Friday, July 27, 2012

Passing it on...

Am I doing my daughter a disservice?  Am I teaching her that you need to lose weight to be accepted?  Am I teaching her healthy habits?

These are all some of the questions that I have struggled with as I have gone down this road towards bariatric surgery.  I winced today as she was playing with some toy and told it that it weighed too much and needed to lose weight.  I know my struggles have left an impact on her little psyche and I don't want this to be something that she worries about at the tender age of 5 1/2. 

Now, to back up some, I know this was something that I needed to do to get myself healthy.  Not only for myself, but for my family.  It is part of my journey that I have been called to go on and I'm ok with that.  My question is, how do I teach her to love herself in the way that God created her when Mommy needed to do something drastic to change herself?  I tell her that she's beautiful and perfect and God created her just the way she is.  She is an active, normal, soon-to-be kindergartener.  She does not have to worry about her weight.  I thank God that none of my kids have had the struggles with weight that I have had my entire life.  To be honest, when I found out that I was having a girl, it was one of my fears.  That she would have these same struggles that I have had.

I don't want her to have them in her head either.  I want her to own her body and not obsess about it.  I want her to know that one of the reasons that I chose to have this surgery was so that I could be around for her as she grows into adulthood and beyond.  I want that for all my children.  I want to be able to be there as they pass the milestones of their lives.  Graduation, college, marriage, children of their own.  I want to celebrate with them, I want to be able to shed tears and cry with them.  I want to watch them become the adults that God desires them to be.

So, when my precious daughter asks me I will tell her.  "Honey, I did this for me and I did this for you.  God did create us in His perfect image, but sometimes we forget that and abuse that.  Thankfully, He also gave us the technology and the ability to change that and I had surgery to help me get back to the person God desires me to be so that I can be there for you as you grow."

I need to remind her that she is also His child and she needs to take care of her body and treat it right.  That includes making healthy choices about what we eat and what we do.  That does not mean we're not allowed to have treats, but that treats are treats for a reason.  Treats are meant to be special and if we have those special things all the time, they are not treats anymore.  

I need to teach her to stand up for herself.  To not let anyone feed her lies.  Friends, classmates, the media, society.  She needs to learn to love herself as God loves her and not to doubt herself.  I'm finding that raising a daughter is so much different then raising boys.  I need to remind myself that her journey is her own, not mine, and I need to let her experience it for herself. 

On the other side!

Sorry for no updates, I was feeling kind of whiny and sorry for myself and didn't want to put that on the blog, so I decided to just stay quiet for a while.  I'd lie if I said that pre-op diet was easy because it was HARD!  Was it worth it?  Yup.  But it was not an easy thing to do and not something I would recommend anyone to do if they didn't have to.  800 calories a day just makes a person crabby!

Here I am on the other side of surgery.  I had surgery two days ago, on Wednesday.  It's always a little strange going in for surgery and I've been fortunate enough not to have to do it too often.  3 c-sections and my gall-bladder out as an adult.  Tonsils and adenoids out as a kid.  I remember walking back to the surgery suite, climbing up onto the table and them putting a mask over my face and then waking up in post-op.  I remember Dr. Chandra coming in and saying it went well and they were able to repair the hernia in my diaphragm and I vaguely remember being wheeled up to my room.  I had a lot of pain in my side at that point and once I was in my room, I remember getting a shot and going to sleep.

When I woke up again, it felt better, not great, but better.  Wednesday afternoon was a bit rough.  Got up a couple of times to walk the halls a bit, sat in my chair and dozed.  Mike left and my parents came up with the kids and we had a nice visit.  Rachael was girl of a million questions and Tyler just wanted to know if I was loopy coming out of anesthesia.  I think he's watched too many YouTubes of people waking up from having dental work done.  I didn't have that kind of anesthesia. Luckily, I don't wake up from anesthesia throwing up like some people do, so that was good!  I've been having to take anti-nausea meds anyway, because throwing up could cause the stitches holding the band in place to rip and the band to slip.  Don't want that to happen!

Came home yesterday afternoon.  Was up and walking quite a bit yesterday because I wanted to come home!  My swallow test was great and am able to drink a bit.  Not a whole lot. Just taking my meds fills me up!  It took me 90 minutes to drink about 12 oz. of chicken broth last night so the band seems to be doing what it is intended to do!

