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

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.

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!

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?

 

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!*

20110804-072124.jpg

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.

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.

 

What do you do when you’re bored?

Boredom set in this afternoon. I was quite content with reading my book, until somebody told me to switch on the TV to hear the verdict from a certain murder trial. All contentment I had was quickly washed away with pissed-offedness.

So, I went to the kitchen and took survey of what was around. I saw ripe bananas

Mini Chocolate chips:

Sour cream:

Yellow cake mix:

some eggs, some milk, some pure vanilla extract and my kitchenaid mixer.

I swished it all together, slapped the mixture into some well greased and floured spring form pans, stuck them in the oven for 35 45 minutes and….. saved this to draft for the finished product.

20110705-041728.jpg

It smells damn good, it is not bariatric friendly, I have no idea what I will top it with, but crisis averted, I got busy, distracted when stressed, didn’t eat anything to fill the crazy that was going on in my head…. and instead tried my hand at doctoring up a box mix with some need to use stuff I had laying around.

My children will thank me… maybe? I’ll let you know if this fails after dinner.

 

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE!

Moments after hitting publish on this, one of my children stuck fingers into the cake, a nibble here, a nibble there… the entire top of one pan missing. THIS is something my mother threw a pie at my brother for doing when I was a kid! Just sayin’

Anyway… the cake, apparently tasted pretty good. So, I sliced a sliver off the top and had the husband taste it. He approved. It didn’t suck, so I took a taste and HOLY CRAPOLY! My mad woman in the kitchen creation did not suck! Nope, its really awesome.

So, 1 box yellow cake mix

1 box instant pudding French Vanilla

3 ripe bananas mashed

1/2 cup milk

3 eggs

16 oz sour cream

1 package mini chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

1tsp vanilla extract

mix it all together, toss into greased and floured 9″ spring pans, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and whola…. you figure out how to top it off. I still have no idea