Monday, November 24, 2014

Microblog Mondays: "Be Careful of your Face"

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens has begun a blog phenomenon... as she frequently does. 

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


Before I had weight loss surgery (WLS), I had heard so very frequently the same old line that I grew to hate more than the extra weight itself, "Gil, you have such a pretty face. If only you weren't so fat." Yes indeed, people had the gall to say that to me, in person. I mean seriously, how does one respond to that sort of insensitivity? Sheesh.

Now that I have had WLS, the weight is shedding quickly and I am being very diligent about following my surgeon's guidelines regarding my water intake, protein consumption, required vitamins/minerals, and portion control. It all works well together and to date, I'm more than 115 lbs down. But I'm technically still obese. At least for another pound or two. Then, with a little luck I'll be in the "overweight" category for another 30 lbs. Rest assured, my surgeon's office is following me closely, including watching my blood work.

This week, I got lucky and won tickets to my university's alumni association dinner (a value of $300) that was held downtown at the beautiful Château. A famous Canadian musician was the keynote speaker and I've been a fan of his and his band's music for nigh on 20 years now. It was an excellent opportunity to meet him in person. Hubby snagged this shot.

I posted the pic on Facebook, and got many comments on how great I look; almost everyone completely ignored the fact that I am standing next to Alan Doyle! I couldn't believe it!

Anyway, I have a girlfriend who is also a fan, and I e-mailed that photo to her as she is not on Facebook. She opened the e-mail while I was on the phone with her. And her first comment to me was, "Oh Gil, be careful of your face." She went on to say that in her view, I had lost more than enough weight. She repeated that line no less than FOUR times during our convo. "Gil, be careful of your face."

I reiterated that my surgeon is following me closely. "Be careful of your face." I told her that skin takes an average of two years to come back into place (assuming it will; for some people it does not) and that I just have to bide my time. "Be careful of your face." I told her that I am technically still obese. "Be careful of your face."

Seems no matter what I do, I cannot win. I guess my face/neck is on the losing end of this battle. Whether I am fat or thin.

And as frequently happens, that one negative comment overshadowed all the other positive ones by at least a million times to one.
*cue the tears*

So much for the 'microblog'... Sorry.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Microblog Mondays

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens (and why does some part of me still want to call her blog by its previous moniker, "Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters"?) has begun a blog phenomenon as she frequently does.

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


Cold. Brr. I am freezing post-op. I cannot get warm enough. Most evenings find me cozied up with Petite in her bed, snuggling for warmth as she still enjoys it when Mommy or Daddy lies down with her to cap off her day. She falls asleep pretty easily that way.

I usually manage to get up and get to my own bed in due course. But I was so chilled last night, I simply did NOT want to get out from under her blankets.

I go to bed and this is what I use to try to keep warm:
  • fleece jammies (Mom just had a gorgeous new set from LL Bean sent to me! Thanks Mom!)
  • a heating pad at my feet
  • a Magic Bag (or two) heated in the microwave. One goes across my torso, the other near my upper arms as they get cold very fast.
  • a heavy feather duvet
  • I did have two extra blankets on my side of the bed, but now that the duvet and the duvet cover is on, those make it super heavy!
  • and last night, I added a pair of fuzzy socks. That helped.
I am looking into investing in a soft, twin heated blanket for the winter. Apparently the first winter or two post-op is brutal until your body gets used to things again. If you have other suggestions, I'm open to hearing about them! Brrrr!!! And we've barely got snow! This is just gonna be no fun at all come January and February when we experience -30 and -40 degrees!!!! I'm gonna be an icicle!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving Right Along; the Latest and Greatest in our World. Or at least, what's keeping us busy.

So let's get up to speed, shall we? Where were we when we last left off? Oh yeah...

Ontario Election

The Ontario election has come and gone. The Liberals won a majority and that means that IVF coverage was pushed through in the budget. Now we do not know yet what that 'coverage' will look like. What will it cover? One fresh cycle only? Or frozen too? How many cycles exactly? Will it come in the form of a tax break or actual coverage up front? And for what ages? Married couples only? Singles? LGBT? What about using donor eggs? What about using donor sperm? There are a lot of parameters to decide.