Haven't tried anything today.  I'm just not hungry.  Dr. Chandra said that was fine.  If I'm not hungry, don't eat.  I do need to drink, though and should probably go fill my water bottle and put it next to me as a reminder.  Between the time I checked into the hospital and before I went down for my swallow test, I had gained 6 pounds.  I know it's from all the fluids they pumped into me, but it was still a little disheartening to see the scale up like that.  The life changes really start now.  There is no turning back now!  As sore and tired as I am, I'm excited that this is bringing n a whole new chapter of my life!  I've said in the past that I can't even imagine myself as "thin".  It's never been a part of who I am, but I'm excited to start this new chapter of my life.  I'm excited to see where God is going to lead me and what He is going to mold me into.  I have to be patient, though, and that's a hard thing for me to be.  I need to be careful and follow this diet.  The band isn't a magical device that is going to do miracles, but a tool that I'm going to have to learn to manage and make work for me.  I'm ready though!  I'm ready to move forward and continue with this journey!

Friday, July 20, 2012

So you know I've been drinking four protein shakes a day for the past 10 days and still have about 4 to go.  Boring, boring!  So I thought I'd make it a little more fun for myself today and picture blog it!

 My lunch!  Yum, Yum.... Not only my lunch, but my breakfast, dinner and snack, too!
 And Rachael's lunch.  Mmm... How I miss being able to chew!
 The cast.  I decided on chocolate for lunch.  Sometimes I put in 4-5 oz. of cold press coffee or, if I'm making the vanilla, a couple of shakes of cinnamon to switch it up a bit.  Oh, and my Magic Bullet?  Love it!  Thank you Mike for such a thoughtful Mother's Day gift!
 1 cup of milk into the blender cup...
 1 level scoop of Slimfast High Protein drink powder...

 Now if that doesn't look appetizing, I don't know what would!
 Yup, I know the ice is sticking up over the top, but it's all good!
 Screw the blender bottom on and put it on the bullet and blend until smoothy!
 Rachael likes her lunch much better.  Who can blame her?
Creamy, chocolately goodness.  I really is not too bad, but is just old after 10 days and 4x/day!

Travel Companions...

Yesterday I went to a Bible Study that I haven't gone to in nearly a year.  They meet on Thursday mornings and when I started my job last fall, it just didn't work for me to make it since I had to be at work before the study would be finished.  Haven't went this summer for a slew of reasons.  They were finishing up a series and then doctor appointments.  It was nice to yesterday.  They're doing a light series about the Andy Griffith show and God's message in the clips from the show.

So after the study, Rachael and I ran around Rochester to get some errands done and to stay busy.  I've found that I don't get a case of the "mad hunger pains" if I'm keeping busy.  We headed down to Shopko because I wanted to wander around and I needed a car freshener in my car.  Walking past the women's section I spotted a really cute pair of jeans.  I've been having to buy my jeans at specialty stores for the last 10 years or so, but on a whim, decided to try them on, not really expecting to be able to button them, but would've been happy if I could get them up over my hips.  My hips are my biggest problem area.  Into the dressing room Rachael and I go and I pull on the jeans. Not only could I get them up over my hips, I was able to button and zip them without having to hold my breath!  Excitedly, I called Mike because I needed to tell SOMEONE!  I get off the phone and pull the jeans off and put on my shorts and hear a "Congratulations!!  You should go to Savers!"  from the next changing room.  I laughed because even though the jeans were super cute, I just couldn't bring myself to spend nearly $30 for something that might fit me a month or two and I had thought that same exact though.. I'm going to Savers!

In the car, after the visit to Shopko, I burst into tears.  Why?  Because I realized that I had just met one of my goals.  Something that I've wanted to do for years that has seemed unattainable and impossible for such a long time.  I was able to go into a mass retailer and fit into a pair of jeans off the rack.  Yes, they're jeans in the plus section.  They're jeans at the very top of the plus section, but it's not something I've been able to do.  Jeans in plus plus sizes are super expensive even on sale and I've always worn my clothes to threads because of it.  You also don't get the assortment that you can get in smaller sizes and I've always wanted to be able to wear the "cute clothes" instead of the huge clothes. Now, I have a LONG way to go, but to know that I'm getting there was so affirming!  My next goal?  Out of the 20's and into the teens!  I want to banish the multiple XX's from my clothing sizes!  

