Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Liquid Diaries

Day One

I've done liquid diets before.  I've done fasting and cleanses and the like, so I'm not intimidated by the pre-op liquid diet.   Four shakes a day plus 64 ounces of liquid?  A breeze. Been there, done that.  To do it for ten days, however...that might be a little tough, but I'm confident I can pull it off.  You know they say when you want something bad enough, you make it happen, and I am so ready to start this new lease on life, so ready to bid adieu to bad decisions and destructive habits.  Bring. It. On.

I slept in this morning, but I woke up actually looking forward to my breakfast shake.  I mean, really - who doesn't like a milkshake for breakfast?

I made my way to the kitchen and gave my snazzy metallic red Cuisinart glass-jar blender its new home on the counter.  It doesn't get nearly enough use, and it's ready for its closeup.  So I set it on the counter, and began assembling the first shake.  I read the instructions: "Mix one scoop of Bariatric Fusion with 4 to 6 ounces of cold skim milk or water in a blender or shaker."

Waitaminit. Four to six ounces?  That's it?  That's nothing!  My blender doesn't even have a notch that low!  I pulled out the measuring cup and poured 6 ounces of milk into it, and then dumped it into the blender.  I peered into the jar and the milk barely covered the blades.  I then put the scoop of protein powder in, put the lid on, and let 'er rip.  Twenty or so seconds later I poured the shake into my glass.  It just filled the 8-ounce glass to the top.  This was NOT what I had in mind when I thought of enjoying a shake for breakfast.  This was like...three sips and it was over.  That was it.

It wasn't bad, as protein shakes go.  In my younger days I did Slim-Fast when it only came in the canister, and this stuff tasted better than I remember that tasting.  It had a weird aftertaste, but not unbearable. 

About an hour later I decided to start in with the "other liquid" part of the diet and helped myself to a tall glass of Tropicana Light Fruit Punch.  I bought this stuff because it's one of the few low-calorie, low-sugar drink options I've found that doesn't contain aspartame.  I'm really trying to steer clear of that (and both my nutritionist and surgeon advise against it, preferring instead to recommend Splenda, Stevia, or Agave as alternative sweeteners).  It's not bad.  Not something I'd want to be drinking all day long, but it quenched my thirst.  I started researching apps that would help me keep track of - and provide reminders for - my liquid intake.  It suddenly occurred to me that 64 ounces is a lot of liquid, and maybe it wouldn't be so easy to drink that much liquid without some prompting.  What if I'm not thirsty?

My second shake seemed more substantial than the first one for some reason.  I'm guessing it had something to do with the lowered expectations. That shake went down fairly easily, and then I decided to take a nap.  Whether it was the ingredients in the shake or the psychological implications of this whole journey, I don't know, but my dreams were whacked out.  Seriously weird, slightly disturbing, and featuring a cast of random friends, exes, coworkers, and strangers.  And food.  A lot of food.

I remember when I quit smoking, all my dreams involved cigarettes.  Everyone in my dreams would be smoking, even the dog and cat.  So I wonder if this is the same sort of thing.  There was food everywhere in this dream, and everyone was eating something. Some of it was relatively benign - nuts, fruits, etc, but I would eat it and then remember I'm not supposed to be eating any solid food.  Then later on, things turned sinister and I was  sitting in a dark driveway, propped up against the wheel of an old car, and this man approached me with a ridiculous dessert containing chocolate and cookies and frosting and whipped cream.  I took it from him, and as I scraped the last of it off the plate I remembered I wasn't supposed to be eating this stuff at all, and I panicked.

When I first woke up I was in full panic mode: I was sweating, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and I was on the verge of tears.  I was angry at myself for eating!  Angry at forgetting!  Angry at the man with the chocolate dessert!  Angry at the ex who told me I would fail at this weight loss attempt as I have all the others!  Angry at everyone in the dream for not respecting that I couldn't eat any of this shit but allowing me to access it anyway!   After the fog lifted and I realized that it was all just a dream, I calmed down, but man...that was scary.

Dinner was of a bowl of broth and a Trenta-sized iced passion tea from Starbucks.  I didn't sweeten it with anything because I want my taste buds to get used to unsweetened things.  I used to throw a shitload of Sweet'n'Low in my passion tea, but like with aspartame, I've been making a concerted effort to stay away from saccharin as well.  All that shit is evil, really.  I opted to have a shake for "dessert" in this case, and made a chocolate one this time.  It's Easter Sunday so I decided the chocolate shake would be representative of the chocolate bunny I wouldn't be eating this year. This time I put ice cubes in it, which gave it a more milkshake-like consistency.  It was okay; artificial chocolate flavor has never been a favorite of mine, and this tasted a little like chocolate Necco wafers.  Not impressed.

It was somewhere around this third shake that I began to experience my body's reaction to this stuff.  I'll spare you the details, but I'll tell you it's not pretty, and I learned the hard way that my digestive system is not to be trusted at this time.  

