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.

Planning to start again…

How often in life do you get to plan a fresh start, with the knowledge of what lies ahead? In less than I week my husband will have his weight loss surgery. He will start his journey with is VSG. And he has the benefit of living with me and sharing my knowledge. While I’m excited to share my knowledge with him, I’m meeting resistance!!! WHAT? yep! I am! REALLY!

The man went to his pre-surgical meeting at the doctor’s office. He met with the surgeon’s team, the surgeon and their nutritionist. Now, I have to tell you, I love our surgeon. I do. I love the office and the support there. BUT… I do not agree with certain things that they teach. For instance… two flinstones vitamins a day? Really. Somebody please tell me how a child’s vitamin in a 400lb male body is sufficient? Now break it down to a post WLS body and tell me how it even begins to match up to what is needed. It doesn’t. Its dangerous information.  While I won’t pick apart every single aspect of what I disagree with, I will say that I have lived this life, done the research, met the experts and pride myself on the knowledge that I have. BUT… this man has gone to ONE meeting and is telling ME how things have to be.

I should sit back and not argue. I should let him take the lead in his own weight loss journey. I should let him find his own way. Right? Or… should I step in and beg him to listen?

I’m honestly a little befuddled. I don’t want to come across as strong arming the boy. I don’t want to come across as knowing better… but uh, I KNOW BETTER. Hello! I’ve struggled, I’ve lived it.. I am living it. YOU have MET my people! This man has been talked to about nutrition, about post WLS life, about just about everything… in a manner that has been casual and not about him. So why can’t he apply what he already knows to be true to his own life? UGH! I’m frustrated! I’m going to sick some of my folks on him!

So, ladies and gents….. your advice? Do I approach this as if I were approaching one of you? Do I tell him what I know to be true and tell him what I know is bad advice and what has been helpful? Do I STFU and let my friends do it? Or do I just let him fumble his way through the first few post op months on his own? (I wish I knew then what I knew now. He has the chance to have better knowledge than I did. Better insight. I wish I had a first hand perspective back then. I wish I knew.)

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.

Migraines… they’re what I’ve got.

After a week of seriously screwy brain pain, my husband urged me to get my ass into the doctor. Knowing that I have seen her about headaches in the past, and her suggesting I see a neurologist…. I made an appointment with a neuro first, then went to see her.

“Tell me about your symptoms….” she said. I rattled off… dizziness, light sensitivity, nausea, insane head pain, worse when I bend down. Did I mention that I’m on day six of this? Oh, yeah, and uh.. I passed out in the shower once and I keep falling because my balance sucks. When the pain lets up and is more tolerable, there is ridiculous ringing in my ears, and on occasion, when I walk outside, I get spots in my vision.

Now, I admit, when writing it all out and admitting it out loud… I was an idiot to not go to the doctor before. My doctor, God love her for dealing with my entire family as often as she does, was unamused at best.

I am scheduled for an MRI next week. The week after I see the neurologist. My doctor gave me a beautiful gift in the form of a prescription for Imitrex and I took it at bed last night. I was afraid to sit upright this morning, for fear that the heavy head sensation would greet me as it has every morning for the past week, but alas, I sat up and my head didn’t feel like a bowling ball encased in skull. HOORAY!

 

 

This past week I have been a slug. I mean, really, beyond doing the hike on Saturday with the hubby and Ruby, which was pretty low key, low impact, slow moving…. I have NOT done a whole lot of moving. I have been quite content hanging low at home. A few days I didn’t get out of my PJ’s.  My husband made remarks about “who is that woman? Is my old wife back? My new wife wouldn’t be caught dead with PJ’s on and no make up. Are you OKAY?” Uh, yeah… not so okay, but still not excuse enough to slip back to old ways.

  I see how easy it is to fall back into habits. Its much easier to get out of bed and transplant myself from bed to sofa. Head in a pillow, letting the kids run a muck. Its easy to ignore the things that need to be done around here, especially when I know my husband will pick up my slack with out saying a word. Its easy to say “it’s too hot outside to go out” and its too easy to say “my head is killing me and so I won’t move because I don’t feel like it.” Even when the headache was a dull roar with ringing ears, I just laid around. BLAHH!

So today I hold myself accountable for the past week of excuses, and now that the pain in the brain is gone I have NO excuses. I’m going to get the kids out and pick some blackberries, then I’m going to catch up on housework. When the man comes home, I will see where the exercise will happen, dependent upon time, heat index, and weather I will either be down by the lake or up on the elliptical. Today the excuses end.

 

Confessions of a bariatric foodie

First off, let me point out my blog roll and the fact that there is a WHOLE blog dedicated to being a bariatric foodie. So yeah… stealing an idea here, but simply because I am inspired and frankly, I’m a self declared foodie.

I come from a family of foodies. My family has some of its very best moments in the kitchen, creating meals for each other. My dad, my sisters, my brothers, my husband, and even me… we’re all quite adveturous, and we all have amazing palates. My husband of course is beyond a foodie. He is a chef, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His skills have been put to good use through the years, my family has no problem using him to their full advantage.

Having had weight loss surgery did not alter my taste buds. It has altered the amount of food I can consume, it has even made me apathetic toward food on occasion, but my love of new things and my palate has not changed!

On Saturday we went over to Whole Foods and we stumbled upon a tasting of peach infused balsamic vinegar. They served it over watermelon, with a bit of fresh basil. They had me at “fresh basil” so I went ahead and gave it a try. OH MY, holy peach loveliness! I am not a peach fan. Nope, just not. But this… the heavens open, a choir sang, and my brain immediately went to the endless possibilities that this product could create.

We had friends coming over for dinner, and Saturday night friends + dinner is usually finger foods. Delicious divine finger foods, made with love!

Our favorite stand by is the grilled Angus rib-eye with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce, served on a garlic Parmesan crustini. YUM!

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Then, Kevin made an amazing chicken salad with fresh grapes, pecans, and of course the peach infused balsamic vinegar. It was amazing! Sadly, there is no awesome way to capture chicken salad. Its just sort of ugly, but here it is anyway:

Chicken salad

Finally tonight, the 4th of July, we wanted simple and delicious. There is nothing as wonderful as Caprisi Salad. NOTHING! Some fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of some reduced peach balsamic vinegar:

And while confessing about the glorious things we created this weekend, here is a photo of the mocha chocolate chip cake I made for our friend’s 4th of July party, it was a hit:

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