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Archive for December, 2010

I’m still here!!!

I have 5 incisions in my belly, lots of pain, and a band around my stomach! Yay! I didn’t eat anything yesterday but a little broth and a little cup of jello, which totally filled me up. I really have to make sure I get the protein in, but it’s hard when I’m in so much pain and not at all hungry. I had a little bit of a protein shake earlier, and am about to have some broth now.

Stay tuned for new developments. Oh, and by the way, I dropped 12 pounds in the pre-op diet! Yay!

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Just Thinkin’

We had a lovely Christmas. I have to start with that. It was just wonderful. Joe and I went down to Galveston with the Autrey family, who are closer than just friend, and we had a blast. The kids loved being in a hotel–they could have driven the staff crazy, but they’re so cute that the staff loved having them around. They swam a lot in the indoor pool. We also were able to go to the Johnson Space Center. If you ever get the chance, you really should go. We even had the rare opportunity to visit the live mission control room instead of the historic room, and they had placed a small icon for Santa on the radar. Fun. We were unable, alas, to go to the Festival of Lights at Moody Garden, as Christmas night was really cold and really really windy. We did visit the beach a couple of times, and made a quick stop at the Strand. It was fun spoiling not just the kids, but their parents, abso-stinkin’-lutely rotten. :):):)

I’ve read a billion books this year, and haven’t updated my books read page in eons. My apologies for that. I’ll at least get the titles and authors of most of them up there. And there’s no way I’ll be able to update my movies seen page, so I’m just going to delete it. The best laid plans and all that.

Speaking of movies, Joe and I saw Tron last week. We liked it so much we saw it again on Christmas with the Autreys. They liked it a lot, too, and with reason–it’s fantastic. I’ve also seen Voyage of the Dawn Treader twice, and it’s quite good. I do miss Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep, but their Eustace Scrubb was just brilliant. And Izzy and I made it out to see True Grit last night. I can’t praise it highly enough, and the girl who plays Mattie steals the show. Jeff Bridges made a more than respectable substitute for The Duke, and Matt Damon was delicious, especially when he was insulting Mattie. Loved it!

Tomorrow’s the day. I have to be at the hospital by 6 a.m., the surgery is scheduled for 7 a.m., and I’ll be back home after, in the words of the nurse who did my pre-op, I manage to breathe into the breathing thingie, drink some water without vomiting, and walk to the bathroom and go tinkle. I’m really excited. Joe got us a hotel room tonight that’s near the hospital, which is nice, since I have to shower both tonight and in the morning with some special soap they gave me. Izzy and I went to Barnes & Noble last night to put some books on our nooks–that’ll give me something to read for a while. (I already have over 600 books on it [most free and out of print], so it’s not like I’m lacking. But still, I like to be prepared.)

I know I’m huge. I know what sizes my clothes have been and I see myself in the mirror, rolls, double chin, everything. But seeing myself through a camera lens just shocks me somehow. Pat & Joe took lots of photographs over Christmas, and I wanted to delete every one that had me in it. I don’t see myself as that fat. I look in the mirror, and think I look pretty good, and then I see a photo someone took two hours later and I look ghastly. I’m all pleased because I’ve already lost 10 pounds or so with this liquid diet, and I’m back into smaller jeans, and then see the photo and there’s no definition to my face because it’s obscured by all the fat. It’s not healthy, and it’s just not how I perceive myself. It’s weird.

Apropos of nothing, when I was a kid in elementary school, our geography book had a photograph of an Inuit. The woman was elderly, and extremely wrinkled. Somehow I managed to connect her wrinkles with being Alaskan rather than her age, and would pinch together some skin on my arm to make it wrinkle, and think to myself, That’s what I’d look like if I were from Alaska. I have a few wrinkles, none bad yet, and see them in the mirror and no longer think I must be turning Alaskan, just getting older.

Joe’s brother is interviewing for a job in the Dallas area. Please say a prayer for him–he really needs a job, and it would be lovely to have him and his family close by.