We are still feeling the loss of my baby boy, Shadow as the previous post detailed. His brother, Smudge, has certainly stepped up and tried to fill the void. He's like Velcro to me at the moment, and hates it when I leave the house. He's very attached to people and prefers to be in a room where we are, rather than by himself. But sometimes age gets the better of him and he'd just prefer to go lie down and sleep on our bed, warm and cosy in the blankets. He turned 19 on August 25. He's an old boy now, but we love him and we are keeping him as happy and comfortable as possible until his own time comes.

Petite's 5th birthday was in August as well. Because she started kindergarten (Jardin) this year, ON her birthday no less (!), she opted to wait to celebrate her birthday in September so she could invite a few of her classmates and close friends from school. So we did that and had 14 children come to celebrate at a local indoor play park. She had an absolute blast!

We also passed the anniversary of my Aunt's passing, and just last week, we released balloons to celebrate what would have been her 80th birthday. We still miss her so very much. She has left a definite void in our hearts.


Over the summer, I took Petite back to The Rock to spend time with my family. We took a side detour over to NS and NB to see family there. In particular, to meet my cousin's new boy-girl twins! They were about 5 months old when we saw them and they were gorgeous! Oh my heavens! What beautiful children. My cousin and his wife did IVF as well and they hit the jackpot. She was able to carry the twins to 39 weeks before they induced her and delivered them by C-section. How very, very luck are they. And in a nod to my grandfather and my aunt, the boy's middle name is my grandfather's first name, and the girl's middle name is my aunt's first name… or the diminutive of it and the name my aunt actually preferred us to call her. I had a few dresses that my aunt had given to Petite, and I passed them on to this baby girl; she can actually wear a dress that her namesake purchased… long before she was even conceived. We are so blessed.

While at home, I managed to see my sister and my nephew too. We had such fun with them and made some wonderful memories, for kids, parents, and grandparents alike. It was a lovely holiday.

Family Grief

Right now, we are dealing with a family issue. Over the summer, my MIL complained of pain in her right side. She delayed a visit to the doctor, and when she finally got to see them, they couldn't do both tests they had hoped at the same visit, so postponed both of them for 6-8 weeks. Eventually, they found it. A growth. She needed surgery, fast, and that done, she was sent home. Apparently they knew it was cancer and told her and offered her chemo which she declined (we question now if she realized the ramifications of her choice, given her dementia at the time). She was sent home. Five weeks later, she was back in hospital with the same symptoms and still too weak, recovering from the first surgery, to undergo a second. The growth had returned, growing quickly and aggressively. She has a sarcoma and it is now systemic. It is terminal. She was in the ICU and has now been transferred to a hospice. There are good days and bad (on Sunday past, she did not awaken at all), but the doctors gave her anywhere from days to weeks left. We are visiting as much as we possibly can and trying to help the family get her affairs in order for the inevitable. It will happen; we just need to be prepared. Or as prepared as we can possibly be. The whole family is in shock and not dealing well with this terribly sad news. (By the way, if you know me personally, this is not yet public information so please do not post anything on FB or other social media about this. I would appreciate your consideration for this sensitive issue. Thank you in advance.)

VSG and Weight Loss

Now, as to my surgery and recovery… and my own accountability.

I had my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy performed at the Civic on February 3, 2014. Today is November 13. To date, I have lost 114 lbs. I go through long stalls -- weeks where I do not lose a pound – but I usually check my measurements or do a photo comparison (or clothing comparison) and I realize that in the stalls, I am usually losing or redistributing my body weight in other ways. It's pretty fascinating.

My operation took a mere 50 minutes and was without complication. I walked into the operating room and by the time they brought me to a semi-private room in the trauma ward to recover, I was able to get off the gurney and walk to my bed with assistance. It's a laparoscopic procedure, so I do not have a long incision, but rather I had five small incisions through which the surgeon removed approximately 85-90% of my stomach. I have a tiny sleeve of a stomach now that is about the size of a thick pen or narrow highlighter. It can hold 2-3 ounces comfortably, but much more than that makes me get the 'foamies.' That is when I start salivating quickly, as if I were going to vomit, I get lightheaded, my heart races a bit and I start to tear up at the eyes, swallowing hard to try to keep myself from being sick. I usually get up and walk it off, and after a burp/heave or two, it passes. It's happened a few times. Quite the learning curve! My new sleeve cannot handle milk very well, though cheese and yogourt are good. I am following my diet and eating protein forward, followed by veggies (only IF I have room).

