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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

bottomless pit

A few weeks ago, my husband didn't seem particularly thrilled or excited for the fact that I might be getting WLS soon.  I'm not sure what I expected his reaction to be.....

Don't get me wrong---he was supportive of this journey to surgery (mostly) until the insurance company denied me.  Then he would not really listen to any scenario in which we somehow came up with the money for self-pay.

So after my parents offered to pay for surgery, he still seemed somewhat unsupportive.  What do I mean by this?  Well......he didn't seem happy about it.  I'm not saying he was angry or anything, his reaction was just.......well, NOTHING.  He didn't seem to care one way or another.  Like it didn't matter.  And somehow, that makes me feel like I DON'T MATTER.

I wanted to get to the bottom of it.  I asked him, "Is your lack of excitement because the last time I lost a ton of weight, I got all obsessed about food and exercise?"  [Mind you, I had to be obsessive to maintain 142 lbs for 2 years, otherwise, I would've gained it right back].  I could only eat 20-24 Weight Watchers Points per day, depending on how much I exercised.

He said, "Yeah, kinda."

Several years ago (2002-2004) when I got down to this weight, I stopped eating his cooking.  He LOVES to cook.  Loves, loves, LOVES to cook.  And he cooks mostly healthy meals.  However, in order for me to weigh that little, I had to be very obsessive.  I steamed huge portions of vegetables every night.  No butter.  No sauteeing.  Nothing---just steamed with some seasoning.  I ate lots of black beans, grilled chicken and fish.  And I was obsessive about cooking it myself because then I knew what was in it---and how much.

So I told him I wanted to eat his food this time and that this surgery would help me eat less of it.  And that I hoped surgery wouldn't require obsession because I know I can't keep up OBSESSION for the long haul.  He DOES cook healthy, nutritious meals, FWIW.  And he's damn good in the kitchen.  And other places too, lol.

He seemed to understand....but I could tell there was more on his mind.

So I asked, "What else?"

He said, "You're a bottomless pit."

What???  After further explanation, he worries that this surgery is just the first huge chunk of money that I'll want to spend.  He's heard me make statements in the past regarding other procedures I want done.

Such as:

1.  Boob job:  In my defense, they are currently a 36I (that's ABCDEFGHI).  HUGE.  They have been huge since I was in 8th grade and weighed 115 lbs.  At that time, I was a 30DDDD.  I've always had disproportionately big boobs.  So YES, I want them to be more proportional with the rest of my body.  Dolly Parton chose her boob size.  I did not.  I would not.  When your chest is this disproportionate, any shirt---even a t-shirt---looks sexual.  Unless you wear things that are too large and unflattering in other places.  I prefer my clothes to fit.
2.  Laser resurfacing of my skin:  I have done 2 rounds of Accutane in the last 12 years for cystic acne.  My skin looks pretty good...but I have some scars on my cheeks that I'd like to be less noticeable.  So sue me.  If you've ever had terrible acne, you'd understand.  My dermatologist told me that my skin looks remarkable, considering how bad my skin was before Accutane.  I'm lucky in that a lot of people would have scarred much worse.  So, yes, I know my scars aren't that bad, but they are there.  And I see them.  I had a consultation with Dr. Suzan Obagi (yes, her!) last year and she recommended the Pearl Laser.  It's less than a $1,000!
3.  Tummy Tuck:  Yes, I have skin that hangs over my bikini line.  I was about this weight before having children but my tummy was firm.  Chubby but firm.  Now, it's a saggy deflated balloon.  It is uncomfortable, hangs over my underwear, and I get rashes in it during the summer months.  And I still have a lot of weight to lose!!  So I know it'll only get worse.  Sure, I want to look better.  I want to get rid of the sagging skin.  But I also don't want the discomfort of it!  It flops up and down when I do classes at the gym!  It's gross.  It's embarrasing.  I don't want the constant reminder of how fucking fat I got.
4.  Tattoo Removal.  I have a tattoo on my back that I regret.  Then again, I realize very few people see it.  Just my husband and the anesthesiologists who stuck the spinals in my back for my c-sections.  So, removing it is not exactly a high priority.  I've mentioned to him before that I'd like it removed.  I only mentioned it ONE TIME but apparently he filed this away in his brain and added it to my list.  FWIW, I have other tattoos that are small and that I still like...and those, I don't regret.  The one on my back though....  :(

