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Less than 100

For a very long time, I have needed to lose AT LEAST 100 pounds.  It was a number that was incredibly overwhelming to me.  With every diet I’ve been on, knowing that I was going to lose a pound or two a week made losing 100 pounds seem like something I could never do.  Then as I gained weight, and I needed to lose more like 150 pounds, keeping motivated on a regular diet where the scale moved so slowly was virtually impossible.  Yeah, it was nice to lose 2 pounds here or even 5 pounds there, but in the grand scheme of things, looking at it taking 2 or even 3 years to lose what I needed to lose seemed impossible.

In 30 days, I am down 42 pounds.  When I think that by this time next year, I could actually be close to my goal weight, I get so excited.  With each pound that comes off and each time I can zip my jeans without laying on the bed, I just imagine being another step closer to a healthy, active, and much more fulfilling lifestyle.

And the other thing that is helping is the fact that Jim is eating much healthier, and the kids are eating better.  There is no more trips to the fast food restaurant – they are eating healthy lunches at home.  They are eating snacks in small bags instead of devouring big bags of chips and things.  They are eating more fruit and nuts, less candy and chips.  And there has been no soda in the house in a long time.

One Month Post-Op

I saw Dr. Nusbaum today for my one month post-op check up.  It was a fairly uncomplicated trip up there – since my last two were horrible.  The first trip I made up there, I got hopelessly lost and ended up 2 hours late.  Last time, we got stuck in traffic, and it took us nearly 3 hours.  I packed a cooler with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for the kids so I didn’t have to stop at fast food restaurants to feed them, and that worked out well.

I am down 39 pounds after a month, and everything is healing well.  I have one small incision that is still open, but with a little peroxide, just from today it looks better already.  I am cleared to go back to normal activities, including the gym, and it’s nice to know I can pick Grace up without hurting anything. 

This past week started full foods.  I am allowed to try one food at a time to see if I can tolerate it.  So far, I cannot tolerate ground beef.  I’ve been careful with everything else, relying on seafood mostly.  Fish and crabmeat goes down pretty well 🙂   My friend Sue introduced me to a way to fix the protein drinks the way she does, and they tasted really good, so hopefully, that will work for now in terms of getting enough protein in. 

This is certainly not the easy way out.  I have tremendous cravings, but not the stomach to eat the things I crave.  It’s a lesson in frustration.  And I think I have to train people around me.  We had breakfast with Jim’s mom and Russell yesterday, and I ordered one scrambled egg white.  Well, I got a plate of home fried potatoes and what looked like 4 scrambled egg whites.  I guess I won’t be eating at the diner for a while.

Chrissie from our bariatric support group sent me a list of things to eat today, so hopefully, I can start branching out.  It’s a scary thing to go back into the world of food – not really sure how much I can eat before I get sick or what things will make me sick when I eat them.  But I guess I’ll just take some baby steps and see what happens.

Disney – AGAIN! – Skamarakas Style

Day One and Two

Brighid is planning to spend a week with her grandparents at their home in Florida.  An airline ticket is bought, and she is excited and ready to go.  And then a terror plot is discovered in the UK that causes chaos at airports all over the country.  I am really nervous about her flying alone now, and worried even more that messages might get crossed, her plane would be delayed, and her grandparents will be worrying as much as I am. 

Jim and I go back and forth, and finally the decision is made that we will all drive down.  Our annual passes are going to expire in a couple of weeks, and we’ll take the two little kids to Disney while Brighid vacations with her grandparents. 

Usually, in these situations, I make sure the comedy of errors is based on things my children do.  This trip, it’s all on me.  Really, we do make trips to Disney World that are stress and problem free.  No one gets sick, no one loses shoes, no one is threatened to be left on I-95 for the buzzards to pick them clean.  This is not one of those trips.

I am recovering from bariatric surgery, and I am only on week 2, which entitles me to eat full liquids and mashed potatoes.  I have packed lunch meat and sandwiches for the kids and Jim, and I ask if we can stop at KFC so I can get a small portion of potatoes to eat at the start of the trip.  Jim decides we should give the kids a hot dinner, since we’re leaving late in the day (4:30), so we end up with a bucket of mixed up chicken things (strips, pop corns, and real chicken), and macaroni and cheese for the kids, mashed potatoes for me and whoever else wants them.