I could still have one more shake today, but seeing as it's already 8:00 I might skip it.   I start work at 4:30 tomorrow morning, and I could use the sleep more than another marginally tasty protein shake (and its unpleasant aftermath).  I just don't want to dream about any more desserts or ex-boyfriends. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Final Boarding Call

Tomorrow I start my pre-op liquid diet.  For those who might be curious as to what this entails, my daily nutrition from tomorrow until the day before surgery will consist of four protein shakes.  In between those shakes I need to drink at least 64 ounces of sugar-free/low-calorie, caffeine-free liquid.  I can have water, flavored water, Crystal Light, Propel, Gatorade G2, Sugar-free KoolAid, herbal tea, etc.  If I'm in the mood for something I can sort of chew, I can have sugar-free Jell-O or popsicles.  If I want something savory, I can have chicken broth.

I can not have coffee.  God help us all. 

Anyway, while I was at work today, it hit me.  This was it.  Everything changes after today.  And I started to cry.

I cried not because I was saying goodbye to chocolate and Pepsi and donuts and pizza.  I cried not because I'm scared of what's around the bend.  I cried because I felt like today was the last day of the Old Me's life, and the tears were not necessarily out of mourning for her, but of happiness that she is finally going to move forward.  Onward.  Upward. 

If there's anything I dislike about my life it's that it often feels as if it lacks forward motion.  Sure, I do a lot of great stuff and have been a lot of neat places and know some awesome people.  My life is interesting, and my life is fun.  But it doesn't seem to be going anywhere most of the time.  Perhaps it is the nature of the beast when you are single and childfree; you have no "traditional" markers with which to measure progress.  Ditto when you're underemployed.  You spend a lot of time running for the gate, only to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging out on the tarmac, gazing hopefully into the distance but never actually taking off. 

But tomorrow...tomorrow I start a Whole New Life.  Tomorrow it begins, and tomorrow the chocks are removed from the wheels and I taxi down the runway.  It's happening.  I'm moving.  I'm on my way.  My seatbelt is securely fastened, the tray table is up, my seat back is in the upright position, and I'm ready to fly.

Bon voyage, Old Me. Welcome to your New Life.

Inspired by Eggface: Things that Suck When You're Fat

A couple of my readers hipped me today to a blog called The World According to Eggface.  Eggface is written by a woman named Shelly, who had weight-loss surgery a number of years ago.  I spent the better part of an hour this afternoon reading the blog, and every time I get a spare minute or two, I go back and read more.  Her posts go back seven years, so there's a lot there!  She's got all kinds of helpful hints, tips, and recipes, and I have a feeling I'll be consulting the Face of Egg on a regular basis.

One of her posts in particular struck me; it was a post listing the worst things about being fat.  I know I've written about the things I won't miss about being fat, but Shelly's list is even better.  And I can attest to everything on that list.  And then some.

So inspired by Shelly's list, I've compiled a list of the things I find generally suck when you're fat. 

• Putting on socks.  Normal people just bend over and put their socks on, right?  I mean, I have spent some time (albeit limited) in my life as a non-fat person (or at least not as fat as I am now), and I remember how it was kind of no big deal.  You just sit on the edge of your bed, bend over, and put 'em on.  Or lift your foot up onto a chair or the bed and put them on that way.

But not for me. Bending over forward just doesn't happen.  I've never been pregnant, but I imagine women who have been can relate to this dilemma.  There's this "side approach" that goes on,  where you sit on the bed and kind of splay your leg out to the side and then  bend sideways to access your foot.  I'm sure to the outside viewer it's nothing short of wildly amusing, but to me?  Pure hell.  I'm a sock fiend, too; I love socks and I have like 100 pairs of them.  But some days it's just not worth the effort.

In this same vein...

Shoes that tie, buckle, or require any attention beyond just slipping them on.  My everyday go-to shoes are a pair of Doc Marten mary janes that I'm able to slide my feet into, but if I ever had to adjust the buckle, forget it.  I'd have to ditch them for loafers.  I have a cute pair of brown oxfords that I love, but they're perpetually untied because bending over to tie my shoes is like...well, see the above paragraph regarding socks.

• Tights/pantyhose.  Forget it.  It's an all-out fucking WAR to get the goddamn things on, and by the time I'm done writhing around, jumping up and down, swearing, and tugging to get the fucking things on, I'm in tears, I'm sweating profusely, and am usually sporting at least one run.  Again, just like socks, I love tights and have several pairs in all different colors and patterns,  but I can't be bothered.

• Pants. Wearing pants without some stretch property can't be done. I refuse to be a slob who wears sweatpants or pajama bottoms out of the house. I've relaxed the standard on occasions when my mission is strictly drive-thru-able, but even then I wear yoga pants, which seem somehow more respectable than the pink flannel Snoopy pants.  I do have a long, elastic-waisted skirt that I wear when I can't deal with pants, but it's still cold out right now, so it's not as easy as it is in the summer to just throw that on with a pair of flats and go. I have two pairs of jeans that I can wear at the moment.  They're both stretchy but ill-fitting; they both need a belt (which is another thing that sucks when you're fat) because I'm shaped strangely, and the waist rolls over and they slide down my hips, which are essentially the same circumference as my waist.  One of said pairs of jeans is actually a pair of jeggings.  Fuck my life.