In the last month or two, I've had a taste of popcorn and chocolate. I try to stay far away from the carbs to maximize my 'honeymoon' phase which can last for 12-18 months. But now and then, a taste is really nice. Much of my diet now consists of protein shakes for breakfast, some peanut butter for a snack, lunch is usually some meat or fish, a second snack of cheese or a pepperoni stick, supper would be protein with some sauce/dip to help it go down easy (e.g., hamburger patty with 1/3 cup of my homemade spaghetti sauce), and nighttime… is my downfall. I have to be very careful in the evenings. After Petite goes to bed, I tend to look for something to nibble on, more out of habit than anything else. I have found some good protein snacks but I need to be more diligent in choosing them rather than opting for a bite of sugar or carbs. Those are a dangerous, slippery slope! I do NOT want to go there!

I have had some incredible NSVs (non-scale victories) along the way. For example,

  • I've gone from size 22/24 down to 10/12. I cannot recall EVER being in size 10/12 before. When I was 14, I was in size 14 as a child.
  • I can cross my legs… something I've never been able to do. I can even do it on a plane!
  • I can lower the table tray on a plane and still have room to move and bend; it doesn't rest on my stomach. I even had room on either side of my hips while on the plane. That's a FIRST for me in all my years of travel!
  • I have oodles of room in movie theatre seats now; something that is novel. I used to lean over away from my seatmate so I didn't infringe on his/her personal space. That's hard on the back for a three-hour stretch!
  • I can wear heels comfortably all day now. WOW! I was even able to buy boots with heels, off the rack at a REGULAR shoe store!!! OMG!
  • I have had to readjust my seat, mirrors, armrests, etc., in my car to accommodate my new, smaller size.
  • I can shop for hours and not get winded; not that I've done any shopping for myself really. My sister took me out and dressed me up but I'm sorta terrified to do it myself. I've no idea where to begin. After 30+ years of shopping at two or three stores exclusively, I do not even know what's popular anymore.
  • I had to take off my wedding rings; they were falling off my fingers and I was afraid I would lose them. L
  • My shoes are far too large on me. I need new ones for the most part. I never would have thought I would lose weight in my feet. But I truly have.
  • My gold necklace hangs much lower on me than it should. I am loathe to shorten the chain (my parents gave me the chain, while Hubby gave me the pendant) but it looks kinda comical now.
  • It hurts to sit on a hard chair. This is something I've never really experienced before but as someone who had lots of rear padding, I am really feeling my bones when I sit down on a hard surface. Ouch!
  • I've lost somewhere around 65" off my body. I've not calculated it lately, but at last calculation it was 60+ inches. Pretty incredible.
  • I am cold… ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously. I spent all summer freezing. I had a folded blanket on my side of the bed on top of the sheet, one blanket, and top cover. Hubby was so warm he'd kick off the bedding while I shivered. He broke down and bought me a heating pad. I think I'm in the market for a heated twin blanket actually. I cannot get warm at all and I sit in my office with a blanket over my lap and a wool sweater over my shirt. Brrr. I am officially going to FREEZE this winter. Guaranteed.
  • I'm not quite as self-conscious in public anymore. As a morbidly obese person, you spend your life painfully aware that you take up too much space. And you try as much as possible to avoid shoving your mass in the face of others. It's overwhelming much of the time. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I sense that anxiety is diminishing, but it's being replaced by something else. Instead of thinking, "Oh God, I know everyone is judging me for my huge size," now I think, "Oh my, I hope no one can see the extra skin hanging (in whatever spot is visible at the time)." We definitely ARE our own worst critics. It's terrible. Body dysmorphia is a real thing, and I'm at the stage when I'm just starting to deal with it. Very hard.

There are more. Many, many more. But that's enough for now.

Lots of people have commented on my weight loss and I tell them the truth: I had surgery back in February and I've been working hard ever since. It's not easy. And I'm not done yet. I still have between 30 and 50 lbs that I would like to lose. I'm still technically obese. I want, for once in my life, to see a normal BMI, which for me means being 150 lbs or less.
I've come a long way, but this is just the beginning.