Saturday, December 5, 2009

North Shore YMCA 2009 Road Race Series Finishers!!!

Today, Martha and I ran the last of our planned 5Ks for 2009. We had to complete five of the twelve scheduled races in order to become series finishers...and we did just that. Who would have thought, three years ago, weighing in at over 250 lbs., either of us could do this? Not us...I know that. Way to go Martha! Thank you for being my friend and running partner for this series. We can do it all again next year. ;-)

Pre-race Picture:


Post-race Picture (I lost my antlers right at the start):

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Daily Struggles

It's been quite a while since I've written. I'm struggling. There is no doubt about it.

But today, I'm taking a new approach to dealing with difficult feelings. I still have issues with wanting to eat when I'm lonely, sad, bored. Work has been pretty sucky. Interpersonal relationships (friendships and romantic relationships alike) feel very, very precarious or non-existent. The holidays this year actually have me thinking about and missing my mom. She passed away 3.5 years ago. She loved the holidays. Pie baking, cooking and holiday shopping brought her a great deal of joy. Most of the time, I do NOT have warm and fuzzy feelings about her...so I'm actually relishing that I am having positive memories and thoughts, though it's sort of bittersweet.

Anyway, I've not been eating as well as I should, nor exercising as much as I should. I can recognize that this is counterproductive to helping me stay physically and mentally at the top of my game.

So this morning on my drive into work, I found myself thinking. Then I decided that it would have more value if I actually said the things I was thinking out loud to myself. I told myself that this is going to be a good week with food and exercise...that I am going to meet my goals and be on track...that my body does not need the abuse or neglect of me misfeeding it and not exercising it...and my mind doesn't need the crap thoughts that come with making those bad choices. I want to be happy. I want to be healthy. I want to feel good physically and emotionally. I'm in control of many of the things that help me to be happy and healthy. So, that's my affirmation for this minute, this morning, this day, this week.

Weight loss surgery is definitely a tool for our arsenal against obesity, but it is no cure. I need to maintain focus on how much better I FEEL when I make those good choices. When I eat like crap and don't exercise I beat myself up...because I'm taking away from myself huge positive reinforcements of the good choices. Focusing on the positive is always a much, much better coping skill than dwelling on the negative of how I've failed or will fail. I have to always remember that my body and mind count on me to take care of them and make the best choices for them.

My attitude this year is holidays be damned! I am up 9 lbs. from where I want to be. And it terrifies me. What if 9 becomes 15? Does 15 beg to become 20? I can't go there. I simply can't.

Setting goals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) is a huge part of staying forward focused and not dwelling on my past mistakes. The date for my first sprint triathlon was posted today. July 25, 2010. I'm doing this with three other ladies, two of whom actually live in other states, and one of whom is also an RNYer. My Philly friend told me about the date today...and I needed that. It's concrete, it's real, and staying in shape physically and mentally is the ONLY way I'm going to be able to complete that goal. This year's goal was to be a 2009 Road Race Series finisher...I will complete that goal with my last 5K of the year on December 5th. Martha and I will complete it together. YAY US!

This is it. This is the battle. Daily. Weekly. Monthly. Yearly. One life...it's up to me to make the best of it with my choices.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The "Easy" Way Out?

My weight loss surgery was was almost 27 months ago. Most days, I feel absolutely great. I don't really have many food intolerances as long as I stick to moderation as my guide. Every once in a great while, for some reason unknown to me, food gets "stuck" in my stoma (the opening between my pouch and my small intestine). The result is that I have a great deal of pain just beneath my breast bone...it feels like something is cutting me from the inside out. And then the foaming starts...and eventually, if I'm lucky, the puking will start to get rid of whatever is stuck. On rare occasion, taking papaya enzyme will help it pass through without vomiting. But, as was the case yesterday, no dice. The episode lasted a full hour yesterday. I have only had one that was worse, about a year ago...and that resulted in having an endoscopy to make sure everything was ok with my pouch (which it was).