And say a prayer for me, please, because I’m excited and nervous and wondering how everything’s going to go and if I can really get this weight off once and for all, and start looking on the outside like I feel about myself on the inside.

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Happy Christmas!

I’m heading south to Galveston tomorrow morning. Our plans include touring the Johnson Space Center, perhaps going to Moody Gardens, visiting the Strand, and having a great time with our best friends.

I hope you all have a happy Christmas, and I’ll be checking back in early next week.

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If you’re getting ready to have bariatric surgery, and your surgeon has ordered a pre-op liquid diet, you may be feeling apprehensive about it. After all, if you had the discipline to follow such a strict diet, you might not be needing to have bariatric surgery.

Fear not! It’s not as bad as you think. After a very rocky first week, I’m doing fine now. So here are the survival tips that have worked for me. I hope you find something that will work for you!

1. Have some friends that you can complain to as often as you need to. This is the most important thing. Seriously. I thought I’d only be griping for a day or two, but it turned out to be more like a week. If you don’t have any friends that you feel comfortable griping to, shoot me an email at chauceriangirl(at)gmail(dot)com, and gripe away! And I’m giving a shout-out here to the incomparable Izzybella and to Elle for never complaining to me about griping too much. They are the bestest!

2. Sugar-free Jell-O is your friend. I have tried both the Jell-O brand and the Hunt’s snack packs, and I vastly prefer the Jell-O. They have more flavours available in the pre-made little cups, which is nice. Initially I tried having a cup of Jell-O halfway between time for the next shake, but when I switched to having a cup immediately after my shake, I found that I stayed satisfied for longer.

3. My doctor’s office said I can have one cup of broth a day, but no more than that due to the high sodium count. And I have high blood pressure already, so I definitely have to watch my sodium. After you’ve been feasting on sweet shakes, sweet sugar-free Jell-O, etc., you get in the mood for something savoury. I like having it either when I get home from work or before bed. It’s like a meal. And it is really satisfying.

4. Get a shaker bottle. I found one for $6 at a kitchen & bathroom themed store, and it works great. And get a couple, even, because yesterday I left mine at work and had to try to stir my dinner shake into submission. It would have been nice to have one at home, too.

5. Keep a couple of extra shake packets with you. I’d been bringing just the 4 I needed during the day, and the day I accidentally made chocolate lemonade meant I had one less shake. That was an extremely hungry day, and it could have been avoided if I’d had the foresight to have an extra packet of shake powder with me.

6. Stay hydrated. Drink a lot. Yeah, you’ll pee a lot, and it’s annoying, but it’s really, really important to stay hydrated. If you get tired of water, get some of those flavour packets. I found some Ocean Spray On the Go packets the other day, and got some cran-grape flavour. I actually dumped a packet of it into a large iced tea, and it tasted seriously good. Of course, you don’t want to drink too much tea or coffee, as they’re diuretics, but a bit every now and again won’t hurt you unless your doctor has ordered you to get off of them completely. Always follow your doctor’s orders!

If you’ve done this, and have any additional suggestions, please leave a comment. There’s always something to learn!

EDITED TO ADD:

7. Stay away from the mall if you can, especially at Christmas time. I went to Grapevine Mills last night, and wow–was it hard. There was a pretzel stand right where I came in, sending waves of aroma my way, but I nobly resisted. Then they were offering free samples at the gelato stand. I said no, thank you, and kept walking. I passed by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory where I always buy a truffle. Made it past the nut stand where they had those amazing cinnamon covered nuts. Then I see my exit, and make a beeline for it, only to get to the Mrs. Fields cookie shop where they were baking brownies. I thought I was gonna die. I lowered my head and ploughed on, and when I got to my car I ate my last sugar-free Jell-O I had with me. Since I didn’t have a spoon, I ate it with my fingers, laughing at the complete silliness of the situation.

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Doggone smart!

