Is it all about you?

Today I was indulging my need to get lost on the net for a while & I went to twitter, where I was led to a friend’s blog to enter a give away (http://afterbedtimeblog.com/blogging/blog-to-business-freebies/) and then I read few some of the past writings I have missed out on. Vanita, the author got me thinking. How often do I actually leave a comment on the blogs that I read? Hell, how often do I leave feed back on much of anything?

We all participate on the internet with the hope of having our voices heard. A large majority of us share information as we seek and find new knowledge. Those little comments that are left, be it on a bulletin board, facebook, a photo, a group or a blog can really make somebody’s day. I know that with every little comment I see, I perk up a little. *Perk… somebody likes me… or paid attention to me… or hates me… but noticed me… perk perk**

Sure, I go through facebook and hit the friendly little like button to let somebody know that I was on their page or post or photo. Its easy and effortless, and as I sit and type this I can’t help but think.. its RUDE! Its bad etiquette. I wouldn’t go to a party and simply glance at the host with a smile and a wave as I rushed on to the next party! Is it too much to simply stop and say two words or more?

Which brings me to the thing I have noticed as I reflected upon my own poor internet/social media etiquette. You know those people… ya know THOSE people who are all over, telling everybody about all of their drama and their momma’s drama and so on. They write every stinking day about all the crap in their lives, and everybody falls all over them. Sure they get the attention, and they are seeking the attention, but how often do they venture off of their own page/post/blog/photo/note/etc to comment on those that support them?  Often? NOT REALLY. Oh yeah, they are full of the advice of what to eat or not to eat, what to wear or not to wear. How to avoid or conquer this or that… but it all happens to be on THEIR own posts!

While I may sound like I’m pointing a finger there.. believe me I’m not. I’m guilty of the very behavior I’m speaking of. I have made it a point in the past few weeks, to try every day to find one positive thing to post out there in the interwebs. Tweeting or facebooking, a blessing or observation about my kids, my friends, my life. Because frankly when it rains it pours and I didn’t want to be completely wallowing in self pity.. but somehow I was still completely self absorbed. HA! Go figure!

The funny thing is, in this community, we are all on a journey to find ourselves. Right? And so, part of the goal is to be self indulgent and self absorbed. Its a time for us to pay attention to ourselves for once! RIGHT? RIGHT… BUT rules still apply.

The GOLDEN RULE: Treat others as you yourself would like to be treated. Do you like to have comments made on your posts? Of course you do. So comment on other’s posts as well. Especially to those who are ALWAYS commenting on yours and showing you support! These are your people! This is your team! Show some respect!

Share! Don’t be a glory hound or a drama queen. If you are, they’re talking behind your back! “OMG… have you noticed that WOMAN who is always. blah blah blah blah” Yeah… because you get a lot of attention… its not always going to be to your face.

Help your friends! See a great blog? Link to it! Share their words! Its awesome to be noticed! Love somebody’s tweet? Retweet it! Give credit where credit is due.

I’m going to make an effort here to do more than have a simple blog roll over there ——> I’m going to make an effort to comment more often, share other’s blogs more frequently and participate on the forums that I find helpful more often. I started this blog for a reason, and I never want to lose sight of that reason. I want to share, and help, give support and find support in return. So today I turn it around. Its no longer ALL ABOUT ME.

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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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I went home part II

So, I headed off to Long Island and arrived at my friend Christina’s home by late morning.
Christina is my best friend, my soul sister. We have a bond like none other in my life. Christina and her husband Huge are incredible friends and their children are adored by me, as if they were my own. I know each one’s personality as well as I know my own kid’s personalities. Best yet is that their kids and my kids fall with in years, months, weeks of each other age wise. They fit like a puzzle, never a missing link.

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Walking into Chris & Hugh’s yard was like coming home in and of itself. Filled with ghosts of babies crawling, boys peeing in the yard, potty training, barbecues, beer, good times.

I stole away a bit of time here and there. I drove by my family home, down the block I played on, around the block to check out the park, the Matthew’s house and wondered if the yards were still connected like they were when we were kids. I never had to walk around the block. Loving neighbors had a gate between yards, to keep us lil people safe & in view.

