It’s Cyber Monday, as evidenced by the explosion of emails in my inbox offering me all sorts of savings and discounts on all sorts of products – most of which I haven’t ever purchased and don’t plan on purchasing (how do I get on these lists, anyway?).
Our Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and weekend were super-quiet, if you count a 5-day school break for the kids, plus my fifteen year old brother, and occasionally my nine year old daughter’s friend “quiet”. We had a quiet dinner on Thursday evening, and enough leftovers to take care of our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, too. This year we had a whole turkey breast instead of a whole turkey, and the meat was incredibly juicy and tender – much more than what I would expect from your average turkey! Thanks to Dan there was gravy, mashed potatoes, a green bean casserole, stuffing, corn, and of course dinner rolls, so it was quite the feast for the four of us. I stuck with the turkey and stuffing, although the stuffing was missing one key ingredient we plan on adding to it for Christmas: sausage.
In terms of Black Friday, I promoted several deals on Twitter, but the only thing we took advantage of was a $30 ottoman. Dan’s been wanting one for a while, so now he’s all set. Bonus: it’s purple!
I had my gastric bypass surgery exactly one week before Thanksgiving, and despite that being four years ago, I still remember being so excited to “qualify” for mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. It’s all I had that day — a couple of spoonfuls of mashed potatoes — but I swear it was the best holiday meal ever. Unfortunately, since healing from the surgery and working my way up to “regular” foods, I’m able to indulge in many of the Thanksgiving and Christmas offerings, even if I’m severely limited by quantity. But whether you have nothing to contribute to a conversation about playground equipment raleigh nc, or you’re trying to find an excuse not to speak up about the latest family drama, don’t gravitate towards the pies, cookies, and custards. For one thing, you’ll dump on the sugar. And for another: it’s just not good for you.
Whether you’re eating breakfast, a snack, or Thanksgiving dinner, remember the golden rule of bariatrics: Protein First. Nibble on scraps of chicken, turkey, or ham. Dip the tines of your fork into gravy for flavor without all of the fat. Go easy on the mashed potatoes, and watch the vegetables. Sure, the greens and yellows might be good for you, but chances are the buttery sauce they’re served up in isn’t.
Other proteinalicious offerings you may be able to find around the dinner or snack table include: sausage, pepperoni, cheese, cottage cheese, and perhaps even yogurt.
Don’t beat yourself up if you gain a pound or two over the holiday season – it happens. Just focus on protein, protein, protein, and getting back to your ideal weight.
Today I am exactly four years post-op. This time four years ago, I was out of surgery and in recovery, though I wouldn’t wake up (or at least wake up temporarily and later remember doing so) until at least 6 or 7. I was 331 lbs at the start of my surgical weight loss journey. On the day of my surgery I was close to 290 lbs. About a year and a half ago I hit my goal weight, and today I am three pounds away from being back within my self-imposed ten pound range. Of course, I wound up eating half of a serving of microwave tortellini (go figure that I can’t tolerate real pasta, but I can handle the fake, overly processed kind) before realizing that a full serving contains a whopping 43% of the DV of sodium…geez that is an insane amount of sodium. And, hello water weight.
A lot has happened in the past four years. In terms of health, I’ve dealt with stress-related migraines, depression, and an increase in anxiety that I never dealt with before. But that’s not because of the gastric bypass or resulting weight loss, obviously. Life has just been throwing one thing after another at me, and a person can only handle so much before they start to cave. This just goes to show you: getting to a healthy weight that makes you happy won’t magically fix things or make you happy. But it’s a damn good start.
Aside from shaking the few extra pounds that have crept on this year (today’s weigh-in: 169 lbs), I don’t have any new weight-related goals. I’m just continuing to focus on the ones that I should be focusing on (but haven’t for the last couple of months because STRESS and SURGERY and ULCERS and LAZY): 60g of protein (or more) per day, and all of my required vitamins.
The post-op gastric bypass road isn’t always an easy one to travel, but even after some post-op complications that have resulted in subsequent surgeries, I can honestly say that I have no regrets. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to hopefully having smooth sailing (travels? pavements?) from here on out.
With a brother who is interested in learning how to play a guitar, and a nine year old daughter, Alyssa, who recently started violin lessons at school, music has definitely been on my mind lately. For Christmas we’re thinking about getting Alyssa some accessories for her violin. Courtesy of my friend’s boyfriend she has a violin, complete with a case and a bow, but she’s been talking about music books and a music stand. These are both possibilities, of course. An ad for a lovepedal eternity at Guitar Center hit my inbox this morning, so I spent a bit of time today browsing for ideas. Musical instruments aren’t cheap, that’s for sure. But fortunately, the accessories for them are often priced much more affordably. Though on the flip side, a $300 violin could wind up needing $400 worth of accessories, so I suppose in the end I better pony up and get used to having to spend a lot since I have kids.