By the time we are 5 minutes from home, I am busy making platters to pass back to all of the kids.  I have a huge dashboard, perfect for platter making.  I am convinced that was the original intent of my dashboard.  I put Eilis platter up there, including a healthy portion of steaming hot macaroni and cheese, and I bend over to try and get a biscuit.  While I am in this position, Jim pulls away from a stop light, causing the platter to slide off of the amazing food preparation dash board and onto my bare legs.  Did I mention the steaming hot macaroni and cheese?   Did I mention the bare legs?   As soon as the macaroni hits my thighs, I am screaming and swatting away at pieces of elbow macaroni as if I am being attacked by killer bees.  My husband is trying not to get hysterical laughing, but he’s not sure if I’m in pain or in shock.  Shock would be really funny.  Pain is just moderately funny.  He pulls into a diner, and Brighid runs around to my seat, and she is now helping me swat the macaroni off and clean it up as it hits the door.  20 minutes later, everyone is happily munching their chicken, and I am trying to think of the name of the lawyer who won that guy a bazillion dollars from McDonald’s because they served him hot coffee.  The nerve of these restaurants and their damn hot food.

After dinner, Eilis, who has just this morning come home from an exhausting week at the seashore with Nannie, Uncle Danny, Aunt Angela, and her cousins, has fallen asleep, and we’re making good time.  We get into Virginia, and we are nearing Manassas when Eilis wakes up and decides to watch a movie.  Now, I am not allowed to lift anything yet, so when I saw Eilis carrying the DVD case out to the car, it looked much easier than I remember it to be.  I figure the salt air from the sea shore has given the kid the strength of Hercules.  I ask Brighid to check and see if the DVD player is in the case.  She assures me that it is.  Guess what we find out in Manassas?   That we could cut Eilis’ hair and it will not have any impact on her strength.  Samson she is not.  Empty is what the DVD case was.

A quick call is made to Aunt Megan, who lives in the area, to see if there is a Wal Mart near where we are, but she is off with weekend company.  Fortunately, we come upon the Potomac Mills Mall and a Target store, so I run in and buy a new DVD player for the car.  Crisis averted. 

Another few hours go by without incident, and it is getting bedtime.  I always stop.  Jim hates to stop.  He has already said we are not stopping, we are driving straight through, so I do not dare ask to stop when Granuaile starts fussing.  Of all three of my children, this is the only one not good on car trips.  She hates them.  By 10 PM, she is crying hysterically, unable to fall asleep, and we are on the phone with Marriott reservations trying to find a room.  We are in Emporia, VA when we place our first call.  Our experience with them takes a bad turn for 2 solid hours, and we end up not finding anyplace with a vacancy until 2 AM.  It is not even a Marriott.  We go up to the room, I make sandwiches for everyone who is now WIDE awake, including Gracie, and we embark on a journey that takes us until 5 AM, when Gracie finally falls asleep.  Who is the first one awake the next morning?   That’s right – our little party animal. 

We are back on the road by 10 AM, planning to be in Orlando at 6.  We call Jim’s parents and arrange to have them meet us at the All Star Music, where we are staying, and we will all eat at the food court.


We check in at exactly 6 PM, and the front desk guy, BJ, is super nice.  He tells us we are getting one of the best rooms on property!   It’s pool side, first floor, and in the Calypso Building, right next to Melody Hall.  Jim heads off to find the room with Grace in tow, and I go to get the car to drive it around to the building.

By the time I get into the room, Jim is already on the phone.  For Jim, me, Eilis, and Granuaile, there is one king size bed.  He has been on hold for 5 minutes already, and is getting fairly steamed that they could have made this kind of mistake. 

He hands me the phone, and a few minutes later, a woman gets on, apologizes for the confusion, and she tells me they are upgrading my room, at no additional cost.  We are already in a preferred room.  What kind of stunt is she pulling?   Then she tells me that we will be assigned in to one of the new FAMILY SUITES!!   Holy cow, SOMETHING has gone right!

The room is spacious and has storage galore and two bathrooms and a small kitchenette – it’s wonderful!   We change quickly, because we are going to the food court, but when we get back and settle in, I can’t believe how quickly everything gets put away somewhere.  We will absolutely not be tripping over each other or each other’s stuff!   This is great!

So, after a rather dubious beginning, the start of our trip really turns out for the best.  It had to be those prayers to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost causes, that I started saying at about 4 this morning!

The Pain of Protein

Here’s my complaint of the morning.  Protein sucks.  Not the kind most of us eat every day – like steak, shrimp, lobster, even eggs – but the kind that healthy people drink to be healthier and people who have had weight loss surgery drink to stay alive. 

To begin with, as my stomach is still healing, I find it MUCH easier to drink warm drinks than cold.  The protein powder I have has to be mixed with cold water.  Second, while the first sip or two taste okay, the more I have to drink, the worse it is.  And third, I have to drink a whole lot of it.