At Savers I was able to get 2 pairs of pants and a pair of exercise shorts for $20!  Score!  I'm so looking forward to spending LESS money on clothes and getting cuter clothes while I'm at it. 

By the time we were done at the Dollar Store, Savers and Aldi's, it was 2:30 and I had a starving girl (well Rachael was hungry, too!) and I told her I'd run her through McDonald's for a Happy Meal.  Uh oh.. McDonalds?  I can't tell you that the thought of getting a snack-sized Fire chicken poppers didn't go through my mind.  I can't tell you that my mouth wasn't watering at the thought of being able to chew something warm and meaty...
Drive-through: "Welcome to McDonald's! Can I take your order?"  
Me: "Girls McNugget Happy Meal, please, with chocolate milk." 
Drive-through: "Would you like anything else with that?"
Me: "....umm.... No, that's all thank you!"
Drive-through: "That'll be $3.75, please pull ahead!"
 I resisted!  I drank the last bit of my Crystal Lite and took Rachael home and had a protein shake!  
A good friend posted this on my Facebook wall yesterday.  It was a good reminder and stayed with me throughout the rest of the day.  Thanks Elaine!  It was exactly what I needed to get through the day.  He was with me when I tried on those pants at Shopko and rejoiced with me, He was with me when I burst into tears in the car because I had met that goal and He was with me when I resisted the temptation at McDonalds.  He is always with me and He will never forsake me.  What a wonderful travel companion we have in Jesus!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

He's Always Been Faithful....

Yesterday was a rough day.  Yesterday was one of those days that, 3 months ago,  I would've tossed up my hands, opened the fridge and eaten whatever was available.  I was frustrated and tired. I had gotten some not so good news and was feeling beaten down.  I would've eaten too much not so good stuff because of it.

Not today.  Not now.  I can't do that anymore.  I can't let the devil get to me like that.

It started out pretty good.  Rachael and I took Mike to work as the van was still at the shop and I figures since it was early, we might as well beat the heat and go feed the geese.  I've been stocking up on stale bread and it seemed like a good morning to do it.  It was a lot of fun!
As you can see, she had a good time, too!  I couldn't believe how bold the geese were that they would come up and eat right out of my hand.  I was waiting for them to gang up on Rachael and take her out for the bun!

We came home and the day kind of went downhill a bit. Called the new insurance company to make sure I wouldn't get stuck with the pre-existing condition clause since we will have a lapse of a week with no insurance and found out that it doesn't matter.  The new insurance company won't cover bariatric procedures.  Panic mode set in.  Yes, the surgery and the post-op visit will fall under our current insurance, but there is follow-up.  I'll have to continue meeting with my dietician, I'll have to go in for fills.  Those won't be covered.  So what did my husband say?  "Sarah, you worked too hard to turn back now.  We will make this work."  Tears.. I've been teary off and on all day.  I've been doing research on-line to see what it costs for self-payers and what I'm finding is reassuring.  Breathe, Sarah, breathe.  We can do this.  It's gonna be alright.

Had my appointment with my surgeon shortly after that.  It went well.  I'm down below my target weight for him to do the surgery so he was pleased with that.  Told me to continue with the liquid diet and continue to drop the weight.  I'm a week in.  Not going to stop now!

Then after my appointment with him, I went and had iced tea with a dear, dear friend.  We talked about life, we talked about kids, we talked about families.  We talked about church and how God brings good out of bad.  And He always has.

Sara Groves sings a song about it.  She actually sings a lot of songs that resonate deeply with me and more than one time I have found myself dissolving into tears while driving and listening to one of her albums.  This one has been going through my mind today:

He's Always Been Faithful
~Sara Groves~

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find

The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain

He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song

The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me 

Great song and a good reminder. He's always been faithful to me.  He will continue to be faithful.  It is a promise that He has made to us.  It's easy to focus on the negatives in our lives and Mike and I have been bombarded with a lot of those in the past couple of years, but we've also been so blessed.  We have each other, we have a good roof over our heads (even if we do need to replace the shingles!), we have great kids who are healthy, we have enough money to cover our needs, we have good friends.. I can go on and on!  God has been faithful.  He has blessed us with His gifts and the verse from the song that says, "I can’t remember a trial or a pain, He did not recycle to bring me gain" is so very true and evident in my life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've lost a Rachael and I don't want it back!