For me, this kind of vomiting is really forceful and violent...it feels like I will actually purge my pouch itself. And it leaves my eyes with broken capillaries all around. So, for anyone who thinks that weight loss surgery is the "easy" way out, think again. I have it pretty good...this happens very rarely for me these days. For some, it's more often. Even with this as occasional disturbance, my gastric bypass surgery was still the right choice for me. This is what my eyes look like the day after. Blech.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Third 5K Done

Yesterday was the worst race I've ever run...for so many reasons. When I woke up yesterday morning, I felt really shaky...like blood sugar issues shaky. I hadn't ever felt like that pre-race. Having consumed more than normal amounts of carbs the night before, I suspect I was having aftereffects of late dumping. I strayed from my normal routine pre-race as well. I had my coffee like I always do, but I had a high protein breakfast of some turkey jerky and then, for carbs, a banana. I had two FRS chews just before the race as well as a 20 oz. bottle of water because the jerky was so salty. I felt parched. My optimism had been high...I had great hopes for completing the race in my best time ever...under 30 minutes. I even aspired to make 28:30. I had a goal. I've never set one that was quite that specific for myself in a race...just wanted to finish and be faster than the time before.

It was a beautiful fall morning...very cool and crisp and brilliant blue sky. I was mentally optimistic, but physically feeling really off. At the start, I took off in a sprint. And within the first mile I had to start walking. I felt blood in my throat from coughing/wheezing. With the the colder weather, it probably would have been wise to use my inhaler that morning, but I didn't think of it. And so, my airways did not respond well at all. Next, the abdominal cramping started. I kept trying to run, and did complete the first mile in under 10 minutes. But by mile 2, that abdominal cramping turned into something I knew would be really bad. I needed to find a rock or tree to escape behind, or a bathroom desperately or there was going to be a really horrifying incident for me. I scoped out all of the houses as I ran, looking for someone outside (it was after all, only after 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning). Finally, there was a woman who had been out in her yard headed back inside. I ran over to her (after Martha passed me on the route, asking if I was okay and I said no, but I didn't need help but I did need a bathroom, to keep on going). In the most pleading voice and face I had, I asked if I might use her restroom as my stomach was not cooperating with me during this race. She skeptically looked me over, apparently decided I was harmless and indeed in trouble, and said "let me get my husband out of there." And so, I polluted some poor strangers' bathroom in the lovely town of Rowley. Thank heavens for Febreze. I thanked them profusely and they graciously said not to worry, they had a daughter who was a runner and so they understood. And then, I was on my way.

Within 1 minute of being back on the race route though, I was uncertain I would complete the entire race without yet another stop (or accident in lieu of a stop). But yes, I did indeed finish the race. I had my worst time ever: 38 minutes 10 seconds. But, I did indeed finish. Yesterday I felt so physically awful (I wheezed for the rest of the day even with inhaler use, and my stomach is still not quite right today), that I told myself I was never going to run another race. I was done.

Today, I feel a little better...and I decided to write a little about it. And after talking to Martha this morning, who by the way completed the race in her best time yet--woo hoo Martha!!!--well, we have two more this year to complete to be 2009 Road Race Series Finishers. That was our goal, and we will make it. I'm not sure it could get worse for me than it was yesterday anyway...well it probably could, but I'm not going there.

As for yesterday, I can literally say "shit happens." It does...and then you move on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday, Monday

*sigh* So where do I even begin? It's been almost a month since the last time I wrote. I think there's been so much swirling about in my head and in my life that I've just been unable to put it all into words.

My third 5K is coming up this Saturday. Martha and I will run it together and then, in October, we'll run the Witch City 5K. My dear friend Melissa will be visiting from Iowa at that time, and she will be running it with us as well. One thing that I would have never anticipated being a benefit of having WLS is meeting so many other truly awesome people who understand the kinds of struggles I've had with food, weight, body and self-esteem issues. I met Melissa through the RNY board on OH. Melissa has inspired me since I was a pre-op and it was from her that I got the idea to take monthly pictures of my weight loss progress. Over the past few years, we've gotten to be very close, and we struggle in some very similar ways with eating properly, exercise, how much we eat, being people pleasers, etc. I have the distinct advantage of being older though and so, I have more wherewithall to let go of the people-pleasing stuff. But hey, with me coaching her she'll learn. ;-)

Zachary and I took a vacation out to Iowa to visit with Melissa and her husband. We spent several wonderful days relaxing, talking, laughing and just generally enjoying our time together. We have similar issues with reactive hypoglycemia post-op and though she says she has bad gas issues, I far surpass her in this area...I know, something you all wanted to know. For the record? I was just as bad pre-op...surgery did nothing to make me worse.

