struggled with mine). The bottom line is that to be what we all want to individually be is a struggle. However, if we keep our friends close and our triggers closer are for falling into negative behaviors of any kind, we can all move a little bit closer to Earth instead of living sad and unhealthy on other planets (whose names change almost daily anyway). I prefer to live here, not with brain sucking aliens that encourage me to be an empty, worthless vessel. Think about it...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Support...A Little Extra Never Hurt Anyone

     I attended my first post-op support group meeting tonight. I was super psyched to walk into that room knowing that when we went around the table and said our names and placement in the program, I would be able to say, "Hi, my name is Amy and I am about three weeks post-op and down a total of 40 lbs." It was such a wonderful feeling to say "post-op" and know that I am A) Alive, B) Healing and C) Overall...THRIVING! I sat there feeling positive about my progress thus far, happy to be in the company of men and women who have struggled as I have struggled (some much more than I) and thankful that I made it this far. As I listened the all of the introductions which included reasons why some were thinking about or going through the process, I realized that my life is so very good. I am truly (and I don't say this word often) blessed to have been given the will power, courage, family and friends and wonderful husband to help me through all of this. It was a long road pre-op and will continue to be even longer post-op. Here is what I learned tonight by listening to those around me and to the most important person in the

     1. I now understand why I always hated support groups/weight watcher meetings: Diet groups sit there and truly lament and complain almost the entire time. They used to drain the life out of me. The first thing we did in WW was weigh is that going to bring the positive every week? The hope, positivity and cheerful, encouraging smiles in my meeting tonight were more motivating than any WW meeting I had ever been through. No one complained about the struggle. Instead, we spoke about what our plans are for the new year and what we are individually doing for ourselves. I have never wanted to speak at a meeting until today because I always felt judged, but in this room full of similar people, I felt like it was completely OK to share myself. It doesn't hurt that I have not had complications so I don't have much to complain about, but still it was nice just to BE with these people. 

     2. I may be the healthiest fat person you know. When I say I am blessed, part of that comes from how thankful I am that I do not have any major health concerns. Most of the people in my meeting tonight were older than I, some not by many years at all and others by many many years. Every single person around me was either thinking of having the surgery or has had it already to combat serious medical issues, from heart problems to diabetes and major joint issues. I am lucky that fat is my only problem and I wish my team mates nothing less than complete cures for many of those problems. Many times, these health conditions drastically improve after surgery and some disappear all together. 

     3. There is a HUGE different between hunger and appetite. I realized this more and more as some of the people who are pre-op spoke about their problems with mindless eating, stress eating and location eating (as in, you always eat when you sit in your favorite chair so it is incredibly hard not to eat when you are sitting's a programmed thing). I completely understand where they are coming from as I have spent some time in at least 1-2 of those dangerous places over the years, but it pains me now to hear about the things that used to plague me (college years=stress eating/drinking, post-college years=couch eating etc.) and realize that I am not even close to being in any of those places anymore. I now know that when I am hungry, my stomach will growl...and when I see a commercial on t.v. for a food I loved to eat, my brain is just telling me that I still have a mental appetite, even if I am not currently hungry. The difference is that I am not a slave to my appetite, only my hunger as I need to eat to live, not live to eat. 

     4. I have the best husband in the world! He has gone through this entire process with me and is thinking of going through the same as well. He has been present at every doctor appointment, support group meeting, grocery shopping trip, health food store visit and "scale day." He has taken on extra physical labor that I cannot perform right now (not that I miss shoveling) and is eating days and days of leftovers because I cannot help him clean things up that I make for the week. He has not ordered, eaten or flashed take out or any food in my face that has not been made in this house and for all of the above, I love him more. This cannot be easy for a person who has struggled as much as I have and would like to eat the same portions he has always eaten but he is working extremely hard to make all of this easier for me and, in turn, has lost about 20 pounds in the last 3-4 months. I don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful, thoughtful, considerate and loving man but as I said before, I am blessed.


     5. There is no way, no matter what I thought in years past, that this is going to be a "quick fix." There are people in my group who struggle every single day and they are many years post-op. Many have reached their target weight but they have to fight like hell, just like anyone else I know, to lose and keep weight off. They deal with some serious excess amounts of skin that doesn't help body image as one loses weight and they are horrified by the fact that when they look in the mirror, they still see that obese person they tried to lose during the process. We all have that monkey on our backs and WLS (weight loss surgery) patients are no different. Not to mention that we now have to live with the stigma that we "took an easy way out" while we fight like hell at the gym to look, if not feel "normal." I may lose a little faster in the beginning, but I am going to have to fight tooth and nail to get the last however many pounds off just as the rest of you will. I will wait my year to have an alcoholic drink and 18 months minimum before trying to get pregnant and hope that I don't have any lasting effects on my health in any way. We all just have to smile and keep plugging through. What helps is that I am part of a group of people who look at me three weeks post-op and say "Amy, you are doing great and you look totally radiant." It feels good to know that the way I felt on the inside today matched what others saw on the outside. Let's keep that going . . .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whip it Good!

