2 Weeks Before Surgery

Since I am pre-surgery at this point, I don’t really expect to lose too much.  On the other hand, I am theoretically keeping careful control over my food so I should see some difference, right?

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Since I am past my surgery already, I have a fair amount to catch up on (as previously mentioned) so I am going to schedule posts to appear every other day or so until I have caught up.  That way, I won’t forget (until I get to doing this weekly, then I will totally forget).  Looking at these photos, I don’t see much change but then again, I don’t really see it in the numbers either.  Since I am pre-surgery at this point, I don’t really expect to lose too much.  On the other hand, I am theoretically keeping careful control over my food so I should see some difference, right?


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Weight: 16:11.4 (235.4 lbs)2 weeks before

Food:

  • 2 T peanut butter
  • ⅓ order beef & mushroom stir fry
  • ½ c chicken fried rice
  • 1 veggie burger
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 oz pasta

Ugh, my weight has gone up again.  I cannot say I am surprised, given how I ate this weekend but I am disappointed.

I finally bought dumbbells today.  I have been meaning to for a couple of weeks now for two reasons: (1) to keep my muscle tone after weight loss and (2) to decrease my loose skin.  I don’t know if it will really work that well, especially for the second reason but I have high hopes.  Anyway, I just have to figure out what exercises to do with the two 5-lb weights that I bought today which will both help my arms not get floppy and tone my pecs (yes, I want to keep my breasts from getting floppy as much as possible too).

  • Calories: 1212
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 109 (15) [12]
  • Protein: 61

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Note: Pre-surgery appointment @ 8 am

Weight: 16:08.6 (232.6 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 whopper jr with cheese
  • 1 small fries
  • 1 serving pasta with pesto
  • ½ c sunflower seeds

I went to my pre-surgery tests today.  I fasted in the morning so that they could draw some blood then had some vitals taken.  At the clinic:

  • Weight: 234.5 lbs (maybe my dress weighs a couple of pounds)
  • Blood pressure: 131/69
  • Temperature: 98.3° F

I had an EKG and a chest x-ray which I am pretty sure came out fine.  I learned to use the breathing thingy (incentive spirometer, according to google) which will apparently help me avoid pneumonia after surgery and I was told to start using it now.  I will try to do so but I don’t really have high hopes for remembering.

I also met with the nutritionist.  I am fairly well-informed already between my research and my dad’s so I think we had a good conversation which will help me make food decisions in the coming months.  What I took from the nutritionist (some of which I knew) and remember without my paperwork is this:

  • No specific diet until surgery but weight loss is good at this point
  • Liquids only the day before surgery plus a laxative
  • Clear liquids only when I am in the hospital after surgery
  • Full liquids (milk & protein shakes okay) for a week after release
  • Puréed foods for another week (anything can be puréed, even a grilled cheese sandwich)
  • Soft foods (can be cut with a plastic fork) for up to 3 months
  • Protein is super important, I should get 70 grams per day
  • I need to limit fat consumption
  • I shouldn’t think too hard about fiber, if I need a supplement after a couple of weeks, that is okay
  • Natural sugars (fruit, milk) are okay but no more than 2g added sugars in anything.

I was super hungry after leaving the doctor’s office so I stopped at Burger King on my way to work.  This was probably a mistake but I will miss fast food.  I have been trying to cut back but have been unable to completely give up yet.  It is just so convenient and delicious.  Anyway, because of my late start eating, I still managed to stay under 1800 calories, so it wasn’t too crazy.

On the day of my surgery, I am to take my antidepressant and my thyroid pill but skip the diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure medications.  I will need to take the Metformin after surgery but will have to break the pills in half to do so (they are huge).  Also, I don’t need to take chewable iron, the regular kind will suffice.

Unrelated to any of that, the clinic charges $25 to fill out FMLA paperwork which I find silly.  Still, I need it filled out because I may need to take more time off of work than the PTO which I have earned to date.  I paid with my HSA card.  I honestly don’t know if it counts as a legitimate medical expense but since the charge will come from my doctor’s office, I figure I am probably okay IRS-wise.

  • Calories: 1764
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 146 (18) [14]
  • Protein: 55

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Weight: 16:10.6 (234.6 lbs)

Food:

  • Salad bar
  • ½ peach
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 T pesto

graphsI should not be surprised that my weight went up, I ate horribly yesterday.  I did a preliminary chart in Excel of weight change vs calories and did not see much correlation.  I also tried comparing weight change to my daily step count and did not see an obvious trend.  When I combined the two though (assuming 60 calories burned per 1000 steps) there appears to be correlation, which is not surprising at all.  I did not do a statistical analysis or anything, not even a p-value.  It’s just an observation based on not particularly sound data.  On all the charts, the x-axis is my weight change (day to day) and the y-axis is the calories / steps / combination from the day before.  I only have two weeks of data but it is still kind of interesting.

I brought a peach with me to work today and planned to eat it for lunch but then forgot so now I have a kind of squishy peach to eat for a snack later.

  • Calories: 1134
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 52 (12) [19]
  • Protein: 75

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Weight 16:11.0 (235 lbs)

Food:

  • ½ Kirkland protein bar
  • ½ bag Doritos
  • 1 bowl chili deluxe
  • 2 chicken fingers

I don’t know why I gained weight, I actually did pretty well yesterday!  I am going to blame it on period bloat, I feel all crampy anyway today.

A smarter / more dedicated person would not have eaten Doritos for lunch at this point, especially after gaining weight but I had such a craving!  I just have to not buy any more snack foods at this point.

