My Progress!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I'm headed out to celebrate with some friends and had Erik snap some pictures for my 6 month surgiversary! I'm feeling absolutely amazing and hopeful and SO ready to tackle 2011. Thanks to EVERYONE who has supported me and continued to read my blog. You guys will never really understand what your support has meant to me. I hope every one of you has an amazing new year and great things to come your way in 2011!

6 months

6 months

6 months

6 months

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas and Dating and pseudo-Anniversaries aside...

Ok, so the holidays I went a little nuts. I’m up about 5 lbs, but honestly I don’t really know how I gained that much because although I did indulge more, it wasn’t anything nearly as bad as what I have done in the past. I wasn’t eating all day long, but I did have more than my fair share of cookies and other carbs over 3-4 days. As of yesterday though, I am back on track which is a feat in and of itself.

In the past, anytime I’ve gone off a low carb diet for a few days, it has been incredibly difficult to get back on the wagon. Usually, it doesn’t happen until I had gained a substantial amount of weight (at least another 20 lbs) and had been off a diet for several months. So far, it hasn’t been that difficult to get back on program which is really encouraging to me. I’m currently at 328 and have been sitting there a few days. We’ll see how I do at next week’s weigh in.

Christmas went great by the way. Tanner and I went and put money down on his bike and I got some money from my SIL and MIL that I’m going to go put down on my bike. After I pay tuition and get my books, I’m going to see how much I have left to play with next month and hopefully make another payment on both bikes. I can’t wait until we can get out on them together for the first time!

I’ve also been playing around with some dating sites. I honestly don’t know why. I think I’m just curious about what is out there, but I don’t really think I’m all that serious about dating anyone just yet. I mean, I’m getting ready to start school and to top it all off, Erik and I aren’t formally divorced yet so that is kind of a kink in things. I've also always felt pretty strongly about getting involved with anyone before Tanner turns 18. I just feel like anything else is only going to eat into any time I should be setting aside for him, but part of me would like to get out once in a while.

I’ve joined a few meetup groups and I think that may be more my cup of tea. You can join groups and meet people with similar interests, not necessarily for dating, but for friendship, etc. I think I’m really just interested in expanding my social circle now that I can actually get out and do stuff again. The few dating sites I joined haven’t yielded the best results (guys typically looking for a hookup or just not what I’m looking for intellectually, etc.) So, I think I’ve just decided to try a few of these meetup groups now and then (when I have the time between Tanner, school and work lol) and enjoy my freedom for now.

I have no idea when Erik and I are actually going to formalize things. At this point, until we really decide to get separate households or start dating someone seriously I don’t think either of us feels the need to pursue a formal divorce. It will happen eventually though; no chance of us working this out for obvious reasons.

Incidentally, our 16th anniversary is this Friday although I think we both stopped counting three years ago when it was obvious our marriage was over. On some level, it still makes me a bit sad, but I’m not sure why. Maybe the impending “anniversary” is what has prompted my recent interest in dating? I would think it probably has something to do with it. I think part of me will always be sad that things couldn’t be different for us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not “pining” for him and I definitely wouldn’t want that sort of relationship with him now, but I guess part of me (the part that meant my vows) feels cheated that there was really nothing I could have ever done to try to make our marriage work. It just really never should have been.

Part of me also wonders how in the world I’m ever going to explain it all to my next “love interest” if there ever is a next one. I just kind of feel like I was forced to carry all this baggage into my new life and most people are going to see it as a lot of drama they’d rather do without. Oh well, I’ll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

All in all, I’m in a very good place. I’m loving getting up every morning and I’m enjoying wondering what this next year will bring. I’m nervous about starting school again, but excited about the challenge and about where I might be next year. I have lots of plans and goals and a future to look forward to!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Cookie Hell...hell...hell...hell

They are going to be the death of me people. We decided we were going to do a bit of baking. I am used to doing quite a bit of baking around this time of year, but just didn't feel strong enough and didn't want loads of cookies around to tempt any of us for weeks before Christmas. Well, I MISS the baking :( I decided that maybe I could make my least favorites and then wouldn't be as tempted but could still have a little fun so we decided to make our traditional "Bat Balls" (basically chocolate rum balls), peanut butter blossoms, and erik is making his spritz cookies.

Erik went shopping Sunday. Tanner tore into a box of nilla wafers (which is an ingredient used in the bat balls...btw, if I haven't mentioned before why they are called bat balls...tanner called them that because he didn't know the real name for them, but remembered the bottle of rum had a bat on it ;) and I happened to see it. It's that time of the month so my will power is at its weakest and my appetite at its worst so before I knew it, I had inhaled 7. Now that is MUCH less than I would have binged on in the past, but later I went back for 7 more AND had about 5 chocolate kisses ZOMG! Guess the binge eater is alive and well inside me after all :S I immediately texted erik and told him to hide them from me when he got home (which he did) and we've put off the actual baking until tomorrow.

Last night, we went to a friend's to have her color my hair, but we ended up getting side tracked making sugar cookies and decorating them. Those are Tanner's in the picture up there...I joked that it looked like a sugar cookie crime scene. It was loads of fun, we had a few gingerbread zombies, gingerbread inmates (in orange jumpsuits and numbers across their chest, as well as several very flower-looking snowflakes. Throughout the whole process, I had 2-3 unfrosted cookies and later when we got home I had two more. I knew I had to get a handle on this. Otherwise, I've been eating the way I should and I'm sure that even with the crap I've allowed, I'm still well under 2000 calories a day, but its the BEHAVIOR that worries me. I'm even questioning whether to do the baking tomorrow or leave it all until the day before Christmas so the temptation isn't around as long.

Today, I decided that I was just going to NOT allow myself to graze which is basically how I managed to consume so much crap over the last few days. I'm allowing myself three meals and two snacks and if ONE of those snacks is a cookie...that is all its going to be ONE cookie. Today I had one cookie and managed not to inhale the rest, but it wasn't easy!

I'm down to 325/327 (been going up and down between these two numbers the last week or so) and I really want to be at 317 by the end of the month so trying to keep that in mind when the cravings get horrible.

How are you guys handling all the treats? Avoidance, will power, stapling your mouth shut? Please, spill your secrets!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My new Bike and other NSV's

The picture above is just for your viewing pleasure. I got some new fake eyelashes that I ordered online. Erik was at the store and after I got them on I texted him and said "OMG, just put some falsies on and I look like Mimi!" He came home and took one look and busted out laughing. Trust me, they look much better in pictures. In reality, I looked like a drag queen from the eyes up! looked like two spiders decided to camp out on my face...not the look I was going for, but I guess I can save them for a special occasion...say Halloween maybe?

Now for the rest of the story (mind you, I meant to post this on Sunday, so this all refers to events that occurred Saturday)

Yesterday, we all took a trip to Ride Away Bicycles and I put some money down on my bike. All Erik could do is laugh as I gushed about how beautiful it was! “Look! Even the treads on the tires are flowers!!!” They only had three of the really decorative bikes left, they’ve been so popular and two of them were ones I was interested in; The Fleur and the Blanc et Noir. I finally decided on the Fleur because, as I told Erik in my best Shelby (of steel magnolias) impression, “Red is my signature culah!” He is putting some money toward it for my Christmas present and we put it on lay-a-way so hopefully I’ll have it paid off in a few months. I can’t wait to ride it! Of course, I told erik it has been at least 20 years since I rode a bike so I’m going to have to get up at 3am to practice so that nobody sees me make an ass of myself while I’m re-learning to ride!

We are getting Tanner his adult trike for Christmas using some money from my grandfather and as part of our gift to him. We thought about giving him the money my grandfather had sent, but knew he would spend it on junk so I talked with him (and being the master manipulator I am) managed to talk him into putting the money toward his trike. When we were at the bike shop yesterday, he was cracking us up talking about how he needed a red helmet with a skull on the front and flames along the sides. Then, when he saw these “camelbak” bags he announced that he had to have one of them as well. If you’ve never seen these, they are most likely for people who bike long distances and have a reservoir in the bag that you can fill with water. When you need a drink, you just grab the tube thing and take a sip. Cool yes, for a neighborhood cycling trip, not so cool. Then he found the gloves, so of course he added those to the list of things he NEEDS and the more he added, the more my mind began to put together this hilarious picture of this uncoordinated kid outfitted in this badass helmet, riding gloves, and camel pack on this enormous adult tricycle taking a leisurely ride through our neighborhood. I will definitely get pictures for you guys if it happens!