So, I am on the hunt for alternatives to the protein powder I currently have.  I put in an order for a few sample packets that are various brands and flavors, so I am hoping that I can find one there that will be good for the long term.  They don’t make protein in a pill form – although you can buy an amino acid pill in 1 gram strength (I’d have to take about 90 of them a day).  I have heard there may be a liquid protein available that you can drink like cough medicine.  I am on the hunt for that as we speak.

I am tolerating some foods very well.  I’ve had sugar free pudding and mashed potatoes.  I never knew mashed potatoes were so delicious!   I’ve had them for dinner for the last two nights.  I eat about the same portion that I put out for Granuaile.  And food is definitely tempting.  I grilled a pork loin for Jim, Brighid, and Granuaile the other night, and it smelled so good.  Then when I added the roasted vegetables – I was nearly drooling!   I’m not hungry by any means, but the smells are so wonderful.

And now I’m in a panic over Brighid flying to Florida.  The ticket is bought, and she is definitely going, but with the new wave of terror warnings, it’s scary.  I’m sure no one is going to attack a plane going to Disney World, but it’s still a very scary thing.

A Steady Decline

As of this morning, I am down 21.5 pounds.  I am sure when I see the doctor this evening, however, I’ll get a more “official” weight.  I am going by what I weighed the morning I left for surgery on our bathroom scale.  I may need a new one soon, because ours changes how much you weigh based on where on the floor you put it (always withing a few pounds).

I wanted to mention that Jim’s friend, Calvin, is battling cancer.  Jim and Calvin worked together back in the early 90’s, just before Brighid was born, and they’ve stayed in touch all these years.  He’s 49 years old, and has a lovely family.  I know they would really appreciate any prayers or positive thoughts you could send their way.  Calvin is keeping an online journal of his battle, which is not only a great way to keep up with how Calvin is doing, but also a great insight into what people are going through who are battling the same thing.  If you are interested in visiting, you can see it here:


Post Surgery Partying!

I’m doing my best to take it fairly easy, while still walking around a little each day.  I’ve stuck mostly close to home, but we were invited to a pool party today at the home of Barry Wassinger and his partner, Joe.  Barry is from the support group I joined, and has been very successful since his weight loss surgery.  They have an absolutely  BEAUTIFUL home, and if you can get past how beautiful their home is, you will be completely bowled over by how MAGNIFICENT their backyard and gardens are.  I was so envious of everyone who got to enjoy the gorgeous pool and wonderful food, but it was such a nice party, even without the fringe benefits of food and swimming.  Barry and Joe went out of their way to make everyone feel at home and welcome.  Jim got to enjoy some snacks and some nice conversation before the heat got the best of me and I had to go.

When we got home, I had promised Brighid a trip to the mall.  She had a coupon that expired today, so we went to use it. 

Home and Recovering

Okay, so obviously Jim posted the last few entries.  There is no way I would have told you I had to pee into a Dixie cup, nor would I have spelled Dr. Nusbaum’s name wrong.  I might have even spelled anesthesiologist correctly. 

The day before surgery, we had the kids packed up and took them to my mom’s.  We were supposed to get a call from the hospital between 4 and 8 PM to tell me where to go and what to do.  By 8:30, I had no phone call.  Dr. Nusbaum’s office has not been very communicative, so I was worried.  I phoned the office and got the answering service, who paged Dr. Bilof, Dr. Nusbaum’s partner.  They told me if he didn’t call back in 20 minutes, I could call them and they would page him again. 

By just after 9, I still had not heard, so I phoned the answering service, and they called him again.  He was clueless.  He didn’t know what time to tell me to be anywhere or what I needed to do.  He suggested I phone the hospital, which is what I thought I should do from the beginning, but Jim told me to call the office.  There are reasons why I don’t listen to Jim. 

Finally, I got through to the hospital, and they found a nurse who told me that they had my phone number wrong, but they had been trying to reach me.  I got my details, and was told I had to be at the hospital for 6 AM – and the hospital is an hour and a half away.  Yay – just where I want to be at 4:30 in the morning – the turnpike!

We got to the hospital with no problems, and everyone was very nice.  I didn’t wait too long before they were calling me back to be prepped for surgery.  The anesthesiologist came in and talked to me, and I mentioned to him that I had to be stuck a bunch of times for my c-section with Granuaile.  He had a line in with no pain in just a few seconds. 