  • Calories: 1845
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 173 (32) [11]
  • Protein: 79

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Weight 16:11.0 (235 lbs)

Food:

  • ½ box macaroni & cheese
  • ½ chicken shawarma sandwich
  • 1 bag popcorn

I have no idea what kind of calories were in my chicken shawarma wrap from Haifa Falafel.  First of all, they are not a chain and do not have nutrition information on their website.  Second, I ate the slightly bigger half.  Third, I ate as little of the bread as possible while still keeping the sandwich together.  Basically, I googled and deleted a few carbs from a reasonable guess.

  • Calories: 1230
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 135 (10) [34]
  • Protein: 71

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

Weight 16:11.4 (235.4 lbs)

Food

  • 1 roast beef sandwich
  • 1 package snap pea crisps
  • 4.5 cups popcorn

I don’t really have anything to say about today.  Our AS9100 Quality Audit is next week and we will be ordering in every day for the auditor (and myself and our consultant plus other people we invite, mostly VPs and the like).  I expect eating sensibly to be hard.

  • Calories: 1325
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 122 (23) [14]
  • Protein: 58

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Weight 16:08.4 (232.4 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 Dove ice cream bar
  • 1 grilled chicken salad with ranch
  • 1 peach
  • 1 Kirkland granola bar
  • 1 Goodness Knows bar

Like a grownup, I had ice cream for breakfast.  It was a mistake but I have been making those lately.  I am working on it.

I got a grilled chicken salad from a different restaurant than last time but I am going to use the same guesstimate for nutritional information; it seems similar enough.

We have an auditor in this week and I am having lunch ordered in for four days, which will not be great from a nutrition standpoint.  I shall do my best.

  • Calories: 1260
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 124 (8) [56]
  • Protein: 40

3 Weeks Before Surgery

I mostly controlled myself carb-wise but I still ate too much.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Weight: 16:11.6 (235.6 lbs)3 weeks before

Food:

  • ¼ c dry roasted peanuts
  • Salad bar
  • 1 veggie burger
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 bag popcorn
  • 1 c 1% milk

I need to clean my room!  That is unrelated to any diet / weight loss thoughts but I cannot help but notice it when I look at the photos I took in my bedroom mirror.

I would have done much better goal-wise if I had not eaten a bag of popcorn after dinner but I was still hungry!  Next time I will [try to] eat some microwave vegetables instead.

  • Calories: 1614
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 120 (22) [31]
  • Protein: 85

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Weight: 16:10.4 (234.4 lbs)

Food:

  • ¼ c dry roasted peanuts
  • Smart Ones chicken parmesan
  • 1 veggie burger
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 slice muenster cheese
  • 1 ½ c 1% milk
  • 8 graham crackers

I unwisely ate a high sugar snack this evening.  The package of graham crackers was already open and sounded so good!  Now I don’t have any more in my apartment though and it should be easier to keep from giving into things like that.  I did find an unopened package of cereal though.  Maybe I will give it to my neighbor.  I wonder what other forbidden foods I have in my cupboards.  I don’t think she cooks much so tapioca flour is definitely out; maybe even pasta.

  • Calories: 1717
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 186 (20) [60]
  • Protein: 80

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Weight: 16:10.2 (234.2 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 Pure Protein bar (chocolate deluxe)
  • ⅔ large grilled chicken salad from Cottage Inn
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 T garlic olive oil
  • ¼ c pesto
  • ¼ c sunflower seeds
  • 2 T peanut butter

I don’t think I am drinking enough water.  I sip it when my mouth is dry but I need to consume more throughout the day.

  • Calories: 1762
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 80 (19) [11]
  • Protein: 93

Friday, September 1, 2017

Weight: 16:09.2 (233.2 lbs)

Food:

  • 2 T peanut butter
  • 1chicken drumstick
  • 1 slice beef
  • ½ c mashed potatoes
  • ¼ c coleslaw
  • 1 cornbread muffin
  • ⅓ recipe tofu stir fry
  • ½ c rice w/kale & chia

Famous Dave’s, where the boss likes to order company lunches from, does have nutrition information available online but the portions say things like “1 order” which is not particularly helpful.  I basically guessed on the meat portions.

  • Calories: 1451
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 121 (11) [34]
  • Protein: 59

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Weight: 16:08.8 (232.8 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 block chicken ramen
  • 2 c 1% milk
  • ⅔ order beef & mushroom stir fry
  • 1 spring roll
  • 1 c chicken fried rice

I am totally guessing on the nutrition of my dinner based on googling of the dishes.  I am probably way undershooting but hope springs eternal.

  • Calories: 1305
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 124 (6) [28]
  • Protein: 78

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Weight: 16:09.2 (233.2 lbs)

Food:

  • ½ c white rice
  • ½ c hummus
  • ½ potato
  • ½ c beef shawarma
  • ½ c chicken shawarma
  • ½ c rice pudding
  • ¼ c diced pineapple
  • ½ peach
  • 6 oz sirloin steak
  • 1 garden salad with ranch
  • 7 marinated mushrooms
  • ¼ c peanuts

I love Shawarma King in Kalamazoo although I probably should not be going to all you can eat places any more.  I mostly controlled myself carb-wise but I still ate too much.  Dinner was probably also not the best although I did not order any potatoes as a side with my steak and I managed not to eat the rolls on the table (self control!) At least Logan’s Roadhouse is a chain so I can sort of find nutrition information online although not at their official website.  Also, I do not actually know how many peanuts I ate.

  • Calories: 1748
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 97 (17) [49]
  • Protein: 95

Monday, September 4, 2017 (Labor Day)

Weight: 16:10.8 (234.8 lbs)

Food:

  • ½ c cashews
  • ⅔ steak omelette
  • Pasta with pesto
  • 1 c 1% milk

IHOP was not a great restaurant choice on a diet but as much as I wanted pancakes, I ordered an omelette instead.  Of course, my omelette had hash browns in it but I managed to not eat any other carbs even though I ordered hash browns as my side – I gave them to Martha for later!