• Heels.  I love shoes.  I love shoes with heels.  But I can't wear them anymore because my feet swell and the weight of me on my feet is unbearable after just a few minutes. I have 2-inch wedges that I wear when I sing, but our last concert we stood the entire time and by the end of the night my feet were on fire.  I couldn't walk right for days.  Two inches.  Wedges.  This should NOT be an issue.  But it is, and I can't even fathom wearing some of my higher heels right now.

• Sleeping.  Oh, God, what I wouldn't give for a full night's sleep.  As a matter of fact, I'm typing this at 1:00 in the morning, five hours before I have to be at work, two hours after I initially went to bed.  It took me about 45 minutes to fall asleep, and a half hour later I was up again, coughing from reflux and sweating like a pig.  I'll take something for the reflux, I'll go back to sleep, and an hour or so later I'll wake myself up attempting to roll my 260-pound body over.  Later on I'll wake up gasping for air because my airways are obstructed (I know I have apnea, but it was never formally diagnosed so I don't have a CPAP machine).  When that happens I almost always have an accompanying dream wherein I'm being smothered by someone or something, which adds to the unpleasantness of the experience.  My mouth will be completely dried out, so I'll wander out to the kitchen for a drink before I go back to bed.  Then an hour later I'll get up because I have to pee.  Then I'll wake up because I'm smothering again.  Then a little while later my cat will decide to use my chest as a landing pad.  And then just as I'm falling asleep, my alarm will sound. Fun times.

Just like Shelly's list, I will have more to add to this, but you get the idea.  I'm so ready to be done with all this shit.

Good GOD I am tired...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Last Supper

I make it sound like I'm about to die, calling it "The Last Supper," but really it was just a gathering of friends over food.

For the past couple of years I've hosted near-monthly potluck dinners at my house.  They usually have a good turnout, and at times have been known to last into the wee hours.  The last few months, however, I've been unable to host any because of my increased workload.  I didn't want to miss a chance to get all my friends together for dinner again before I go in for my surgery, though, so tonight I gathered about 15 friends and we went to Duff's, my favorite wing place.  I'm in Buffalo, after all - we take our wings seriously here!

I didn't pig out. That was not the objective.  But I sure as hell enjoyed my food.  In fact if I overindulged in anything, it was the Pepsi.  I've made it pretty clear in previous posts about my addiction to the stuff.  I also answered questions that my friends had about my surgery, but mostly we did like we always do - we ate, we talked, we laughed.

Part of me felt slightly awkward, worried that my friends might think I was being flip about my surgery by having a "Last Supper," but I think they understood that it wasn't really just about the food.  After this week, I will never again be able to eat regular portions of food, and it may very well be awhile before I feel comfortable in and adjusted to my new eating habits.  I don't know how I'm going to react to food, or how it will affect me, or how my digestion will work.  Everyone is different, and I might be able to tolerate a chicken wing sooner than someone else might.  Or just the smell of one might turn my little sleeve inside out.  I've heard some people have a hard time holding anything in from the other end, too.  Some people have to race to the bathroom minutes after eating.  And based on my current tendencies, I would imagine I might have that issue.  I won't know until I get there.

The idea was to get everyone together for dinner, and while it was certainly not the last time I ever gather with all these people over a meal, I know that it could be a long time before I am able to do so again.  Tonight's objective was to eat good food with good people and have a good time.  And I got what I wanted.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thinking Out Loud: Post-Op Bucket List

A few people have asked me, "what are some of your goals after you get the surgery?"  Then a few days ago I posted about the bracelet, and that started me thinking more closely about which goals I'm hoping to achieve.

There are nebulous goals with no clear definition, like, "I want to be healthy."  Well...duh.  That's kind of a given. I can say "I want to be thin," but thin is kind of subjective.  Everyone's definition of "thin" is different.  If it weren't, we wouldn't have models and actresses role-modeling teenage girls into starving themselves to a size zero. "I want to feel better about myself" is another one.  Yes, I will feel better about myself on a lot of levels, but simply losing weight isn't going to address the real issues that plague my self-esteem and always have.

Then there are more specific goals that still aren't necessarily definitive, like, "I want to get my asthma under control."  Or "I want to sleep through the night."  Anyone with poorly controlled asthma can tell you, it's a HUGE victory to go a day without using an inhaler, and in my case with the sleep issues, just sleeping more than three hours at a time would be a victory for me.  But these things would have to start happening long-term in order to be truly effective.  So reaching those goals isn't necessarily a "one and done" thing.

And speaking of "one," there's that goal of moving into "Onederland," that beautiful place where your weight begins with the numeral one.  I've been there before, but only to visit temporarily.  In the last ten years I've never spent more than a few months (or even just weeks) at a time there.  I want to take up residency there, and live out the rest of my days in the south end of it.