We spent time with my brother Brian, my nephew John, and sister in law Tracy. Sometimes you take for granted that family is family & they will always be there. We have not seen nearly enough of them over the years, and I didn’t know how much I
Missed them till I was there.
My kids were water rats, I wore a bathing suit and was water logged myself. I soaked up the fact that Brian is a one man show who can entertain 7 children with out trying. I also can’t thank him enough for having my clan and Christina’s clan, so I was able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I drove through Lindenhurst and Wellwoid ave broke my heart. Where is Carvel? The flower Shop? How is Friendly’s a friggin 7-11? Where is my town? My tween years were spent there. My first job, first crush, and the sense if freedom I had by merely being permitted to walk there to meet up with friends.
Amazingly, a trip to NY did not awaken my sense of food nostalgia. Well, other than Linzer Tarts. I really didn’t do the food tours that most former NYers do when they go home. No bagels for me (but for the kids) Brian got them pizza too. No deli heros, no Italian pastries, I even avoided the Italian butcher. No Chinese, no Zorns, no zeppolis.
Crazy right? But, this is a non scale victory. Before surgery I would have binged for a week straight.
The ghosts of my childhood, my teens, my early parenting years are all around Long Island. I was homesick for this place that will always be my home.
Packing up my babies and heading back to Georgia was physically painful. My heart broke. I miss my people. Christina and I belong close by. It’s a strong connection and it’s resilient, but 900 miles may as well be different continents. I miss my brother, my family. I even got to see my cousin Jamie and her beautiful boy Hudson. Jamie and I were polar opposite as kids. She out going and independent, me a momma’s girl. Now, we’re two strong headed, crazy momma’s ourselves & my kids are thrilled to know that there are more cousins to meet.
Next year we’ll tackle this trip earlier. We will make time for the beach, for a meeting with Scheiner Family, & hopefully the hubby will come along to spend some man time with Hugh & Brian.

My NY peeps, I love you. I’m sorry if I missed you. I was ghost hunting, finding pieces of myself in memories long gone.

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.

I went home….Part I

As my previous post stated, I traveled from Georgia to New York with my kids. I use to live in NY. It is where I was born and raised. Some of my family is there, my best friend is there, my past is there and its always going to be home to this Yankee chick.

When we first arrived we drove past Long Island, past Westhester and toward Poughkeepsie NY where we met up with my friend Hope and her clan Olen, Reid, Eliya and Lincoln. Hope and I became friends back in the days of my pregnancy with Kailey while on a baby board for February 2002 babies. Olen and Kevin are the same age, about a week apart. While we have not seen each other in years (actually 4 children or so ago), we have always kept in touch. Hope and the Feb mommas (both 02 and 03) were my life line, when I had little hope left in the world. It was a calm, comfortable meeting while the kids all ran a muck around Chuck E Cheese! Love you Hopey!
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Later that afternoon we traveled another hour south east and arrived at my sister Suzanne’s house. The kids hopped out of the car and almost immediately made friends in the neighborhood, and began playing outside. I know I have made mention of this before, but I am so proud of the fact that my kid play outside! They are not drone children, attached to electronics and sitting on their butts. They are active and happy and living the type of childhood that I had, and that many kids their age only see on TV!

Suzanne came home and we were instantly comfy, entertained, fed and loved. We set the kids up in one room, and shuffled their tired little butts to bed, with hopes of having a nice quiet sisterly night. There were whining kids, but the night still ended up with sisters, sushi and martinis. Ahhh… creature comforts!

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The following morning we herded the children, including my beautiful niece Kristin (Krissi, as she prefers to be called, will never cross my lips), who happens to be a 25 yr old child in my book. Yes, herded them all into the car and off we went for a trip to the Bronx Zoo. Face painting, animals, lunch, rides, butterfly gardens and a 4D movie later, we headed to the store to gather some things for dinner. Suzanne and I walked into the grocery store as well as a foodie boutique looking like this:

Embrace the day, love your inner child

There were small debates as to how sane it was to walk into such places, in my sister’s town, looking like we just escaped the circus, but alas, we embraced the inner child and said “fuck it!”! We all know, very well, that you only live life once! These are the moments to remember, and I’m pretty sure the kids as well as a few locals will remember us walking into Susan Lawrence looking like this!

Sunday arrived and we went to a beautiful park on the Hudson River. Suzanne packed us a great picnic lunch, and we instantly soaked up the day with smiles, and laughter, kids looking out over the water, and everybody doing their best to climb a tree!

On the Hudson

When we left the park, we headed home to have a lovely dinner with Kristin and Lamar. Lamar was introduced to the children, and he didn’t run in fear, as they climbed on him like he was a human tree. They adored him, as do the rest of us.  I promised Lamar no photos of him on facebook. This is not facebook. Here is the mystery man being adored!

