It’s a Conundrum.

co·nun·drum/kəˈnəndrəm/

Noun:
  1. A confusing and difficult problem or question.
  2. A question asked for amusement, typically one with a pun in its answer; a riddle.

I feel like I keep dancing around this whole body change/dysmorphia/weight challenge. But I guess that’s what weight loss surgery/rapid weight loss is all about. Right?

So, this week I went back to that place that sends me into a cold sweat. I went to the fitting room. I knew that my size 12’s were loose and baggy, especially where my ass was. If your jeans don’t fit JUST right, you risk having noassatall or a massive wedge. Neither is attractive, but I guess noassatall is more comfortable.

So I fought the urge to run, the urge to flee and I tried on the size 10’s. Truth be told, I carried a number of 12’s in with me also… because well… maybe I wouldn’t fit in the 10’s and maybe a different cut of 12’s would be better. Hey, this is what it is. Its the way MY brain works. The 12’s were ALL too big, regardless of cut. The 10’s all fit, although one cut (the boyfriend cut) was NOT bariatric/loose skin friendly. Special thanks to those jeans for letting me know that I also have loose skin on my ass cheeks. Thanks for that!

So here I am wondering out loud… WHERE does one set their goals? REALLY? A BMI chart doesn’t tell you what size jeans you should be wearing. A tag in your jeans doesn’t tell you what weight you should be. So, what happens when your brain tells you that a size ten should LOOK 20lbs LOWER on the scale than it actually does? If I were to get to where the blasted BMI calculator tells me I *could/should/wish-to* be then what would the tag of my jeans read? 4? 2? 0? SERIOUSLY? Its ridiculous, isn’t it? I mean honestly… am I REALLY wasting my time wondering about this crap? BUT the answer is

I AM damn it! I fully ADMIT that a year ago, I would have been giddy to get my fat ass into a size 16, let alone a 14… 12 and a 10 was UNIMAGINABLE! SERIOUSLY! I KNOW! A ten! BUT.. BUT BUT BUTT….. I don’t feel like I LOOK like a TEN… most of the time anyway. And if you took away the camera and the mirror and simply gave me the scale… NO WAY IN HELL would the number on the scale translate into a size ten to me. NOPE, nay never!

So, while I don’t see myself as I ten USUALLY, I do take a LOT of pictures and there is a reason for that! When I was fat, I looked in the mirror and didn’t see myself as obese and as miserable as the camera saw me. I would get up, get dressed, check myself out in the mirror and say “Self, you look pretty damn cute for a big chick”. Then a week or two later I would see a photo of myself from that day and  much to my horror… there would be no trace of the cute big chick, simply frumpy cranky momma. AND NOW… well NOW… I look in the mirror and I don’t SEE thin, not fat, normal. I SEE loose skin, big girl. I don’t necessarily see obese. But I do see big. SO, I take pictures, because again… the photographs see more than what the mirror shows. The camera captures what the scale doesn’t give me, what the mirror hides, what the brain denies. The camera gives it to me straight. Be it tired, sloppy, or NOT FAT! The camera gives it to me for real. So yes folks, there are lots of pictures and there will be lots more. If I take a picture and I see fat, despite what the scale or the jeans say… the photos will keep me honest with myself.

The question, however, still remains. WHAT DETERMINES the beginning of maintenance and the end of loss? The number on the scale? The number on the jeans? The stupid freaking BMI chart? The photograph? Will there ever be a point where I will be satisfied? Will I ever it ever be ENOUGH? I just got into a size 10 and already I’m thinking about a size 8. HELLO BRAIN FUCKED! My constant friend. SIGH.

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Body Morphing, its just a strange thing

Here I am 13 months post vertical sleeve gastrectomy. The honeymoon phase is waning. The need to make a conscious effort is apparent. A few days of bad choices equals a few numbers increased on the bitch of a scale. Damn that scale.

So, anyway, its a funny thing, the way a bariatric body changes. We have a body type. Those of you who are bariatric know what I mean. We morph in stages. Top first, melt melt melt. WHOA.. look at those cheek bones just days/weeks/months out. Then the neck, collar bones. Around 8 months out my waist changed, then I had to really work to get my legs to slim down… they were just hanging on to weight like potato sacks. Now here I am, slimming down again, and my waist is slimmer, my legs are slimmer and suddenly my face and neck and collar bones are slimming again.