He basically ticked off the above list to me and said, "You'll never be happy with yourself.  You're always going to find something you don't like."  He thinks if I get the above issues taken care of, I'll find something else I want.  I totally disagree.  I think that's all I want.  Heck, I already had LASIK!!!  Bwahahahaha!  But let me defend myself and say that my vision was 20/500.  LASIK was not about vanity.  It was about vision.

So yeah.  I'm a bottomless pit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

next week

Got my flight booked!  Next Friday (not this one but the next) I'll be flying down to San Antonio for a quick trip.  After my plane lands, my dad is picking me up and we'll drive 3 hours back to my parents' house.  Then Saturday morning, I'll meet my surgeon.  His office has a branch in Corpus Christi (near my hometown) where I'll meet him and some of his staff.  His website says that you do a TON OF STUFF in addition to the seminar:  meet with him, meet with nutritionist, and meet with a psychologist all on the SAME DAY.  The website said it can take 4-6 hours.  I already did all that stuff here in Pittsburgh before I got denied by my insurance company so hopefully the surgeon will just accept all my paperwork.  I got it in the mail yesterday!

The day after my appointment, I'll be flying home again.

In three days time, my dear dad will drive a minimum of 14 hours shuttling me around all over the place.  He is so sweet.  

Anywho, after meeting the surgeon I'll know what the "next step" is and how fast I can get surgery.  I'm hoping for early July.  Heck!  I want it sooner but we have a family vacation scheduled for June 15-26.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

i went shopping!

In less than one hour, I found 4 new pairs of jeans and 3 pairs of summer capris.


And it was all free.  You see, I dug around my basement until I found the box labeled "Size 14P."

I took it upstairs and tried everything on.  It all fit!  I mean, how often does that ever happen?  When does every thing you try on fit correctly and flatter your figure?  This experience was way better than hitting a department store.

Opening the box felt so good.  I had boxed it all up when I was pregnant with my first son.  It sat in the basement for 3.5 years!

I also came across the "Size 10" box and the "Size 12" box.  I peeked in the "Size 10" box and saw a pair of jeans that I must've bought 9 years ago.  When I bought them, I remember being upset with myself that I no longer fit in the size 8's.  And now, what I wouldn't give to be a size 10P!

Even last summer, when I was a size 18----I would have killed to be a 14.  I promised myself that when I was a size 14 again, I'd be brave enough to bare my arms.  Welllllllll, here I am, a size 14 and there is no way in hell I will wear sleeveless shirts.

What happened to all my promises to start loving and appreciating my body once I got to a 14?

Why are we never enough for ourselves?  Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Sooo...I can already predict that when I do reach a size 10P again, I'll still be wishing I was a 6P.  Or a 4P.  When will I ever be satisfied?  Of course, right now I'm swearing to myself that when I hit 140 pounds and a size 10P, I'll look in the mirror and like what I see.

But will I?

I already know I'll have a FUPA issue.  LOL!  So I can predict I won't like me naked.  But I'm hoping to feel some satisfaction while dressed.

Amy W. confessed to having the same problem.  She's at her goal weight.  And she's having the same trouble.  Always wishing for more.

As for now, I'm happy to be in 14's.

But, of course, I'll be even happier when these clothes are too big.

You know what it reminds me of?

I had a spinal cord injury patient one time who had a C4 fracture (thus, a quadriplegic).  He was awesome, had a great outlook on life, despite sustaining this injury in college.  I met him one year after his accident.