But more than my goals, I like to think of working on my Post-Op Bucket List.  I have a Bucket List already, and I've managed to knock a number of things off of it.  I've traveled to several places I've dreamed of going.  I've met a few famous and/or influential people I've wanted to meet, including my life hero.  I've earned a Master's Degree.  I've been in a music video.  I'm a published illustrator.  There are lots of check-marks on that list.  But after my surgery, there will be a number of other things added to that list that I might not have considered before or had figured were kind of lost causes.  Things like...bellydancing lessons.  Or maybe Burlesque.  Working on a Peruvian Amazon wildlife rehab sanctuary.  Skiing lessons (hell, if I have to be stuck in this god-forsaken weather, I might as well enjoy it).  More travel.  Finally going to the World's Greatest Disco because I will be (a) normal size enough to find an outfit that I can get into and (b) healthy enough to boogie the night away. Swimming with dolphins.  Doing the Dirty Girl Mud Run with my sister.  Getting back into cycling. Maybe even finding a life partner -- but only if he's willing to travel the world with me, because someday I'm packing my life into one backpack and hitting the road.

See, these are all things that I don't feel confident enough - or physically fit enough - in my current state to attempt.   I know there are people much larger than I who accomplish these things with relative ease, but I haven't dared attempt them because of my size. 

I know that the going is going to get tough at times.  I know enough people in "real life" who've had this surgery - and a ton of others I only know by screen names on support forums  - to know that it's not difficult to stall weight loss - or even gain weight back - after the surgery.  I know I will hit plateaus.  I know I will be subject to backslides and stumbling blocks and obstacles along the way.  I know I have to be mindful and diligent and disciplined and conscious of every move I make.  This is not going to be easy. But knowing I'll be getting stronger, healthier, and more fit for the activities I have always admired from the sidelines but never quite got up the nerve to try...that'll be the fire under my ass to make all the above things happen.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

And So Begins the Last Week

This is my last week of "free eating," so to speak.  The last week that I'm able to eat any solid food for a long time. So far I've sort of failed on that "changing my habits" thing.  Yes, I've been eating more veggies, and yes, I've been trying to get a little exercise in here and there, but even that's mainly consisted of putting on music and dancing for a few minutes.  I'm so out of shape that just that much is enough to wind me.  I've been working pretty hard on my house, so there's been a lot of walking up and down stairs, a lot of lifting and carrying stuff back and forth, et cetera.  So I've not been a total sloth; I just haven't miraculously turned into a raw veggie-chomping gym bot overnight.

And I think I'm okay with that.  Or at least I kind of have to be, right?  Because it is what it is.

I think the most important thing to remember at this point is that I KNOW my life is going to change in the most drastic way after next week.  And the pre-op diet - ten days of nothing but liquid (unless I indulge in some sugar free jello or popsicles) - will definitely teach me something about that, or at least provide an effective segue into the changes. In the meantime I just continue to drink more water and choose veggies over less healthy side options.

One thing at a time.  One step at a time.

I went to a birthday party last night and pretty much grazed all night. A small square of pizza, two chicken wings, a beer, some celery, a cookie, a normal sized slice of cake, and a handful of crackers and cheese (which happen to be a major weakness for me).  I picked at the chip bowls, but none of the chips were particularly interesting to me (because...cheese and fucking CRACKERS) so I just kind of nibbled a few and then moved on.  I did get sent home with a giant slab of ganache-filled cake and a whole TRAY of cheese and crackers, though. I'm talking HUGE.  It's like an industrial-sized Lunchable sitting in my fridge.  Ridiculous.

Interesting, too, that I was in mixed company - friends and strangers - so I was more conscious of my behavior.  My friends know what's up, so they likely thought nothing of me enjoying some party food - which is why I sort of hung back and didn't mingle with the group at large until I was done with the bulk of my "dinner."

Today I'm going to Indian buffet for lunch, a Sunday tradition of which I've been a part for about six or seven years at this point.  I don't always make it every week because of other obligations, but I'm going today, and I'm going to enjoy it.  Wednesday I'm going out with a dozen or so friends to Duff's for wings, and the rest of the week I'll fill in the blanks with whatever I have on hand at home.

Anyone free for lunch this week?  Now's your chance. :-)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My (Sort of Indulgent and Kind of Frivolous but Totally Meaningful) Gift to Myself

I'm three weeks out from Sleeve Day, and this shit is getting real.  It wasn't until yesterday when I was sitting in the hospital doing pre-admission stuff, looking at my little barcoded plastic wristband with my name and my age and my surgeon's name on it, that it finally struck me that this is really happening. Egads!

And speaking of wrists and things you put on them...

                                                       Oooooh - shiny!!