Pretty soon, I was back in the pre-op area, waiting to be taken into surgery.  Dr. Nusbaum, who had met me in the room where I got my gown and stuff, came out to let me know that the room that was reserved for me was being used for an emergency, so we had to wait.  I am not sure how long I waited, and I honestly don’t remember a whole lot from the point where Dr. Nusbaum came.  I know I was waiting a while on the table, and I may have fallen asleep.  The anesthesiologist came out and gave me a sedative through my IV to take the edge off the anxiety while I was waiting, and I think that knocked me out.  I don’t remember being wheeled into surgery, seeing the operating room, nothing.  I wish they had given me that before I left home.  I cried all the way to the hospital, worried about whether or not I made the right decision.

Next thing I know, I was in recovery, with the doctors and nurses telling me to take deep breaths as they removed my breathing tube.  By 3:30 or so, I was in a room, but in a bit of pain.  They had a morphine pump there that I could hit the button on every 10 minutes to get a dose, and I know I hit it a few times.  I spent most of the rest of the day sleeping, and since I was unable to eat or drink anything, I didn’t have to go to the bathroom until much later in the day.  That’s when they told me I had to use the bedpan 🙁   UGH.  I wasn’t happy about that and asked when I would be allowed up.  When they told me the next morning, I knew I could hold it all night long, but what an awful, humiliating experience.  I’m glad that’s over.

Wednesday, I spent most of the day without the pain meds and started walking around the halls.  I felt a little uncomfortable, and they gave me a shot, since I had told them they could disconnect the morphine.  It made me nauseous, and I really felt like I was past the point of needing pain meds.  The shot made me really drowsy, and I’m afraid I slept most of the time Jim was there visiting.  I was able to drink one ounce of fluid an hour, and I did pretty good getting it in.  I couldn’t believe that tiny little bit of fluid was taking so long to get down.

We are in the middle of a terrible heat wave – temps over 100 degrees – and my room at the hospital must have been the epicenter of the heat wave.  I spent the whole time sweating and uncomfortable.  They let me take a shower on Thursday, but by the time I got dressed, I was sweating again.  Dr. Bilof came in to see me, and I asked him about going home.  He told me Friday morning.  I pushed as to why I wasn’t going home that day, and he said with the heat wave, I ran a greater risk of being dehydrated, so unless I could get 4 ounces of fluid into me in an hour, I wasn’t going to be able to leave.  He said if I consistently got 4 ounces an hour in, the nurxe could call him in the afternoon and he would let me go home.

Let me tell you, I drank my heart out – and I still think I came up short some hours – but at 3, the nurse finally called him and he said I could go home.  When I stepped outside, waiting for Jim to bring the car around, I thought I had made a huge mistake.  It was sooooooo hot out.  But soon, the air in the car kicked in and we were making our way back home, and I felt better.

Thursday night, I slept like a log.  I barely moved, and I know I slept pretty much from about 10 until 7 this morning.  And then at 7, I only got up to use the bathroom, and then went back to sleep until 9:15.  It was so nice to have that luxury, but better not to have a nurse over you every hour all night long with some test or some piece of information they needed.

I know I have a long way to go, but as of today, I am off the pain meds entirely and have no pain except a stiff neck.  I am down 13 pounds since I went into the hospital, so I feel pretty darn good about that.  I pray, and hope you will continue to pray as well, that I have no complications.  The first few days have been mostly a breeze – I would hate to think that it’s going to get bad from here.

Surgery Day

3:00 AM up and getting dressed
4:00 AM out the door and on the turnpike
6:00 AM Arrive at the hospital
6:30 AM Seeing the intake person filling out my paperwork
7:00 AM In a room, getting into a paper gown, peeing in a dixie cup, meeting the nursing aide, nurse, Dr. Nausbaum and the anestesiaologist
7:45 AM Being wheeled into surgery. This should take 90 minutes for surgery then time for the post surgery testing to make sure there are no leaks.
9:30 I just got called to the information desk. One of the surgery nurses told me Anna got held in line. They had a surgical emergency and she got bumped.
10:12 AM I just got called to the information desk again. Anna is done surgery. everything went well. The doctor is now doing the testing and it will be a a while for that to finish. After that. if there is no leakage. she will go to recovery
3:30 PM Finally got settled into the room. It is a step down unit, Anna is banging away on the morphine pump and has some back pain. On the scale of 1 to 10, 1 being it hurts a little, 5 it hurts a lot and 10 it is hurting Jim in any way shape or form, she is saying it is a 5. But she keeps dozing back to sleep. The orders for today are bed rest, nothing to eat or drink, bed pan no getting out of bed, and blowing into the ball game toy thing 10 times every hour.