Holiday…. this one is blue.

“A Holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observation is warranted. It is generally an official (more common) or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations or festivities.” wikipedia

All of my life holidays have been a big deal. I am the youngest of a large, loving, fun family. Sundays alone were special occasions and often a day to gather and be together. Holidays were special. We would all participate in cooking and cleaning, talking, celebrating. There was always laughter, silliness, joy.

As the years went on, my family slowly started to find themselves relocating. First Robyn to Florida, then Chris to California, Jack to Maryland, Sue to Westchester, Mom & Dad to Florida, us to Georgia. The holidays windled a slowly. BUT… we always continued to  celebrate the way Mom & Dad had us do. Brian would have Christmas Eve, Suzanne Easter. When we moved to Georgia we fumbled to get our own traditions in place. We wanted our children to feel that holidays were special. I wanted my children to feel that they were surrounded by love, just like I felt growing up.

Sometimes we would drive down to Florida to be with Mom and Dad, and some of the siblings.  This year a bunch of them are together, but we can’t be, as Kevin just had surgery and we need to be here to allow him to heal.  We have made an effort to have a celebration with family and friends for every occasion that deems celebratory. Birthdays and Holidays. We gather our nearest and dearest. We laugh and smile and watch as our children soak in the love and the smiles as well. Thats what its all about.

 

This year is tough. Kevin has just had surgery. We felt that hosting a holiday would be too much this soon. So here we are, for the first time, wondering how to make a holiday special with out company. How do you make it a special day, when it will be just like every other day. Just the six of us.

Back in 2002 I had the worst Thanksgiving of my life. I was a week out from my poor prenatal diagnosis. I was floundering with finding joy or appreciation. But I had my baby, my first son who was only 9 months old and I knew in my heart that if we didn’t start tradition THEN, holidays wouldn’t be special EVER. So, we had my inlaws and we decided that on Thanksgiving we would put up our Christmas Tree. We Laughed as my nephews hung ornaments all over one side of the tree and my niece hung them all on one branch on the bottom. I left it that way. It was my happy every morning.

I have planned to make Grandma’s Christmas Cookies with the kids on Thursday. I will roast a chicken, mash some potatoes, bake some asparagus and make some protein packed Banana pudding (thanks Melissa).

 

At some point in the day I will drag out the tree and the decorations and I will put on my happy face and we will adorn our tree with love.

 

This is going to be a difficult holiday for me. I don’t know how to make it feel like a holiday with out being surrounded by more than just us. I just hope that it isn’t a disappointment to my kids.

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Thank you all

The outpouring of support and advice I received about my blog yesterday really helped.
We talked last night & I told him that he would find his own things that work for him, but vitamins and proper proteins are not areas that I will sit back and watch him be misinformed about.
I armed him with websites like Former Fat dudes Former Fat Dudes & Eggy The World According To Eggface and I invited him to learn from the best as to why a Flinstones wouldn’t work for him.
I have every intent to visit the surgeons office and ask questions, ask for the science behind their advice. Hell, one of the post op proteins is calogen based. So unacceptable for a newly post op body.
But, with out strong arming him, he seemed to understand that I have spent years researching and living this life, and maybe, just maybe, I have something to offer.
Again, thank you all!

The face in the picture.

I was updating the photos of my journey tonight, and as I scrolled through the edit page I was actually taken aback by the face in the first picture.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was in Florida celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. I had just told my siblings and my parents that I was going to have weight loss surgery. I knew then, that I was going to make major changes in my life. I was looking forward to living. I was excited about the prospects. I know this all to be true. Yet… I see that face and there is no trace of anything but pain.

Once again, I’m going to comment on the role that the camera plays in this journey. It not only helps me to show you where I have come from, but it helps me to see where I was. It helps me to look back, and acknowledge that maybe I wasn’t as “okay” with being fat, as I thought I was. Maybe I wasn’t as “content” as I told myself I was.