I really should not have had pasta for dinner, especially after indulging so heavily for brunch but I had a real craving.  The scale shows that I made a poor choice but hopefully the gaining won’t last, especially if I behave myself over the next couple of weeks.  I have my pre-surgery appointment tomorrow morning, they may give me a more strict diet to follow until surgery day.

Since I started the day away from home, I recorded my weight in the early evening instead of first thing in the morning (post bathroom) like I usually do.

  • Calories: 1978
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 125 (15) [27]
  • Protein: 86

 

4 Weeks Before Surgery

So, yes, this post contains pictures of me in my underwear but they are not lewd or anything and I think the context is important.

I have kind of a lot to catch up on at this point, so I will just copy and paste the entries I made into my diary starting in August.  The photos I took are pretty terrible (I mean in composition, I am trying not to be judgey of my body any more than necessary) but they theoretically tell a story.  So, yes, this post contains pictures of me in my underwear but they are not lewd or anything and I think the context is important.  Okay, here goes:


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weight: 16:13.6 (237.6 lbs) BMI: 38.34 weeks before

Food:

  • 2 packets lower sugar instant oatmeal
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 fruit cup
  • 1 serving tomato soup
  • 1 grilled cheese sandwich
  • 1 cup sparkling grape juice

Conclusion: While my calories and carbs are not too high (I should not have had that juice though) I am well below my fiber and protein goals for the day.

Also, I really should have cleaned my room, at least in front of the mirror before starting this.

  • Calories: 1440
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 162 (13) [72]
  • Protein: 34

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weight: 16:12.2 (236.2 lbs)

Food:

  • 4 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 pieces dried mango
  • 2 c tomato soup
  • 1 grilled cheese sandwich
  • 1 Tbsp pesto
  • 2 c 1% milk

I bought some beef at the store along with mushrooms, green beans, and soy sauce so I should be able to make a stir fry which is high in protein and tasty tomorrow.  Of course, that is assuming I have the energy to cook when I get home from work.  I still need to finish cleaning my apartment which is full of clutter and more fruit flies than I would like to see.  Also, milk has way more sugar than I thought.  I am pretty sure I have had this realization before.

On the other hand, I got much closer to my protein goal today because of the milk, so it helps with that, at least.  I do need to work on not drinking with meals, it is something I have always done copiously.

  • Calories: 1897
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 189 (17) [83]
  • Protein: 63

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Weight: 16:13.6 (237.6 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 protein bar
  • 2 oz dry roasted peanuts
  • ¾ c basmati rice
  • ⅓ recipe beef stir fry
  • 2 c 1% milk

The ice cream fairy (a component vendor) was in today and I managed not to eat any of the free ice cream.  This was made easier by the fact that it is located in the purchasing department which, although I have to walk through it regularly, is not actually close to me.  I knew the ice cream was there and it was easy to access but I managed not to do it.  I hope this willpower holds out.

I was over my protein goal for today but the milk that helped make that happen also really increased my sugar intake.  Also, I drank it with my meal which is really hard not to do.  That is an issue I will have to work on although it may be slow going.

  • Calories: 1299
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 110 (15) [24]
  • Protein: 94

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weight: 16:11.2 (235.2 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 Dove chocolate heart
  • 2 oz dry roasted peanuts
  • ½ c basmati rice
  • ¼ recipe beef stir fry
  • ½ Moe’s burrito bowl (chicken, no rice)

Someone brought candy to the morning production meeting today and I stayed strong for most of it before eating a small chocolate heart right after the meeting ended.  The serving size is 6 though so when I did the math, it really wasn’t so bad.  Of course, there were a lot of truncated / rounded decimals but at least I put it in my food journal.

  • Calories: 1005
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 81 (18) [12]
  • Protein: 65

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Weight: 16:10.6 (234.6 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 serving cheesy eggs
  • 1 c sparkly grape juice
  • Marinated chicken strips
  • Refried beans
  • rice

I did not eat most of the rice with my dinner to keep the carbs in check but I don’t really know how to calculate the calorie count anyway so I am guessing based on 8 oz of marinated chicken, ½ cup of rice, & 1 cup of refried beans.

  • Calories: 1178
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 112 (25) [42]
  • Protein: 110

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Weight: 16:10.6 (234.6 lbs)

Food:

  • Fit & Active sour cream & onion chips
  • 1 block ramen noodles
  • 2 c 1% milk
  • ½ Moe’s burrito bowl (chicken, no rice)
  • 2 c 1% milk

I did not eat super well today.  I guess I don’t really have much else to say.

  • Calories: 1288
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 169 (29) [58]
  • Protein: 80

Monday, August 28, 2017

Weight: 16:13.6 (237.6 lbs)

Food:

  • 1 Pure Protein bar (chocolate deluxe)
  • ¾ c basmati rice
  • ⅓ recipe beef stir fry
  • 1 hot dog with bun
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 1 T deli mustard
  • 1 T relish
  • 1 T onions
  • ¼ c dry roasted sunflower seeds

I could not sleep at all, partially because I was hungry but for other non-identifiable reasons as well.  Eventually, I gave in and got up for a snack (sunflower seeds) which I had conveniently bought earlier today.

  • Calories: 1379
  • Carbs (fiber) [sugar]: 99 (12) [23]
  • Protein: 89

Okay, that was all not very interesting but I recorded it, so I have that done at least.  Now, I just have actually hit the “Publish” button.

Deciding to Go Ahead (& first diary entry)

I have a long history of low self-esteem.  My body image is, unsurprisingly, negative.  I have not liked how I look for too long to remember now and have even had the thought that if I like myself, the fat wins. 

