Sunday, August 31, 2008

Somewhere In Between

Here and there. Then and now. Either - or. Before or after. Somewhere in between. I feel like I am somewhere in between. It isn’t a bad place to be. It is just an “up in the air” place to be. I am continuing to plug away at this new lifestyle. Things are going well. The “in between” has to do with sizes and weights and foods and feelings, etc.

I can’t wear my big pants because they tend to fall off as I walk down the hall. That is NOT a good thing! My old next size down reserve pants fit. They aren’t as comfortable as my big pants used to be, yet. I need to loose just a few more pounds to make them comfortable in all positions (standing, sitting, bending, etc.). They are comfortable enough in all of these positions to wear them though. My old shirts are big and baggy. My new next size down and old next size down reserve shirts are just not as comfortable as my old big baggy shirts. The old shirts look a little sloppy, but the next size down feels too restraining in certain areas. I like to have room to “spare” in my shirts; especially around the belly. Why is the belly always the last place to reduce? I certainly don’t remember it being the last place to enlarge!

Last week I gained 4 pounds. My dietician tells me it was probably fluids. Well, I believe she is right. She said I would have had to take in 14,000 MORE calories in the week to have put on 4 pounds of fat. That is absolutely impossible for me to do. So this week I got on the scale and I lost 3 pounds. Now that is more like it!! The only thing is; I have to recognize the 3 pounds are probably that stupid fluid that I had last week. So we are almost back to square one. I have lost 41 pounds since June 21st and 26 of those since surgery 6 weeks ago. This week has been tough for exercising. The YMCA has been closed so I haven’t been able to go for water aerobics. I tried to walk, but my feet hurt severely after the 1st day. It is hard to be motivated when you hurt. Then of course there are the working hours. It is hard to get off work at 2:30am and up at noon and be motivated to exercise. Yesterday (Saturday) was my last day of the power shift. I will now work 2:30p-10:30p every day. So it will be very conducive to my exercise program. I am excited to get back on track and get some progress going.

I am “in between” when it comes to food. I am in between larger portions most days and smaller ones other days. I am really relying on listening to my body and not my head. Last week I ate by my head. I knew I was up to about ½ a cup of food at a time. When I took 2 bites of egg and felt a full sensation I “knew” I hadn’t had enough food so I continued to eat. The pain I was in was the symptoms of overeating according to Jennifer my dietician and Ronda the program director at IWLS in Junction City. I never want to feel that again!!! I’m sure I will, but I will try my hardest to stay “in between” satisfied and full. Today I ate eggs again for the 1st time since last week’s episode. I have eaten eggs since puree phase and had no problems. Well, I had some ill effect this morning, but nothing close to last week. So I am going to assume my pouch is having issues with eggs right now. My handbook material tells me to not eat it for a week or so and try again, so that is the plan.

I found I am “in between” when it comes to types of food. I am taking in enough protein most days and so I can have some “other” foods. I also want to start eating more solid food (soft) instead of pureed. Dad grilled hamburgers the other day. I decided I did not want to puree a grilled hamburger, so I ate it as was. It was a little dry as can be anticipated for grilled. I put a little ketchup, horseradish mustard and a dollop of lite ranch dressing on it. I chewed and chewed and chewed to puree consistency. Oh, was it ever so good!!!!!!!! I had no problems. I was able to eat 1 ½ oz of hamburger with some green beans. So I do get a variety of flavors, textures and foods.

I have also found some of the things that used to tempt me to eat, don’t anymore. Yes, they look good, but I have no desire to even taste it. I’m sure with time this will change, but at least I enjoy this “in between” time. I am taking advantage of it to establish a habit of reasoning with “to eat or not to eat”.

I am also “in between” when it comes to feelings. Not just emotional feelings, but physical feelings. Some days I have more energy than I have had in years. Other days I am tired beyond belief. I think a lot of this may be the helter skelter of my working hours. I hope all this will even out as I get to a straight schedule starting tomorrow. Yes, I still have a day here and there of working until 2:30am, but those are rare overtime days. I also think my energy will increase as I get back into the routine of exercise.

Well, I hope your days are well rounded and not in between days. Keep conscious of your body’s cues. They will probably more than likely be more reliable than your head’s assessments. “Between” now and our next time, keep a smile on your face, your body fueled healthfully and your spirit light!

Save the Earth... it's the only planet with chocolate.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Oh boy! Today I got to feel the dumping syndrome. I did not have a dumping but certainly had the symptoms of such. I either ate my eggs to fast or didn’t chew them well or my pouch decided to reject them today. Maybe they weren’t moist enough. I don’t know, but I ate them and felt a burning/aching at the top of my pouch. I had only taken a few bites. I should have stopped, but the ole’ raising kicked in. You know the rules. The ones that are based on the guilt trip your parents laid on you when you didn’t want to eat something. “Don’t you know there are starving people in...?” “You need to clean your plate.” “No dessert for you until you clean up every last drop of food on that plate.” Well, today we went with the first one. Even though I felt my pouch saying stop I ate all the food anyway. I figured it couldn’t be full because I took my normal portion. I am up to ½ a cup of food 3 times a day. Well, within several minutes of finishing I felt miserable. It felt like a heavy weight lying on my chest. I thought, “Wow maybe I can wash some of this down.” So I drank some water. Maybe I drank too fast or too much or maybe it was just the wrong thing to do all together. Within a minute I knew I had to lie down. I lay on my bed for about 30 seconds and began to get that “slimy” feeling in my mouth that you get when you think you are going to vomit. So I got up, went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet with the trash can as my companion. I thought, “Great! I’m probably going to dump and have diarrhea and throw up (regurgitate).” Well after 5-10 minutes of “sweating” it out and spitting a few times to get rid of the excess salvias, I burped repeatedly and the pressure subsided. I didn’t dump, but I learned a lesson. Do NOT force food down when your pouch is saying to stop. I do not plan to ever do that again! At least it was short lived.