The first bit of news is...I have now lost a total of 40 pounds so far! I am even more psyched about how 50 will feel. And on that note, how it will feel NOT to have the 50 anymore...period! I had a funny run-in with a very literal little boy in my school. He is super fun and hilariously real and honest to a fault. I call him "Fun Fact" at times because he knows more about a variety of topics than I do and I find talking to him and teaching him sarcasm and figurative language simply fascinating and fun. So I happened to be talking to him after a little girl gave me a huge hug and I had to ask her nicely to stop squeezing  as she was actually hurting my stomach. She asked why it hurt and "Fun Fact" was standing there as well. I attempted to answer that I had surgery on my belly over vacation to become more healthy. "Fun Fact" chimed in with "What kind of surgery Mrs. Lipton?" and I replied "Stomach surgery to help me have a healthier and thinner body." Well, I should have just told him the technical name of the surgery because my kid-definition was not satisfying his curiosity at all. He looked at me with confused "you are not telling me all the facts" eyes and suddenly something dawned on him. "You know when people are fat it looks like you have a baby in your belly, lots of em!" I literally just giggled out loud as he said this because it is a very typical kid response to someone being overweight. I laughed and replied "You are absolutely right bud, but with lots of hard work, it won't look like that anymore." As I began to walk to my desk to pack up my things for the day he says to me "Mrs. Lipton, do you have kids? Don't you want babies?" I replied, "Of course I do bud, but I only want one, not a belly full." I laughed again and expected him to join me...and then I remembered I was talking to the most literal kid I know and he didn't find any humor in my comment. It's a very empty feeling to be alone in a little quip but then again...I'm used to it :o)

My second story is a short one. I have decided that a great investment in my journey is a piece of fitness equipment. So I went to Syracuse Fitness and purchased my very own Elliptimill which is an elliptical machine that has a center based motion (so the guts of the machine are not in the front or the back like ellipticals) and feels like a very natural stride. It is made by Landice, a company very well known for their Treadmills up until 2008 when they decided to take the same great materials and make an elliptimill which is strong and sturdy, built like a tank and easy to use. It is able to be adjusted for stride length and has a dock/speakers for an ipod, a fan (cause if you know me then you know I am a sweaty work out girl) and a lifetime warranty on parts because they believe in their products so much. I decided that it was go big or go home. I wanted a machine that will last me far along on this journey and beyond. When I say it's a tank, I mean it. The thing can hold people up to 500 pounds! Crazy if you compare it to most other pieces of fitness equipment. So that's that! It is going IN our bedroom so I can see it first thing in the AM and right before bed :o) I am so psyched for it to be delivered! Way to celebrate my first 40...and on to whip the next!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back to Life...Back to Reality...

     Back to reality tomorrow...whatever that is for me now. I was cleared at my first post-op, to return to work as long as I PROMISED not to lift, twist, bend or crunch. My guess is that based on how tired I get in the supermarket and when putting my Christmas decorations away, I better take it easy at work or I will end up having to take some more time off...the last thing I want to do, believe it or not. 

     So my first post-op was GREAT! They ripped of the steri strips on each of my 7 little holes and it "looks" like (through all the pen marks and iodine stubbornly still on my belly) I may not have any scarring. Also, they were very happy that I was down about 15 pounds since my surgery date and about 35 all together. I see that as a first step. The nutritionist said I could start my soft foods stage and around week 4 start integrating my stage 3 foods too. I have had zero bad reactions to ANY food. I am so thankful as I have heard umpteen stories about "dumping syndrome" which is too disgusting to go it if you are that curious. Vomiting is really common too and I haven't had ANY of that either. I sound really excited about this simply because I HATE to vomit. I have horror stories about being 16 with the flu ON Valentine's Day puking into a bowl all day long and my sister having to hose me down after trying to keep up with her and my brother one St. Patrick's Day before I was legal. Both of those situations taught me very important lessons...1) Valentine's Day is NOT for sissy's and 2) Never try to out drink my brother AND/OR sister. But I digress...

     All is well as I am sitting and talking with my nutritionist. I meet with the nurse as well and during our conversation I ask her what I am able to do now because I am trying to get cleared to go back to work. She says, "Well, you can walk for short periods, climb stairs and HAVE SEX!" I wrote all caps because she said it really really really loud! On top of that, on my way out she screams "HAVE FUN TONIGHT!" Oh lord, I wasn't prepared for that at all. I sat there blushing and stuttering and giggling inappropriately as I left the office in a completely different mindset than I arrived in. Anyway so I am good to go for now. I have ordered unflavored protein powder to add to my food to make sure I am getting my 40-60gm of protein a day as well as bariatric fusion vitamins that have like 200% daily values of all sorts of vitamins I need now (calcium, multi, D, B-12, iron etc.) and all I have to say is I am thankful they are chewable like my iron pills. 

     So, I get to go to work tomorrow and I am really very excited about getting back into a routine, because that is what life is about. Routine is what keeps us on track, motivated and honest. Beyond that, I am super excited to see my students (even if they make me regret this tomorrow) and all the wonderful people I work with. I am going to have to work extremely hard not to work too hard. It is amazing to me how we so often just pick things up without realizing what they weigh or the stress they put on our body. Thankfully, I don't lift any of my students. They are good enough at bouncing around a room. Also, I am literally going to have to plan more at school than at home because I am not going to be able to carry those huge reading curriculum spirals. At least I can access the math one online. Evan says he will drop me off and carry my bag for me but I hate feeling so dependent on others. 

     You really never think about things like this until you are told you have to or you can end up back in the hospital with a hernia or worse. I don't even want to think about it. Just wish me luck and hope that I have healed and given myself enough rest time. I'm sure I will be in bed already, this time tomorrow. Be kind to your bodies, you need them for a long time to come!