He was joking with me, telling me that all he really wished for, was the use of his thumb.  His thumb!!  Why?  Because he had to use a mouth stick to move his wheelchair around.  He wished he could steer with his thumb instead of puffing into the stick to get around.

He joked that every spinal cord injury patient just wishes their injury were one more vertabrae lower.  He knew C6 quadriplegics that could propel themselves around with a joystick (what he longed for!) but they just wish they had full use of their arms, so they could push themselves around and get on and off the toilet independently.  He lamented that paraplegics have full use of their arms (and a lot more independence) but they just wish they could get up and walk.

We always want more.

Learning to love what we have now is so hard.  Isn't it?  But I'm trying.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Favorite Protein Drinks?

I have an appointment scheduled in TX on June 4.  Less than 2 weeks away!  Very exciting.  My plan is to fly down on Friday, June 3, see the surgeon on Saturday the 4th, then fly home on Sunday.  I'm hoping to have surgery in July but I don't even know if he's available at that time.  

I'm starting to think ahead though.  Can you guys tell me what your favorite protein drinks are?  I know most all of you are Bandsters but it appears the post-op diet is very similar.  

Can you tell me the brands of protein drinks that are your favorite?  Which ones are so terrible I shouldn't even try?

Which proteins mix well into coffee?

more confessions

I know this is sooo last week, but I'm on a roll here.  And I need some advice on some issues. (You'll see).

1.  Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:  Despite disagreeing (vehemently) with several of his proposals for the city of Pittsburgh (such as the tax on college tuition), and despite thinking he is a total DIRTBAG for cheating on his wife a couple years ago, I will hereby admit that when I saw him emerge from his car last Thursday and walk up the steps to his house-----without a shirt on------I.......I.......well, I slowed my car down.  Waaayyyyyyyyyy down.  Yes, I did.  He looks pretty good with his shirt off.  His face?  Average.  His body?  Not average.  Oh, and did I mention where I was going?  I was taking my son to a children's church program.  Yep.

2.  I put a leash on my child.  I don't use it all the time, only when safety is an issue.  Oooooh, I can already feel the Cold Eyes of Judgment.  Let me make my excuses.  He's 3.  He runs away from me.  With cars whizzing down the street.  Or he darts away in parking lots.  He does not listen when I yell, "Stop!"  A few weeks ago, we were leaving the gym.  I had the one year old on my hip (he can't walk yet) and my gym bag in the other hand.   My 3 year old took off across the parking garage.  I yelled, "Stop!"  He kept running.  I could see a car with his taillights on, backing up.......with my son running towards him.  Nearer to me, another car was coming around the corner, so I could not drop my little guy and run after the other!  He was too far away from me by then anyway.  It all happened so fast!  So I screamed as loud as I could, probably sounding like a crazy woman, "Stop!  Stop!"  My son kept running but the driver heard me and stopped.  He rolled down his window (it was a young guy) and started apologizing profusely as I caught up to my son.  Poor guy thought I was yelling at him!  Well, thank God someone heard me!  I said, "No no!  I'm glad you heard me but I wasn't yelling at you."  So........let's just say that won't happen again.  So now my son has a monkey strapped to his back.  It looks like a backpack but it's not.  The monkey has a long tail that I hold on to.  He hates it but at least he won't get hit by a car.  I don't know what to do.  We've even played "Red Light Green Light" in the backyard to practice this skill.  He can do it while playing the game, but in real life, when it REALLY MATTERS, he ignores me.  Any ideas for me?  Or is the leash all I've got until he matures a little?