I’m sad for the woman in that picture, but I don’t know if its because I know she was miserable then, or if I am judging her now. Perhaps its a little of both. Admittedly, it is NOT easy to see myself that way. As much as people show their before and after photos off, there is very little pride that comes with the before photo. Its painful to embrace. I was that person. That person IS who I am now.  Its hard. Really it is. That doesn’t go away. Regardless of how much weight you lose, you will always have been obese. You will always have been a statistic of the disease. And obesity is a disease. Its physical as well as mental. Its not pretty. It doesn’t go away.

So, thats my truth for tonight. The camera plays a role. Its important. The reminders are  sometimes difficult to reflect upon. The hurts can be covered up with clothes and new photos… but they are always going to be there. You can’t escape where you came from. You don’t get to out run your past.

http://vsgmom.com/pictures-of-my-journey/  it is NOT always pretty

Sick Kids + Insurance = Its not all taken care of….

I have never taken the time to write about the financial aspect of having a sick child. Its a personal thing, its a difficult topic, its a sensitive issue for many people. That all being said, I have watched friends struggle, my family has struggled, and the vast majority of the public assumes that either insurance covers everything or the government steps in to help.

The majority of middle class families who have a sick child have a primary insurance company. Primary insurance covers (for us) 80% of medical procedures with in network doctors. We have a maximum of $3000 out of pocket. After that is covered, insurance covers all procedures. They do not however, cover all medications. Our monthly pharmacy bill alone is upwards of $300 a month. Laboratory Billing is separate,  Imaging billing is separate, medical equipment is separate.. and so on and so forth.

We do not qualify for SSI because my husband, our sole provider makes too much money for a family of six. Applying for a deeming waiver for medicaid has proved to be exhausting and loathsome, and difficult. We have been denied. I need to reapply because the time in which I had to appeal has expired. I let the ball drop. What ever.

Why am I telling YOU this? Well… heres the thing…. I have a friend, who has a sick child. This friend holds fund raisers to raise funds for his family and other families like his. Every few months they hold a small comedy show or event, something fun, a nigh out, nothing asking for large donations. Just something that can happen with in the most basic of circumstances.

It is my observation that when a child is initially diagnosed with an illness, a family is showered with support from well meaning friends and family. They are loved, and people are eager to show it.  But childhood illnesses such as leukemia, take YEARS to fight. And eventually the child who is fighting for their life, becomes well, not so sensational. And people go back to their every day normal, while the sick child’s family struggles to hold on to any semblance of normal that they can hold on to.

Finances dictate normalcy to a child. Siblings want to play sports, take dance classes, and when physically strong enough, the sick child would like to do the normal things other kids his age are doing as well. Do you know how much it sucks to tell your kid “Sorry honey, you can’t play basketball this year because we just can’t afford it.”? I do. It sucks. A lot.

So, my friend Tommy saw a way to gather friends, gather support, help his family and other families like his own. He has asked people to come out and show their support. And well… 2 years into his son’s battle with leukemia, he is seeing the support slowly trickle away. He is disheartened and disenchanted. It breaks my heart to see another parent feel jaded by the outside world. I chose to distance myself from the world when I had Kailey. Tommy chose to put his faith in his friends and his community when his son was diagnosed with leukemia. I know that Danny has had tremendous support so far, but he deserves support all the way through. He is a little titan! His story should be one with an ending as big as its beginning! Danny deserves an entourage the size of a stadium.

So, I’m writing to remind you, that we, the parents of sick kids, we rely on you… our friends, our family, our community… to continue to show your support, year after year… because the battle continues long after the initial diagnoses. The battle continues and gets worse, and sometimes gets better… but it continues and we are not “so strong”, we are along for the ride. Our children are strong, our children are amazing, we, the parents… rely on you the outside world to lend us strength… because sometimes we are running on empty, and facing tomorrow seems impossible.