Ok.. I didn't actually LOSE Rachael, but I've nearly lost the equivalent of her and that was a little mind-boggling for me to think of today.  By the time I go in for surgery next week, I will probably have lost more than what my 5-year-old daughter weighs over the course of the last 6 months or so.  

I had my pre-op appointment today with my primary and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I've dropped another 8 pounds since last Thursday.  That brings my total pre-op weight loss to 39 pounds! Rachael (for fun, because the scale talks!) weighed herself yesterday and tipped the scale at 42.7 pounds.   I haven't weighed this little (don't want to say much!!) in probably 10 years.  For the first time in my life, I wasn't panicky about stepping on the scale, but a little bit excited!

So what does 40 pounds look like?  Well.. I used the magical power of google and came up with a couple of things:  
This is 40 pounds of butter.  In case you don't want to count, that is 160 sticks of butter!
 And this is a 40 pound cat.  Well, actually a 39.1 pound cat, but it's a HUGE cat!

Now I have a LOOOONG way to go to get to a healthy weight, but my head is in such a different place now.  I have learned some self-control.  I have learned to make better choices.  I have learned to question myself as to what I'm actually feeling.  Am I REALLY, REALLY hungry?  Or am I stressed, sad, tired, etc... Any one of those would've triggered a snack in the past.  I no longer walk past the fridge and mindlessly open it because I know, when I do that, the chances of me taking something out and eating it are pretty high!

Like I said, an interesting journey and one that I would do over again, even if I weren't able to have the surgery.

So.. some may be thinking, "Why are you still going forward with surgery when you've done so well on your own?"  I've thought about that and I'm resolved to have this surgery as a tool to help me continue to lose and reach my goal.  This is a tool that will make it very hard to get lazy about my eating habits because there is going to be that constant reminder that my stomach will not be able to hold nearly as much as it did before and if I try... well, I won't like the consequences very much!

This is a path I will continue for the rest of my life.  I am so blessed that my family has embraced me during this time.  My husband is my greatest supporter!  He even bought me roses yesterday because he said he was so proud of me!  My 14-year-old son has taken over dinner duties since I've gone on the liquid diet.  He didn't even let a mishap from the grill (nearly lost his eyebrows!) hamper his enthusiasm!  My 5-year-old is always asking me how many pounds I've lost.  She's just been so sweet!  The 18-year-old isn't home much, but he's told me he's proud of me.  To get those affirming words from your teenage boys is pretty special.

My extended family have been supportive and my church family has been holding me up in prayer.  I'm overwhelmed with the support I have had.  It's absolutely amazing and has shown me that I have a huge support system out there!  I can do this! I will do this!  I'm excited about it, too! Now, I need to go make my before-bed protein shake!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It was good-I am good!

Yesterday I dropped my kids off plus two extras at Friendship Place over in Rochester to do some volunteer work.  Friendship Place is a house in an impoverished neighborhood where kids can come and be "safe".  It is a place where they can relax, do their homework (during the school year) and experience some genuine love from people that do care for them and want them to succeed.  The Youth Director at our church is the director there and it is a non-denominational place that is supported by many local churches.  During the summer, different groups take a week to serve there and the kids love it. 

Anyway, I digress.  After I dropped off my van-load of kids of teenagers (and one 5-year-old) I decided to take the opportunity to do some grocery shopping ALL BY MYSELF!  What a luxury!  While I was at Wal-Mart (yes I shop Wal-Mart, I'm on a budget!) I decided that I was sick and tired of sweaty hair on the back of my neck and got a haircut.  In the middle of the haircut, my phone rang.  Out of habit, I check the number and notice it's my nurse calling.  Asked the stylist if she minded if I took the call quick (she was very gracious) and I answered. 

MY SURGERY WAS APPROVED!  I swear I almost started crying right there and then!  Told my nurse I was in the middle of a haircut and could I call her quick when I got home. Nurse said do you have time to pick a Wednesday.  Ummm..... Ok... "How about the last Wednesday in July?" I asked.  "He's wide open that day, you're on the books! Call me when you get home to set up appointments" I was told.