Yesterday afternoon after work I was out running errands, and I had occasion to be in a jewelry store.  Now, I have no disposable income to be lavishing myself with even a cheap piece of jewelry, but this situation was such that I was facing a really, really great deal on something I've had my eye on for awhile.  And so...I jumped.  And this is why:

About eight years ago I wrote about the saga of my charm bracelet, and how it all finally came to fruition.  I've worn and loved said bracelet for years now, but then a few years ago I met someone who owned a Pandora bracelet.   I thought it was so beautiful, and I liked the compact, "non dangly" aspect of it.  While I love my charm bracelet (and initially found the dangly characteristic part of its appeal), it gets caught on stuff a lot and I find myself taking it off and stuffing it in my pocket on a frequent basis.  Pandora has some dangly charms, but most are like little beads that slide or clip on to the chain, and I really like that.   The charms are also interchangeable as pendants and even earrings if you buy the Pandora posts.  And so I made a mental note to get one.  Someday. Because, you know, they're not cheap - especially to someone who could make better use of that money paying, like, an electric bill or something.  But I don't have anything really nice as far as jewelry goes, and even my engagement ring was a cheap piece of crap barely worth the paper the receipt was printed on (par for the course, I suppose).  I'm 41 years old and have never owned a quality piece of jewelry. Then a few months ago I was in another jewelry store buying a gift for the aforementioned friend, and while listening to the Pandora sales lady's pitch, I was sold.  I officially wanted one of these.  I took the catalog home and flipped through it, making little dogears on the pages containing charms I liked.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I decided, "now is the time."  I bought the bracelet, but no charms.  My plan is to use this bracelet to celebrate my weight loss.  I'm going to wrap the box and put it aside, and the day I come home from the hospital I'm going to give myself the bracelet.   With every goal I achieve, I will reward myself with a new charm! Goals like hitting a certain number, or losing a target percentage, or finally fitting into that adorable dress I bought myself a few years ago with the intention of "someday" fitting into it, or reaching a particular fitness milestone, or getting to "Onederland," or whatever - I'll treat myself to another charm and when I look at that charm I will remember why I have it. 

The very nature of these bracelets is that they're supposed to be a "roadmap" of sorts; a collection of life events represented in jewelry, and so I think this is going to be my "Weight Loss Bracelet."  It'll serve as a reward for my success and a reminder when the going gets tough.  I can look at my (slimmer) wrist adorned in little baubles and look at how far I've come.

I can't wait to see what it looks like a year from now. :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pre-Admission Test Day and my First Piece of Advice

Today was the day I went in for my pre-admission testing at the hospital.  I needed blood tests, an EKG, some chest X-rays, and a urinalysis.  I was told to expect the process to take a couple of hours, and it actually would have only taken half as long -- except my bladder wouldn't cooperate. 

I am always terrifically dehydrated upon waking.  Every morning, especially in the winter time when I don't drink enough water and my furnace is cranking out dry, dusty, desiccating heat seemingly nonstop, I wake up parched.  This morning was no different. 

As I left the house I realized that I was going to have to pee in a cup, so I decided to stop at Starbucks and grab an Americano and a water before heading over to the hospital.  The hospital is only about ten minutes from my house, but I figured if I chugged my beverages quickly enough, by the time they asked me to pee I'd be ready. 

I walked into the reception area and gave the woman at the desk all my information: insurance card, photo ID, et cetera.  She asked me a bunch of questions and then handed me a cup and a bag.  "Your sample goes in the cup, then put the cup inside the bag, seal it, and put it in the metal cabinet in the wall," she said.  I'm glad she clarified, because I was TOTALLY thinking I needed to pee in the bag (eye roll).  Anyway, I started to panic, realizing that I did NOT have to pee AT ALL.  Not one bit.  But I had to try.  "We just need a small amount," she said, but I wasn't sure I'd be able to get anything out.

I managed to get out a drop - hardly enough for them to use, but I put it in the aforementioned packaging configuration nevertheless and went on my way.  Sure enough, I was told, "we can't use that; you'll have to give us another one later on."  I excused myself to the waiting room to retrieve my coffee, and for good measure I grabbed a cup of water from the cooler.  I was going to need all the help I could get.

When I went back to the room, it was time for a blood draw.  They were taking four vials.  The nurse asked me which arm I wanted to use, and I told her, "it doesn't really matter. They both have super deep veins with a lot of scar tissue."  This has been an issue of mine for as long as I can remember, and in fact the only people who have ever been truly successful at drawing my blood upon the first stick are the folks at the Red Cross when I donate blood.  She finally found my vein, but thanks to my dehydrated state, the blood wouldn't flow.  So she ended up sticking my hand instead, which is always a super pleasant experience.

The only thing left to do after the blood draw was the chest Xray, so I left the pre-admissions department and grabbed another cup of water on my way out.  After 12 ounces of coffee at at least 24 ounces of water, I was sure I'd have to pee soon. I figured by the time my xrays were done, my bladder would be ready to cooperate, and then I could get the hell out of there.

My Xrays took maybe ten minutes, and after they were done I still didn't have to pee.