I think I will forego eggs for a spell. I am going to go to Wal-Mart tomorrow and get some cereal. I know I am still on the puree diet, but I think I can soak it well enough in milk and chew it enough to eat it. I have to get ready for the soft food stage anyway. I have been on the puree diet 2 ½ weeks. The workbook says I would be on it 2 weeks, but the instructions the doctor gave me said a month. So I am going to go get some Cheerios or a rice cereal and try it.

I am doing well with my protein and fluid intake. Most days I am close to 60 grams of protein without adding my actual food intake. My fluid intake is well over 64 ozs most days. I have decided to keep a closer track of protein intake with food means I am now eating ½ a cup of food per meal and only 3 meals a day. I started this process by eating 4-6 times a day with 1 Tablespoon of food a meal. Then I advanced to 2 Tablespoons. Finally when I got up to ¼ a cup of food I trimmed back to 4 meals a day. One night at work I ate that 4th meal by the clock means I rarely feel hunger urges. The 4th meal pushed me over the top. I felt far too full. So since then I have stuck with 3 meals a day. I am eating other foods after my protein portion. I always put dry milk in everything to boost the protein content. I put it in my tomatoes and cottage cheese, pudding, applesauce, mashed potatoes with meat mixture, vegetables, etc. It will be interesting to see how much I actually take in. I know it won’t be 100% accurate because I find it hard to measure the total grams with the dry milk. One-third of a cup of dry milk is 8 grams of protein. Well, I don’t use a full 1/3 cup in a day. But at least I can keep tabs on the food itself. I will have to divide the dry milk down to teaspoons and I can probly be very accurate. I would like to get away from the protein drinks. If I could get by with one a day I would be happier. I also am going to buy and try a “protein bullet”. Once I try it I will let you know what it is like. A protein bullet is a liquid mixture of some sort that has a high protein count. My friend Kevin says they are good, so we will see.

I am a little frustrated this week. I did my weekly weigh-in today. I gained 4 pounds. I’m not sure why. I will start using my DVD’s “Walk Away The Pounds” with Leslie Samsung. I really do enjoy them and I think it will give me a little more exercise than I have been getting with my water aerobics. I can’t do my water aerobics this week because the YMCA is closed for their annual deep cleaning. I have 4 DVD’s of Leslie’s. “Walk Away The Pounds” 1 mile, 2 mile and 3 mile. Then I have one that is “Walk Away the Pounds maintaining Diabetes”. So I hope this will jump start me. I’m sure there is nothing to worry about though.

Well, the clock tells me it is time to eat something. I will hope my dumping days are over with and my lesson is learned. Until next time-listen to your body and don’t overeat—It is okay to leave something on your plate! Regardless if you have had surgery or not! It’s in the portion control!

Your only limit is what you put on yourself!

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Month Post-op

I am now 4 weeks post-op. Since I started this journey with the Optifast semi liquid diet on June 21st I have lost 42 pounds; 27 of those are since surgery itself. I measured myself today and have lost inches in various places. I have progressed with my eating as well. I am now up to a little more than a ¼ cup per meal. This seems like a long way from 1 Tablespoon when I started. It is a sure sign that the pouch is healing. On my 2 week checkup instructions the goal for the month is to make it to ¼ - ½ cup of food per meal and to go from 4-6 mini meals a day to 3-4 meals a day. I do occasionally feel hunger urges. I try to listen to them and decide if it because I need water or food. I always try the water 1st and if that doesn’t take care of it I eat. I am getting more protein (dry milk) in everything I eat. I am hitting the 60 grams of protein goal per day. I am fairly regular with getting in my 64 oz of liquids.

Today I had 3 meals. I usually have an egg for breakfast. I go to the YMCA and water exercise. I return home and have a protein drink of 29 grams. Today I tried something different for food. I pureed some chicken breast mom and dad had left over. I pureed some turkey pepperoni and put lite mayo and dry milk in with the chicken. It was very good. I ate about ¼ a cup of that for lunch. For supper I took what was left and put some dill weed and cheese seasoning in it to change the taste some. It was very good! I am finding I am using seasoning more than I ever thought about. I just experiment. I figure if it isn’t any good it’s just a small amount of food. So far I have not found anything I didn’t like or didn’t agree with my pouch. I guess I must be lucky!!

Yesterday I made a concoction. I went into the laundry room where we keep a lot of our canned goods. I took a can of chicken, a can of pinto beans and a can of cream of potato soup. I mixed all 3 together and pureed them. I made just one helping in case it was nasty. It is actually good. I pureed the rest of it and I call it PiCk Po (Pinto Beans, Chicken and Cream of Potato). It amazes me I can’t get mom and dad to try any of it. It isn’t really the most appetizing looking entrĂ©e. Tomorrow I will doctor it up to change the taste a little. I might put some white cheddar cheese seasoning in it. I have found popcorn seasoning to be very good and it has several flavors available.