This whole surgery thing started at least a year ago, actually even more although it is hard to pinpoint the exact commencement of the idea forming in my head.  I live very near a bariatric surgery center (for the past two years) and I see it all the time.  A co-worker got a sleeve gastrectomy around a year ago and looks really great.  My doctor has mentioned this sort of procedure in the past, although I don’t recall exactly when.

Anyway, although I have been overweight most of my life, the idea of weight loss surgery as a real option is relatively new to me.  I used to think a lot about losing weight and I tried various things, from Weight Watchers to a weight loss “boot camp” and while I would sometimes look better for a little while, none of my results were long lasting and I would plateau before gaining all of the weight back again.

I am actually glad that I did not consider this surgery in my twenties.  I mean, sort of.  Obviously if I had lost weight earlier, I would have prevented damage to my body as well as “bounced back” more easily with the increased skin elasticity that comes with youth.  On the other hand, I would have been doing it for the wrong reasons, at least as far as I am concerned now.

I have a long history of low self-esteem.  My body image is, unsurprisingly, negative.  I have not liked how I look for too long to remember now and have even had the thought that if I like myself, the fat wins.  This was not an emotionally healthy way to live my life.  I am not saying that I became pleased with my body or anything but I did learn to accept myself.  The whole body positivity thing that seems to be spreading around the internet (unfortunately not as fast as meanness spreads but assholes are notoriously quick and plentiful) has helped me.  I learned to like my curves or at least appreciate them.  Sure, I’m not a waif or anything but I have a damn hourglass figure (well, maybe a two hourglass).  I have a prominent bosom and hips of comparable width with a waist which is only about 3/4 the circumference.  Sure, I have fat rolls but they aren’t so horrible as they could be and overall, I actually carry my weight pretty well although I do know that I could never pass for anything but plus-sized.  It’s all relative, I guess.June2015

Halloween2015

So, what I mean by “the wrong reasons” is that if I had done something like this in my twenties, it would have been for aesthetic reasons.  It doesn’t matter how much I theoretically understand about the long term consequences of excess weight or how much my father lectured me about my health, I was a normal twenty-something in the way that I felt a certain amount invincible.  What I didn’t feel was pretty.

Now, however, despite growing to accept my body for what it is and even like myself a little, I realize that my weight is a real detriment to my health in both the long and short term.  At 34 years old, I should not be on so many drugs.  While surgery carries inherent risks, they are easily dwarfed by the risks of continuing for years with my various obesity-related conditions.  So now, I am actually considering this surgery despite the physical ramifications, not because of them.  I am worried about loose skin and drooping breasts.  I am worried about thinning hair due to nutrient deficiency and weird elephant thighs.  I know that my thighs and skin and whatnot aren’t great now but sometimes the devil you know is better (so to speak).  I have no idea what shape I might become after this procedure (and the ensuing weight loss – right after the procedure I should be about the same from the outside).

I first went to an informational session about the surgery in December of 2016.  I planned to discuss the idea of surgery with my [retired doctor] father while visiting my parents over Christmas but I chickened out.  In fact, I did not even mention it to him until after I had been to my first diet documentation (more on that later) appointment.  It’s not that I thought he wouldn’t approve, it’s that I knew he would and I was afraid that he would be so encouraging of it that I would feel pressure to go ahead with the surgery and I really wanted to make my own decisions.  I was pleasantly surprised that he really held back with his opinion.  He did some research and appreciated that which I had done as well and was very supportive while not being specifically encouraging.  I think that must have been kind of hard for him because he often does know what is best for my health and just wants to help but I chafe at direction and needed to do this on my own.  I can’t say that his opinions had nothing to do with my decision to go ahead with the surgery but I did not feel pressured in any way to proceed and I think that is one reason that I was able to do as much as I could to set myself up for success.  Otherwise, I am kind of afraid my self-sabotaging instincts might have taken over.

So, in order for my insurance to cover the surgery, I had to have a psych evaluation (no problem, I’ve been seeing psychologists for decades), a note from my primary care physician (which she was happy to write) and six months of medically supervised dieting documented by a doctor.  Because Barix Clinics is kind of a factory for this sort of thing, they provide doctors for that very purpose, so I started seeing one on a monthly basis.  She met with me very briefly and reviewed my food diary which I kept (and printed out when I remembered) using the app MyFitnessPal.  Every month she would tell me something to work on and we would see if that helped with weight loss: no chips or crackers, increased protein, no snacks; that kind of thing.  Despite being [mostly] compliant, I lost only a few pounds over the course of six months but that wasn’t really the point, it was just a hoop to jump through for the insurance company.

Finally, that was done and I was ready to schedule my procedure.  I picked a date that my parents would be visiting from Georgia and bit the proverbial bullet.  Fortunately, they were coming at the end of a week-long audit that I had scheduled at work and could absolutely not miss, so I was able to pick a date just after that.  Then there was nothing left to do but wait and fret.

I started my diary on Monday, August 21st, 2017 here is the first entry:

I scheduled my surgery weeks ago but now it actually feels real.  This is probably because today I (a) paid the 20% deposit or whatever and (b) spent like $70 on protein powder which will become a major part of my diet.

I am terrified both of failure and success but I do think that the gastric sleeve procedure will be good for my health.  I have read a ton of pro/con lists and testimonials and the pros heavily outweigh (pun intended) the cons.  I will be fighting against not only my love of food but also my desire not to be wasteful.  It can be really hard not to clean my plate, especially when I am close to being done.

My scale is stuck on stones as a unit of weight, which is weird but at least is relatively easy to convert into pounds (multiply by 14).  I will round [slightly] down to a height of 5’6” in order to calculate my BMI.