I left the store on a high, but still kind of going back and forth about putting that kind of money into a bike. On the practical side, it is completely designed to be ergonomic and easy on the joints and back which I need. I also told myself that after losing almost 150 pounds, I deserved a little sum’n sum’n and since this was also going to be contributing to a more active lifestyle the better. I think I just have trouble spending money on myself, especially when we have been so strapped the last few months. This month we actually ended up much better off than I expected. I have no idea how it happened, but it’s been nice not to have to sweat about paying the bills over the holidays.

From there, we went to the cinema to see Harry Potter’s new movie. Loved it! The best part about it? I could walk down the aisle without needing to walk sideways AND I could sit in the chair without raising the arms! It was a great day!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm in LOVE!!

Yes, I believe I have found the bike I want to get. I stumbled across this particular brand while scouting out prices on Tanner’s trike and fell instantly in love with Electra Cruiser Collection! Now, I just have to figure out which one is my favorite which will not be easy. So far, my favorites are the Fleur, the Koi, and the Red Betty with the Leopard accent seats and handlebar grips! I have no idea how much they cost, but I have to have one!




We have a shop just a few miles from where we live that sells them. I called them to see what the weight limit was on the bikes and the guy said “Oh, there is no limit, we’ve had 300 pounders on them!” I laughed and said “Yeah, I’ll be one of those.” But not for long right peoples!! Especially once I get ridin’! I’m really hoping that I can afford to get something before Spring starts (although in San Antonio, we could be out riding bikes now!).

Anyway, visit their blog and then go to their website and look at the cruisers. You can see all the cool designs they have. Report back and tell me which one is your favorite!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just your average Social Butterfly reporting for duty!

I was quite a busy girl this weekend. I went to TWO, (yep, count ‘em TWO) parties! I don’t really know what was more fun, going to the parties or getting ready for the parties. I’m still dipping into new clothes in my closet and finding that most are almost too big for me. I’ll pull something out, look at the size and think…hmm, this probably won’t fit, but I try it on and it does; with room to spare usually.

Last year I had invitations to various get-togethers and gatherings, but I bailed on all of them mainly because I was too embarrassed to see people, many of which who hadn’t seen me since my mother’s funeral. Some I hadn’t seen in even more years. Although I wasn’t much bigger than I had been at my mother’s funeral, my mobility and strength was much much less and you all know that I had a big problem with letting people see me at my weakest.

This year, I didn’t think twice about whether or not I’d attend the events I’d been invited to. I didn’t spend the weeks leading up to the events wondering if there were going to be chairs that could accommodate my weight or worrying about being the fattest person there. I probably still WAS the fattest person at both events, but in relation to the rest of the world, I’m kind of just your average fat girl now and that totally rocks!

The first event we went to was a Deaf fellowship party given by the church that Tanner’s big brother preaches at. Last year, he picked Tanner up and brought him home (because I “couldn’t” make it), but this year, he was just too busy. I had to work late, but I used my last 30 minutes to get my makeup on and once I was off, slipped on some new clothes and we were on our way. I’m including a few pictures from the event, but they were taken with my phone which makes me look about 50 lbs fatter, washes out all my makeup and otherwise makes me look like a pasty toad, but there you go.

When we got there, I walked in with confidence and didn’t once try to scan the room to see if anyone was noticing the fat lady arriving. No children stared in fascination and horror. Adults didn’t treat me like I was invisible. It was amazing to just enjoy being with other people, participating in the events at the party and just having a great time in general with Tanner.

The next night, I attended an old friend’s birthday party. We have known each other since middle school and our mothers actually worked together for several years. We reconnected a year or two ago and she has absolutely been one of my biggest (local) cheerleaders and such a great source of support. We don’t get to get together much because she has two very busy children, work, etc so I was looking forward to seeing her again.

I’ll admit, I was kind of nervous about going because Belinda and her daughter (and mom) were probably the only people I would know there, but I refused to let myself talk myself out of going for that reason. Once again, I enjoyed doing my hair and taking time with my makeup, I even wore fake eyelashes, the whole time imagining I was the most popular cast member of The Real Housewives of San Antonio (because, ya know its in the contract that you have to wear falsies to be on that show). Unfortunately, the falsies I got were the same length as my own lashes so they really didn’t do much for me. Next time I’m going to go super glam! I was just worried about looking like Mimi or Ms. Piggy if I went too long. I got dressed and made Erik take pictures of me and he joked that he has to take pictures of me every day I wear something new, which is kinda true, but it’s so fun to look at them afterwards because you see yourself so much differently in a picture vs. the mirror and I’m starting to like what I see staring back at me from both!

I left and on my way had to call Shannon, just to tell her how pretty I looked. She demanded that I take a pic with my phone and send it to her so when I stopped at CVS I asked the cashier to take one of me. Of course he looked at me like I’d lost my mind, but what was he going to say? Apparently my phone was too complicated for him because he somehow started using the movie feature instead and by then people were walking into the store and I didn’t want to be the idiot smiling for the cashier. So, I grabbed my phone from the wanna-be Martin Scorsese and thanked him for his efforts.

Prior to leaving my house, I realized that I couldn’t access facebook which is where Belinda’s new address was, but lucky for me I’m a master cyber stalker. I had managed to locate a record for her husband and whammo! Found their address. Of course, I couldn’t hide my lovely falsies behind a pair of glasses so I left them behind making reading street signs a real challenge, but somehow I made it to her house. I honestly had no idea if it was the right house; I just went to the building with the most cars in front of it and prayed it was the right place (I couldn’t see any house numbers). I got Lucky! It was the right house and before I knew it, I was inside chatting with Belinda’s mom, saying hi to her brother who I hadn’t seen since high school and ultimately making some new friends with some people from where Belinda works. Her house was beautiful and she had a spread like you would not believe…this girl knows how to throw a shindig! Her kids were adorable and her husband was a real sweetheart. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was so glad that I went, thanks for inviting me Belinda!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sights & Sounds of Christmas

Every December, San Marcos, which is a town about 45 minutes north of San Antonio has a Christmas event called The Sights and Sounds of Christmas. San Marcos is actually where I went to college at Southwest Texas State University which has now just become Texas State University and, when Tanner was about 3 or 4 we moved there so that he could start preschool at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin.

PhotobucketNeedless to say, San Marcos holds many special memories for me. It was the place where I finally discovered what I wanted to be when I grew up. Once I had that focus, it was like nothing could stop me. I could get through just about anything, including a Physics class that scared the crap out of me and almost kept me from pursuing my degree in Communication Disorders to begin with. My time in college was probably one of the happiest periods of my young adult life. I was thinner (not “thin” but thinner), in great shape, excelling in my academic pursuits and feeling great about who I was inside and out. I had a new found confidence that had been lacking through most of my earlier years and while I always struggled with insecurities, I think I was most sure of myself at this time. So yeah…good times.

PhotobucketLater, when we moved back there to shorten the commute to TSD, I found that I really loved living in a smaller town; especially as a young mother. I used to take Tanner to the park there and Erik, Tanner and I would often go to the river and walk the trails after he got home from work. Tanner loved to stop and watch the ducks (well really, he often used them as target practice using pebbles he found alongside the river, but luckily at the age of 3 he hadn’t perfected his aim). Sometimes, we’d just sit by the river and watch it meander past us. Nature was always something that calmed Tanner down and having moments where I could enjoy this challenging kiddo meant the world to the young stressed out mom I was at the time.

PhotobucketSan Marcos was also the place where my son went through his super hero phase, wearing a cape (which was really just a towel until he got the batman costume) AT ALL TIMES for at least two years straight. PhotobucketIt was also where I began homeschooling him when we discovered TSD wasn’t going to be a good fit. I have fond memories of homeschooling get-togethers and all the friends we made in that network. I LOVED exploring concepts with Tanner and discovering that we shared a love for Science.

I also remember attending the Sights and Sounds of Christmas with Tanner several times over the years and seeing the wonder on his face at all the lights, manufactured “snowflakes” that would rain down as you entered the event area, petting zoo and more. This was the first time I’d been able to go with him in 5 years. The last time I took him, I had a difficult time navigating the area, but I made it. This time, I still had difficulty and had to rest my legs, but only after being on my feet for well over an hour. Five months ago, I could barely manage 5 minutes on my feet before needing to sit down.

I was a bit disappointed, because after standing in line for about 15 minutes waiting for the bus to get to the entrance, then standing in lines for admission, tokens, carousel, kettle corn, and hot chocolate (yes I sampled the latter, but they were mainly for tanner lol), it had been over an hour on my feet. They had nowhere to sit, so I found a curb and sat down. PhotobucketI had gone with my friend Shannon, her daughter Jordan, and their cousin Jeff (who is from Canada and has an ADORABLE Canadian accent “Eh?” He’s also just plain ol’ adorable, but sorry ladies, he’s spoken for…) and although I really felt I needed maybe 10 minutes to rest my legs, I felt bad making them wait, especially since Jordan didn’t have a jacket and it wasn’t getting any warmer. So, ultimately they decided to head over to the main ride area without me. I think they planned on coming back for me, but once they got there, they said it was so crowded, they knew if they came back for me, it would be too late, so I basically sat there for about an hour twiddling my thumbs. I was worried if I went looking for them, we’d cross somewhere and then play hell trying to meet back up to leave (cell phone service was out for ATT users in San Marcos for some reason).