The other night Joe and I were chatting on the phone, and the dogs came in smelling less than fresh. Scout hopped up on the sofa next to me, and I asked him if he had poop on his butt. He gave himself a little sniff, and then Molly came running up and gave some more sniffs.

He didn’t, but how smart of them to check when I asked!

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Mmmm. Chocolate Lemonade.

In case you can’t tell, the title for this post is dripping with sarcasm.

I’m down the first week of the liquid diet. I hate it. Five shakes a day, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. The chocolate (naturally) is my favourite, but they’re not bad. Not unless you do what I did today.

I spend my lunch hour in a comfy arm chair in the foyer of our cafe at work, where I’m not having to watch people eat. And I read on my nook, and visit with Sarah-bear when she’s able to join me, and then just before I go back to my desk to start working again, I take my shaker bottle into the cafe, and get some cold water from the soda fountain to make my 1:30 shake. Today was just like it has been for the last 5 work days: I closed my nook at 1:25, went to the cafe, refilled my tea, got some water in my shaker bottle, paid my 75 cents for the refill, went to my desk, logged into my phone, opened my shaker bottle, opened the packet of chocolate Opti-Fast mix, poured it in, closed my shaker bottle, and did the hippie-hippie-shake until everything was nicely blended.

First sip: Wow. There’s an odd fruity taste. I wonder if somehow a fruit flavoured packet got into my Opti-Fast box. Checked the packet. No, it’s chocolate.

Second sip: I dunno, it really tastes–oh crap! I got lemonade by mistake. Yeah, you get the cold water by pressing the little cold water thingie by the lemonade nozzle. Somehow my brain was asleep and I accidentally filled my bottle with 10 ounces of lemonade.

Third sip: Well, maybe I can get it down. I really am hungry.

Fourth sip: Yeah. Not happening. It’s disgusting.

So I didn’t have my 1:30 shake, and I only had one more packet with me at work for my 4:30 shake. I managed to last until about 4 and then I had to give in and drink it. I feel so empty that even drinking that didn’t really help with the hollow feeling.

In case you’re having trouble imagining what the chocolate lemonade tasted like, try this: Fill a glass with lemonade. Then stir in a few tablespoonsful of Nestle Quick. Mix well and try not to gag on it. Not good.

As the incomparable Izzybella pointed out, lemon truffles are so delicious. Yes, they are. But they’re made of lemony sugary truffley stuff enrobed in thick dark chocolately goodness. Not chocolate powder and lemonade. Just not a good combo. I’m just sayin’.

Otherwise the liquid diet is going okay. Okay as in, just okay, not great. I’m tired of all the sweet stuff. Sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free ice pops, teas sweetened with the yellow packets or with Stevia, and one lone cup of broth a day. I actually gagged on my last serving of sugar-free gelatin yesterday, so I haven’t bought any more yet. I’m going to try to get by with the shakes and the sugar-free pops and the one cup of broth. We’ll see how it goes. Two more weeks of this, then the surgery on the 29th, another two weeks of this, and then I get to graduate to baby food. Trust me when I tell you that sounds just fine to me.

I ran into someone at work who had the surgery several months ago. I didn’t recognize her at first, she’s lost so much weight. And it’s more than just the weight lost. She looks healthier than I’ve ever seen her look before. Very lovely. She said she’ll save her fat work clothes for me, which will be nice since my wardrobe tends to be heavy on jeans and light on anything very nice just because I’ve always felt so bad about my weight. She was really encouraging, and promised that after the surgery the constant hunger I’m currently feeling goes away.

So my pre-op at the surgical center is tomorrow morning, and I have to go fasting. That means I’ll have to miss my 7:30 shake and my 10:30 shake will be postponed until I’m out of the appointment. I foresee that I will be a bit cranky tomorrow. If you have to put up with me, I apologise in advance.