Mom drained off some chicken broth from some chicken she cooked to make chicken and noodles. I’m not sure what I will do with it yet. I also have a can of cream of onion soup. I might use some hamburger and can of vegetables and make something with the soup. The soup will be used after I brown the hamburger like mom did last week with Lipton onion soup. I might also take some fish and use the cream of onion soup to bake that in. I could use the soup or chicken broth to make some mashed potatoes. I put dry milk in them so they have protein value and don’t count as null.

I had to find some smaller pants. I wore my old pants on Thursday and discovered as I walked down the hall at work that I was in fear of losing them. Friday I pulled out a pair of my smaller pants. They are more of twill than a stretch material. I found them uncomfortable in the fact they do not stretch. I tried removing everything from my pockets, but still felt confined. So I wore a pair of stretch material pants Saturday. I was much more comfortable. So I am down a size or so in pants. My shirts are too big, but the next size I go down to is just not quite right for my satisfaction. I will hope this week with the exercising in the water and the exercise ball exercises I want to start will allow me to get into and be comfortable in the size smaller shirts as well as the twill type pants. I have found some toning exercises for the exercise ball. I need to work on my abdomen and lower abdomen/hips. I can do this on Thursday and Friday when I don’t get in bed until 3am and don’t want to wake up by an alarm to go to the “Y”. I can do it at home. I also have some other exercises that use the wall that are good for toning. It is a routine I will need to get into.

Well, as this 1 month mark is here I feel I have adjusted well. I am reading my pouch better all the time. I still have to make myself drink the protein drink. I would assume this is because it is easier to eat. I get tired of being full from fluids. I know this will lessen as I get closer to regular food and can take in higher grams of protein (such as a hamburger with 21 grams). I know I will probably have to rely on protein drinks for the rest of my life to be able to get in enough protein, but at least it will be fewer in a day. If I use good intelligent choices of food and higher protein items I will have to rely less on the drinks. I am amazed that I haven’t missed the sweets and pastas and potatoes. I can still have them, but after I have my protein. Using the dry milk also makes eating them more possible because with the protein it changes them from a “carb deficit” to a “protein benefit”.

I still can say with confidence, I am not sorry I had the surgery!! Now that I am beyond the liquids only diet I have been more content with my decision. I was never sorry, but I am certainly more settled in the lifestyle.

Until the insight hits—have a great time with life.

Daily Thought:
Some people are like slinkies -
Not really good for anything
but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Support. Just how do you visualize support? A good bra, an uncomfortable girdle, a tight pair of pantyhose, a steel beam, a pole to uphold. Just what does this word mean? Foundation, a base, corroboration, to maintain (keep something going), comfort, champion, rally, encourage. Now that we have explored the descriptors of the word, let's look at the physical aspect. Who do you see as a support? Parents, friends, family, spouses, children, clergy, co-workers, people with something in common. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My support system started when I was very young. I felt the love, care and concern of parents, family and as I got older, as is natural for maturing into adolescence, friends. I felt support from teachers and church people. As I look at my journey in this new lifestyle I have begun, I stop and think how it began.

My friend Shawna and I have discussed my weight for so many years it became a 2nd nature conversation. I have battled my weight for many years. Just last week at my primary physician's checkup we looked back at my medical files to figure out when was the last time I was below 200 pounds. Over 15 years ago. I remember it being over 30 years ago that I was around 130 pounds. So I have battled this frustrating war for a long time. Actually way over 1/2 of my life.

My first real support in this journey came with my neurologist who suggested I have this surgery over 2 years ago. I said I didn't need it because I hadn't "explored" all my options. My parents were there to support whatever decision I made. My decision was to try Weight Watchers. My next big support was my friend Shawna. She often has opened up conversations that have forced me to think. She has nailed me to the wall when I didn't want to face the reality, but knew she was right. Eventually "wearing me down" until I was ready to admit what needed to be done. Talk about love for a friend! Well, her persistence in trying to open my mind to the realities of my health yet showing me what I felt was always valid finally led me to look seriously at many issues. I began research via internet, books and anything I could get my hands on. She also invited me to attend a support meeting at Geary Community Hospital - Innovative Weight Loss Solutions in Junction City, Ks. In doing so, I made up my mind from this meeting, a following informational meeting and my own prior research. I went home and talked to my main support-my parents. I told them about the meetings I had just attended and that I had decided to have Roux-n-Y gastric bypass surgery. I think there was some fear in their minds. I'm sure this is because they knew it was what I needed; they knew it was not something I had wanted and their own lack of knowledge about the procedure. I invited them to watch some surgeries on the internet so they could visualize what I was going to face. They both watched some surgeries. I went over the written materials I had and they read some information I was able to send to them via internet. I've talked about my support of Shawna. Next I think of family. I'm not sure how they feel completely, but they are there for me. I have a friend that was frightened from the beginning when I told her what I planned to do. I know I worried her all they way through the actual surgery. She is better I think since seeing my healing. In time I know she will accept this as just being me now. Her support was so uplifting through it all. She called me everyday from the day before surgery until 2 weeks after including the 1st day I returned to work. Now that is support! I have another friend that has encouraged me from the beginning. So as you can see family and friends can be your best supporters if you keep them in the loop and make sure they understand why you have to do this. Of course I have my doctors' support. I already talked about my neurologist. I can add my primary physician and my 2 chiropractors. They have been great from the beginning. I think in some sense this is a journey for them too.