I went to the cafeteria and debated whether or not to spend $2 on a bottle of water.  Sitting in the cafeteria, I played around on my phone for a little while - including googling "how long after drinking will you need to pee" - and then decided to just go back to pre-admissions, get some water, and wait it out there.  I went back, filled a cup, and then wandered the halls with it, thinking that maybe if I moved around a bit it would help things along.  I figured it works for pregnant women and babies; why not bladders and urine?  I went back periodically to the water cooler and filled my cup a few more times. 

Finally after another half an hour I felt a tiny twinge.  I had to pee!  Sort of.  I mean, at least I felt like if I tried this time I'd be able to get more than just a drop.  So I walked up to the window and proudly proclaimed, "I owe you a urine sample, and I'm ready to give it to you now!"  The receptionist, who was clearly unimpressed, directed me to the bathroom once more, and there I produced a satisfactorily substantial sample.  I walked out feeling exceptionally relieved, knowing this was now behind me, and I was now that much closer to Sleeve Day.

By the time I pulled out of the hospital's parking lot, I had to pee again.  Since my house is just a few minutes from the hospital, I just kept going, and by the time I pulled into my driveway I had to piss like a racehorse and could hardly stand it.  I was only home for a few minutes, just long enough to eat a quick bowl of oatmeal and grab a few things I needed for the rest of the day, but in that time I peed twice more.  By the time I got to work 15 minutes away, I had to pee again.  And in the four hours I was in my office, I ran to the bathroom every 30 minutes.  Brutal!

So my advice to anyone having this done is, if nothing else, make sure you are adequately hydrated when you go for your tests.  Proper hydration is a must all the time, but it's especially important when you're going to be giving fluids. Lesson learned.  And I'll close this entry now, because I have to pee again.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yes, I am an Unabashed Drama Queen

I'm a drama queen.  I fully admit it.  In my defense, I paid $60,000 for a theatre degree, and at least I'm using it for something.

I'm not just dramatic; I'm also highly emotional.  I cry about a lot of shit - sometimes over things that barely register with most other people.  I cry at weddings.  Not just the weddings of people I know, either.  If I pass a church and see a bride and groom standing outside -- instant waterworks.  Funerals?  Forget it.  I could never be a funeral singer because I'd never make it past the first two notes of "Danny Boy" or "Amazing Grace" before breaking down in a blubbery mess. I cry at touching news stories about puppies born with three legs, or about cats that find their way home after being accidentally left at rest stops nineteen states away.  I cry at movies.  Doesn't matter what they are.  I cried at "The Wedding Crashers."  (Come on, now - are you really surprised? There were weddings involved!  I cry at ALL weddings)!  I cried at "Life of Pi."  I cried at "The Deer Hunter."  I cry at curtain calls.  I cry during the "Hallelujah" chorus when everyone stands up and the music rumbles through my soul and I start belting out "KING O-OF KINGS! AND LORD O-OF LORDS!!"  I'm not even Christian and I can't help it.  I'm just moved that way.

So when I started thinking about waking up in the hospital on surgery day and realizing that there might not be anyone there to greet me as I come out of my fog...I cried.  And then I cried some more.  And then when I was done crying, I called my mom and asked her if she'd come to Buffalo to be with me at the hospital.  She told me she probably couldn't, because she'd probably have to work that day.  And so I cried again. 

I'm not an attention whore.  I don't want a million people fawning over me.  I don't want people in and out of my house all day long, even though I know I'll need people to help me and to make sure I'm getting my fluids and not falling down and injuring myself in an Oxycontin stupor.  I don't want someone to spoon-feed me Jell-O or read me bedtime stories (though both those things have been offered). But I do want to wake up in the hospital to see someone I know, and I do think it'd be kind of nice if that someone was my mom. 

A while back, I wrote a post about feeling alone in all of this, and now it's really starting to hit me just how alone I really am.  People have lives and jobs and kids and responsibilities, and it's no one's job or responsibility to take care of me or make sure I have a friendly and familiar face to wake up to in the hospital.  If I had a husband or a boyfriend, perhaps I would have that built-in person, someone who would be willing and able to take the afternoon off from work to hang out with me while I regain consciousness and process all that's gone on.  I watch these videos on YouTube of people who are being wheeled into the OR with their significant others kissing them, and their moms waving to them, and then later on you see them waking up with their sig-o at their side, mom straightening the blankets and fluffing their pillows, and I wonder who's going to be there for me.   Not only is this a physically significant event for me, it's also highly emotional.  And I'm going to cry.  

Yeah, I'm being dramatic.  Five years ago (almost to the day) I was in the very same hospital and didn't even want my mother to know.  I'd taken myself in for an asthma attack gone nuts and ended up staying for four days.  I didn't tell my aunt.  I had my friends quietly take care of my house and my pets, and took care of my own business.  But at no time was I under anesthesia, and I wasn't having anything taken out of my body.  As soon as my lungs were clear, I was out of there.  My car was in the lot so I had a ride home.  My life went back to normal and that was the end of it.  This?  It's a little different.  I'm having 80% of my stomach removed, and my life will never be the same.