There is amusement in this. I admit to being fascinated by the bari-body. The pre-pastics bari-body. We are identifiable. While we are proud of our weight loss, the way our bodies morph is often a bone of contention with many of us. The loose skin, the areas in which it hangs, the way the excess settles in areas such as our hips or lower belly, thigs, batwings, ankles, toes… what ever. Ahh thank the universe for the joys of the digital camera, the ability to take a photo and delete a photo, edit a photo and play with a photo. Thank the universe for the ability to connect with other body morphing freaks like me, who totally get it when I pinch the flap of skin on my hip and ask “What in the hell is THIS? What do I do with THIS?” and for those who laugh at me when I joke that “If a hurricane were to hit right now, at least we could all deploy our loose skin and parachute to safety” Its our super power. Flexi skin FTW!

Next time I  post a picture of myself and you wonder why I often post face pics, understand that the answer is this…… There is NO loose skin in my face, my neck or my shoulders! It is easily photograph-able with out needing to suck, push, roll or hide anything. When there are full body shots, I assure you that they are carefully selected, there are slimpressions worn to pull in the excess hangage, and they are shared painstakingly.

Stages of morphingI was recently asked if my brain is finally catching up to my body. I had to think about this for a day or two. I suppose it is. When trying on clothes I still grab one or two sizes too large. I still have anxiety trying on smaller sizes. Mind you, there is VICTORY in getting my ass into a size 12  and more so in the need to go try on a size 10… but there is also anxiety that comes along with going to grab those 10’s and carry them into the fitting room. But yes, my brain is there. I know I need the smaller size. I DO see it. I DO like it. I’m totally NOT bitching about it! YEEHAW to cute jeans! WOOHOO to skinny jeans! And YIPPY to the fact that this fall I will get myself a pair of boots because my calfs are thin enough to wear them! SO there! LOL

I digress, the point is… we are constantly in a stage of morphing. I don’t know that it matters how far out we are either. We just change shape every few months, bounce back to a shape, then revisit another shape. We are shape shifters, body morphers… we have super powers so watch out!

Momma and baby, a moment shared.

I found myself standing there, in the dark, dank silence of the garage, soaking in this moment…. she had her arms around my neck, her tiny head resting on my chest, her head below my chin, her legs draped over my arm, as I cradled her like I use to not so long ago. It was a quiet moment, a calm at the end of a stormy day. She was exhausted and so was I. It was just a moment, and I think we were both painfully aware of how incredibly rare and special that moment was. We were just still, deep breaths, strong grips, and silence.

It was only 3PM, the boys had not even gotten off of their bus yet, and here we were, 13 hours into the day from hell. We expected a rough day. We know that any day scheduled at the hospital will suck. We didn’t expect it to start at 4am, we didn’t expect the emergency room as an entrance. We didn’t expect the pain and anxiety.

Kailey is 8 years old. She is a tiny little bit of a girl. 30lbs and not even 3 feet tall. Kailey has a number of medical conditions, and I choose the term medically fragile when speaking of her, because above all else, the fact that her life is fragile is the most important fact I can stress. She is handicapped, she uses a wheelchair. She is a cardiac child, she has a mechanical mitral valve. She has a rare disorder called haywells syndrome, which amazingly enough is considered to be a random mutation. Any one of these things in and of itself would be bad enough, combine them together and well… you just don’t know what you get from day to day. We didn’t expect to see our girl celebrate her fifth birthday. She is now eight. At some point, we stopped projecting on the “but when” and decided to enjoy the “right now”. This way of life suits us well 99.9% of the time. Every .1% reality swoops in and gives us a really mean reality check.

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Kailey was scheduled to have a cystoscope to check out her bladder at 11:30 on Wednesday. At 4Am on Wednesday, Kailey came hysterical into my room, in pain. Her bladder was full, it hurt. Because of her spina bifida, she has a mitroffanoff to access her bladder. We catheterize her through her belly to get the urine out. We have been having a hard time lately, thus the reason for the appointment later in the day. At this point, I was unable to get her cathed. We tried and tried. Ultimately we ended up at the Emergency room.

Once at the ER, we were greeted by the lovely woman who works behind the desk at the CHILDREN’s HOSPITAL, who, when pulling up my daughter’s name stated “you’re scheduled for day surgery, you need to go upstairs.”. Here is how this goes.