I've been dating here and there, but I think I'm going to take a good break from it for a while. I don't really care for setting myself up to be hurt, and I don't really like feeling like I'm hurting others when I'm not interested...and so, a break it is. Besides, my mind has really been rather preoccupied with thoughts and feelings for someone. Until I can really get my head and heart around that, I'll just continue to compare everyone else to him and they'll fall short. I've thought about both how lonely it is to be alone/without a partner, and also how glad I am at times that I have no one else I'm responsible/accountable to. What a double-edged sword.

It's a Monday, and there's been a lot of sadness/heavy heartedness/worry at work. A coworker lost his mom over the weekend...he'd already lost his dad. So at a pretty tender age (he's still under 30) he's been orphaned. It makes me sad...I was young, but he is even younger. Add to that a very close coworker (and friend) of mine has a aneurysm. Hopefully he'll be fine but I'm definitely thinking about him and worrying.

Add to that family stuff that just makes me nutty, school starting (and I can't believe I have a child in third grade already...where did the time go???) and well, I just really feel like the Earth is spinning way too fast and my life with it.

I'm struggling with about 7 lbs. that I'd really like to get off to be back where I'd like between 118 and 120. My clothes all still fit, but it's irritating to me. Staying on track is hard...exercising the majority of the week is hard. I still log my food every day...even when I haven't eaten as I should. In an ideal day, I consume about 1600 calories, 45 to 60 g of fat, between 180 and 220 g of carbs, 40 to 50 g of fiber and between 110 and 120 g of protein. Additionally, I drink between 100 and 120 oz. water daily (typically...sometimes it's more). I seem able to stick to this for 2 or 3 days at a time...and then I have some kind of transgression. I'm trying to do better in terms of the things I eat during the transgressions and at least keeping them protein focused. The resulting blood sugar drops from less protein-dense choices aren't worth it. I think that part is finally getting through to me.

I watch diet ads and fads and was thinking this morning that it's really kind of weird to not be looking for a "diet" to lose weight with. That I know all I really need to do is stay focused on eating properly. There will never be another "diet" (I thought this as I was watching some infomercial for something called Slim 6 I think). It was the first time I really had that realization. Diets are done for me. This is just how I live...eating the RIGHT way. But that is hard. It sounds so simple, and it is...but it isn't easy. And I wonder if worrying about these 7 lbs. is really worth the agonizing I'm doing...but I'm afraid that if I say "eh, it's just 7 lbs." that it will become 10, then 15, and then 20...and I simply cannot go there.

I think I need to resume setting goals for myself weekly, monthly, or whatever...and one of them needs to be to have a daily meditation practice. I bet it would help "slow down" the spinning that feels so out of control sometimes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Wearying Journey…Some Days

I’ve been plagued with nightmares for as long as I can remember (way, way back to early childhood). They seem to be somewhat cyclical in terms of when they come. I’ll go for several weeks without any and then, I’ll hit a patch of a few weeks where they are every night, sometimes several in a night. Last night’s dream was a doozy. I’ve shared it with my brother and with three very close friends who were happy to offer their ears and support (thank you Andy, Laura, Dave and Martha). The details are not as complete here as I remember the dream…it would simply be too much to write it all out. Consider my memory of it to be about as complete as a written screen play, complete with costume direction, movement direction, etc. I can remember just about all of it in great detail. I’m a little nervous, I admit, about letting people who don’t know me in person into the psyche of my dreams, but well, the writing that will follow the dream may make more sense if you read all the meat of the dream first. I dream frequently about my mom…and they are sadly never pleasant dreams.