My theoretical goal weight is 150 lbs which is on the heavy side of healthy.  It translates to a BMI of 24.2 (A “normal” weight for my height is 115 – 154 lbs).  A shorter term goal I have is to get my BMI in the “overweight” range instead of obese.  My target there is 180 lbs (BMI 29.1) which is still no small amount of weight to lose.

I am not at my highest weight ever (~250 lbs) but at 240-ish, I am pretty darn close.

I have talked to three women at my work who have had this surgery with varied results.  Well, not too varied, they have all lost weight although it has been several years to a few months since their respective surgeries but the levels of weight loss have not been the same.  The one thing they have in common though is that they are all happy that they had the procedure, even with a BMI still in the obese range, it has worked wonders for co-morbidities and an overall feeling of health.

I did receive a piece of advice today that I had not heard before – start working my muscles!  Obviously, diet and exercise are both important parts of any weight loss program but the specific advice was to ward off muscle loss which one co-worker experienced after her surgery.  I have always been relatively strong – and proud of my strength so it will be important for me to maintain it.  I wonder where I could fit a weight set in my tiny apartment though.

Diet Goals (per day) for the next two weeks:

1200 – 1500 calories

Less than 150g carbohydrates

At least 25g fiber

Less than 20g sugar

At least 70g protein

After two weeks, I will have my pre-surgical appointment and will probably be given a more specific diet to follow for the final weeks.

Drugs I am currently taking (per day):

Levothyroxine (112 mcg 1x) – Hypothyroidism

Sertraline (150 mg 1x) – Depression

Atorvastatin (40 mg 1x) – Hypercholesterolemia

Losartin-Hydrochlorothyazide (50-12.5 mg 1x) – Hypertension

Metformin (1000 mg 2x) – Diabetes

Glyburide (10 mg 2x) – Diabetes

Cetirizine (10 mg 1x) – Allergies (OTC)

A Diary of my Surgical Journey

At the very least, I will be able to look back on this and remember what I did and why years from now.  Hopefully I will remember the password in case I want to delete the horrible photos!

When I started this blog which nobody reads, it was initially just to figure out how a blog works so I could help my father with his.  Then, I decided I kind of liked it and planned to keep it up with my various craft projects (mostly knitting, some sewing) and even post original patterns.  Although I have done a little of that, I have hardly been diligent and now I find myself with something else to talk about.  (For the record, I know “about which to talk” might be more technically correct but it sounds stupid and pretentious, even for me.)

On September 19th, I had a sleeve gastrectomy.  This is a bariatric surgery for weight loss in which the size of the stomach is drastically reduced.  It is a restrictive surgery, as opposed to the more well-known gastric bypass which is both restrictive and malabsorptive.  Therefore, the gastric sleeve is both a less severe and a less effective solution.  Of course, I don’t mean that it is not effective!  I can expect to lose around half of my excess weight (that is: not half of what I weigh but half the difference between what I actually weigh and what I should weigh) within a year or so.

Anyway, I have decided to document my experiences both before and after this surgery.  It was weird taking pictures of myself in my underwear and I am honestly not sure I will actually be able to post them but I am a big fan of data and objective evidence so I am going to try to talk myself into doing so.  When I was doing research before deciding to get surgery, I wanted people’s real experiences and I hope that I am able to share mine in a way that helps somebody else.  Although honestly, I am not sure how since I don’t know that anybody reads this but still, I will give it a shot.  At the very least, I will be able to look back on this and remember what I did and why years from now.  Hopefully I will remember the password in case I want to delete the horrible photos!

So, while I have been working on a craft (a kangaroo costume for my six-year-old nephew) that is not what I will talk about.  Anyway, I am mostly just following a pattern so that isn’t very interesting anyway.  I have been keeping a diary every day although sometimes I don’t remember to write in it until later but I am thinking that I should post each week together.  Only time will tell if I am brave enough to post the photos that accompany my words!

A tale of two eyeballs

As I got older, my glasses got smaller, as was the fashion.  This did not really work well, however, with the lenses getting thicker.

Almost a year ago, I had laser eye surgery.  I did not write about it then because I did not have a blog (also, I was cranky and my eyes hurt).  In the time since then, well, I just have not thought about it.  It did not occur to me to write anything about the situation until I found the not particularly helpful photos I took during my week post-surgery.  Eyeball surgery doesn’t really change how one looks so the photos are not really necessary but I am including them anyway because now I can delete them from my phone and have more space for pictures of my niece and nephew 🙂

I first got glasses when I was six years old and I probably needed them before that.  My mom tells me that on the way home from getting my first pair, I was reading all of the signs and store names we passed, giving her the first indication that I had not been able to before!  I started out with enormous plastic frames and moved on to a pair of round red glasses (made by Nintendo, my brother still has the case even though Mario wore off of it decades ago) of which I had a few iterations.

long ago glasses

As I got older, my glasses got smaller, as was the fashion.  This did not really work well, however, with the lenses getting thicker.  I don’t know when I made the transition but for as long as I can recall being a part of the glasses-buying process, I always required the extra thin lenses in order for them to even fit into frames.  My prescription got steadily worse throughout high school and tapered off by the time I was in college.

prescriptions

I started wearing contact lenses at around 13 years old; at first I thought they were the greatest thing ever because they let me pretend to be “normal”.  In reality, they were kind of a pain in the [proverbial] butt.  Still, having a choice was a real improvement.  I bought my first pair of actual sunglasses that year and was extremely pleased by my ability to wear them.  Over the years since first getting contacts, however, I got increasingly lazy about wearing them.  By the time I finally decided to get surgery I was down to wearing them only when it would be especially bright out (so I could wear sunglasses) or wanted to impress somebody.  Most of the reason for this was laziness but I also became self conscious about what I thought of as my piggy face.  I was convinced that glasses helped my cheeks look less fat up around my eyes and decided that was a valid excuse to keep wearing them.