Fiber is a dietary must-have. Besides the important stuff like being shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes, fiber can help keep things moving in your digestive tract. For post-ops, this is especially important, since constipation is an issue that many bariatric specialists don’t always acknowledge but definitely should, because it really is a common issue (for me personally, it was a non-issue until I had my gallbladder removed in 2010).
Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, and grains, but obviously we post-ops can’t eat a lot of fruits because of the size and sugar content; nor can we eat a lot of vegetables due to size and issues with digesting “ruffage”; and grains tend to be carb-heavy. But small amounts of fruits and vegetables are fine – I personally enjoy sugar-free applesauce as well as lettuce and spinach. Same for grains, depending on your digestive tract’s sensitivity.
If you’re not sure that you’re hitting your fiber intake goal (for women, 20g to 25g is the daily recommendation), consider supplements. I add a teaspoon of Metamucil to my daily morning protein shake, and that seems to be sufficient for me. Fiber pills are another option, but they’re a little more expensive. Still, they work well – when I used them, I took two daily, at night, and never had any resulting digestive issues.
So you know what’s really kind of awesome? Sending unneeded cloth menstrual pads to a friend, and keeping around only a few tampons for other friends. I’ve had two non-periods since my surgery on September 12th. My first non-period was probably around October 10th, and my second non-period was this past week. Since I retained my ovaries I do still have the hormonal fluctuations, but between the shock of surgery and the shock of having half of my reproductive organs yanked mid menstrual cycle, my ovaries have been a little sluggish, and thus my PMS wasn’t too bad.
I’m still getting used to the idea of never having a period again, never worrying about wearing my period underwear or carrying enough pads with me or emptying my Diva Cup or being able to put aside work in favor of taking a Flexeril-induced nap, and never having to deal with all of the other stuff that accompanies a menstrual cycle. It’s so nice to just go about my day or week or life, working, spending time with family, going out, wondering how to tell tools that are four-arm from tools that are two-arm because Dan needs help assembling stuff, etc. In the past couple of years I have missed out on several key events in our life because of horrible menstrual pain. Never again, whoo!
But I won’t lie, a hysterectomy, even one that is done laproscopically and leaves the ovaries and fallopian tubes intact, isn’t a total walk in the park. I’m two months post-op and still dealing with a lot of sensitivity and some discomfort and pain in my vagina (I had my cervix removed, so the end of my vagina was sewed up into what’s called a vaginal cuff), and I still get a little sore and achy if I overdo things. And the sluggish ovaries have resulted in itchy skin and some very minor girly issues. But these are temporary things that will go away with time, and in addition to no more heavy, painful, long periods, I also dodged the cancer bullet. So yeah, the hysterectomy? Totally worth it.
So back in July I had an endoscopy. I believe this was my third or fourth one? Anyway, endoscopies are pretty routine. While it’s usually done in a hospital or outpatient facility, it’s not as “serious” or involved as a regular surgery is. However, for me at least, the pre-op procedure is about the same: arrival at the hospital 2-3 hours before the scheduled procedure, check in, get a hospital band, strip down to a hospital gown, answer a bunch of questions, get an IV, etc.
Anyway, July’s endoscopy found two ulcers, as well as stray piece of blue-colored suture. The abdominal pain I’ve been experiencing is no doubt due to these ulcers. I was prescribed liquid Carafate to take four times per day, and my Protonix was upped to 40mg twice per day. Due to the insanely high cost I wasn’t able to pay for the liquid Carafate (over $400 for a month’s worth!), but I did pick up the increased Protonix.
Still, the pain persisted. So earlier this month, to make sure that I wasn’t at risk of another bowel perforation, my bariatric surgeon set me up with a second endoscopy. The news was good: one ulcer had healed, and the other didn’t look any worse. Still, since the pain was frequent and bad (narcotic worthy bad – more about why I have those bad boys around in a paragraph or two), the attending physician prescribed Carafate in tablet form. The tablets are huge, and they start dissolving the instant they’re in my mouth, but a month’s supply (four per day: one before each meal and a fourth at bed time) is only $44, which is much more affordable than $400+. And, since I don’t always eat three meals per day, the tablets will “stretch” a bit further than a month.
At my July appointment I also asked my bariatric surgeon for a referral to the hospital’s gynecologist, who I’ve heard good things about in terms of not dismissing a done-with-child-bearing woman’s pain and bleeding issues. I saw him two weeks later, and had a total abdominal hysterectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, endometriosis scar tissue, as well as my appendix, since I seem to have a thing about random organs spontaneously going kaput) on September 12th. The surgery and recovery have gone fine, though as usual I overdo things, and didn’t listen to the doctor’s orders about abstaining from sex for six weeks, so I’ve set myself back a bit. Eh. Such is life. (And this is my explanation for having pain relief from my ulcers – surgery recovery meds, lol).
So, that’s how things are with me… one healed ulcer, one active ulcer that is being protected and healed with Carafate and Proxtonix, and otherwise life is going along as it usually does.