I guess it'd just be nice to not go through this alone.  Color me dramatic, but that's how I feel.  Please pass the Kleenex.  I'm crying again.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mixed-Weight Couples: Yep. Been there.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on "Mixed-Weight Couples."  The study of MWC showed that they suffered more relationship stress and fought more.  What really hit me was how insensitive and verbally unkind the partner without the weight issue was portrayed.

And believe me - I've been there.

I have never had an easy time dating.  My father was tyrannically "overprotective" (read: a controlling douchewad) about me and boys, and I had to date in secret until I was about 16.  Even then it was not something I was very open with him about, and I kept most of my love life a guarded secret from both my parents.  I still do.  So growing up I was already unsure of the whole dating thing because it had to be done on the sly.  Then there was the body issue.

I have never liked my body, even when I've been thin, because it's never looked the way I want it to.  Even with insane amounts of diet and exercise, my stomach has never been flat.  Even when my ribs stuck out and I couldn't sleep on my front because my hip bones would literally leave bruises, I had a "c-gut" or "pooch" or whatever you want to call it; that doughy, fleshy, gravity-defying handful of lower abdominal section that refuses to respond to any action short of a knife-wielding surgeon, and the upper section resembled a cheese pizza. Even when I was riding 200 miles a week in the height of my cycling obsession in the late '90s and my legs were like bricks (as one guy put it, "holy shit, you could crush a man's skull with those quads!") and my butt was tighter than a drum, my abdominal issues persisted.

So no matter what my weight, I've found something to be self-conscious about, and that has affected every single relationship - from preventing potential ones from happening to causing stress in the sex life of an already-established one.  One of my more extreme weight-loss experiences - a medically supervised diet on which I took the drug Phentermine and got down to my all-time adult low of 129 pounds - was kick-started by a cruel comment by my boyfriend at the time.  We were getting dressed one morning, and I sat on the bed to put my stockings on.  He was sitting next to me fixing his tie, and he looked over at my lap and said, "Damn, girl - those are some THIGHS!"  I was devastated.  I called the number the next day and started the diet - and the drugs - later that week.

Ironically enough my weight LOSS became a bone of contention in our relationship as well, as he started viewing my time at the gym as time better spent with him.  I started getting  a lot of attention, and when we'd attend his swanky work events, there was always a buzz about his "hot girlfriend."  He started to resent me.  He was kind of a chubby guy himself.  And then when I started to put the weight back on, things got even worse.  So...yeah.  That's what happened there.

Another relationship - also with a sort of chubby guy - was deeply affected by my weight, only in that case I was also the same height as him. So I outweighed him, which sucked in its own right, but when I wore shoes with any kind of heel on them I was taller, too.  And yeah, that bothered me.  He claimed the height issue didn't bother him, but my weight most certainly did.  And he was not shy about saying so. He was one of these "I love fat women" guys initially, but after the dust settled I realized that he only did so because he got off on abusing them.  His M.O. is to seek out women with esteem issues, build them up for a little while, and then turn their flaws against them in an attempt to have the upper hand.  It's actually a classic abuse technique, and I fell for it. 

While vacationing in Southeast Asia a few years ago, we had not one, but two motorbike accidents.  The first one was simply the result of hitting a patch of sand while negotiating a tight curve, but the second one was sort of related to my weight.  We were attempting to climb a steep incline, and when he downshifted, the extra weight of me on the back threw the bike off balance and we were thrown backward.  Later that day he left his journal open on the bed while he went out for a cigarette, and I saw where he had written that "this girl's fitness is a liability."  I should have run then when I had the chance.  Sure, my weight affected the bike's balance, but any amount of weight on the back of that bike, unless it was a 90-pound Thai girl, was going to skew the balance.  And yet...I took the blame.  The fat one always does.

It's always the fat one's fault.

Monday, March 11, 2013

T-minus ONE MONTH: Nesting and the Beginnings of Panic Mode

Holy shit.  One more month.

My head is swimming right now.  I have so much to do in preparation - mainly getting my house organized - and I can't seem to get a handle on any of it.

You have to understand that my house is a disorganized clusterfuck of epic proportions, and my bedroom has been largely unusable for the better part of the last year or so.  I promise I'll post photos and detailed commentary on the bedroom project in another post, but for now I'm just trying to get everything out so I can rearrange it into something more user-friendly.  I have a ton of clothes to sort through, and a lot of useless shit to get rid of. I've been working on this thing on and off for the last three days, and I've barely made a dent.  In the meantime, the REST of my house is filled with all the shit I've hauled out of the bedroom, and it's just really out of hand.  And if my past performance dictates future results, my landlord (who also happens to be my uncle) will surely stop by at the height of the chaos - and most definitely while I'm not even home to defend my position.  It's stressing me out super fucking bad, and I want to get it done.  But there's a LOT of shit to wade through, and a LOT of dust which triggers my asthma, so it's taking FOREVER to get it done. 