I had a consultation with a LASIK surgeon in the early 2000s but at that time I was told I could not be improved to 20/20, I would still have to wear glasses albeit weaker ones.  I did not think much about it for a while after that although my father would periodically encourage me to consider getting the procedure, I would say that there wasn’t much point since I would still need glasses anyway.  In retrospect, it may have been a good idea even then because the level of uncorrected vision that I had made me quite vulnerable.  I would define my eyesight in terms of 20/20, 20/400, etc. but apparently it’s not really practical at my prescription.  I have it on good authority though that I was worse than 20/1000 which means that I could not see at 20 feet what a normal person could see at 1000 feet if that gives any perspective; that is more than three football fields!

Anyway, I finally decided to get another consultation and it turned out to be an excellent idea.  I went to Adelson Eye & Laser Center where they tested my vision and took weird measurements.  I ended up waiting a while because they were behind schedule (something I would learn is a trend there) but the doctors were encouraging and answered all my questions and I felt like I was in good hands.  Dr. Adelson was even willing to talk to my father on the phone about my surgical options.  He understood that even though I am a grown woman, my physician father wants to know everything he can about my health care and procedures.

In the end, we decided that PRK (photoretractive keratectomy) was a better option for me than LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis).  Both involve removing the top layer of the eye (epithelium) and reshaping what is below it with a laser.  LASIK has a quicker recovery time because the epithelium is cut into a flap so that it can go back over the eye at the end of the procedure and protect the tissue immediately although there is some risk of flap complications.  In PRK, the epithelium is removed by either a chemical or abrasive process and has to regrow.  This reduces the possibility of complications but adds recovery time and pain.  The reason PRK was a better choice for me is because not cutting a flap allows more corneal depth to work with for the vision correction and due to the severity of my myopia, the doctor needed all the depth he could get!

I waited until my parents came to visit before actually getting the surgery then I stayed at my grandma’s house with them for several days afterward.  I like to think of myself as independent but it was really good to have people there to get me food and put in my eyedrops (forcibly if necessary) when I did not want to even open my eyes.

The day of surgery (Thursday) I left work early and picked up my mother before heading to the eye doctor, my father met us there.  I was given a Valium and waited (nervously, despite the drug) for what felt like an excessively long time before being called back to the surgical room which was basically a dark eye examination room with some extra equipment.  The doctor gave me drops to numb my eyes which worked very well.  He then held my eyes open with an ocular speculum (think “A Clockwork Orange”) and told me to keep very still.  Then came the scariest part; a whirring brush came toward my eyeball and I just had to sit there and take it.  It didn’t actually hurt although it seemed like it should have but the numbing drops were doing their job; it just felt weird, like a tickling or pressure.  Anyway, he did this for both eyes and then started in with the laser.  It was pre-programmed based on measurements they had taken already and I just had to look right at a red light while a weird humming happened but it didn’t really feel like anything.

last pair of contactThe whole procedure took less than fifteen minutes from the time I sat down to the time that the “bandage contacts” were inserted; a set of clear lenses to protect my poor damaged eyeballs.  Finally, they gave me an eye shield and sent me on my way.

I can see someThe drive home was kind of amazing; I could see!  My vision was not totally clear or anything but I could recognize my family members by sight, something I could not have done the day before [without glasses] unless I got close enough to smell them.  The rest of that afternoon was not particularly eventful, I hung out in the basement and listened to an audiobook because I couldn’t quite focus enough to watch TV (reading was totally out of the question).  By the evening though, I was not happy.  My eyes hurt a lot.  I had three kinds of eyedrops; a steroid to encourage healing, an antibiotic to fight infection, and something labelled “comfort drops” which was given to me at the doctor’s office.  I was instructed to use the latter sparingly so as not to slow my recovery.  I was also permitted to take NSAIDs as needed but I cannot say that the Aleve I downed really helped much.

my eyeballs hurtMy father held my eyes open one at a time to give me the drops I needed which was very helpful since I don’t know if I would have been able to open them on my own; the tiniest amount of light hurt me at that time.  I was super cranky and refused to leave the basement even when I was assured that the blinds upstairs were closed.  I was fairly certain that I looked like a monster because I definitely felt like one.  The eye shield was probably a lifesaver at that time because I wanted very badly to rub my eyes and probably would have done so while sleeping if I did not have the protection it provided.  Speaking of sleeping, it was all I wanted to do for hours at at time which is actually not too unlike my normal weekends but due to the circumstances, I was allowed to do it without guilt.  That did not actually make me feel better though.  Eating was hard because even in very dim light, I did not want to open my eyes to see where my food was.  I ate yogurt while holding the cup very close to my mouth – so went my Friday.

By Saturday, I wasn’t doing much better mood-wise but I was able to stand a light being turned on around the corner from me for a limited period of time.  Mostly I wandered around the dim basement in a cranky manner and made my mom put my eyedrops in since my father had gone to play golf.

light is the enemyOn Sunday, I ventured upstairs but immediately regretted it and returned to my cave.  Slowly throughout the day, I tolerated a bit more light and was willing to return upstairs by the evening while wearing sunglasses.  As a side note, I got these sunglasses from the eye doctor and I quite like them.  I’m still wearing them and will be sad when I inevitably lose or break them.  Obviously I was still not in a good enough mood to brush my hair but I do seem to have changed my clothes, at least.

Monday was Labor Day, so I didn’t have to worry about going to work.  I went for a brief walk outside, both wearing my sunglasses and looking down the whole time.  I decided that I had to at least try that since I planned to go to work the next day and I could not avoid light forever.