Me “Yes, she is scheduled for surgery at 11:30. It is 8am, she is in pain and needs seen RIGHT NOW. The doctor’s service said to bring her into the ER”

her “So you’re coming from the doctor’s office?”

Me <GLARE, look at watch, GLARE> “Uh, no, I’m coming from home. This is not a child with behavioral issues, this is a child in agony. You have to admit her to the ER”

her “Oh, okay hold on.” .. picks up phone, dials and speaks “Uh, I have a mother here who refuses to take her child to registration, she is scheduled for day surgery, what should I do with her?”

At this point I walked to a nurse, explained again that the child who I have with me, that is screaming in agony, and demanding somebody help her RIGHT NOW… is not a child with behavioral issues, but rather a child who has not urinated in over 12 hours, and that the surgeon told us to come to the ER. The nurse went to the idiot at the desk and told her to check us in. There was a debate between the two. I took Kailey and sat down while the battle of wills went on over there. I had nothing to contribute. My heart was broken. My will was shattered. My baby was in so much pain.

Finally another nurse called us over to take K’s weight, temp and allergies. She gave her her bracelets, then told us to have a seat. Dumb struck I said “huh?” she said pointing to the empty chairs “Go there and sit, somebody will come and get you”. Uh, oh… well, okay.

Now, this is where I should let you all know that at our usual children’s hospital (CHOA has FOUR hospitals in a very close area all specializing in different areas. We usually go to Egleston, because of their cardiac unit) sees us walk into the ER, and Kailey’s chart must be flagged, because we have never, ever EVER so much as sat in a waiting area there. EVER. We have signed in, and been escorted straight back. Seas part for Kailey at that hospital. They are NO JOKE. DO NOT PASS GO! No no, straight to a room with a nice lil’ pulse ox, and telemetry monitor on you.

Being told to have to sit in an ER waiting room, while standard for the whole wide world, is not standard for Kailey, ever, especially when she is in THIS MUCH PAIN! I have never ever seen her hurt like this.

My advocate self, my take no crap self, my “don’t screw with my baby” momma bear self…. BROKE! I don’t know what happened to me, I don’t know who I was. I was completely swallowed whole by the words my daughter had spewed at me about wishing she could just die. I was traumatized by the world around me and how completely out of body this whole thing seemed. I was not myself and I was not doing my thing. So, Kailey stepped in.

Kailey started to yell at ‘She who sat behind the desk’. When I say yell, I mean… this child turned UGLY. She screamed “Im going to slam my head into the floor and MAKE MYSELF BLEED! Do YOU HEAR ME? I’m going to make myself bleed, so somebody HAS to come out here and HELP ME!” OMG, my 8yr old just had her very own, “terms of endearment moment” for herself! GOOD FOR HER, and yet, how sad that she knows that this is a way she should have to get herself help?

At this point I texted my sister, who called the doctor, who sent a nurse, who got us into the ER. From there the frenzy was fast and furious. There was the attempt to calm the child with versed. They tried to put it up her nose. She spewed it back at them. Not happening. The urology fellow came down and tried to get her catheterized. She failed. It was clear that this bladder wasn’t going to get tapped while this kid was awake. So, the next step was get an IV going. Once that was done morphine was given. The savage beast was calmed. She pointed her finger in a circular motion and said “THAT… that medicine makes me sleepy AND it makes me not care! I LIKE THAT ONE!” Yes honey, me too. As soon as Kailey got her “not care” on, she was shuffled up to the OR floor. Notes were taken, doctors were in and out, I just stood, answering questions, holding her hand, and feeling both apprehensive and relieved. At least she didn’t hurt, but soon I would have to leave her. That moment, that horrible moment when you kiss your child goodbye before any surgery, was looming closer and closer, and with it, the old “what if” started to whisper like thunder in my soul.

Then we were home and  there we stood, soaking in our quiet moment in the dark, dank garage. Both of us knowing. Both of us exhausted. A moment an 8 year old shouldn’t have to understand, but she does. A moment, like so many others we have had, but a harsh reminder… that I don’t take advantage of the normal moments nearly enough.

Kailey will have more surgery in the upcoming weeks. I will let you all know about it, as the time arrives.

Perception, the way you’ve changed

Those of us who have had bariatric surgery have read many a story about the post op patient who has lost their weight, lost their mind, and found their mid life crisis. We have also heard many a story of those who have been there, done that, come back, found level ground and who live a happy sane life.