3.  Our 3 year old has been sleeping in our room for the last couple of weeks.  I'm sick of it.  He has nightmares and resists going to bed.  "I have bad dreams," he complains.  About what?  The answer is always the same, "Animals come in my room."  Prior to crashing on our floor, he was waking up at 4am for MONTHS.  Terrified and screaming.  He would either crawl in bed with us and go back to sleep OR, if we said no, he would go downstairs and be "up" for the day.....so of course I then had to get up.  Ugh!  Then one night after a bedtime battle that had lasted over 3 hours, he dragged his cheap foam Lightning McQueen fold out chair/bed thingamajig down the hall and laid it on our floor.  I was too tired to resist.  That was a few weeks ago.  Ever since, he has gone to bed on the floor in our room.  If he wakes up at 4 am, he will just take a hug and lay back down.  But he won't do the screaming hysterics that wake everyone up.  Hmmm,....how shall we say this?  This has killed a certain type of "nightly relations."  But we are sleeping!  It sucks.  I want him out.

And let me just say that it used to be SO EASY!  We'd do the whole nightly routine:  dinner, bath, books, sleep and it worked like a charm.  After reading 3 books, he would get up from the rocking chair, walk to bed himself, lay down, and say "goodnight."  And every night he would remind me to SHUT THE DOOR.  Yes, he reminded me!  And he did not have a nightlight either.  I mean, I should have known it wouldn't last forever!  But that's how easy it was for a full year, at least.  Until his imagination kicked into high gear after Christmas.  And now, a nightlight isn't enough.  The door open is not enough.  Searching the room before bedtime for "animals" is not enough. I found a cool nightlight on Amazon called The Good Nite Lite.  Considering how simple it is, my husband does not think it's worth $35.  Cheapskate!! Then again, he may be right, as I feel the problem is these bad dreams, and not the fact that he doesn't understand night vs day.  Should I do a reward system?  I need help.  Super Nanny Jo Frost's methods have not worked.  Feel free to dispense advice.

4.  My husband has dermatographia.  This isn't really a confession, but I felt like telling you.  Have you heard of it?  It causes the skin to raise up from being lightly scratched by anything.  Serious welts people!!  Scratch isn't even the right word.  Even tracing your finger lightly over his skin will cause a reaction.  Simply touching him.  Or even touching himself (did your mind go in the gutter with that one?).  But it's true!  This started about 5 months ago and he's been popping Claritin and Benadryl to keep it under control.  If he forgets to pop pills, see what happens in the photo below, and remember that only slight touch causes it---not a roughing scratching like you'd think.  So....just imagine what happens when we have sex "mommy & daddy time."  Yes, use your dirty imagination.  It looks like a wild animal tried to eat him for dinner.  Then again, you know this rarely happens (see confession #3).

If you want to see some freaky shit interesting photos, google image search "dermatographia art."  There is an artist named Ariana Page who uses her body as a canvas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Red Balloon

It's gone.  :(  Yes, it died about a week after I saw Dr. March.  However, let me remind you my son brought Red Balloon home on Dec. 22.  It lived exactly 3 months to the day.  Throughout those three months, I was denied by my insurance company 3 times.  At every step of the way.  But Red Balloon gave me hope and inspiration every day that I looked at it.

Aaaaand.....I'll confess that the day it died, Red Balloon was subsequently buried in the garbage can without fanfare.  It did not get the burial it deserved.  Shame on me, because it looks as if Red Balloon came through for me after all.

Everyone leaves a legacy (when we die).  And so did Red Balloon.  It reminded me that miracles happen.  It reminded me to pray.  It's very longevity reignited my faith.  It was the Methuselah of balloons!

I'm ashamed that when I threw it in the trash, I thought, "How stupid to believe in a balloon!"

Red Balloon, if you're reading this:  I'm sorry.  I was wrong.

And it looks like you guys were right all along.

God knew what He was doing and gave me something better than what I asked for.  But He did it on his timeline, not mine. How is this better?