Just a note about my parents and their support. I had to go on the Optifast diet 1 month before surgery versus the normal 2 weeks of clear liquids diet. This is because my BMI (Body Mass Index) was so high. The Optifast diet meant I could have up to 5 Optifast protein shakes, 1 Optifast protein bar and a frozen entree less than 380 calories a day (Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, etc.). My parents went on a similar diet with me. They bought protein shakes, protein bars and frozen entrees from the store. They got rid of all the foods in the house I wasn't supposed to have. Both have lost weight in the process. I am so proud of them for staying with it in order to support me. Can we say, Love!

Now let's see what support outside the family can be. I have my church affiliated friends, pastor and YMCA water aerobics buddies. They were all there after surgery with words of encouragement, cards and phone calls. My co-workers have supported me in several ways. Many have been very apologetic for having wonderful smelling food before surgery (Optifast month) and after surgery. They felt guilty bringing in pizza, french fries and great smelling hamburgers. They have actually gone as far as to ask if I would mind them ordering ... I always tell them no I don't mind. It is my journey and my responsibility to change. They don't have to change anything for my sake. It is sweet that they think about me though.

Another source of support I can't say enough about. That is the team at Innovative Weight Loss Solutions. I know I have said before how special Ronda, Pam, Jennifer and Terra are. I can't say enough about them. They work hard for their clients. They become a friend. They genuinely care for each patient. They organize the monthly support meeting and do such a great job. Their knowledge and ability to share that knowledge is unreal. I can not say enough about their support. This leads me to the support meeting itself. The information gained in the meeting via speakers and fellow post-op people is immeasurable. The fellow post-op people are there to help each other. In the process they help themselves. I can't say enough about the support felt amongst the people in these meetings.

Sometimes it is hard to find support around you. You have to reach out and let people know what you need. But most important, you have to know yourself what you need. You have to be willing to love yourself enough to expect a lot from yourself. You have to be positive and aggressive in your approach to success. You have to expect to succeed and be honest about what it will take and what you are willing to put into it. You have to realize if you slip you haven't been banned from the wagon. Get back on, take the reins and lead the horses to the goal. It is your decision to do the work and your responsibility to find the support system that works for you and make sure they understand what you need. This may seem like a sermon, but in actuality it is a pep talk to myself. Keep the goal in view and work at it daily.

So you ask what my support system is like. Well, let's just say it is made up of a lot of diverse angels who I respect and who truly want the best for me. I have to keep them up to date. I have to be true to myself and realize I am my own best influence. Your support may be the base, foundation, a champion or an encourager. It may come in the form of a spouse, family member, friend, professional or a stranger. Be open to what may cross your path. Keep an open mind to how that support can feel. Maybe it will feel like a well worn bra, a hard piece of steel to keep you in line or a soft feather mattress. All of them have a different angle on the end result. Accept it and run with it. Most of all be your own supporter and love yourself enough to live the new lifestyle to the fullest extent!

My main support you ask? Well, that is easy. God! He brings all the other supporters I have mentioned into one big package and makes sure I know they are there for me. Thank you to all my support people and thank you God for bringing them into my life!

God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love
and so small He can curl up inside your heart.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Pouch is Healing

Well, I believe I can see progress in the pouch healing. I am able to eat 2 tablespoons of food at a time. It is wonderful to be able to actually eat; even if it is pureed. The taste is the same! I have enjoyed hamburger vegetable soup stock, soft boiled eggs mashed well, cottage cheese, yogurt, tuna with lite mayo, and today I’ll try browned hamburger and a cream of potato soup mixture. The hamburger was browned in a packet of Lipton onion soup. Then I took it and put homemade cream of potato soup with it and pureed. I hope it’s as good as it sounds. All the foods I eat now I put about ¼ teaspoon of non-dairy dry milk powder in them. If I use a 1/3 of a cup of it a day it gives me 8 grams of protein. So this helps boost the protein intake with all the foods I am eating and doesn’t change the taste.

I was having a hard time finding a protein mix I liked. Well, I have made some progress on that front. I found 8oz of 1% milk (can’t stand skim), 1 packet of UnJury unflavored protein powder and a packet of sugar free Moo Magic chocolate milk flavoring makes for a 28 gram protein drink. It also gives me some of the calcium I need. The UnJury I purchase off the website and the Moo Magic milk mix I get at Wal-Mart. I have found the UnJury protein shake powder for the chocolate and vanilla I can better tolerate if I put ½ a packet of Splenda in it. I have also found Atkins Advantage Milk Chocolate protein drink tolerable. I think I am finally on the road to getting my needed 60-70 grams of protein a day.

Now I am working on getting my total 64 ozs of fluids in. I get 11 from my Adkins drink and 16 from my 2 milk drinks, so that leaves 37 from other sources. I drink mostly water. Occasionally I have 8ozs of fruit juice diluted 75/25 radio. Most days I can get this in, but some days it is hard because of how often I eat and having to wait 15 minutes before and 1 hour after before I can drink. I always shoot for 64 ozs and sometimes am happy when I get to 60. I also don’t want to get so full I feel dumping symptoms. Once I can take in a little more food at a sitting and only eat 3 meals a day that will help with time to get the fluids in me.