From MY personal perspective, there is a whole lot of unearthing of crap when you go from this:

to this:

Outwardly, it is easy to look at an image, or a facebook page, or a blog and think to yourself ‘Wow, she must be so happy!’ or proud or whatever. And to be clear, as for the weight loss, I AM! I am thrilled! Lets not be vague about that! Not for one second! I am happy and proud and giddy about the fact that I am no longer swallowed up by layers of my own fat.

However, those layers of fat gave me shelter. A reason to hide from the world. In my mind, I didn’t want to be exposed to judgment or hurt, harsh words, looks, etc. I didn’t want to feel the let down that I had felt in the past when I had let people in. And so my fat protected me. It was my shelter.

I recognized that my unsocial behaviors were neither who I use to be or healthy. I realized that my unsocial behaviors impacted my children. And just as my tendencies to feed my fears with food were slowly killing me mentally and physically, so was this hermit lifestyle. I was simply a fragment of the person I use to be. I didn’t know who I was anymore.

Sadly, those behaviors quickly defined who I was. The perception was that I was this person who didn’t have an outside life. I was the person who threw herself into her children and her husband, her family and nothing more. This perception is not incorrect, but this is not who I was. The vibrant girl I was before, was lost and the memory of her was lost as well. But she was still there, inside of me.

I decided to make these changes. I knew that with the change that weight loss surgery offered, there would be social changes too. I knew the statistics, I knew the crisis that hit damn near every one of us. I read and reread and thought I was prepared. Really, I thought I could handle it. I did.

Here I am 13 months post WLS. I have a whirlwind around me with fragments of two worlds spinning around. I am grabbing what I can, and trying to piece together, redefine rescue, the person I know I am!

I don’t have my shelter of fat to protect me. My guard is down. There is a ton of hurt, while I dig through this rubble. Accusations of “I don’t even know who you are anymore” and I understand that, because for 9 years I didn’t know who I was anymore either. I had to learn to trust people, and in doing that, I had to accept that sometimes people let you down, and sometimes people hurt you. And I fight myself, to not crawl back into that hole. I fight, and I reach, and I struggle. Because I KNOW who I am… or at least I know who I am not! I am NOT that person who sat by herself in sorrow for 9 years. I am NOT that person who guarded her wounds like badges of honor! I am NOT that person! That person was unhealthy and not somebody anybody should ever strive to be! EVER.

I am trying to grow from the damages I have caused myself over the past decade. I am trying to plant my feet firmly in the aftermath of the storm that I created in my own life. And I accept that people who knew me when I was fatter and more sullen are confused as to the changes they are seeing. I understand that this may seem sudden, awkward, manic, or out of the blue. I get where it will be perceived as a side effect of rapid weight loss, but I assure you, this is simply one of the steps I have to take, for myself, in addition to the weight loss. This is part of my process, and I hope you all make it through this with me.

“Nobody loves me, nobody cares,
Nobody picks me peaches and pears.
Nobody offers me candy and Cokes,
Nobody listens and laughs at me jokes.
Nobody helps when I get into a fight,
Nobody does all my homework at night.
Nobody misses me,
Nobody cries,
Nobody thinks I’m a wonderful guy.
So, if you ask me who’s my best friend, in a whiz,
I’ll stand up and tell you NOBODY is!
But yesterday night I got quite a scare
I woke up and Nobody just WASN’T there!
I called out and reached for Nobody’s hand,
In the darkness where Nobody usually stands,
Then I poked through the house, in each cranny and nook,
But I found SOMEBODY each place that I looked.
I seached till I’m tired, and now with the dawn,
There’s no doubt about it-
NOBODY’S GONE!!”
Shel Silverstein

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.

I’m Here! .. wait… what?

Today a fellow sleever asked for a show of hands on facebook. Specifically he aksed for “over a year veterans”.

There are many times in my life where I have looked a situation and thought ‘it seems like yesterday..’. Often times when I look at one of my children, my husband, my parents. Sometimes when I open the front door of my home, or visit my old town. But never did I ever expect to feel that way about being a baby op. I mean, when did I become a veteran? I didn’t think I was. In my mind, I’m still green at this. I’m a newb. A babe, a fresh op. Careful, don’t scare me away!