Donations can be made to :

Friends of Danny

10 Highland Ave

West Islip, NY 11795

 

Battling obesity doesn’t end with WLS

I think it needs to be said that while WLS helps us to lose weight quickly, keeping it off and maintaining the right lifestyle is a constant battle.
Learning to cope properly is not easy, and for me, food is the easiest way to squash my emotions. The portions are smaller, but eating around my sleeve is possible. Owning up to my behavior by being accountable to my support system helps me to stay on track.
The one thing that sort of surprises me the most at 1 year post op is this… Struggling to lose 30lbs is the same as struggling to lose 170lbs. The struggle is no different. The end is in sight, it’s more tangible now, but… The fight is the same!

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Had somebody tried to tell me that at 300+ lbs I would have smacked them. I use to roll my eyes at my “normal” size friends, who claimed they needed to lose another 20lbs or so. Now, I understand. It’s not easy to lose weight at any size.
Be aware, those of you going into this soon, you will battle obesity for the rest of your life. Long after you fall out of the obese category, it will follow you around. It scars your body and your soul. It is a part of you and you shouldn’t forget it. If you ignore it, you could easily fall victim again.

Appointments abound

I followed up with the caffeine nazi, err.. Neurologist. My legs are getting stronger, this is good!
As I was on my way, a headache snuck in. In office the light sensitivity began. I was cranky. Had taken imitrex last night and still this came on. But he saw it, and now I start low dose topamax. I’m pleased with small doses.
Verdict on leg issues and labs? NORMAL! Thank God! Possibly a virus, but nothing to worry about. Hooray!
Now, no more excuses! I need to move my ass! Doc suggested the 3 miles with the dog should start at 1.5 miles to be sure to not makes the muscles angry. Also, given the clear for caffeine, which I have been drinking anyway.
Well this was a lame post.
Tomorrow morning starts with Click Baby!

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Broke, Broke and Mad

My husband is our soul income. Work has been slow. I planned on finding a job as a waitress for weekends, but I have been a neurological mystery and am not fit to apply for a new job as I am right now.  We are broke, I am broke, and it is driving us mad. As in crazy. As in, we need income so that I can continue to see doctors and still be able to be home for my children, especially my medically fragile child. We need income to do these things so that we can stay sane.

BROKE: AKA lacking funds. AKA poor.

by_WelissaM

deviant art by WelissaM

I am broken (headaches and leg pain, cranky gut  issues, cranky ass husband syndrome), my laptop is broken (the connector to it is cracked.), this is driving me insane therefore I am mad.

this sucker is the bane of my existance

The insanity is running rampant as the hubby is home more often, and funds are low. My normal escape route is my laptop, which I apparently have an addiction to. Addicted to the laptop? But Michelle, you have an iphone and TWO desktops in the house. Surely you can connect?!

Yes, yes I CAN get connected. BUT… clearly I am spoiled. Sitting at a desk top is sort of claustrophobic. I feel like I’m in the corner. Wait, I sort of AM in a corner, facing a wall, with my back to the world. How did I live like this for so long prior to the laptop?

So, I am cranky, the husband is home and cranky, the majority of the children are in school. We can sit in the house and stare at each other, while anxious and annoyed or we could GO OUT. So, we go out. Where do we go? To stores, where we have little funds to purchase anything other than groceries. Which adds to the stress, which makes me want to eat, which makes me panic, which makes us go home. And when I get home? MY FREAKING LEGS ARE KILLING ME!

Wait! They make a pill for that!

we can just go numb, right?

Oh wait, my pill for that is codeine. I prefer to be cranky, weak and nervous.

I am admittedly a whiney mess. I have not talked to many people these last few days, because all that comes out of my brain is WHINE WHINE WHINE. This is not fun, nor is it who I am. But I am blogging about it, because it is me and this is my reality. <— those two sentences are an oximoron.

As always I will remind myself and you, that there is a bright side. Kailey didn’t get admitted to the hospital on Saturday. Her brain is fine, although achey. My children are fed, happy and bright. I have a roof over my head that is much easier to keep afloat than the old house would have been in similar times.

My husband being home has its upside. We get to spend some time together, discussing options, forming plans of action, bonding. He will be having his WLS soon, and we are able to get a little more in depth when discussing that, because I’m harping on him about it. Because I’m bored. But these things need said and discussed, so.. bright side… they have been.