When they finally made it back, it was time to go and Tanner remarked that he felt bad that I got left behind. I assured him that I was happy that he had a good time and that next year would be WAY different! He was going to have to get in shape, because HE was going to be the one trying to keep up with me ;) So, although I didn’t have the experience I hoped I’d have on my first major outing post-surgery, over the weekend I discovered that it brought up lots of wonderful memories and was yet one more small step towards reclaiming my life. Walking under the lights with Tanner, sharing a hot cocoa as we people watched and admired the lights, and yes…even sitting on a curb for an hour breathing in the crisp December air beats the heck out of another night in my recliner which is probably where you would have found me this time last year.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

You better run to the bathroom and grab a drink before sitting down to read this monster!

Well, I was SO busy yesterday, I didn’t have time to even blog about my day so I thought I’d go ahead and update you on all the exciting stuff I did OUTSIDE MY HOUSE yesterday! I may bore you to tears because I really didn’t do anything all that exciting, but 5 months ago, there was NO way I could have tackled this day and actually enjoyed myself.

Of course, the fun starts just getting ready to leave the house because I really enjoy putting on makeup and picking out clothes to wear. I chose this pretty burgundy chenille sweater I’ve had for a few years that still had the tags on it and wasn’t sure it was going to fit, but when I put it on, it was almost a bit too big. Then I had to find some pants. The first pair of pants were a bit too small, well…not really small I think they are supposed to fit more like leggings and I’m just really not into that look. I just don’t think fat people have any business wearing skinny jeans, jeggings or leggings period. I wore them in the 80’s or 90’s (whenever they were last popular) but now I can see that it can make us look like a bowling ball precariously perched on a couple toothpicks…not the most flattering look, at least for me its not. I went ahead and tried them on and asked Erik for his opinion and he promptly mentioned the “skinny jeans” look maybe wasn’t going to work for me so I went back to my closet.

The problem is, the past couple of years that I’ve been purchasing clearance stuff in smaller sizes, they have mainly been tops, sweaters, etc. I don’t think I bought many pants unless they really caught my eye. I found a pair of black pants, put them on and they were WAY huge on me. I had to pull them up to my bra, just so the ankles weren’t around my feet and my legs were swimming in the pant legs, but we were running late and I thought they’d make do. I spent the rest of the day, hiking my pants up, rolling the stomach down, etc to no avail. These are definitely going in the “Can no longer wear” pile. The pictures below were taken as my 5 month progress pictures (again, not a lot of change that I see) and show the final outfit.

Once I got dressed, I went to pick out some jewelry (YES! I was getting all gussied up for my day of errands!). I chose one of my mother’s rings and another ring she bought for me that I hadn’t been able to wear for years because my fingers were too fat! Then I chose a necklace and earring set I got from AVON (which is half off at the moment if you like it. Just make sure you go to and then search for “Jet Accented Double Strand Gift Set” to order and I’ll get credit for it.) It is going for $9.99 right now and I can tell you, it is even prettier in person. Even Erik remarked at how pretty it was when I asked him to help me put the necklace on. On a side note, I’ve been VERY impressed with any jewelry I’ve purchased from AVON. To be quite honest, I kind of expected it to look great in the brochure, but look or feel cheaply made when I actually received it ( I know I shouldn’t talk like that since I’m a new AVON rep, but you know I’m always going to be honest with you guys even if I am selling the stuff). I have loved everything I’ve purchased so far.

Anyway, I completed my outfit with some sensible black shoes because I knew I was going to be doing a lot of walking lol. They are basically kedd looking sort of sneakers and probably look orthopedic, but they are extremely comfortable. If you’ve never purchased a pair of Softwalk shoes before, they are definitely worth the price! The inner soles are kind of like those egg crate type mattresses…very comfortable. I won’t lie, most of their shoes have that “practical pair of shoes” look, but if you have a day where comfort needs to trump style, these shoes will definitely do the trick and lets face it, when you have Fred Flintstone feet that are about as wide as they are long…you can’t be fussy in the shoe department! If it fits, BUY it has always been my motto!

So, here are this month’s round of pictures. You can actually see all my progress pictures here as well. I’m going to see if Erik can get my measurements today as well because I’m due for those. I’m still holding right around 333, but I’ve decided my new goal is to *try* to get to 317 by the end of the month. That will put me at 100 lbs lost in the first 6 months since surgery and a total of 148 lbs lost overall! I’m going to amp up the exercise and see if that helps. It may be a lofty goal, but it will be fun to see if I can make it.





So, the first place we went was the community college downtown. I had been going back and forth about starting my pre-requisites for nursing school this Spring. After this most recent hospitalization, I almost trashed the idea for good (at least for the Spring Semester), but then thought I’d go ahead and give it a try. I really don’t want to delay it anymore so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that I stay healthy. I’ve registered for Chem 1 and Intro to Sociology. Both classes will be completed online, but I will have to go in once a week (Thursday nights) for the Chem lab and I may have to go in for testing too…still have to learn more about how that works. Erik is also going to be taking a few classes so that he can finish his Interpreting certification. If all goes well, he should be done by the end of next year. Once he completes his certification, he will be able to make more money and have access to more work as an interpreter for the deaf which will be good since we have discussed that he will need to carry most of the financial load while I’m in nursing school (as I did for the four years he was working on his interpreting degree).

We both had to go in to sort out our financial aid stuff basically. I can’t get any grants since I have a B.S. already and Erik has a bazillion hours accrued without a degree so he is ineligible for grants as well. We were turning in information and meeting with advisers in order to explain why we were going back to school when I already had a B.S. and in Erik’s case, why he had a bazillion hours, but no degree yet. Hopefully we will get approved for some loans at least. I have to pay for my classes by the 9th and was a bit worried that, considering how strapped we are right now, maybe that was going to be the deciding factor about whether or not I started in the Spring or had to wait for Summer. As a last ditch effort, I emailed a woman who has always been sort of a surrogate mom to me (I think I mentioned that she was also there for my surgery) and probably the closest thing I had to a mentor growing up. My mom actually used to do her hair once a week so I saw her every week for most of my childhood. She has a PhD in education and probably was one of the biggest influences on me in pursuing my own education beyond high school. I emailed her, explained my situation and how much my tuition was and asked if I could borrow the money from her and pay her back if and when I got a loan. If I don’t get a loan, I will work something out with her to pay her back monthly. Thankfully, she wrote back and said she’d be happy to help and would be mailing me a check immediately…LOVE her! Thanks Pat!

After we got done at the college (where I did quite a bit of walking, stair climbing, etc!), we ran to the library to return some books and pick up some new books I had on hold. I started reading “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman based on the recommendation of my good friend Melissa over at Must Read Faster. You can read her review here ( She is cute as a button both inside and out (although she would probably cringe hearing me describe her that way lol) and a good friend of mine and I love her blog!

After the library, we had to stop by the bank and then it was off to pick up Tanner so that we could go see his audiologist to see about getting a new earmold made for him. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but our rescue Pomeranian snatched his hearing aid off the coffee table and ATE Tanner’s earmold! We don’t call him “Stink” for nothing…every inch of that dog is a stinker! His given name is actually “Paxton” and he still refuses to answer to “Stink” or “Stinkaroo” as I like to call him, but he better get used to it or start behaving! Anyway, most dogs are attracted to earmolds because of all the earwax, but our sweet lab, Thunder has never ever ate his earmold so I guess we didn’t even think about Stink. A few weeks ago, I heard him under my bed, where he hoards his best “treasures,” chomping away on something. I had Erik get down to check and he pulled out Tanner’s hearing aid sans earmold…great! They are only $75.00 a piece and no, they aren’t covered by insurance (most hearing related products aren’t fyi) so we weren’t thrilled at this discovery. I told Tanner that we would pay for this replacement, but from now on, he needs to make sure he puts his hearing aid up where Stink can’t get to it, because the next earmold will come out of his pocket! If you are wondering why we haven't gotten rid of this rascally mongrel, I give you exhibit "A" below...he's too freakin' cute! BTW, Tanner and I were reading "In the Forest of Hands and Teeth" together and Stink jumped up on the bed and lay down just like you see him there. Guess he can enjoy a bedtime story too :)


We got to the audiologist and one of the guys in the room with us just seemed to be observing while they made the impression for Tanner’s mold. I asked him his name and discovered he was doing his internship to complete his PhD in Audiology. He looked all of 20 years old! Holy cow! I enjoyed talking to him though and told him my undergrad degree was in Communication Disorders and had contemplated going back to grad school to complete my masters in audiology, but ultimately decided to go back to nursing school. We talked quite a bit about how Tanner lost his hearing, where I studied, other topics in deafness and hearing loss, etc. When we left, Erik said “You were very talkative in there!” with an amused smile on his face he added, “You need to get out more!” Embarrassed, I asked if I had been annoyingly talkative and he said “No, he seemed to be enjoying the conversation, it was just funny to hear you chatting away like that.” Just for the record, Tanner got a earmold with swirled red, black and white colors although the audiologist jokingly tried to talk him into a pink glitter one.