On Tuesday, my mom drove me to work and I was able to get around okay even though things were a bit blurry and unfocused.  I could read the mission statement banners that hang over the production floor and most paper put in front of me even though I had to move it back and forth a bit to get my eyes to focus (not unlike a person with presbyopia who refuses to admit she needs glasses).  My mom picked me up early from work and I went to the doctor to get approved to drive.  Although I did not feel that my eyesight was ideal, I got the okay since I was seeing at 20/40 and the cutoff is 20/50.  I was super excited.

The next day I drove myself to work and returned home to my apartment, now able to take care of myself although apparently not able to take care of plants.  My herbs all died while I was away.  Well, they probably didn’t go from healthy to dead in less than a week but I had been neglecting them long enough that my six-day absence was enough to finish them off.

Tsome irritationhe next day was fine but on Friday, I had a tiny irritated feeling in one of my eyes which, by midday had turned into actual pain.  My left eye was watering profusely and I couldn’t see well out of it.  I called the doctor’s office and they told me to come in.  I ended up waiting a while during which I convinced myself that my eye was horribly damaged and I would never be able to see again.  It turns out that I had a small abrasion on my eyeball.  The doctor inserted a bandage contact lens and I went back to work, slightly more calm.

Eventually the pain went away and I removed the contact lens myself.  I did find that my eyes felt painful in a kind of rough way more often than they used to.  Apparently, dry eye is a common side effect of PRK.  I did not seem to have any other problems, however.  I don’t have haloing or blurry vision.  I do get some glare when driving at night but not any worse than with my glasses – actually, better than when I wore contact lenses!  I put an eye chart up in my office and would stand in the doorway (ten feet away) to check my eyesight a couple of times a day, which was probably excessive.  I also went back to see the eye doctor at all of the required intervals – one week, one month, three months, and six months.  By my last appointment, I was not only able to read the 20/20 line on the eye chart but part of the 20/15 line as well!

no real changeSo, I have spent a really excessive amount of time now talking about my eyeballs and the laser surgery I had on them to come to one basic conclusion:  It was totally worth it!  I do have to use eyedrops a couple of times a day now; just over the counter artificial tears.  If I don’t use them enough, by the time I go to bed, my eyes actually kind of hurt a little.  Still, this is a small (tiny, really) price to pay for vision which does not require correction.  I look the same (at least the way I looked when wearing contacts) but I feel more confident and less vulnerable.  I have peripheral vision and stumble into things less in the middle of the night when I get up and walk around.  I do notice how squinty my eyes get when I smile because of my cheek fat but I’ve decided that it is okay.  My dark undereye circles are more prominent without glasses to help mask them but I can ignore that too.  I have mostly gotten used to not wearing glasses although I still reach for them occasionally in the morning when my alarm goes off.  After 27 years of wearing glasses, visual independence is still new to me but I am happy to get to know it!

Shades of Gray

My father is one of eight siblings, all of whom are currently in their fifties or sixties and he is the only one of them with gray hair; this is not a decision made by nature.

20170221_121358

I am aging and not going about it gracefully.  I have long since mocked people who dye their hair excessively.  Well, maybe not mocked but at least judged less than silently.  Anyway, I think it looks silly when you see someone who is obviously in her sixties or seventies and has jet-black hair.  Yes, I used the feminine pronoun there, it wasn’t a random choice.  Women seem more likely to do this sort of thing than men.  Not that men aren’t subject to a certain amount of vanity as well, especially these days.

I am hardly the first person in my family to begin to gray, not even in my generation.  I have always worried about premature color loss if not actual hair loss.  My paternal grandfather’s hair was completely white by the time he was twenty although he kept a thick head of that snow white hair until he died at around 80 years old.  I have a cousin older than me who have been sporting salt and pepper temples since before he was thirty and another whose loses about ten years in appearance when he shaves because of the gray in his beard.  Somehow my brother (four years my senior) has managed to avoid this particular sign of age so far and he reminds me of it once in a while. (To be fair, only really when I complain about gray but still – uncool!)20170221_164857

My father is one of eight siblings, all of whom are currently in their fifties or sixties and he is the only one of them with gray hair; this is not a decision made by nature.  I think he looks better that way.  There is something comical about seeing three men with jet black hair standing around, their kurtas open at the neck so that their gray chest hair is evident in contrast.  At least this problem does not affect the ladies.  Their oldest sister used to have reddish hair, since she dyed the gray with henna but now it is dark again.  I suspect when there was more red than black, she decided it was time for a change.  Anyway, I decided to take her lead because at this point, I don’t have a lot of colorless strands and it seems less like giving in to my age.

I have dyed my hair before but never out of “necessity” only for funsies.  I have never really had a problem with my hair color.  It is dark brown (not black) and has red highlights in the sun.  Since my hair is dark and I don’t want to bleach it, I am limited in the colors I can try.  I also fear decisions to an extent and have only used temporary color (Clairol Natural Instincts) except for the one other time I used henna.  I have tried to go more red and I have tried to go black.  Neither of these changes were particularly evident when indoors in my regular clothes.  The sun helped show the change and the black ensemble I had to wear when working at Macy’s provided the contrast needed to display my dye job but only when my hair was down around my shoulders.

I have been at work for two days now with my newly henna dyed hair and nobody has yet said anything about it.  I suppose that is good, since I mostly wanted to hide the gray (which I was also told people didn’t notice but I sure did).

Anyway, I’m not sure I really did the henna thing right but it seems to have worked.  By this I mean that when I comb through the strands, I find orangey-red where white ones used to be.  There is not much of a change to the rest of my hair.  There is a change to my bathtub though – there are some weird gunky spots that weren’t there before.  I need to work on cleaning that!