VSGMOM confesses to being absolutely bat shit crazy. Thanks.

huh?

 

Health, Pain, Truth

I have struggled with headaches, migraines and body aches for a few months now. I had a hysterectomy last November, because of chronic pain in my upper thighs caused by nerve damage from an ablation. I had other gyn issues that went along with that. Once gutted like a fish, the leg pain went away. I was content. The headaches however, increased greatly.

.I am seeing a neurologist for the headaches. I have been taken off of caffeine. This has rocked my world. The headaches are a constant throb, a dull roar. They escalate to migraine suddenly and unexpectedly, and for that I have immitrex. I am grateful for the relief.

A week before my follow up appointment with Mr. Neurologist a strange thing happened. The leg pain I had prior to the hysterectomy came back. It was upsetting to say the least. This is a pain that alters my day to day life. It interrupts, it hurts, it slows me down.

photo credit: hilsoon deviant art

photo credit: hilsoon deviant art

I saw the neurologist again yesterday. My MRI was normal with the exception of some sinus issues. We went over everything from the last appointment and added notes from this one. He examined me again and found that I have significant weakness in my right leg, some weakness in my left leg.

I was sent directly to the lab, not to pass go. Do not go home and come back, to the lab pronto. Lets see what your labs will tell us. So.. I went, and got stuck, and now I wait.

The doc is looking to rule out auto immune and dystorphies.

None of this is a side effect of my weight loss surgery. None of this could have been prevented. It just is.

With out coffee to sooth my soul and fuel my brain, I am struggling. Struggling I tell ya! I want some turbo caffeine damn it.

So, this is where I’m at. The wait and see pattern. Its not always pretty folks, but this is the game of life. And so I wait…

Embracing the Taboo.. BBGC

Two days ago I received a package in the mail. I wasn’t expecting anything, however, my memory is not the sharpest these days. I opened it up and let out a very loud “OH YAY!” which captured the attention of the whole family. Momma likes packages. Momma especially likes packages that she has forgotten she would be receiving, and when that package contains my latest Bariatric Bad Girls Club tee shirt, momma is down right gleeful!

My proud display of my “badness” got me thinking about my friends and a recent interaction I had with my neurologist.

I went to the neuro because of the migraines and the clumsiness. The neuro suggested ordered that I quit caffeine. My jaw may have hit the floor. There was a very distinct four year old type tantrum that followed. “No Caffeine? What? No REALLY? You’re trying to kill me? Why do you hate me?“. The neuro sat looking at me with a big ass grin on his face, asked if I was done yet and I said NO! “Look, this is not funny. Did my husband put you up to this? Am I being punked? DO YOU REALIZE THAT COFFEE IS MY TRANSFER ADDICTION?!?!!!!”

Now it was time for the neurologist’s jaw to hit the floor. Wide eyed he looked at me and said, quite seriously “You are the FIRST bariatric patient that I have had, that admits there are transfer addictions. While they know it, admitting it openly is very taboo. They do not like the suggestion that food could be an addiction and that its not all genetics that lands them in the obese category”

I explained that my obesity was certainly not genetic, and while before surgery you would have found me very much anti food is an addiction, I am now of the mind set that the habit is the addiction. When I am unhappy, angry, sad, feeling anxious I want to shove something down my throat. I want my taste buds to send happy little bits of dopamine to my brain to push the ugly out and give me a moment of bliss not so ugly. After my surgery, shoving food in my face would give me a moment of “not so ugly” right before the pain from pushing too much food in gave me a “God please don’t let me die”. So, to replace the motion of eating, I began the motion drinking. My hands are occupied with a nice, heavy, warm mug. My mouth is filled with tasty warm goodness. It hits my belly and it doesn’t hurt. Its warm and comforting. Then… the dopamine kicks in with a little help from the caffeine. WIN WIN… right?