After we were finished at the audiologist, we ran home, got something to eat and then I went to pick up my new glasses (see picture below). I put them on (after a year of not wearing them) and couldn’t believe the difference! I don’t have a very strong prescription so I can get by without them, but WOW, putting them on just brought everything into crystal clear focus. So nice to be able to SEE.


Have you actually read this whole post? If so, you must be a glutton for punishment or a die-hard blog reader lol! Thanks either way because even though the activities I described were far from compelling, the fact that I was able to DO all of this and enjoy my day is something I just couldn’t have done 5 months ago. I continue to be thankful for each and every step I take back towards a normal life!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cure for Whining & Moaning: Count your Blessings

This morning I am down to 333, but I was super bad about getting my liquids in yesterday so I’m probably a bit dehydrated. I’m going to work hard to drink more today and try to get my protein in…that is another thing I’ve been kind of lax on. I’ve just been super stressed about money and trying to grab a few shifts at my second job on top of the 10 I do there every week. This means that I often work my day job, get off when Tanner gets home, spend some time with him, make dinner, eat dinner and then do a few hours at my second job, go to sleep for a few hours, then get up to work a few more, go to sleep, then get up to work my day job and it just starts over again. I’m grateful to have a job (or three) to try to make up for the unpaid time I had in the hospital, but it seems to have become “the excuse” I use to NOT go walking with Tanner when he gets home. By the time I’m done with my first job, I’m just so worn out and knowing that I’m going to have to work several shifts later on just wears me out thinking about it. It reminds me of when I started working the graveyard shift and just never felt rested…which is really what almost signed my death warrant to begin with if you’ll remember.

I also haven’t had much of an appetite lately. I think I’m just bored with what I can eat and since I’ve been in the hospital and recovering at home, I haven’t felt much like experimenting in the kitchen. The guys are deviled egged out at the moment; I used to always have them on hand because they were such an easy thing to grab when I needed a little protein. I decided to make egg salad this weekend instead, and although they are eating it, I don’t think they are big fans. I’m going to make chili tonight, but I anticipate some grumbling from Tanner, but oh well.

Tanner weighed himself last night and he was up 6 lbs. which disappointed him, but I reminded him that when I was in the hospital, he and dad ate out a lot (supposedly out of stress, but I think it was more a good excuse to go off the diet really). I won’t lie, this annoyed me, mainly because I had told Erik that they couldn’t spend money (eating out) while I was in the hospital because we were going to be so strapped; the 6 lbs Tanner gained was just another negative consequence. To be fair, the several pieces of buttermilk pie he ate over the weekend probably didn’t help matters either (I made this to take over to my SIL’s house on Thanksgiving, but of course we never made it there).

So, because of our current financial situation, we are going to have to stick to the budget low carb lifestyle which means lots of eggs, bacon and other low cost protein sources like tuna, etc. We will be fine though I’m sure the guys are going to whine about it until my ears bleed. Hey, at least we are going to HAVE food to eat, a roof over our head, etc. Yeah, things are going to be tight which sucks right around Christmas, but again…things could be so much worse!

Once, when I was feeling particularly sorry for myself because everything that could go wrong seemed to be going wrong, I asked a friend how to break myself out of my funk. She answered simply “Count your Blessings.” My gut reaction at first was “WHAT BLESSINGS? Did you not hear that my entire life is in the crapper at the moment?” But then a few minutes later, I began to think about it and as I started to list out my blessings, I realized that I still had many things in my life that WEREN’T in the crapper. After just a few minutes, I had a handful of pretty wonderful things to focus on and guess what? Instant attitude adjustment. So now, when I start to get overwhelmed by things that are less than perfect, I make myself list my blessings and it usually gives me the swift kick in the tuckas I need :)

Things I’m currently grateful for:

1. Weighing 333 lbs instead of 465 lbs.
2. Not being in the hospital and apparently on the road to Wellsville.
3. The fact that both Erik and I have multiple income sources while many people are struggling to find ONE job.
4. Tanner is doing very good at school and while he drives us insane periodically obsessing about buying a new gaming system or games in general, overall, he is doing an AWESOME job controlling his frustration and growing into the young man I always hoped he’d be.
5. My family, although they live WAY too far from us for my liking.
6. I’m thankful to have Erik in my life because, although our relationship is far from traditional, he is still the best friend I ever had and I know that, no matter what, he will always be there for Tanner and I.
7. I’m thankful that I can now wash dishes and spit shine the kitchen without ever needing to take a seat mid-way.

I’m sure there are many other things I’m grateful for, but those are just off the top of my head! See…already feeling much better when before I was internally whining about how tired I was. Ok, so maybe the coffee I consumed while writing this post helped to alleviate the fatigue a bit, but this exercise helped with the mental fatigue ;) I hope you all have a great day and find many things to be thankful for!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Checking in :) I'm still alive and haven't been back to the hospital!!

I apologize for not updating my blog this past week. By Monday, I was deeply depressed. I still wasn't 100% and my arm was killing me and didn't seem to be getting any better and I was just really down that I wasn't able to go to Indiana to see my family. I had a horrible dream about my mom Sunday night so when I woke up, it all just hit me and I actually had a 5 minute crying jag where I felt super sorry for myself. I thought about getting on and blogging about it, but I just didn't want to allow myself to "wallow" in how I was feeling if that makes any sense.

As the week went by, I started feeling better both physically and mentally and was looking forward to going to my SIL's house for Thanksgiving. I even made buttermilk pie to take over (no, it wasn't low carb) and then spent most of the night "hemorrhaging" (my gynecological issues) which meant we had to cancel that outing :( I just didn't want to risk having a problem while over at her house and honestly, I was exhausted as I had been up all night in and out of the bathroom. The good news is that the last two periods, while having their heavy moments, seem to be lasting about 5-7 days and then resolving the way they are supposed to. I'm hoping the hemorrhaging I experienced was somewhat due to the lovenox I'd been on in the hospital and had continued at home trying to resolve the issues from my IVs. Since I've had to discontinue the birth control pills, it would be nice if my gyno issues would normalize as I don't want my next trip to the hospital to be to have a hysterectomy :S

We hadn't planned on having Thanksgiving at home so Erik ran to the store and bought some fried chicken and french fries and we threw that in the oven lol. I had a few fries and a few bites of chicken and even had some pie later and did fine. I didn't gain any weight and this morning I'm back down to 335 (I had gotten back up to 347 while in the hospital...all that darn fluid!).

Now, I'm feeling much better and seem to be on the mend. Just keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't have a relapse with the vasculitis! Right now, we are just struggling with how we are going to get our bills paid this month after several weeks (both of us) that we were out of work without pay while in the hospital. I'm sure we will be fine, but it just sucks that this is all happening around the holidays.

Tanner seems to understand that we won't be able to buy him anything this year and honestly, he's kind of been annoying the heck out of us as far as money goes...just not really understanding that we can't go to the movies, rent video games, etc right now so maybe this is a good lesson for him. I'm even thinking about trying to work on some volunteer projects or something where we help deliver gifts to other needy families so that he can see that there are many other people in our city who have it much worse than we do. IDK, but this kiddo definitely needs a reality check when it comes to finances...our fault though for spoiling him a bit when he was younger.

One good thing is that he seems to really understand when I share stories about my own childhood with him. I never really wanted for anything because whatever my mom couldn't provide, my grandparents made sure I had, but I grew up watching my mom work several jobs and still struggle to pay bills. I've told Tanner that when I started working at 16, I would actually turn my paychecks over to my mom because it made me feel better knowing that I was helping to alleviate some of the stress she was under and that I would much rather give her the money than go and spend it on something frivolous and watch her continue to struggle financially. A few years ago, none of this would penetrate as far as Tanner was concerned. He just wouldn't generalize this story to his own experience, but I could actually see him comparing situations and later, he brought me $6 of his allowance to "help" us pay rent bless his heart. I told him to keep it, but to try and keep in mind how hard dad and I were working and how stressed we were this month and to try to give us a break. For the most part, he's been better about it, but we still have a few moments here and there where he gets upset about not being able to do something that costs money.