On the 19th I go for my pre-admission tests.  On March 31st I start my pre-op liquid diet.  April 1st I go for my medical clearance exam.  April 2nd I go for my last pre-op nutrition class and fitness center orientation at Synergy Bariatrics.  That same day I have my final pre-op exam with the surgeon.  And then...April 10th is the day.

This is all happening a lot faster than it was a month or so ago when I got my surgery date.  But on the plus side, I have some free time coming up. Because I'm not performing in either chorus concert in April, I'll be out of rehearsals for the next seven weeks.  So that frees up my Monday nights.  I also have five days off from work in the near future as well (week after next).  I had taken vacation time to go out of town, but my trip got waylaid by a snafu on the other end.  So while I could say, "hey, I'm not going out of town, so never mind the vacation," I'm opting to keep the time off and (hopefully) utilize it to tie up all my loose ends.

Even still, knowing myself as well as I do, I'll be running around on April 9th like a chicken with my head cut off.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Are those available in Salt 'n' Bitter Self-Consciousness flavor?

Last week I needed to pick up something for a small gathering.  Because I was pressed for time, I ran into the nearest grocery store and grabbed a bag of chips and a container of dip.  As I walked through the store carrying these, I felt like everyone I passed was looking at me and judging me.  "Why is that fat lady eating chips and dip? She should be eating broccoli!" I imagine them saying.  Or "Look at that typical fatty, filling her cart with junk food."  Or "What a fat slob!"

This has been a lifelong thing for me, self-consciousness.  People are generally surprised when they find out I am so painfully conscious of myself because I'm regarded by many as relatively fearless, pretty tough, and someone who gives approximately zero shits what anyone thinks. On some levels, this is true.  I am sort of fearless and definitely possess a sense of adventure.  I'm not a pack animal; I travel solo most of the time and prefer require living alone.  I've always been recognized as that chick who'll do the crazy shit that no one else has the balls to do. I march to the beat of my own drum, and I've demonstrated a fair amount of resilience in the face of adversity throughout the years.  But the's always been there, and during times when I am not feeling great about myself, it's even worse.  And the ultimate self-consciousness has always involved food and its consumption in the presence of other people.

When I was in junior high (what the rest of the world calls "Middle School" - Buffalo has weird vernacular), I used to skip lunch a lot.  I wouldn't physically leave the building, as that was not an option, but I would sit in the cafeteria while everyone else ate, and I'd talk or do homework.  Sometimes I would go practice in the music room if I was feeling particularly unpopular that day. I hardly ever ate.  If my mother had packed me a lunch that day, I'd already found a minute to scarf it down in the bathroom earlier in the day.  If I hadn't brought my lunch, I hoarded the 85 cents, which was then used at some point to buy that week's pack of cigarettes (they were 90 cents when I started smoking, if you can believe that).  This, of course, was the start of the smoking vs. eating system of checks and balances that I would employ for 25 years.  The other days' lunch money was pooled with my babysitting/lawn-mowing money to buy cheap makeup from the drugstore (which was just as much contraband as the Marlboros) and the latest-release issues of Hit Parader and Circus for a new crop of glossies of hot hair metal dudes to plaster on my bedroom walls.

Some days I would convince myself that it was okay; I could do this. But it was never something I could pull off without enduring an internal freakout.  I couldn't carry my tray of food to my table without terrific anxiety.  As I walked through the cafeteria, I imagined everyone staring at me, judging my size and scrutinizing what was on my tray.  Most days I would opt for the salad, but even then I could feel all the eyes upon me, watching me eat.  I kept my head down and averted the eyes of everyone around me.  I would feel the walls closing in on me, feel the heat rising up into my face with every forkful I tried to gracefully place in my mouth. It bordered on traumatic, and to this day I still feel self-conscious any time I am in the presence of people I'm not completely familiar and comfortable with.  Buffets are weird. And first dates over dinner are extra awkward, which is why on the rare occasion that I get a date, I usually opt for something not involving food.  It's not that I worry I'll spill something or drop food in my lap or get a chunk of spinach stuck in my teeth; it's the actual act of feeding myself that causes the anxiety.

The thing is - no one is judging me.  No one cares.  And no one even notices.  Rationally, I should know this.  However, my relationship with food is anything BUT rational.  Blame the guy who made me feel guilty for every morsel that passed my lips from the time I was able to hold my own fork, and who made me eat in the garage when he felt my table manners weren't up to snuff (yeah, that really happened - maybe I'll write about that another time), but it is what it is.  Thirty-plus years on, some things are just that indelibly stained on my psyche.

So as I walked through the store with my bag of chips that day and felt the (imagined) stares of the people pointing and laughing at the fat lady with the junk food, and headed for the self-checkout to avoid judgement by the cashier, I ticked off one more thing on the list that I'm not going to miss.  I know that the issue won't just magically disappear. I have no lofty expectations of any of the deepest-seated issues just dissipating the second I leave the hospital, and understand that it will take just as much work to lose the anxiety as it will to lose the weight. But I look forward to the possibility that it will at least subside a fair amount, and that's what's getting me through for the moment.