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I went to the mall tonight to pick up a pair of jeans.  I am wearing 22’s, but can almost step out of them without unbuttoning them.  I figured I would go down to a size 18 stretchy, and that way, even if they were a little snug now, I would still have them to wear for a little while.

You cannot imagine my surprise when I pulled up the 18’s and they buttoned and zipped without any problems!   I asked Jim to go get a size 16, just so I could try.  I figured even if I have to lay on the bed to button them, it’s going to be better than having the 18’s fall off in a couple of weeks.

THEY FIT!!   And I didn’t have to lay on the dressing room floor to button them 🙂

This surgery has been such a miracle for me.  I love that I can play with my kids, walk without losing my breath, carry groceries without my knees and back aching.

When I think that just 3 months ago, I was unable to even pull up my 24’s all the way, this feels like climbing Mt. Everest.  Another milestone reached 🙂

Rediscovering an Old Friend, Part Two

As everyone knows, I am on a weight loss mission.  I am down nearly 70 pounds at nearly 3 months post – op.  We had a yard sale yesterday, and I got rid of just about everything in my closet that doesn’t fit anymore, and I am now nearly clothes-less.  One of the big problems is underwear!   I thought I had underwear in every shape and size, but in rooting through my drawers the other day, all I found was underwear that falls down as I go about my day.  What a good feeling.

Not having bought underwear in a really long time because of how much I have had in my drawer, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to buy.  I certainly didn’t want granny panties, since that really was something I didn’t get into until well after I had Brighid, when I started getting really fat.  But I wanted something comfortable. 

Brighid buys most of her underwear at Victoria’s Secret – because she’s so tiny, she’s entitled to nice underwear, of course.  But the other day, when I took her in to redeem a coupon she had gotten, she picked up a few pair of her favorite panties – the ones she finds most comfortable.  And guess what I learned?   They come in MY SIZE!!

I bought 3 pair – just to try them out.  The last time I wore Victoria’s Secret underwear was on my honeymoon.  They do fit!   And they are comfortable!!

I thought it was a big accomplishment when I could tie my shoes so the bows were on top instead of on the sides.  But this is even bigger than that 🙂   So nice to find old friends!

Rediscovering An Old Friend

The other day, Jim said he thought Eilis needed a computer game called “Dance, Dance Revolution”.  He thought it only worked on XBOX 360.  We have the original XBOX. 

When I assured him the game was compatible with our system, he said he wasn’t even sure our system worked anymore, since no one has played in a really long time.  He’s right.  The last time we spent any amount of time on the XBOX was when Bean was alive.  She could sit for hours and play any game – although she liked some better than others.  One year for Christmas, Brighid got a Harry Potter game.  Between me, Bean, and Brighid, we must have spent every waking hour between Christmas and New Year’s playing the game.  We finally beat it though – all of us, collaborating together. 

So, since Jim decided to check the thing out to see if it worked, Eilis has found it so appealing.  She never really got into it much, as there weren’t many games for little kids.  But we do have the Shrek Party game, and she spent last night playing with Brighid, and tonight playing with her friend Carrie and Brighid.  It’s cute to see how into it she gets – although I know it will be much better for her to have a game where she can get up and move around – like the Dance game, or the new ION system we just bought.

It was nice watching the kids play, and thinking of how much Bean loved to play with them.  Always good when happy memories flood your mind.

Half Way There!

Imagine my surprise this morning when I hopped on the scale, hopped off, and charted my progress.  I am exactly half way to where I would eventually like to be 🙂   I’m pretty proud of myself – I have had very few experiences that I would consider negative (although one last night, a punishment for too much mayo in my tuna) and feel more energetic each day.  I can almost out pace Brighid going through the mall – okay, she’s stopping at every store with a door, but I can more than keep up with her in other instances too 😉

I won’t lie and say it’s easy.  There are hurdles you have to overcome to learn to live like this.  We are planning to take my stepfather to dinner for his 70th birthday in a couple of weeks.  I didn’t want to go out to dinner, because going out to dinner for me means people will feel uncomfortable that you aren’t eating, and waitresses keep coming back to make sure you think the food is okay.  My suggestion was to just have everyone over here for dinner, and if I busy myself in the kitchen and doing stuff, it’s not as obvious that I’m not eating like everyone else is.  I’m also worried about the holidays.  Many other post-ops have said just take a teaspoon of everything and see how it goes, but some of our family’s most beloved holiday recipes are so loaded with fat and sugar!   There won’t be any sweet potato casserole on my plate, and probably no broccoli casserole.  I am looking forward to the turkey, though!

I say this a lot, but it’s a real learning process.  Everyday, I find something new out about being surgically altered.  Most of it is good.  It’s nice to be regaining self confidence and energy.  And the bad stuff – you just have to roll with it.  It all works itself out in the end.

Meeting Cousin Chuck

My father’s family is very mysterious to me.  When his father married my grandmother a billion years ago, his family disowned him.  My grandfather converted to Catholicism when he decided he wanted to marry Elizabeth O’Brien, because her family wouldn’t let her have him any other way. 

As a result of him being disowned, aside from my father’s brothers and sister, the only part of his family we knew growing up were the O’Briens.  We never heard stories of my grandfather’s family, and because he died when I was so young, he wasn’t around for me to ask him when I became curious about where I came from.