Anyway, all things considered, things are looking up. I hope to be blogging a lot more this month, but this past week, with the illness, not being able to go on the trip, thanksgiving kind of being a bust and then the anniversary of my mom's death (jan 28th) I just kind of decided to give myself a break and get through it all. I'm sorry to have worried some of you! Thanks for checking in on me, it makes me feel good and thankful to have your support :)

My goals for this month are to get back to walking regularly, continue to track my food each day and STAY OUT OF THE DARN HOSPITAL!! What goals are you setting for yourself this month?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back from the hospital..yes AGAIN!

I'm sure some of you were wondering what happened to me. What about the interview, my upcoming vacation, etc. Well, nix everything because I ended up in the hospital again. It was the same problem I had a few weeks ago with my stomach; most specifically, my small bowel mesentery . For whatever reason, the mesentery and vascular network is getting inflamed which causes the small bowel to thicken and hurt like you wouldn't believe; I can only compare the cramping to childbirth as the pain builds to an unbearable gut-wrenching pain, radiating throughout your stomach and back and then subsides only to recur a few moments later. I don't even remember the first two days in the hospital because I was so drugged up on pain medication.

I'm still pretty wiped out so I'm going to keep this short (the previous post was written before I got sick). I went into the hospital on Wednesday and just got out yesterday evening. They wanted to keep me through Monday, but they couldn't find anyplace to start a new IV (for some antibiotics they have me on mainly) as I kept blowing them. When this last one blew, I refused to be stuck again as they had literally tried about every vein in both forearms and were discussing putting in a picc line. At the moment, both forearms are swollen, the right more so than the left...I'm a little concerned about it actually as it is a bit inflamed and warm to the touch..I'm guessing it may be cellulitis, but I'll call the doc. I'm on two high powered antibiotics, so that should help.

They basically checked me for any and all diseases that could cause vasculitis, many of which I'd never heard of (Whipple's disease) and some I was familiar with (Lymphoma, Lupus, etc.). Every test they ran came back negative and the small bowel study just told them what they already knew from the CT scan....that the mesentery and small bowel was inflamed. The radiologist that did my small bowel study happened to have just read an article that Lisinopril (my blood pressure med)had been linked to vasculitis so they took me off lisinopril and put me on some other med.

Like last time, I began to get better in the hospital before they really started any treatment other than IV fluids. The pain started to lessen and my white count went back down before they made the decision to try antibiotics, so essentially I was improving on my own which got me thinking. I don't think it was the lisinopril because I continued to take that in the hospital last time and after I was released and I was fine. However, I remembered that I had started the birth control pill my gyno had put me on, Low-ogestrel, about a week before being hospitalized the first time. While I was in the hospital, I didn't take it because I didn't have it with me. When I got out, I had missed so many days, I just decided to wait a few weeks and start the next one when I would have had I continued with the initial pack. I started the new pack almost a week to the day before getting sick again. Both times, I finished about a week's worth of this medication before going into the hospital. I mentioned it to the doctors, but they didn't seem to think it was a likely culprit. Maybe not, but at the moment, it makes the most sense.

They wanted to do a biopsy tomorrow, but honestly, I don't know if that will give them anymore information and I was READY to go home. I figure IF I get sick again, I'll let them do the biopsy at that point. For now, I have discontinued the lisinopril and the low-ogestrel and I'm hoping for the best.

The very big downside to this is that we won't be going to Indiana to visit my family which is a huge disappointment to Tanner and myself. I'm very happy to be feeling better, but we were really looking forward to this trip. I also obviously didn't get to do the interview with Dr. Duperier which was also disappointing, but oh well...maybe some other time.

Another activity idea Tanner and I are exploring...

Ok, so most of you know I have been brainstorming lots of ways to remain active. I know that the only way I’m going to continue to lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off is to not only incorporate exercise into my daily life, but to change my LIFESTYLE. I am also trying to have enough variability that Tanner doesn’t get bored with what we are doing. I mentioned that we are looking at the Kinect and the adult trikes, but we have also talked about taking Karate lessons together (there is a karate place right up the road that we could easily bike to).

Out of all the sports, I’ve probably always had a little more interest in baseball, both as a spectator and as a player. Not that I’ve ever really played all that much outside of PE, but I got to wondering about getting some equipment (a bat, mitt, etc) so that we might brush up on our skillz. I was thinking if we could improve Tanner’s maybe we could see about having him join a local deaf league.

I think I’ve mentioned my love for “fantasy shopping” before and I recently discovered and it has become a favorite for that sort of thing for sure! They have everything lol. Tanner and I started doing a little fantasy shopping of our own and decided to see what sort of bats they recommended. We found the Easton SV2 first and as we started looking around that particular website, never realized how many different kinds of bats there are; tee ball bats, fast pitch bats, etc. Not sure what is different about them all as they all seem to look the same, but I’m sure there must be a difference.

We have a great backyard so I wouldn’t have to worry so much about Tanner sending a rogue ball flying into the next door neighbor’s window. Of course now that I’ve said that, he’ll find a way to damage something lol. I should probably outfit him in something like these youth catchers gear outfits to keep him from braining himself lol! I think I’ll do myself a favor though and skip the nike baseball cleats , those just seem like asking for trouble to place a pair on Tanner’s feet. He gets his coordination from his momma!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weigh in. I am no longer stalled!

I had Erik snap a picture of me yesterday and thought I'd share it. Not a huge change since my last round of pictures, but I'm slowly getting happier about what I see staring back at me!

When I stepped on the scale this morning I was at 338!! I'm really loving THAT! I honestly don't think I've been this weight since 2000? Just amazing! Hopefully the coffee calamity I discovered last week was the problem and now that I've adjusted things, I'll keep losing at a regular pace. I'm a bit behind my goal due to the three week stall. I was supposed to be closer to 319 by about this time, but I'm just happy to be losing again!

I'm looking forward to the TV interview this Thursday. If there is an online version I can share with you (and I haven't said anything to embarrass myself, I'll share it with you!). Still need to decide what to wear.

Before I know it, Monday will be here and Tanner and I will be off to Indiana to see our family! I can't wait :) Hopefully we won't annoy them too much. The only downside to visiting family is I've begun to fantasize and crave all my childhood favorites. My grandfather makes these amazing homemade noodles that we usually spoon over mashed potatoes...yes, that is nothing but carbs, carbs and more carbs. Seriously, they are delicious. I may have to allow myself some at some point. I'll just have to make a small batch because they are definitely a trigger for a binge.

I'm not going to sweat what I eat while I'm up there too much. I didn't want my aunt stressing about making me low carb options when I can only take about 5 bites at any meal. As long as I'm not grazing all day, I don't think I can do too much damage. I'll try to make as many good choices as I can and indulge a bit on Thanksgiving.

How are you guys planning on getting through Thanksgiving without wrecking your diet?

If you are a seafood lover like me, this might be of interest to you!

Many of you know that seafood is a popular protein of choice in our household. Heck, when we last ate out (which doesn’t happen often due to finances), we ended up at Red Lobster where all three of us were in Seafood Heaven.

Since my surgery, fish and shellfish has definitely become at least a once-a-week addition to our menu. Some of our favorites are orange roughy fixed several ways; Tanner’s favorite is Orange Roughy with Citrus Sauce. We also love salmon and just about any kind of shellfish.

Because we have increased our fish and shellfish consumption, I started thinking about how I could ensure we were getting the freshest seafood as some of the selections we had purchased from our local market seemed less than fresh once I went to cook it. Since I do so much online shopping, I began to wonder if there was a way to order fresh fish online.

Honestly, I thought it was probably a shot in the dark…I mean, if you can’t get fresh fish from your local market, how likely is it you are going to be able to order it online? Imagine my surprise when I came across an online fish market that offers a wide variety of fresh fish and shellfish. Not only are the prices competitive with local market prices, but you can buy from them knowing that you are purchasing from a source that specializes in providing sustainable seafood (this means that they have my eye on their Bay Scallops as I found this recipe I'd love to try with a few adaptations to make it more low-carb friendly. I will get back to you guys when I give it a try!

What is your favorite kind of seafood?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tofu Shirataki Pasta Review and my growing obsession with owning a Kinect

I just gave tofu shirataki noodles a try. I’ve had some fettuccini noodles and some spaghetti noodles for a few weeks now, but I think I’ve been a bit scared to try them. I’ve heard mixed reviews and I guess I just really wanted to like them, but was a bit scared about what they were going to taste like.