I have also found it is important to always carry gum with me. I never realized how yucky my breath can get from the protein drinks. I discussed it with Shawna and she has found the same thing out from her husband who has had the surgery. If I can’t brush my teeth I just pop a piece of sugar free gum in and chew it and it takes care of the problem. It also keeps my mouth busy. I know they say not to chew gum because it allows air into your pouch. I have not found that it adds any more air than usual. I chew with my mouth closed so maybe that helps. I have found I burp more than I used to. I believe this is because my pouch is smaller than my old stomach so the air concentration is higher. I just try to be diplomatic about the burps and if they do escape unaware I excuse myself and explain the problem. Everyone is very understanding. They know I am not just being rude.

I have gone to the YMCA 3 days now. I had 2 days of organized water aerobics. Yesterday was a day that I went and walked and exercised in the water on my own. I had some time just floating/walking. I spent 45 minutes of exercise on my own. I do a lot of the same movements I do in the class. It sure feels good to get there and exercise. I do get a little tired because I am not up to 100% in the energy level. That will continue to improve with the protein intake.

Sometimes it gets hard and I get a fleeting moment of hopelessness. I was getting a little of this feeling when I was unable to find a protein drink I liked. I was losing some energy because of it. I hated to force myself to drink something I couldn’t stand. But I found in my hopelessness feelings I just had to push myself and find answers. That is what I did by testing and trying different ways to get my protein. I just have to believe in myself and not give up. I take one strategy at a time. One may lead to a different one that will fit my needs and tastes.

The support from the Innovative Weight Loss Solutions (IWLS) team is the best. If I have a question or need some suggestions I can call or email and they are there. Ronda, Pam, Jennifer and Terra have been a life saver at times. I trust them 110%. The entire program is a god send! Their care, overall genuine concern and enthusiasm are the backbone of the program. You know you have your own cheering section (maybe not complete with pom-poms, but you can’t have it all). I have talked to other post-ops, doctors who have patients and doctors who have researched other facilities. They have voiced a resounding opinion that the Geary Community Hospital staff, the Innovative Weight Loss Solutions team and the gastric surgery surgeons are the best! I agree whole heartedly! Thank you to Dr Hachem, his staff, the nursing staff in the hospital and IWLS team! You are the best!!

God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love
and so small He can curl up inside your heart.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

3 Week Post-op

It has actually been 3 weeks since surgery. It seems like so long ago yet also just like yesterday. I am healing on the outside (incisions). I still have scabs, but they seem to be healing well. I keep Neosporin on them to help with the scaring. The inside seems to be healing as well. My pouch seems to be able to take in a little more food at a time. I am finding I am sometimes able to eat 2 tablespoons at a time. I tend to eat 1 tablespoon of one thing and another tablespoon of another thing so I get a variety. I have to listen to my pouch by taking my time eating. This is so I don’t over eat and feel miserable or have a dumping episode. Luckily I have not had either so far. I have to stop and wait for the pouch to communicate with me, so I don’t eat fast, which is how it is supposed to be done. I have tested the acceptance of the foods by eating them individually before eating them “together” to make sure my pouch is happy with the particular food.

This week has been tough to find a protein drink I like. I bought some UnJury chocolate and vanilla drink powder. It just isn’t the right taste. I struggled with it all week until last night. I put a little Splenda in it and it seems to take the “edge” off of the after taste. I think I can tolerate it for now. Tomorrow I will go to Wal-Mart and see about something else. I wish you could buy one drink so you can try it, but you have to buy it in packs of 4-6 cans at a time. I am finding the shake mix I have is just that-a shake. It seems too thick for me. So I am trying to find something that is more like a drink. I am going to try Atkins Advantage. I have to find something because I need the 60-70 grams of protein a day and with a protein drink is the only way I am going to hit it. I have been putting unflavored protein powder in my soup and in my cottage cheese. It doesn’t influence the flavor at all and gives me a little more protein.

Mom said she is going to make up some hamburger with Lipton onion soup mix. Then I can grind it up to baby food consistency and that will give me some good protein. We also talked about grinding different kinds of beans to get the added protein. I will start on tuna this week and that will add some good protein. If I add protein powder to these it will boost it even more per serving means my servings are so small. Yesterday I took some left over mashed potatoes with some roast beef gravy and added some protein powder and it was so yummy! Good ole tastes!

I got on the scale to see what the tally is. Since I started the Optifast (a month before surgery) to date I have lost 35 pounds. Twenty of that is since surgery date (3 weeks ago). It shows in my face. Tomorrow I will start back at the YMCA with water aerobics. I will take it easy to make sure I am ready for it. I also want to do some water walking. I can easily get my water exercising in 3 times a week. Once my work schedule changes in September I might be able to do water exercise 5 days a week. Regardless, I will get exercising in 5 days a week by walking. Soon I will be able to go back to the YMCA to bike, Arc trainer and weight resistance lifting. I am ready to start working on the fat that is hanging around my belly. I just have to be patient and take my time. I didn’t get this way over night and I won’t get into a different shape (because we all know round is a shape!) over night. Patience is not one of my strong suits. God will be there for me! “God give me patience, but hurry!”