The Dream:
I dreamed that my mom told me to get out (of the house) the day before Thanksgiving. Family friends from NYC picked me up, we drove down to NYC and so I spent a couple of hours with them. Then they dropped me off at the bus terminal. I was there at the terminal trying to figure out how to get back to Boston. I had my cell phone and a credit card on me and nothing else. There was a bullet train that would get me to Boston fastest. In the line in which I was standing to purchase my ticket was this wretched adult daughter talking horribly to her father. She was really being a horribly selfish and hateful person to him, and he was being nothing but kind. I finally decked her because I couldn’t stand it anymore. That of course landed her on her ass, all the while people agreeing (including her father) that she had it coming to her. She got up, I apologized to her for my actions and she said she was fine, but wanted me fined. So the train place was going to fine me $250. I was trying desperately to find someone in authority to speak to about this fine and how it could be argued/fought. Somehow, I managed to get some street heroin and I was all prepared to actually shoot it up. Don't ask, I have NO friggin' clue how this got in my dream...I have never purchase or done or even seen heroin. I get on the train, worried I'll get caught with the drugs. There are two trains. I almost miss the first one I'm supposed to take which takes me to the second bullet fast one. But I do somehow make it to the second train. On the second train is an old friend (but someone I am no longer friends with) with whom I chat, as well as (of all people) Steve Martin. Yes, Steve Martin. And he’s not being goofy but rather being a very serious and upstanding person. I explain to them both all that has transpired with being thrown out of the house, the woman I hit, the fines, etc. I also explain that I have this heroin on me. Steve was actually admonishing me from using the heroin, telling me that if I bought it off the street from someone I didn't know, well, I was basically looking at junk and I'd probably end up dead. With all certainty now I know I must get rid of this stuff without letting any of it get into my (or anyone else's) body. So we're trying to find an open window to chuck it out of on this bullet fast train concerned that some kid in the general population will get their hands on it. I end up getting to Boston and I miss my commuter train to Salem by 10 seconds (I can see it pulling away). It is the night before Thanksgiving and the next train isn't for 3 hours. It was the 8 p.m. train I missed. Next one isn’t until 11 p.m. Trying to figure out the train schedule is impossible, they have all these kiosks that have touch screens to walk you through where you’re going, time of day, etc. At one point, all of them are broken or useless or in some language I can’t switch to English from despite pressing the language touch part of the screen many times. I get French, Spanish, Portuguese. No English. There's a train leaving sooner (a special) but the doors are closed. It's packed. A man tries to jump into this (moving) train through an open window and launches himself so hard we're all convinced that he has shot himself out the OTHER window on the other side of the train. And we’re quite certain he’s probably dead from being hit by another train on the track on the other side of the train he tried to get on. The father of the woman I hit shows up. He’s with his wife and other two daughters…the snotty daughter is nowhere to be found. He now looks like Al Roker when he was obese (he was a slim, white, older businessman earlier in the dream). He hands me his dry cleaning ticket asking me to pick up his stuff tomorrow (makes no sense, I know), says he has no money to pay for it and no account, so I should ask them to send him a bill. I'm wondering where I'm going to go when I get back to Salem. I can’t go to mom's obviously, which is where Andy (my brother) and Elizabeth (my sister-in-law) will be. But I call my brother and ask if he’ll pick me up in Salem. He says of course he will, he’d be happy to and it doesn't matter what time it is that I get in. I'm hoping I will figure out where to go from there, but I'm adamant about not seeing mom on Thanksgiving after this crap she pulled, and my brother understands completely.

That is the story of the dream. I’ve been in a therapy a really, really long time...the past 29+ years. I spent two of those years inpatient. I work very hard to accept and move on. And then I have dreams like this that make me wonder what I have worked so hard for. It was 6:15 this morning when I got up and thought “I am emotionally exhausted already.” These dreams leave me in quite a funk. Thankfully, talking about them/writing about them has actually helped distance myself a bit from that funk of feelings and see them a little more clearly.