Apparently, they are made by blending the root of the Konnyaku, which is a member of the yam family, and tofu. A four ounce serving is just 20 calories and has 3g of carbs. They arrive packaged as you see them above in some kind of liquid. From other reviews I’d read, I knew to rinse them in some warm water prior to eating, but apparently they don’t really need to be “cooked.” Some people mentioned cooking them for a few minutes in hot water to improve the texture, but I figured for the first go ‘round, I’d just try them without boiling them first.

They look just like fettuccini noodles and to my hands (as I rinsed them), they felt like pasta so I was hopeful. I made some low-carb alfredo sauce using this recipe and cooked up some shrimp (which we LOVE!) to go along with it. The alfredo sauce came out great and I mixed a small amount in with the noodles, spooned out a small portion for myself, a slightly larger portion for Tanner, added the shrimp and rang the dinner bell.

My first bite was kind of …hmm. The consistency is kind of like a clam only not as chewy. It is like biting into a clam in that it is kind of slippery against your teeth and has a tiny bit of resistance as you bite into the noodles; very little resistance, but enough to realize you aren’t eating pasta. Tanner slurped it up, but I don't really think he chews his food. He didn’t get or ask for seconds, but he isn’t feeling great so that may be why. When I asked him what he thought of the pasta, he said “It was kinda good” so take that however you want to. I still have the spaghetti so next time I will boil it for a few minutes and see if that improves the texture and update you guys. For now, I have to say I’m not in a hurry to buy it again. If you want to try them for yourself, I bought mine at The Low Carb Connoisseur for $2.84 a package.

While we are talking about Tanner, I wanted to let you guys know that he has lost 4 lbs since we started him on the low-carb diet! He was so excited yesterday when he weighed himself. He also attributed it to the workout he’s been getting when he and his class visit Best Buy and use the Kinect there.

Speaking of Kinect, I’ve decided I have to have one of these! I had decided that I was going to get a Wii Fit when I got under 330 since that is the weight limit, but a friend of mine recently bought Kinect for the Xbox and shared a video of herself (apparently it can take pics or video as you work out with it) playing one of the dancing games. I have to say…it was HIGH-larious!! I can only imagine how freaking funny it would be to video Tanner and I working out as we both have ZERO coordination. I’m not sure when we will be able to afford it, but I definitely want one! This definitely looks like the toy of the Christmas season by the way as many places already have them on backorder so if you or your kiddos are wanting your own, you better get on the ball and purchase one now! What a fun way for us to get some exercise!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Michelle's Recipe for SUPER FREAKING HARD boiled eggs.

This just in... I can't cook.

Michelle's Recipe for SUPER HARD boiled eggs:
1. Fill perfectly good pan with water.
2. Add eggs.
3. Place on stove on medium high.
4. Distract yourself with something for the next two hours.
5. Remove from stove when eggs start exploding and smoke alarms start going off.
6. Toss pan and eggs in the trash.

Nutritional information: Zero calories, Zero carbs, Zero Fat (unless you are gross and actually eat them)

I won't be adding this to my Bitchin' Kitchen!

BLAST my inadequate food journaling!!!

Ok, so I woke up today and I am STILL at 347! I've been stalled for what 3-4 weeks now and I'm not lovin' it! I stay positive most of the time, but darnit! I want to get into the 330's!!

So, I looked at my food journal. Lately I haven't been putting in certain things like the coffee I have in the morning with agave nectar and this belgian toffee creamer thing Erik got and hated. I figured I'd go ahead and use it in my coffee, how bad could it be? I eat so little, a "little" (I don't really measure, but I like my coffee creamy so it's probably more than the average bear)creamer in my coffee and a "dash" (i usually take the top off and pour a little "gloop" of agave into my cup) of agave nectar. I think there may have been a little voice in my head saying "Micheeeelllleee, you may want to rethink your creamer and sweetener choice or at least post it in your food log" but nay...I ignored this voice. My morning cup of coffee is my little piece of heaven...I was really enjoying this whole combination of belgian chocolate toffee flavored goodness mixed with the no-aftertaste agave. *sigh*

So, today I decided to go ahead and log my coffee concoction just to see if it might be the reason I'm stalling and lo and behold, it may very well be the reason I'm maintaining. I figured 2 tblsp of agave (not sure if I actually use that much or not, but I will sheepishly admit that it probably isn't out of the realm of possibility) is 120 mother freaking calories and 26 fracking carbs!!! Then I moved onto the serving is 4 tsp and I would say that is a very modest estimate for how much I put in my coffee. Cha-Ching! This adds another 60 calories and another 9 carbs. I basically drank and entire day's worth of carbs people!

I can't really think of anything else that I'm doing that might be impacting my weight loss right now so I'm going to start with my coffee (probably using almond milk or heavy cream...which has fewer carbs than creamer or lighten it up and truvia to add a little sweetener and I will LOG it in my journal. Hopefully this is the problem and we'll see better numbers next week, but let this be a lesson to all my fellow diet kiddies out there...JOURNAL EVERYTHING YOU PUT IN YOUR MOUTH!

Apart from not losing anything in several weeks, I must say that I am looking pretty darn FABULOUS! I'll try to get some pictures taken even though there probably isn't much change from the last group.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My current top 10 things I love about my life post-surgery

1. Being able to stand for as long as I want to without my calves screaming in agony.
2. Walking without the limping gait I sported 5 months ago because my knees hurt.
3. Going out in public and "blending" in. I'm still a big girl, but like Chris noted in one of her comments, I'm more like all the other fat people in the world. Instead of being freak show fat, I'm more your average fat me, after experiencing freak show fat, you can be grateful to be just a fat American :)
4. I love that when I go to get a pedicure now, it is actually relaxing! Before, just getting a pedicure was like a pilates workout for me as I often had to hold my legs in awkward positions for periods of time while they filed and buffed, etc!
5. I love doing my hair and makeup now because when I'm done, I actually SEE the pretty me emerging. Before, I'd go to the trouble to make myself up and look in the mirror and see what a waste of time it was. Typically, the effort of getting ready would have me sweating so my hair and makeup would be flat by the time I got done.
6. I love that every time I take time to make myself up, put on something other than a ratty t-shirt and workout capris Tanner asks me where we are going. "Nowhere, I just wanted to look pretty :)" He usually gives me funny looks like I've lost my mind, but that's ok.
7. I really love the moments when Tanner comments on my weight loss. The time we went walking and he was behind me and just popped out with "Wow mom! You are doing great! We've walked a long way" Another time, I came out wearing a new outfit and he said "Wow mom! You are getting skinny!" It just dawned on me that he probably doesn't remember me at this weight. The last time I weighed under 350 lbs he was probably 5, if that old.
8. I LOVE that my progress seems to be motivating Tanner as well. I see him thinking more about his food choices and tracking his weight and I'm proud to finally be having a positive impact on his relationship with food and developing a more active lifestyle.
9. I love the fact that I mostly eat to fuel my body now. I still have the occasional craving, but I can often satisfy it with a tiny taste of whatever it is I'm craving. With all the halloween candy that was in our house, I allowed myself the tiniest bite of a snickers bar Tanner had (I'm talking miniscule bite). It was the first "cheat" I've had since surgery. Not only was I completely satisfied afterwards, but after the bite my reaction was kind of "meh, that was unnecessary." The old me couldn't have stopped at one candy bar much less one bite! It's awesome to not be ruled by my appetite/cravings anymore.
10. I will NEVER get tired of the sense of hope and excitement for my future that I have now. When you have lived several years basically resigned to the fact that you probably will never get the weight off and you really are DONE living at the ripe old age of 38, 39, have that hope back is indescribable.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My 15 Minutes...

Last night I went to set the alarm on my phone (of course forgetting about the time change which means I was up an hour earlier than I should have been this morning…don’t you hate when that happens?) and saw that I had three voicemails that I hadn’t listened to. I’m horrible when it comes to listening to my voicemails. If someone calls me, I’m more apt to just call them back without listening to the message…I know, it’s annoying for most of my friends because when I call THEM, I ramble on until the voicemail gets rude and breaks in with the “Let’s wrap this up because you only have 30 seconds left on this message” message.

So, I call my voicemail and listen to my messages. The second one is from some woman who does the PR for my surgeon. She said that the local TV station is going to be doing an interview with Dr Duperier on the 18th highlighting the VSG and how it can help people with Diabetes. She goes on to say that when they asked him if he had a patient he might like to interview with, he thought of me immediately! Wow! I was pretty floored, but honored that he would think of me for an opportunity like this.