I decided before all this that I would need to make eating fun. I also found in my extensive research that changing to smaller dinnerware, cutlery, etc. is helpful. So I went on a search for “fun” dinnerware. I found smaller plates in the shape of a ladybug, frog, monkey, cat, etc. I found a Donald Duck spoon that is a baby spoon and I found some small bowls, a small “salad plate” and a small glass with Winnie the Pooh on it. There are a lot of characters out there for sale. If you look in the plastic ware or thermos type glasses or in the baby section you can find these. I found a set of cutlery with Sponge Bob on them for a friend of mine that had this surgery in April. He loves Sponge Bob. As a matter of fact he and his groomsmen wore Sponge Bob ties to his wedding. So if you look you can find fun ways to lighten meals and assist you in eating less at the same time.

As I venture into another week of living a healthier lifestyle I find the challenges exciting! I know the “novelty” will wear off and the “honeymoon” phase will pass. Therefore I have to get the habits down now so they become like breathing. In some ways they already do. I just have to remind myself to eat to sustain my energy because if I were to eat just when I became hungry I’d go all day without eating. So I try to pay a little attention to the clock and eat on a schedule of every 2-3 hours. It has been working out pretty well for right now. As I progress to solid food and a little larger portions it will be easier to eat at “normal” designated times, I hope!

I have no regrets for this decision and I’m glad God provided the means and determination to change. Until next time--have a sunshine day! :0)

Friday, August 8, 2008

2nd week follow up

Yesterday was my 2nd week post-op follow-up.

I got home from the appointment and ate home made hamburger vegetable soup. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

My appointment went GREAT! All the incisions look good. Dr Hachem is happy with my progress. I go back to see him Sept 11th. I am in phase 2 of the post-op program. I get pureed/blended menu. I can have scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding, tuna, chicken, fish, meat, etc. I am supposed to eat 4-6 mini meals a day. Of course a meal consists of 2-4 teaspoons of food. I still have to have protein shakes because it is impossible to get 60-70g of protein a day with the mini meals. I am now required to follow the pouch rule of no liquids 15-30 mins before meals, during meals or 1 hour after meals. It will be important I drink, drink, and drink some more between to make sure I get my 50-60oz of liquids a day requirement. My protein shakes count towards that liquid total. I feel like I am finally on the road to recovery and a new lifestyle!! I can still have all the stuff I had during the liquid phase (popsicles, fudge bars, fruit bars, jell-o, etc.).

I have had scrambled eggs, soup, and cottage cheese so far. No problems with the pouch rejecting any of it. When I had the 1st helping of real food yesterday I couldn’t believe 2-4 teaspoons would fill me up. It looked like such little food. So I took a tablespoon plus a teaspoon of the soup. I bought some smaller dishware and cutlery. I have a Donald Duck baby spoon I use. Anyway, the portion didn’t look like much in my very small bowl. So I began to eat and I found I was unable to eat all of it. After about 1 tablespoon full of soup (which was not of soup consistency, but pudding consistency) I was full. I was comfortably full. If I had eaten the other teaspoon full I would have been miserable. I found a tablespoon full of cottage cheese was sufficient, same with the eggs. A tablespoon full of eggs is about 1 egg. Believe me I have to change my mental perspective of food. I have to realize the small amount is enough and my eating habits will forever be changed. I used to eat a 2-3 egg omelet stuffed with meat, cheese, hashbrowns, vegetables, etc. Some day down the line I will be able to add a little more stuff to my eggs and make a small omelet type meal. I’ll let you know how that goes.

I know a friend who had this surgery in April is able to eat a happy meal hamburger and a few fries from McDonald’s. So eventually my pouch will be healed and function so a little more food can be consumed. I will be able to eat “normally” with the tool of the pouch to help me regulate the portions and food content. The surgery (pouch) isn’t a cure all, but a tool to allow me to do the work I need to do to be successful and healthy

At the point of eating at McDonald’s I think I will be eating 3 meals a day instead of 4-6. At this point it is hard to eat 4-6 meals because I don’t feel hungry. When I do think I feel a sensation of hunger, I eat. Otherwise I try to drink as much as I can. I need to be taking in 50-60 oz of fluids a day at this point. Eventually I need to work up to 64+ ozs a day. I also need 60-70 grams of protein. So the protein shakes are an important aspect. I am still trying to find protein shake mix I like. What I liked before surgery I don’t like now. It is all an experiment. It is a fun challenge though. I have to watch the clock to make sure I eat often enough and make sure I use the healthiest, most beneficial foods. In other words protein 1st! That will be my motto for the rest of my life. As the habit is formed it will be 2nd nature to think, plan and eat that way.

I also have found at this point the sweet things I used to think I had to have; I am not even tempted about. I can walk by the vending machine and look at the Ho Ho’s, Ding Dongs, cupcakes and chocolate covered donut gems (suicide donuts) and keep on walking. I pray that will continue! I did have a struggle of a small nature yesterday. One of my favorite cookies is gingersnaps. Well, there was a tray of cookies, several varieties on a tray. One of them was a BIG glistening gingersnap cookie. I looked at it and thought, “Oh man, how can that be? It is so nice looking. It is just the right shade of bronze with just the right glistening on top. Oh well, I don’t need it.” and I walked off. Maybe some day I can find a recipe that uses Splenda and other ingredients I can have to make some. If not, then I will just have to adjust.