Fast forward to my father becoming seriously ill, and ultimately choosing to discontinue his medical treatment.  It seemed to become more important to me to find out if there were other Bilbroughs out there.  I mean, I knew there were, but I didn’t know if we were connected to them in any way.  Face it, Bilbrough is not like Smith or Jones, so you would figure that if you went back far enough, I could find myself connected so SOME other Bilbrough on the planet.  And I did 🙂

 I’m not sure how we found each other, but along came Chuck.  Somewhere, in the distant Bilbrough archives, Chuck and I are related.  But aside from the fact that there is blood in common somewhere in the family history, he’s just a nice man.  He was coming up our way this past weekend, and I jumped at the chance to invite him to lunch and spend some time with him.  I grew up in Philly and South Jersey, but never knew there was possibly a Bilbrough buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Philly.  And I had never even been to this historic location.  It was fascinating to me, and I wish I had more time to just browse around, reading everything I could about as many people as I could.  Then we took a walk back to Christ Church itself.  Built in 1695, you can’t help but get goosebumps when you walk into the building, and think of the people who have stepped through the doors over the course of the lifetime of our nation.

I’m learning a great deal about my family from Chuck.  I knew my grandfather had two brothers, but always assumed there were cousins from them somewhere.  I was wrong.  They never married, never had children, and my cousins Paul, John, and Eric are potentially the last Bilbroughs in our line.  I am learning about the history of my family from England – something my father might have mentioned briefly, but honestly, he was so proud of his Irish heritage that we never heard it spoken about that our lineage went back to Merry Olde England. 

But again, aside from his vast knowledge of the family, Chuck was just a really nice man.  I’m so happy we got to meet each other, and that we got to spend time with him.  I’m waiting to get some information from another old Philly cemetery about the possibility that I have a great great something or other buried there.  I’m excited to see if it’s true so that I have some information to share with Chuck.  The information he’s shared with me has been such a value.  It’s nice to know where you come from – and that there are others like you 😉

Two Months Down, A Lifetime to Go

Well, I hopped on the scale this morning, two months since the date of my surgery, and I now weigh 237.5 pounds.  Being in the 230’s is a pretty big accomplishment.  I haven’t been in this neighborhood since Brighid was a baby. 

This is not a journey I would recommend to everyone.  There are days that I could absolutely cry over missing food.  It seems that all of the things in life up to this point have involved food.  Celebrations?   Food.  Mourning?   Food.  Bored?   Food.  I haven’t found something to replace what was once my closest friend.  I met a woman at my support group meeting on Friday night who had her surgery nearly a year ago, and has only lost a little over 20 pounds.  She complains of problems with her doctor, problems eating anything, and was upset that she was referred to as mentally unbalanced by her doctor and his staff.  But with all of her eating problems, she managed to suck down quite a bit of trail mix that Chrissy brought to the meeting.  Obviously, she hasn’t replaced her best friend either.

Ironically, I spend much more time cooking now than I ever have.  I want to make sure Jim and the kids are eating healthy.  We have virtually given up fast food entirely.  The kids have gotten two treats since my surgery and have had fast food, but when we were once going every day for lunch, once a month is a huge change.  It’s nice though.  We’re all sitting at the dinner table together most nights (Monday nights are tough, and the kids and I usually eat at my mom’s), and while there is still stress over who’s not sitting still, who’s in the wrong chair, etc., there’s pleasant conversation and the baby really enjoys having everyone around her. 

I’ve been very lucky so far with this surgery, and I pray that everything physical continues to remain in good working order.  Now I just have to wrap my head around things and learn that food wasn’t really my friend.  It put me in the position where I could have died from any number of obesity related disorders.  So when it’s someone’s birthday, there will have to be a celebration that doesn’t involve cake, snacks, etc.  When someone dies, there will be no ice cream to dull the pain of grief. 

Having this surgery really means having to learn to live.  And feel.  And accept.  Those are all hard lessons.

We’re Not Church People; We’re Irish

I’ve been incredibly lax in taking my children to Church.  If you’ve ever sat through a Catholic Mass with a rambunctious 5 year old and a 1 year old, with no crying room, you’ll understand that getting up and going to Church with the lot of them is not a pleasure. 

Eilis started kindergarten this fall, though, and I have decided that it is high time she get her act together and learn to sit through Mass.  Our Church has what they call the Children’s Liturgy of the Word.  During two Masses each Sunday, the children can go out of the main Church and into a room at the back where the readings and the Gospel are explained to them in language they can understand.  I figured my best bet with Eilis was taking her to a Mass that had CLOW, so at the very least, there’s a good 15 minute span where she could go out and stretch her legs and be somewhere where she understood what was going on.

Well, I am hoping by next Sunday the 15 minutes is expanded to about an hour and 15 minutes.  When she was in the pew with me, it was all I could do to keep from strangling her.  She sat when she was supposed to stand.  She stood when she should have been kneeling.  At one point, she was laying on the floor.  I’ve never been so embarassed in my life as I was with this behavior. 

I get her outside, where I promptly remark that had she been better behaved in Church, we would be going to the pancake breakfast, but since she was not on her best behavior, we would be going home.  That is when I was informed, in no uncertain terms, that we should not go to Church.  We are not Church People, we are Irish People!  

I spent the rest of the morning explaining to her that anyone can be “Church People”, whether they are Irish, Italian like Nannie, German, even Japanese people can be Church people. She’s not impressed. 

There may be two people hanging on the cross in our Church next Sunday.