I called the woman back this morning and she explained that they really wanted someone whose life had been dramatically changed by the surgery and of course I confirmed the amazing changes I’ve experienced in the 5 months since my own surgery. I told her that I would be happy to do the interview with him so it looks like it is going to happen November 18th!

I’m scared to death because I tend to get diarrhea of the mouth (I know, shocker) when I’m nervous and any filter I might normally have between my brain and my mouth disappears. This condition has been loosely diagnosed as Foot-in-mouth disease. The segment is going to be rather short (1-2 minutes) and I’m sure Dr Duperier is going to do most of the talking so how much trouble can I get myself into REALLY? If you know me, don’t answer that!

Overall, I am very honored to know they thought of me and I am excited to share whatever I can about how the VSG surgery has changed my life in such a short period of time. It is exciting to think that someone might see this segment and how it has changed my life and possibly motivate them to begin their own adventure down the same path.

Just call me "Grace"

Note: I meant to post this Saturday so keep that in mind reading this post.

Well, I seem to be recovering from whatever ailment I had last week. I had a minor setback yesterday at lunch though. I had some buffalo wings left over from a Pizza Hut order the night before and had three at lunch. You know how much meat is on those things (not much). I’m lucky if it was an ounce of chicken between all three, but I honestly think 2 is my absolute limit. I hadn’t had much that morning (just a protein shake, coffee and some crystal light) so I figured I’d throw one more in there to get more protein in. I ate too fast and I think it must have gotten stuck because 10 minutes later I was in the bathroom with the “foamies.”

Basically, the “foamies” are when you get nausea and vomiting, but nothing really comes up…just kind of foamy spit (lovely I know). I had to log out of work a few hours early so that I could lie down. I tried to stick it out, but it soon became apparent that I might actually end up retching while I had a customer on the line which probably wouldn’t have been good for business.

When I woke up later, I was good as new so perhaps my stomach/intestines are still sensitive. They could actually still be a bit swollen which may mean I’m more likely to have things get “stuck.” I’ll just have to be careful and chew really well I suppose.

Prior to the chicken getting stuck, I had another exciting thing happen while trying to give our stubborn black lab his twice a day meds. He has gotten so stubborn that now, even if I manage to hide his pills in a pill pocket, piece of cheese or bread, etc. he will chomp it until it breaks apart and then eat everything BUT the darn pills; this from a dog that we have to keep from eating his own crap. Somehow his own crap is more appetizing than a few teeny tiny pills, go figure.

Lately, I have had to resort to forcing his mouth open, shoving the pill pocket back as far as I can and then closing his mouth and massaging his throat to get him to swallow. Yesterday, he somehow managed to spit it back out and Paxton (our pain in the rear Pomeranian) snatched it up and ran for my bedroom (he has a hoarding problem and keeps all his “treasures” under my bed where nobody can follow him…he needs help). I jumped up out of the chair to run after him and somehow managed to trip over my own feet falling knee first onto our ceramic tiled floor…yeah, felt great!

I must have scared the crap out of Paxton because he spit the pill pocket out and hid under my bed. Poor Thunder came over to check on me while I was trying to get over the worst of the initial pain and stayed with me until I pulled myself up. 5 months ago, there is NO way I could have pulled myself up off the floor UNINJURED and here I was, feeling as if I’d been hit by a semi yet able to get back on my feet without any special assistance. It is nice when you can find the positive in a painful and embarrassing experience isn’t it?

Today, my body literally aches all over. I’m bruised and battered, but doing surprisingly well considering the impact my poor knee experienced yesterday. I can only imagine how bad that fall would have been 5 months ago!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bike update and the trials and tribulations of converting our family to a Low Carb Lifestyle

I just got off the phone with the guy we’ve been talking to about our bikes. I think I’ve decided to get both Tanner and I adult tricycles. Tanner has to have one because of his balance issues (from the meningitis) and I think that initially, it will work better for me since I have a history of back problems, etc. I also think it will be helpful since we will most likely be using our bikes to get around our immediate area at some point (get to the grocery store, local shops, maybe even to some karate classes down the street) and the tricycles will have a nice big basket on the back that can be used to transport groceries or whatever else we might need to take with us. I continue to lament being a single car sucks.

Initially, I found an adult trike at Walmart that was around $250 and I thought we could probably just purchase that for both of us and save us quite a bit of money, but I recently learned that the trikes Walmart sells are only a one speed. Due to Tanner’s low muscle tone (also due to the meningitis...not to be confused with the general low muscle STRENGTH that comes from being just being lazy lol), he really will need the 3-speed. I’m thinking that initially, a 3-speed would probably be better for me as well as I work on increasing my own strength. The 3-speeds are going to cost us around $430 a piece of which I have $200.00 saved so far (some of that is money my grandfather gave Tanner for his birthday to put toward his own bicycle).

I would really like to get the bikes purchased in the next few months, but we’ll have to see. Something always seems to happen whenever we get ahead a bit financially which is frustrating, but that’s life. This recent hospitalization means I was out of work without pay for a week and Erik also was out of work (his night job) without pay. However, the good thing is that Erik’s second job (the day job) has him in a fairly consistent placement through the end of the year so we can count on his income to make up the difference. I also have another job I can work a few hours a day (it is monotonous as hell) that will help make up the difference so I’m sure we’ll be fine :)

On another front, our entire household is trying to convert to the low-carb lifestyle. I have to say that Erik has been fairly resistant to the whole switch (he’s always hated low-carbing because he is such a carb-o-holic) so it has been frustrating for me. He seems to be making more of a concerted effort now, but I can tell he really is not embracing the whole switch. Tanner isn’t exactly in love with it either, but has agreed to give it a try for at least the next month. We’ve had a few minor meltdowns when Tanner learned he couldn’t have mac and cheese, but I’m going to be trying some tofu shirataki noodles in the next week or so; we’ll see what he thinks of those.

I suggested trying to have us ALL on a lower carb diet because I really think it will help Tanner. He is on medication that makes him hungry all the time and I'm hoping that low carbing will help curb his appetite to some degree and give him more energy. Several years ago, the neurologist prescribing these meds indicated that he should probably be on a low carb diet, but at the time, we had bigger behavioral fish to fry. Right now, I'm mainly concerned about the fact that he hasn't been on a low carb diet but has been eating the meals I make in the evening and snacking on some of my low carb foods at other times. As most of you know, when you are on a low carb diet, you basically are changing the way your body metabolizes food and fat. While a low carb diet may be higher in fat, because your body is actually metabolizing it differently, you can still lose weight. As a matter of fact, trying to do a low carb, low fat diet often results in mediocre weight loss at best because you need to eat fat to burn fat when low carbing. However, if you are on a low fat diet and eat the occasional low carb meal (which is likely higher in fat), you are going to gain weight. My worry has been that Tanner will probably begin to put weight back on if he isn't low carbing with me. So we are experimenting and will have to see if the guys in the family survive. You'd think I was STARVING them with the moaning and complaining they've been doing lol! I'm hoping it will get easier as they get over their carb withdrawal.

I'm trying to make it easier on them by trying new recipes and I've actually had some success with quite a few so far. I made some banana nut flax seed muffins that turned out pretty good, but Tanner wasn't a fan of the banana flavor so I'm going to try and adapt it to a blueberry muffin or chocolate chip peanut butter muffin (made with SF chocolate and SF peanut butter of course) and see how he likes that.

Before I went into the hospital, I made some flax seed foccacia bread using this recipe, but I tweaked it a bit (I added some italian seasoning, minced onion and sundried tomatoes) and it tasted very similar to stove top stuffing so it may be a good holiday substitute for us this year. Yesterday, I made this mock baked potato casserole that I adapted from a sparkpeople recipe and Tanner went back for seconds so it is nice to know that he will accept some of the mock substitutes now and then. I made it with more green onion and didn’t include the bacon (mainly because I was lazy and didn't feel like cooking the bacon...I also had Tanner breathing down my neck for dinner lol). Honestly, it was a really flavorful substitute for mashed potatoes. The consistency was a bit off (a bit “softer” than I would like) so I may try to make it again and tweak it a bit until I’m happy with the consistency and then I’ll post it on my recipe blog.

On the weigh-in front...I'm back to 350 today so headed back down again which is good. Doing my best to stay hydrated. So far, so good!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spent a few days in the hospital again...BOO

Hey all. Sorry for my absence of late, but I have been one sick puppy. I mentioned that I just wasn’t feeling great the last few weeks and the bloodwork I had done may explain some of it. Apparently my thiamine (B1) was low and after looking up the symptoms that can be caused by low thiamine levels, I saw that it explained quite a few of the problems I was having:

"The most common symptoms of thiamine deficiency are irritability, fatigue, poor concentration and memory loss. These are the early thiamine deficiency signs. If the deficiency continues, then peripheral nueropathy can take place due to damage to the peripheral nervous system. The symptoms of this condition are muscle weakness, mainly in the legs, loss of sensation, and tingling or burning sensation in the legs."