Sunday was my last night at Suzanne’s. Monday morning we headed to Christina’s in Long Island. I will write more about that leg of the journey later.

To end this post I want to point out that 140 + pounds ago, I would have struggled with a trip like this. I would have struggled to keep up, have energy, be comfortable, and the joy would have been overshadowed by the unhappiness. That unhappiness was captured in many photos over the years. These photos, this time around, do not shadow anything. There is joy, there is peace, there is fun, and there is pride.Most of all, there is love. And its quite clear.

My largest non scale victory is simply the fact that surgery helped me to achieve a quality of life that obesity robbed me of.

 

Life is good when…

Today I had tremendous non scale victories. I wore a bathing suit, spent the day out doors, in July heat and humidity and was comfortable. I didn’t seek the shelter of the house. I enjoyed my family and my friends, with out worrying about what I looked like or what others thought of me. BUT… MOST OF ALL… I played with my kids, made memories and was that person that I had hoped surgery would help me to be. I was a mom who was able to not only keep up with her kids, but who was able to enjoy them too.

Life is good. I am blessed. These are just a few of my many blessings.

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900 miles

On Wednesday, I headed out with the kids for a road trip to NY.
We stopped in Raleigh where we got the chance to visit some friends & spend some time with my family there. Thursday we drove through to Maryland, and I was grateful for the chance to get off of the road and into a bed.
On Friday we headed out, and drove up to NY, where again, we were delighted to spend time with Friends and then more time with family!
My sister had us at her place for a few days, bless her heart! I think the whining will be missed terribly. But she is a great sport, and didn’t pull her hair out or stick anything into her ears to drown out the noise.
Over the weekend we went to the zoo, had a picnic on the Hudson River, spent quality time with my Sis and my niece and soaked up the love.
Today I left Suzanne and headed to Long Island.
I am writing this from the basement of my best friend’s home. My children are sprawled out, 2 on a pull out couch, 1 on an air mattress, 1 on the chaise lounge of the sofa. The day was filled with laughter and screams, water slides, pools and swings. Sun, coffee, juice boxes, and the beauty that is our children picking up exactly where they left off last time they saw each other.
There was no shyness, no awkward moments. Just 7 kids who have known each other forever, being their individual selves, caution to the wind, because when you are with friends who love you, you have confidence that they are just as silly as you are.

While I miss my husband and my Ruby, I have driven 900 miles from my house in Ga, to finally be home, where my heart will always be. Long Island is in my blood. These are my people. There is a contentment here that I have not felt in years.

Tomorrow I will see my brother, sister in law & nephew. Wednesday I hope to get to the ocean. Thursday I start the treck back to the south.

900 miles. What on earth were we thinking? I’m going to soak in as much as I can, my heart is light, smile on my face, babies are delighted, family is loved, best pal, soul sister makes the world feel balanced. Some things do not change.
I pray that these kids, as they get older, appreciate the ties that bind. Surely they have them, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.

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Bari-Family

Once upon a time, a sort of big guy dated a sort of chubby girl, they got married, had babies and got obese together. The now obese wife decided that life was meant for living, and decided to have bariatric surgery to help her reach her goals of living.

A few months later, the obese wife, became a smaller version of her former self, and resembled her younger self more and more. The obese husband struggled with his emotions, trying to deal with the changes that were happening before his very eyes.

Eventually the obese husband discussed the possibilities of bariatric surgery for himself, first with his doctor then with his wife. While apprehensive to under go any form of surgery, he realized that at the rate he was going, he wouldn’t see his children graduate high school. Having lost his own father, much earlier than he should have, he decided to go forward with his plan to have weight loss surgery.

Today the obese husband has been under doctor’s care for  5 months. He went for all of his pre surgical testing, his surgeon consult and his nutritionist appointment. Today, it all became real for him, as he left the doctor’s office and the doctor said “next time I see you will be on the day of your surgery”

One month from now, he will hand in the last of his paper work and it will be submitted to the insurance company. With in the next few months we will be a bariatric family. Hopefully the changes we make in our lives now, will keep our children from struggling with obesity and poor eating habits and behaviors.

Up to this point, I was not sure he would go forward with this. In the past he has lost weight on his own.

When Kailey was born, the man was skinny!

As I have written previously, having a child with medical issues certainly contributed to both of our stress eating tendencies. It is very easy to fill the “helpless” feelings with food. I am hopeful that today marks the beginning of the changes my husband needs to live a happy life.

We're on our way... together.