1.  I feel the sleeve is better for me because it reduces ghrelin, the appetite hormone.  And it's restrictive.  I'm not 100% certain yet if I'll be a candidate for it, but I'm hoping.
2.  I'll get it done in Texas where my parents can help me with my kids post-op more than my husband is able while working long hours in Pittsburgh.
3.  My parents haven't seen the boys since Christmas.  This extra quality time together is a huge bonus surprise for everyone.  Yes, it'll be a lot of work for my parents, I know, but my kids will love seeing them.
4.  And I'm sorry, my mom says the cost factor is irrelevant, but I'm a bargain hunter.  Surgery is significantly less if I get it done outside of Pittsburgh.  Especially if I end up getting the gastric sleeve.
5.  If I end up getting the sleeve, I'll save a lot of money from not needing fills & adjustments (since the insurance company won't pay).

I'm starting to really believe this will happen for me.  My Red Balloon gave me hope and reminded me to pray and ask.  Okay, I'll be more honest....I begged!

As for my parents, there really aren't words to express how thankful I feel.  Definitely humbled by their generosity.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

avoiding people

About a year ago, a good friend was lamenting the fact that I only respond to text messages---and never answer the phone.  I can't remember how or why that came up, but she told her husband, "Oh, you can't call her.  She never picks up.  If you want a response, you have to text her."

That was the first little "aha" moment I had.  

Someone was on to me.

For a long time, I chalked this phone-phobia up to a permanent minor hearing loss I sustained in junior high.  I'm completely deaf in a specific frequency range because of scar tissue on my left ear drum.  I had a horrible ear infection and my ear didn't heal properly.  While minor, this hearing loss makes it difficult for me to understand some people.  Usually if I can't understand someone, they are male, and have a certain type of voice.  Women are almost never a problem.

This hearing loss also makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE for me to understand anyone (male or female) with a thick foreign accent.  The way this hearing loss was described to me is this:  I don't hear everything that is said, because most people's voices dip in and out of the frequency range I can't hear, but when someone speaks perfect English, I don't notice the "blanks" in their speech because my brain fills in the gaps for me.  Most of the time.  

But if someone has a heavy accent, my brain doesn't fill in the blanks and I have a difficult time.  One of the hardest accents for me to understand is an Irish accent.  Japanese is the second worst.  So I kind of panic when I speak to a non-native English speaker or accented English, such as Australian, Irish, Scottish, or English (from Britain).  I can't hear them!  So then they feel bad and start apologizing for their "bad English."  It's not them!  It's me!!  It makes for very awkward moments.    

Anywho.  Understanding anyone on the phone can be difficult at times.  There's something about the phone that makes it hard for me.  If I have to ask more than twice for someone to repeat themselves, I don't bother asking again, and pretend to know what they said.  Even if I didn't. 

I've hated phones for many years now and thought I just had a phone problem.

Until I started reading Drazil's posts.

After reading her for several months now, I've realized---for the first time in my life---that I struggle with social anxiety too.  No, I don't break out in hives or have outward physical symptoms, but it's there, obviously, because I avoid people.

I avoid friends and neighbors if I see them in public.  Not all the time mind you.  But frequently.  

Like Drazil, I frequently don't pick up the phone when a friend calls.  I, too, don't always answer the door when someone I genuinely like knocks on it.  I tell my husband to answer it when my friend stops by for simple things---to return something she borrowed or whatever .  Before, I just considered myself  feeling "unsociable" at the moment---perhaps bc I see myself how I want to see myself---outgoing!  And I am--half of the time.

I've often wondered if my friend, who lives next door, gets her feelings hurt at my occasional out of the blue avoidance behaviors.  It has NOTHING to do with her.  It's just.....I have  a little bit of social anxiety.

I have no idea why sometimes being around friends is so easy, and sometimes I just can't do it.