I bolded the symptoms I was having in addition to the gastrointestinal problems the article goes on to describe as "other symptoms" of thiamine deficiency. So, I'm going to see about getting some B1 and start taking my supplements the way I should.

I don't know if the thiamine problem led to the problem that ultimately landed me in the hospital this week, but I suppose it could have contributed to it. Sunday night, I was in the ER because I thought I was developing a blood clot in my right calf. It had been tender to the touch and I wasn't sure if it was a clot or low potassium, but I continued to watch for signs of swelling, fever in the area, itching, etc. By Sunday night, my ankle had started to swell and itch and I mentioned it to Erik who freaked out and demanded that I go to the hospital. I tried to talk him out of it because honestly, I figured I would be fine until the next day. I had to work that night for a few hours and I just wasn't up to a trip to the ER. Erik wouldn't hear it though. Ever since my surgery, he's been extremely cautious when it comes to my health which I guess is a good thing. Anyway, he came home from work, we went to the ER where we spent about 4 hours.

They did an ultrasound of my leg, and I actually learned something I didn't know about blood clots...they aren't so concerned about clots in the peripheral or superficial veins (like the one we suspected was in my calf), but more in the deep veins that run along the front of the leg. The ultrasound didn't find a clot in those veins so they sent me home with orders to try to walk every couple of hours (since I'd been feeling like crap for over a week, I hadn't been getting much activity) and hydrate my body as much as I could since my blood was kind of thick which meant I was dehydrated (again!).

The next day my leg was actually feeling better so I thought I was on the mend. That night, I made dinner and by the time I sat down to dinner with the guys I just felt SO exhausted. Erik could hear it in my gets very hoarse when I'm super dehydrated (which makes sense really as my vocal folds are probably as dry as the rest of my body). I was talking to him about how I was feeling and was gesturing or signing (I can't remember) with my hands and I just dropped my hands in my lap and said "I'm so tired, even using my hands like this wears me out." He ordered me to keep drinking for the rest of the night and I agreed that dehydration was probably my biggest problem.

Some of you may wonder what my problem is with staying hydrated. Sometimes, it is just that I get busy and don't think about drinking. If I don't have something right by me, I get working and put it off until I've lost valuable hours of hydration opportunity, but lately I've been more diligent about making sure I always have something nearby.

Another factor that makes staying hydrated a challenge is that getting TOO much liquid on my stomach seems to make me nauseous. I can't drink straight water anymore (it upsets the Ph of my stomach and brings on instant nausea) so I always have to "doctor" it with at least a bit of lemon and stevia/splenda (I'm currently trying to switch from splenda to stevia and agave at the urging of my good friend Nick). So, I have to find the perfect "balance" between drinking enough to keep my body hydrated, yet not so much that it makes me nauseous. I still haven't gotten this down quite yet.

Finally, probably the BIGGEST foil to staying hydrated are my damn blood pressure meds. I've been on lisinopril HCTZ which has a diuretic in it so if I take it, it makes me instantly pee out most of the fluids I'm ingesting which means I have to drink twice as much as I probably would need to drink otherwise. My primary care doc recently prescribed the lisinopril without the diuretic, but I'm trying out the prescriptions by mail thing and it has taken them FOR-FREAKING-EVER to get my meds to me. I stopped my blood pressure meds for a week prior to the ER clot visit because of the hydration issues and my BP in the ER was super high so I had to start them again. I'm hoping the new BP meds come tomorrow. We'll see how I do without the diuretic. I'm hoping that the BP will eventually take care of itself as I get more weight off, but I don't know. I have a family history of high BP, so it may just be the luck of the draw. Regardless, getting the weight off and getting more active aren't going to make the problem worse right?

So....that brings us to Wednesday morning. I woke up for work and actually felt ok. I had absolutely NO appetite, but that isn't unusual for me really. I usually get signed in for work, get set up and then make myself a protein shake or coffee. I typically wait until my first break to make my breakfast. I noticed that I was having what felt like gas pains in my upper stomach area. It was the sort of pain/cramping that starts...gets worse as the gas expands an area of your intestine and then subsides. Although I'd only had a few bites of sausage and egg taco the night before (my first foray into low carb tortillas ...they were delicious by the way), I began to wonder if my rearranged guts were having a problem with the tortilla. I asked Erik how he was feeling and he mentioned that he wasn't feeling all that great either, but the night before he went on a binge that made me ill to watch so I couldn't really use him as a gauge. Tanner was fine so I couldn't figure out what was causing my problem. The pain seemed to get worse as time went by so I went and laid down in between calls hoping that if I straightened out, maybe the gas would work through my system. I even took some gas x strips to no avail.

I then realized that I had forgotten to take my effexor the day before and withdrawal from effexor can cause gastrointestinal problems so I took the pill and forced myself to eat a bite or two of the sausage and egg the night before to make sure it didn't upset my stomach. The food came right back up within a minute or two. I think it was at that point that I knew we weren't just dealing with a "gas" problem.

I told my supervisor that I wasn't feeling good and was going to have to go for the day and immediately called my doctor's office. The PA mentioned that sometimes bready products (even low carb products) can sometimes cause a blockage and that warm orange juice can sometimes help break it up. She made an appointment for me that afternoon, but told me to come in earlier if I had any other problems. I immediately warmed up some orange juice, took a few sips and within a minute was having a fairly violent vomiting episode. By then, I was shaking, white as a sheet and in such pain I was doing Lamaze breathing to cope. I texted Erik to come home and get me to the doctor.

We got to the doctor's office where they had me do a barium swallow. Even as sick as I was, I was AMAZED to SEE what my new stomach looked like on this test! Seriously guys, I had no freaking idea it was as small as it is. Just to give you a way to visualize spine looked about the size of a sturdy PVC pipe and my stomach in comparison to that looked like a fuzzy piece of yarn...THAT THIN! Until she pointed it out, I was trying to figure out why the barium looked like it was going through a vein or artery when I knew it was moving through my digestive system. The "vein" was actually my stomach. Now granted, it wasn't full or stretched at all, but it certainly explains why a few bites fills me up...AMAZING.

We could see the barium work through my stomach and then just pool in an area just outside my stomach which made them think that I did have some kind of obstruction. They decided to admit me to the hospital so that they could get some bloodwork done and do a CT scan to see what was really going on.

They discovered that, once again, I was very dehydrated and started pumping me with fluids. I think I probably had about 5 bags of fluid before I even started peeing again (incidentally, I went into the hospital at 347 and came home at 358...I wasn't eating in the hospital so that should tell you how much they were pushing the fluids). The first CT they did showed that I had an area of my small intestine that was "thickened" and the blood supply to that area showed some irritation. They mentioned something about my white count being high and something else being out of whack. They said that what they saw could be caused by several different things ranging from a viral infection to Chron's disease. The only way to really diagnose the problem was to go in surgically, but of course nobody was interested in doing that right off the bat. They elected to keep me there for observation and redo the CT scan in a few days to see if it was resolving on its own.

That night I needed demerol to get any kind of sleep at all as the cramping was fairly constant. I seriously felt like I was in the final stages of labor as the pain had begun to radiate out to include my entire abdomen and back. Lying on my side hurt because any pressure on my abdomen hurt as if I had done a day's worth of situps or let someone use my abdomen for kick boxing practice. The demerol did help though and, apart from the fact that hospitals seem to think the middle of the freaking night is the perfect time to get all the ordered labwork done, I got some sleep.

To make this very long and probably very boring story just a tad shorter...I began to show improvement slowly. I was able to go for longer periods the next day without pain meds and soon, my bowel started talking to the nurses again and the next CT scan showed that whatever was going on in my small intestine seemed to be improving. The doctors are assuming I had some kind of infection in that section of my bowel which was probably complicated by the dehydration and I was discharged Friday evening.

Today is the first day I've felt somewhat like my old self although I'm still pretty gun-shy about eating. The last few days I lived on mashed potatoes and mac and cheese..totally NOT on my diet, but they were the only things that didn't make me want to hurl when I thought about eating. This morning I had a few bites of scrambled egg and chorizo and will probably attempt a protein shake here in a few minutes.

I think I'm probably over this latest hump, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it has really depressed me. I'll probably whine a bit more about that in another post though. I'll get over it and I'm sure as I start to feel better, it will subside, but for now....yeah I'm feeling pretty low :(

Incidentally, apart from the dehydration, I don't think this intestinal problem was due to the surgery at all. I probably would have gotten sick regardless of the surgery.