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Bariatric University

That’s what my srugeon’s office calls it. It’s the class where you go and learn about what to do pre-op, what to do the day of and the day after, and what to do post-op, and how to eat and all that fun stuff. Although there’s really no eating to speak of until 4 weeks post-op, when you actually get to try some solid foods. Two weeks post-op you can start with pureed foods, so there’s a little gumming, but not much eating. (Am I bad for saying I’d rather just eat baby food than try to puree chicken in my blender? ‘Cause I would. I’m just sayin’.)

I learned why the surgeon ordered my pre-op liquid diet to last 3 weeks instead of the two they initially told me. It’s because I’ve got a lot of belly fat, and it will make the surgery easier for him to perform if more of that belly fat gets gone between now and then. They said people lose between 5 and 25 pounds on the pre-op diet alone, and that’s before they ever even get banded. I spent $300 on a whole lotta boxes of Op.ti.fast, some chocolate, some vanilla, and some strawberry. Joe’s got gobs of sugar-free Jell-O in the fridge, and I’ll pick up some sugar-free frozen pops tomorrow. And I bought a handy-dandy shaker to mix things up.

I have to confess I’m nervous about this. I’ve never successfully stuck to any kind of a liquid diet before. I’ve got the motivation of prepping for surgery, which helps, and I’ve got a lot of people rooting for me. My boss told me yesterday that she’s going to make sure I don’t eat anything I’m not supposed to eat while I’m at work. But it’s over Christmas, and we’re going out of town. Joe bought so much candy and cookies and junk food for the great Christmas celebration with our best friends, and every time he asked if I wanted this or that for my stocking, I told him no. So while we’re sitting down for Christmas dinner in whatever restaurant we have Christmas dinner in, they’ll be eating and I’ll be sipping a shake. On Christmas morning while the kids (and Joe) eat so much chocolate they’ll be bouncing off the walls, I’ll be sipping a shake. On Christmas Eve while we’re touring the Johnson Space Center, they’ll eat overpriced food at the cafe there and I’ll be sipping a shake.

Welcome to my pity party, huh? I don’t mean to be a pathetic whiny-baby. I keep telling myself that it’s worth it. I have a goal to get rid of a lot of weight, and I’m doing this to get banded, a tool that will help me keep it off. I’ve lost before, lost plenty, but every time it came back because I let off eating right and went back to my old unhealthy patterns of eating.

I read someone’s blog post yesterday where she was asking why people who get banded or gastric bypass, as a way to help force themselves to eat properly, don’t just choose to eat properly. She made a comment about how if people want to lose weight without bothering to exercise, then fine. But she made it very clear she thinks we’re being lazy. Well, guess what? Getting the band or getting gastric bypass doesn’t automatically make one eat properly. I know some people who have had these surgeries and continued with unhealthy eating habits, and have gained back much, if not all, of what they initially lost. I know people who have had these surgeries and have not exercised, and don’t have the strength and energy to live a vibrant life.

When I first met my surgeon, he told me that if I follow only half of his instructions, I will have only half a success. I choose to have a full success. That means I choose to exercise every day. That means I choose to eat well, following the guidelines he has given me for the proper way to eat for the rest of my life. Yesterday they emphasized the importance of walking, right away, for half an hour a day, working up to a full hour a day. Starting 6 weeks post-surgery, I can go back to riding my recumbent bike, or I can do exercises with the gaming system I’m planning to buy if Santa Claus doesn’t bring it. So getting banded, or sleeved, or having gastric bypass, isn’t taking the easy way out. It requires as much deliberate effort as losing weight without having the surgery; it just provides a tool for my weight-loss arsenal.

So to the woman who wrote that blog post, I guess I’d just like to say that you cannot paint every person who chooses to have these procedures with a broad brush. We’re all coming to this decision in our own ways. For me it’s been years of thinking about it, talking to people who’ve done it, trying to lose weight on my own, giving up on losing weight on my own, back and forth back and forthness. It wasn’t an easy decision. I think it’s a good decision for me. But it’s not easy. Never easy. Easy is I decide I don’t want to be fat anymore, and I wake up the next morning skinny. That’s easy. This is not like that.

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