I'm not sure if it's anxiety or depression.  I don't know.  It seems to have no rhyme or reason.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

my confession

I will confess that I carried my two boys out in the POURING rain today (without an umbrella), strapped them in the car, went to the gym, dropped them off at the play center, and got on an elliptical.  While at said gym, I got a text from a neighbor admiring my dedication to working out despite the torrential downpour.  But, and here's the confession---I had no desire to work out.  I just wanted to watch a television that I could hear without being interrupted to deny YET ANOTHER popsicle request.  Going to the gym today helped prevent me from being on the 5 o'clock news, looking craptastic in a mugshot for, well, doing what I might have done if I'd reached my boiling point.....and then, somehow, I got sucked into "Millionaire Matchmaker" (hey, don't judge me) and stayed for almost 2 hours, burning nearly 1000 calories on my "break."  That means I can have an extra serving of ice cream after dinner, right?

shotgun weddings and divorce

Before I get to the topic of marriage and divorce....

Let me sum up the last few days:  Several days ago I told my mom about my failed attempt at getting weight loss surgery.  She offered to pay for it and let me pay her back when I go to work.  Thrilling news!!!!!!  So I figured if we were self-pay, I might as well consider the gastric sleeve...which wasn't an option before because my insurance didn't cover it.  I called my bariatric office in Pittsburgh and they quoted their prices:  $16,500 for the band.  $27,000 for the sleeve.  Yikes.  But after my weekend research, I'd really fallen in love with the sleeve idea.  It's restrictive and decreases the amount of appetite hormones (ghrelin).  Since I feel so much of my problem is constant hunger, the idea of something to reduce my appetite really appealed to me.  Plus, it's maintenance free in that it doesn't require fills or adjustments.

I called around and found Dr. Chang who does the sleeve in Victoria, TX for an affordable price ($17,760).  My mom felt really good about that choice because it's only one hour from their house and my parents know of at least three people who've used him.  Naturally, that made my parents feel more comfortable.

The bad news?  Chang can only operate on people with a BMI of 35 or more because of hospital guidelines.  At first, off the top of my head, I figured that would be fine, that I'd only need to gain 10 pounds or so.  I thought, "No problem."  I didn't like the idea, but okay, it was doable.  Especially because we have a 10 day vacation planned in June.  Vacations almost always make me gain a few pounds unless I'm super careful and don't indulge at all.

But then I Googled and realized I'd need to get all the way back to 198 (from 175-180, I bounce up/down in that range).  UGH.  Feeling that was TOO MUCH to gain after all of my hard work, I just couldn't stand the thought of being that size---even for 2 months.  I mean, I'd have to stop working out to get up that high!  I feel so much better about myself at my current size, 14P.  Getting up to 200-ish pounds would put me back in an 18.  And I just hate myself at that weight.  I know I shouldn't, but I do.

Yesterday, I found a guy (Dr. Patel) in San Antonio who could do the sleeve at my current BMI.   He has nearly 100 great reviews on obesitytalk.com.  And for only $14,000----$3,760 less than Chang!  A win-win, right?

Not so fast.  My mom was already married to the idea of Dr. Chang.

And I was already married to the idea of the getting my first choice surgery (sleeve) and at my current BMI.

You know, it was a shot-gun wedding, though, for both of us.  We fell in love and got married within 24 hours of meeting our ideas.  It probably happened in Vegas.  But a marriage is a marriage, nonetheless.

Regardless---one of us needed to get a divorce.  Yes, the dreaded D word.

Problem is, we are both very loyal wives.

But.....I guess later in the afternoon she spoke to my dad on the phone (he's out of town right now) and he made her feel more comfortable with the logistics of the whole long distance surgery trip.  She was concerned that San Antonio is 3 hours away.  With my little boys being with me, that will be no small undertaking for my parents!  And I get that.  He suggested driving all five of us up to San Antonio for for the surgery.  They could get a hotel & stay with the kids.  I could stay at the hospital by myself (which is fine by me, it'll be a vacation, trust me).

Whew!  It was a whirlwind on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday.  She's warming to the idea of Dr. Patel and I'm hoping she'll be ready to divorce Dr. Chang altogether soon.  He's a nice guy and all...but it wasn't the best match.