When I decided to do this, I had not washed my hair in several days (I usually do so twice a week but since I was late for work on Friday, I skipped it) and I don’t know if dirty hair is a good or bad thing for dying but it was kind of greasy when I started.

dirty hair

I bought my henna at the local Indian Grocery (well, the local Indian Chain Store, Patel Brothers) and it sat on a shelf in my apartment for nearly a year, so I wasn’t off to a great start.  Finally, on Saturday, I dumped it into a bowl.  The powder is fine and came up in a little cloud which made me cough, I hope it doesn’t give me lung cancer.

henna box  henna powder

I added lemon juice and olive oil per the internet / my vague memory of doing this once before.  I added some water too but I didn’t want to dilute the lemon juice too much since I read that acidity is what activates the pigment but it was not at all wet enough.  I am also a miser who didn’t want to use too much fancy lemon juice topically so I added some vinegar, figuring that’s acidic and I have a huge jug of it.  I don’t know if it made a real difference chemically but it did make the smell far less pleasant.

lemon juice  olive oil  mixed  mixed with vinegar

I covered the bowl and let it sit for a couple of hours (also per the internet) then added an egg.  The egg thing seemed weird to me but several internet people (I know, why would they steer me wrong?) insisted that topical egg application strengthens hair.  I had a partial carton of eggs rapidly approaching their sell by date, so I figured, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.   I cracked an egg into my henna paste that smelled of vinegar and beat it in like I was making cookies.  It actually looked kind of like delicious brownie batter but due to the aforementioned smell, I had no problem not tasting it!

add egg  mixed with egg

I then slathered the goop on my hair, trying hard to both work it into my roots and not get it everywhere.  I sort of succeeded on both counts.  I held sections up with clips as I went, which worked well for the application but when I put on a shower cap so I could let it sit without getting henna all over my apartment, I found that they are not really made to sit on top of all of that.  There were inches of uncovered goopy hair at the back of my head.

side clips  shower cap

I sat around for a couple of hours, watching TV while I tried valiantly to keep my head from touching my recliner.  I seem to have done a decent job since I did not detect any horrible spots on the fortunately dark colored furniture.  I did lose some hardened bits into the cushion, however, when they dried out and dislodged from the hair at the nape of my neck.

Other than the hardened bits around the edges where the cap did not cover and the fog / steam that built up inside the shower cap, there was not much difference when the [more or less arbitrary] time came to rinse my head.  I removed the clips and found that mostly, my hair stayed in place, glued as it was by egg and other nonsense.

shower cap  2 hours later  clips removed

When I got in the shower however, it started coming out.  There was a ton of brownish water running around my feet with a slight greenish tinge that I did not expect.  It’s okay though, my hair wasn’t green at all, even the gray bits.  I rinsed my hair a bunch of times, especially where the dried bits were, until the water ran clear.  I have heard that you are not supposed to shampoo your hair for a couple of days after dying with henna so I “washed” it with conditioner instead, going through the motions of shampooing with a different bottle.  A little more color did run out at that point, but not too much.  When I got out of the shower and dried off, I don’t think I stained my towel at all!

fluffy hair

So, my hair doesn’t look very different (except that it is clean).  The curls happen naturally and as soon as I brushed it, they went away.  I try to keep the curly hair some days but it just turns into a giant fuzzy tangleball before too long, so I rarely do so.

Overall, I am calling this process a success, if slightly unnecessary.

On the road again

I was pretty lucky. Besides not having any injuries, my car was repairable and although it took a while to fix, I was out of town for a week and did not have to rent a car during that time.

car

Just over three weeks ago, I was hit by a salt truck and knocked off the freeway.  I was fortunately uninjured but my car was not driveable and I had to get a rental car while it was being repaired, a process which took extra time due to the holidays.  I have a high deductible and no rental car coverage so this incident has not been cheap.  That being said, I was pretty lucky.  Besides not having any injuries, my car was repairable and although it took a while to fix, I was out of town for a week and did not have to rent a car during that time.  Also, the body shop had some parts in stock and seems to have done a good job (as far as I can tell, at least).  They were also very nice to me.  Despite a slightly inconvenient schedule, which I think was unavoidable given the time of year, I would recommend Dependable Collision if asked.

Geico has also been nice enough although they were not able to get me a tow truck when I needed one.  Apparently, everyone in town was busy that night, which is understandable, I suppose, but makes me wonder why anyone asks their insurance company to send a tow truck instead of just calling one themselves.  I actually didn’t do that either.  The State Trooper got a tow truck for me (after a bit of miscommunication) and the extremely nice driver from Budget Towing not only drove me home but climbed up onto the truck bed and rooted through my messy car for the stuff I needed, including a laundry basket and various unlabeled bags.  “Do you see one with some bottles in it?  I think it’s black.”  Was one unhelpful request I made.  I also forgot a few things (see this post about unfinished Christmas sweaters) but he did what he could.

ttruck

Anyway, I still had to go to work and because there is no public transportation which goes anywhere near my place of employment, I had to rent a car.  This did mean I got to sleep in a bit, since Enterprise wasn’t open as early as I usually leave.  They did give me the Geico rate although I had to pay it myself and I didn’t feel like I should be springing for a fancy upgrade so I ended up in a Nissan Ventra, which is apparently one step up from “economy”.

rcar

I managed to drive it for 12 days without sliding off the road or anything, so I shall call it a success.  The Florida license plate did invite some comments in this Michigan winter.

I have contacted the County Road Commission a few times now but other than sending me a form to fill out, I have not heard back.  There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that their vehicle was at fault, so I am hoping to recover my deductible and rental car cost from them.  Unfortunately, it is not looking good so far; I will have to keep pressing forward.  Ugh, I hate confrontation.

Geico is not helping with this issue because apparently, as Michigan is a No Fault state, they don’t get involved with “mini torts”.  I don’t even know what that means but apparently I’m on my own.  Even when the people are nice and as helpful as they are allowed to be, insurance is the worst!