I explained to my neurologist that some of the very best people I have met in my life are bariatric patients that do not play a role in the stepford bariatric community. We embrace the taboo. Shit happens. Its not all rainbows and unicorns. The faster you accept that your behaviors landed your ass on an operating table the quicker you will find your way to support, knowledge and answers to some of your issues. Coping isn’t always pretty, but it doesn’t have to be judgmental either. Any “life coach” who suggests that they can guide your through your weight loss journey with grace is full of crap. There are issues that follow this procedure. You are learning to live again, new, differently and change hurts! Change gets resistance from us. Our habits, our brains demand keeping to routine. Retraining your brain is not easy, it is not pretty and it is certainly not something that will ever be graceful.

If there was grace in finding your way through life changing events, reality TV would not be successful.

So, back to the Bariatric Bad Girls Club. Support with a solid dose of reality. We celebrate victories, we do not judge when you stumble, we admit our failures, and find support in picking ourselves up. We are not bad at all. We are real. And because the bariatric community is so filled with “TABOO” our reality makes us appear to be “bad”. We take our vitamins, we eat properly, we admit that indulgences happen and are OKAY (from time to time, not every day)! We are not robots, we do not hide the truth, we do not try to sell you products, we openly discuss medical issues that may be a result of our surgery. We discuss the frustrations. We tell newbies that you will lose weight, you will gain loose skin, you will not be a bikini model and most of all surgery doesn’t suddenly fix the universe. Some people take offense to that view. Some people prefer a less in your face approach to support, and thats okay too. Find it. But know this. The BBGC is a strong community. We embrace Taboo, we speak truth, we offer support, we admit to cross addictions, we do not claim to be perfect or graceful. We do kick ass! We are not bad because we eat poorly, or drink with straws (many of us do drink with straws, we have not died), we are bad because our balls to the wall approach on honesty has been tisk tisked by many.

I love my BBGC tee shirt. I love my BBGC support, and I am honored to call so many of those men and women close personal friends. With in that group of “bad” I have found all kinds of beautiful and I have found so many hands willing to reach out and help me through some of the most ungraceful moments of my post op life.

The end of a week of SLACKING!

 

If there is a book about how to be a good wife, a motivated mother, Susie freaking sunshine… I may need to read it. Because frankly, this past week… I have not been any of the above!

"Slacker mom reality" Hi this is totally what my house has resembled this week, and that is the exact position I have had on the couch!

 

 
So much so, that I didn’t even take Ruby out for our hike this weekend. She was very content to slack with me though.

belly up, hanging off of my lap.

 

So, once again, I fess up to bad behavior. And once again, I tell myself that tomorrow is a new day. I will get up, I will move, I will not make excuses.

Tomorrow is nearly here, so I had better get some sleep. I will be accountable this week. I will check in with those who keep me on my feet, I will look at myself in the mirror, face the reality and buck up!

This past week has been chock full o’ drama! What drama you ask? Hubby with no work because things are slow, kid with scarlet fever… which, for the record is not the plague or a death sentence, a lightning bolt smacking into my air conditioner unit, children up all night because of said bolt, which my husband didn’t believe actually hit anything, A/C unit going electrically defunked, seizing up and the upstairs soaring to a high in the mid 80’s (I have a child who doesn’t sweat, this is very bad.), hot flashes, spousal arguments, and the saving grace of a friend who owns North and South Mechanical… who rigged the unit for the time being. I got to claim my very first home owners insurance claim, and now we wait to see what happens next. There has been a lot of time spent with book in hand, head in pillow, and fingers in ears. I saw my doctor and got diagnosed with migraines, ended a week long migraine, and still found 100 excuses to not do a damn thing! It ends tonight.

Tomorrow… yep…. that’s when I will put my best foot forward.

Tonight I’m going to bed, thankful that my house didn’t burn down, none of my children were hospital bound, heat stroke didn’t happen, my dog loves me no matter what, my husband loves me despite it all, only ONE of my children spewed out “I HATE YOU”, and maybe, just maybe I can still make it to NY by next weekend.