It is great to be among the eating population again. I have 4 weeks of the pureed menu and plan to work it the best I can. I am feeling good, doing a little more activities and enjoying the ride. Next week I get to go back to water aerobics. I am looking forward to that! More activities mean more firming of the extra skin due to the weight loss. It also means a healthier me and that is why I had this surgery.

Until the next round of inspiration, I’ll keep my head high and my portions small! Healthy Living!!!

God is so big He can cover the whole world with his Love
and so small He can curl up inside your heart.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Work Day One Down Successfully

My 1st day back at work was a leisurely one. John let me pick which channel I wanted to run, so I chose the one that was least active. It would give me a chance to settle back in. I did well. I was tired, but not exhausted. Today I will have to take an afternoon nap because I work 6:30p-2:30a. One of the midnight gals called in sick. John asked if I wanted to hold over, knowing I didn’t but had to ask because of seniority rights. I told him I thought my 1st week back I would decline all overtime, maybe next week.

I can’t wait for my dr. appointment Thursday. I am so ready to eat!! I am tired of sweet tasting stuff. All my protein shakes, jell-o, juice, popsicles, etc are sweet. My soup is the only thing that is not sweet, but I am tired of it! Once I see the doctor and I move on to pureed food I can have eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, chicken, mashed potatoes with protein powder or non dairy dry milk in them. I will still have to use protein drinks because I can’t eat enough food to get 60 grams of protein in a day. Eventually I will be able to. Probably by the time I get to regular food at week 6. One egg will fill me up. ¼ cup of cottage cheese will fill me up. I have to begin a normal feeding schedule. Right now I am “eating” all the time with water, juice, protein shakes, etc. I will have to eat 3-4 meals a day and still get my 64oz of fluids in me. It is going to be a challenge I am sure, but I am so ready for it! My appointment is at 2:30 on Thursday. I will stop and see Ronda afterwards. I have to be to work at 6:30pm. I will have to have my supper made and ready to take! I think I am supposed to eat every 3-4 hours. Working until 2:30am will mean I will need 2 meals. I will put protein powder or dry milk in just about everything to boost the grams of protein in everything.

I am still feeling well. My incisions are healing well. I am having some problem with one of the incisions. It is the one in the center of my abdomen. I think the location is a problem because everything rubs up against it (desk, counter, etc.) My drain incision seems to be healing well, although it seems a little slow due to its location. I think the drain is usually on the right side of your rib cage. Mine is on my right hip area because my bowels were too short. Considering there is a roll of fat it lies between adds to the slow progress rate. Who knows maybe it is just my impatience. Dr. Hachem seemed pleased with the progress last week, so we will see what he says this week.

This morning I walked around the entire block again!! That is good for me right now. I will continue to do this and if it is too hot out I will go to the “Y” and walk the track there (inside). I would imagine the humidity will get me before the heat at 7am. I won’t make it out of bed on Thursday-Saturday until around noon, so I would guess I will have to go to the “Y” to walk, but I intend to do so. I want to get this habit down. It will improve my sagging skin; tighten the muscles around my waist, etc.

I got the UnJury protein mixes today. I had a vanilla one for breakfast and it seems more pleasant to me than the ones I have been drinking. It has 20g protein, so that will be helpful in getting my protein in. I am just tired of the sweetness of everything. I never thought I would hear me say that.

My coworkers last night brought in Sonic. They had foot long chili cheese dogs and chicken nuggets and tator tots. I had gone to the bathroom and when I returned and opened the door it was strong fries smell. It smelt good, but I didn’t have a desire to have any. I know in time that will probably change. At this point I really don’t get hungry. I have a hunger feeling, but of course the protein shake, Popsicle, juice or water take care of it. Hopefully by the time I feel like wanting the take out I will be able to eat a hamburger and get my protein and be happy. As I have known from the start this is a new lifestyle and a lifestyle is just habits. I must form them now for when everything kicks in and I am more comfortable with my decisions and they come 2nd nature.

I feel I am on the road to a new life! Thank you Innovative Weight Loss Solutions, Dr Hachem, Ronda, Pam, Jennifer and Terra! You have been a life saver!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Returning to some normalcy

I had surgery 2 weeks ago yesterday. Today is the long awaited day---returning to work. I am anxious in a sense. I wonder what will happen if I get bored. I used to eat when I got bored. Now is the true test of the mental side of this lifestyle. It will also test the emotional side. I think I am up for the task. God will be there to support me!

Speaking of support, my mom and dad have been jewels through all this. We live together and they have been there every step of the way. Since I sat down with them on February 14, 2008 and told them what I wanted to do, they have backed me 110%. When I went on the Optifast (semi-liquid) diet, they basically did the same. They bought protein drinks, protein bars and frozen entrees and followed the same eating plan as I. They did this as a way to support me. They got rid of the cookies, cakes, etc. There are very few things in the house to tempt me. Both have lost weight right along with me.