Perhaps the fact that I had another surgery just three months after my WLS, I feel as though weight loss is still fresh, still progressing, still honeymooning. I know, logically that 18 months is the “magical” number assigned by “THEY” who write the books. “THEY” say that the majority of weight is lost with in the first 18 months after surgery. “They” also say a person who undergoes a vertical sleeve gastrectomy should expect to lose approximately 65% of their excess weight. Uh, yeah… that would have left me at about 215lbs…and I should have been happy with that? I don’t know who “THEY” are or where they get their numbers, but I think they may want to do some other research with in the community. Perhaps some updated studies. I don’t know.

Either way, being called a veteran is sort of like having somebody guess my age five years older than it is. It sort feels similar to the tick tock of the biological clock ticking in my chest. Its kind of like looking out the window and realizing that the big kid on the skateboard is my baby.

Lets slow down, take a breath, reassess the situation. Yes, I’m here for support. I am still in need of support. But by no means would I consider myself any kind of veteran. I’m in my surgical toddlerhood. I’m just ready for the equivalent of potty training. I still have accidents!

Disclaimer: The person who called forward the veterans did no wrong. He called forward those who seemed to be missing with in the support community. He was not looking to offend and I have no issues with him. 🙂 Its all rainbows and unicorns.

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.

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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?

 

And Poof, you are reminded

This past week I posted two “vlogs” about my daughter Kailey and her journey through life and defeating the odds.

I think I mentioned that we try to live a “normal” life and we do our best to treat her like a healthy, normal kid. But lurking in the background is this dread, that today could be the day that everything changes.

Yesterday Kailey spent the afternoon outside playing. She came in for dinner, then rushed back out to her friends. She didn’t come in with her siblings till nearly 8:30pm. Far past bedtime in our house. My husband decided it was a beautiful afternoon & they should enjoy it.

This morning Kailey woke up with a horrid migraine, complete with vomiting, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity & a new one for her… Smell… The kids cereal made her nauseous and she wasn’t even at the table.

I gave given her Tylenol, a bottle of Coke to sip on, pillows and a blanket. She doesn’t want to be alone in a room where it will be quieter and darker. She says she is afraid she will have a seizure.

Our dog Ruby was very agitated this morning and woke me up. I thought she needed to go out, but she wanted to be with Kailey. When Kailey came downstairs Ruby settled onto the love seat with her. The last time Kailey had a seizure, Ruby didn’t leave her side for days.

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I sit here now, questioning myself. Do I take her to the hospital? Is this just another headache? Is this more? Do I alert the family? Do I call my husband home from work?

I am reminded that that dark fear that lingers in the background of our “normal” life, grips me by the throat from time to time & I know that our normal is just really unfair.

One Year… I have lost and gained.

One year ago today I went in for my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. The picture above was a webcam photo, positioned just so, in attempt to hide my many chins. The smile, it was forced. Look at my eyes. Where is the joy?

I arrived at the hospital weighing about 300lbs. My pre-op diet paid off a little. 30lbs lost in 6 months. I was determined that I was not going to fail at this. I went in knowing that my life was about to change. I wasn’t nervous or apprehensive. I had my sights on living.

In this past year I have lost a lot of weight. I am proud of the weight I have dropped, proud of the sizes shed, proud to clear out my closet and proud to wear cute things. While I have lost weight, I have gained tremendously.

I have gained my sense of self. Pride I had lost years ago. I have gained friends, who I have formed bonds with that while heavier I never would have formed. I ventured to put myself “out there” and take a chance on leaving the hermit life style behind, and I was rewarded with people who both understood me and challenged me.

I have gained an understanding of food and nutrition. I have gained a desire to move. I have gained the ability to chase my kids and play with my kids. I can now not only walk up the stairs with out being winded, but I try to run up the steps every chance I get. Why? Because I CAN!

I really never imagined that at one year out, my life would have changed this much. I set my sights on realistic. initially I felt that 18 months would be the magical number that “normal” was achieved. Once I started to lose weight quickly I had it in my head that if I didn’t reach goal by 1 year, I was a failure. I now understand that “normal” is a mind set and I’m never going to have it. And goal is a goal, meant to be achieved at some point, not by a day on the calendar.

I am not at goal. I don’t know if I ever will be. I will continue to move forward, enjoying life and hoping to hit that magical number that will some how give me validation. But for now, I am simply going to omit the crappy things that have happened this year and enjoy my rainbows and unicorns moment! *glitter confetti!*

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This may not be the best photo, but it the most recent & my husband hates the head wrap. So clearly the best photo choice is the one that makes him twitch. Some things never change.