Finally!  A light at the end of the tunnel.  An actual day to start working towards! I called my husband and he was nearly excited about it as I was!

Now I have had about 24 hours for it to sink in.  It's real now.  Kind of like getting a due-date for a pregnancy, or in my case with 3 c-sections, an actual birth date.  It's 3 weeks away!  My life changes permanently in 3 short weeks.

Mike an I went out for lunch today while the kids were at Friendship Place.  Had some delicious Ethiopian food at a new restaurant.  It was my first time eating Ethiopian and it was really good.  Anyway, we talked about the "What now's".  I teared up and confessed to him that I have no image of what I'm going to even look like "skinny".  I've never been skinny.  In fact, I was in high school the last time I was below 200 pounds.  Mike said, "Well, look at our wedding picture."  I was 6-months pregnant and overweight in my wedding picture.  Not a good comparison.  I could look at my senior pictures from High School, but I was overweight then, too.  The realization that I could very possibly get down to my Jr. High weight settled in on me.  JUNIOR HIGH!  I don't know.. can you ever look at the mirror and see yourself as you actually are instead of what you see yourself as mentally?  It's going to be interesting in the next several months watching my body change dramatically.  I'm excited and.... scared?

I'm sure these are thoughts that go through the mind of anyone undergoing change.  I've been asked what people can do for me.  "Please just pray for me." I answer them.  Pray for me.  Pray for wisdon.  Pray for strength.  Pray for fortitude.  Pray for me to see myself as God views me.  I look in the mirror and see all my faults, my wrinkles, my scars, my flabbiness. God looks at me and sees beautiful.  God looks at me and sees His creation. On the sixth day he created mankind.  Genesis 1:31 says "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning —the sixth day."

It was good.  I am good.  I'm about to wake up to a new morning of my life.   Philippians 4:13 reminds us:
Would you please pray that I keep this in mind as I move forward?  I still have a lot of obstacles to overcome.  The two-week liquid diet that I need to start next week scares me to death.  I love food.  I love the taste of it, the texture of it.  I have a couple of big picnic-type, potluck events in the next couple of weeks.  One of them that we're hosting.  No tastes... just my protein drinks and lots of water. Pray that I'm not tempted and I have the strength to get through these next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

I hate waiting.  It seems like I've been doing a lot of it lately in regards to this whole weight-loss journey that I'm on.  Last Fall, I decided it was time to take control of my weight for the first time in my life.  Sure, I've tried things in the past, but have always gotten overwhelmed and "fallen off the wagon" as the old adage goes.  Then, well... you know how it goes.  You mess up, you get frustrated with yourself and you give up.

Over and over and over again.

2012 has been a year of milestones for me.  I turned 40, my oldest son graduated from high school and will start college in the Fall, my "baby" will start kindergarten and my middle son starts high school.  2012.  My father-in-law passed away in February making my husband an "orphan" and, now,  he has been offered and has taken a new position starting mid-August. 

Yup, a milestone year. So, late last Fall, after years of thinking about, talking about and praying about it, I decided to pursue a surgical means to weight-loss.  I chose to pursue the lap-band procedure because it's the least invasive of the three different kinds of bariatric surgery AND if there are complications, it is easily reversible.

What a journey it has been!  Appointment after appointment.  Dieticians, sleep studies, GI procedures!  Now, six months after "officially" starting the journey, I'm ready for surgery and have been waiting a month to get the "OK" from insurance.  It's been a time of self-reflection, changing behaviors and learning to think in a whole different way. 

The hardest part has been learning to eat more consciously and intelligently.  Asking myself, "Is this what I really want?  Do I really need it?  Is it worth the calories?"  I have realized that I am an emotional and bored eater. I have also come to realize that my addiction is food.  It makes me feel good!  Unfortunately, although it can be as addicting as any other "drug", it's not one you can just give up.  It's a daily struggle for me to make wise food choices rather then opening the fridge and eating whatever looks good.  I don't keep ice cream or treats in the house anymore. I don't need them and, really, my family doesn't either. 

I said that this blog was going to be a peek into my life and my journey.  I try to keep Ephesians 5:8 close to my heart.  To be a light in the darkness.  I want to have that spark that people are curious about, that people ask about.  I want to inspire other people.  I want people to look at me and say, "Well if SHE can do it, I can to!" 

If I can do it.. so can YOU!