I am finding it utterly challenging to find things to “eat”; considering I can only drink at this point. I have discovered the protein drinks I liked before surgery I don’t care for now. Actually I’m not sure I care for any protein drink, but I honestly feel like that is because I am tired of drinking and I am ready to move on to something I can sink my teeth into. Well, actually means it will have to be pureed (baby food consistency) it will have to be something I can sink my gums into. All the same, I am ready for some eggs, tuna, cottage cheese, etc. I did discover a drink that I am going to try. Special K protein water pink lemonade. It is a way to get 5g of protein and have a refreshing taste without taking in any sugar, 6g of carbs and few calories. Wow a different taste!! Most juices have no grams of protein, so they are just a way to get a different taste from water alone. Besides they have calories, so they are limited in amount I should drink.

I am still taking the Lovenox shot for the blood thinner. Mom gives it to me every day. We got to the place we would forget which side we used each day. You are supposed to alter the side per shot. So I have marked it on a calendar. Everything is do-able if you just find a way.

I am now sleeping in my own bed all night. I am using a few less pillows so there is more room in the bed. It feels good to be able to get this portion of my life back to normal. If it hadn’t been for the slight set back with the sore muscles I would have been in my bed the whole time. I never had a problem with sleeping in my own bed 1st night back from surgery until I had the muscle problem. I certainly have not found a friend in the sporometer, although I still use it as Dr Hachem requests. I just use it ¼ less than I was.

Today I got up and beat the heat. I walked all they way around the block. Progress is being made in stamina. I am feeling really good overall. I am ready to move on to the next phase—pureed food. I went to Dillons yesterday and bought yogurt, pudding, cream of potato soup, baby oatmeal, cottage cheese, tuna, canned ham and canned chicken. I bought some non fat dry milk so I can add it to some mashed potatoes to give them protein power. I got some light Mayo to add to the tuna, ham and chicken. Of course I have been craving eggs all along. Hope that doesn’t mean I’m pregnant or something. I suppose if it does then I will be rich and famous because it would fall under the category of a miracle or I will be in the Genesis Book of records under—freak-ish events.

I saw a brownie commercial the other day. Brownies were always a favorite of mine. They didn’t even tempt me. I am wondering if my sense of smell has improved. I was sitting in church Sunday and I could smell garlic. I wonder who had garlic for breakfast. Also Sunday mom put a roast in the crock pot. I was sitting in the living room and she came in. I asked if she had lifted the lid to the crock pot and she said she had. I said I thought so I could smell it. This could be a neat improvement or it could be an utter hex depending on the setting!

Well, as I said, today is returning to work day, so I better get myself around for the day. Packing my supper will be easy---liquids! I just have to make sure they don’t weigh over 15 pounds! Two more days and I see Dr Hachem and eggs are in my future!

Keep cool and out of the 100+ degree heat. Until next time! DeAnn :0)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Finally zzzzzzzzzzz

Zzzzzzzzzzz! I got some rest last night! It is the 1st night since last Friday or Saturday I was able to sleep in my own bed. My muscle pain is nearly gone. Some of the pull I have getting in/out of bed and laying on my side and back are from the incisions themselves. That will heal in time.

Yesterday I got the drain tube out and it has allowed me to sleep on my preferred side. It doesn’t seem to bother the drain incision. I have to share my bed with about 5-6 pillows to make it happen, but at least I get to sleep.

Yesterday at my follow up the doctor is allowing me to add protein drinks to my meals. Everything is still liquids. He also added Nexium to my medications. I have always taken Nexium, but now it is in a powder form. I thought, “Oh great! Back to nasty tasting crushed medication.” This even sounds nasty by the directions. Stir 1 packet with 1 T water and allow to set 2 minutes to thicken. YUK! Stir again and drink. My mouth watered just thinking about the thickening part. Well after the 2 minutes I decided it couldn’t be any worse than the Amoxicillin, so open up, grab your cowboy boot straps and chug. SURPRISE! It had no taste! This was one happy cowgirl. I can actually claim cowgirl status. I graduated from Abilene High School - home of the Cowboys.

He also allowed me to start driving. Watch out world the girl has wheels!!!!!

Today was a change of pace in a sort. I got around and showered and paid a visit to the gals at the chiropractor’s office. They had been asking dad about me and they called once to see how I have been doing. I then went to Dillons to do some shopping. I needed milk for the protein shakes. I bought mom and dad a few items. Finally I can turn the table and do something for them! I came home. It was a good walk from one end of the Dillons super store to the other. I actually felt pretty good. About 2 hours later I was sitting in the chair in the living room and nodded off. I decided no sense in falling out of the recliner so I went to bed and took an hour nap. I do not want to overdo and have these muscles flair up, so I am trying to be careful. They are still a little sore, but increasingly better.

Tomorrow mom and dad are going to Wichita. I’m glad they will get out of town. They have been tethered to me since the 21st. So it will be good for them to get together with 3 other couples. Me? I plan to get up and take a walk outside before it gets inhumanly hot. Then I have to prepare for a lesson I am teaching at the woman’s Bible study Monday night. From there, the world is my oyster shell. Okay, maybe the world inside the walls of my house. I am not going outside in the 3 digit heat! I have a “recuperating to do list”. On it are 3 items of which I am not interesting in 2 of them (dusting room and dusting computer room). The other is right up my alley (organizing CD’s). I also have a pile of mail in my desk and a pile of “junk” on my desk to go through. So I will do what ever I decide I want to do.

Well, life is moving on day by day. As I look at the clock, the days seem to go slow, but as I look at the calendar, they are flying by and work is around the corner.

Until the next insight inspiration – take care! DeAnn :0)