But honestly, there are days when I wonder if this journey is worth it. No, I’d never give up my life…I’m way, way beyond that. But when I work this hard in therapy, on myself, to process things, do the right thing, accept, forgive, grow stronger, and then the events in my life cause an overwhelming sense of rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, lostness, anger, well, it makes me wonder if I’ve really made the progress I think I have. My brother, trying so hard to assure me he’s not meaning to sound cliché but wants me to know that in comparison to 20 years ago, I’ve come a long way baby. And you know what the bright spot of this dream was (yup, there really was one)? That in this dream, my brother was there for me. He understood. He would pick me up, regardless of the time. He was there for me. I don’t know…maybe I’m not so alone after all…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Another One Down

Martha and I completed our second 5K in the North Shore YMCA 2009 Road Race Series. We have three more to complete to be considered series finishers, and we will do that. It was a challenging run for me. I had some very unexpected oral surgery on Tuesday, including two extractions (one of a wisdom tooth) that left me with a baseball stitch to hold the edges of the gum with a little bit of tension over the big gap left. But, that stitch loosened up pretty well today.

The run went fine...until the last half mile or so and then my gum and jaw was kind of throbbing. I was really glad to finish...and actually cut 2.5 minutes off my time. YEAH! I think the last race I ran, with the sinus issue and pain medication, it really slowed me down. I made sure I had only taken Tylenol in the past 24 hours before the race this time. So, despite the discomfort, I still came out faster than last time.

I'm having a really difficult time though viewing pictures of my body. Thankfully, at least one of the pictures shows the muscle definition of my thigh. If not for that, I'd feel like I was looking at a porker picture of myself. I feel like I look really chubby and fat...and it's very, very disconcerting. I'm not even sure what to do about it, to be honest. I guess that will be a topic for discussion in therapy. *sigh*

Anyway, here's the pic of my awesome thigh muscles...and of me and Martha after we finished the race. :) She's my running buddy and co-conspirator.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two-Year Follow-Up Appointments

Today I had appointments with both Heart and Wellness and Dr. B. I also just returned from my first ever vacation without my child since he was born. For three days (and part of a fourth due to flight cancellations and delays), I was responsible for no one but myself. I think I remarked on this many times Friday night while we were sitting around talking. Even if Zachary were to become sick, I'd not be the person to call to do something about it because I was two airplane flights away in Texas.

I went to San Antonio to visit with some truly fantastic friends I've made as a result of the past two years since my weight loss surgery. I'd have never met these folks if I hadn't had gastric bypass surgery. We went tubing on Saturday in the Texas heat and sunshine and had an absolutely fantastic time, eating, drinking, and relaxing. Can you see where I'm going with this? Me, the person who still food journals every day, who still weighs and measures her portions, who exercises three to four times per week, let all that go for a few days. And let it go I did, believe me. I didn't eat or drink anything that made me feel sick (well, unless you count the very bready sandwich I had on the flight home that resulted in a horribly low blood sugar episode just as we were about to deplane in Boston...I was glad for the glucose tabs I had on-hand).

I did not weigh or measure anything this entire weekend...including my body. But oh could I feel it. The resulting bloat left my pants and shorts feeling snug and my tummy feeling pretty bloated as well. The scale this morning was not at all kind to me...but I earned that. I know it's a result of the choices I made. Part of me contemplated rescheduling my appointments with Heart and Wellness and Dr. B. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that my weight would be up and that is the number they would have recorded for me at two years post-op. Not necessarily an accurate number of where I am typically, but rather where I am pursuant to a three-day free-for-all with food and drink. I kept my appointment...I made my disclaimers. And today, I ate on plan; tomorrow, I will return to the gym.

This was my vacation. I didn't make horrible food choices really...I just probably consumed more than I should. There was more grazing than there should be. I don't usually graze at all. In talking to Dr. Benedetto today while I was waiting for my Dr. B, we chatted about how this is "normal"...people go on vacation...and if they eat or drink too much, they know they have a few lbs. to take off when they return home. It's not end of the world stuff. And strangely enough, I have some mild anxiety about losing the lbs. I put on, but I'm not at all feeling panicked. My pants and shorts will once again fit well. The bloat will be gone and my muscle definition will show better again. And overall, I'll feel better physically as a result of consistent good eating choices.

Overall, Heart and Wellness and Dr. B. were both happy with where I am…probably happier with me than I am. For me, I'm going to continue to stay on track now and take their satisfaction with where I am as being an indication that really, I am ok. Maybe I am even better than ok. I'm adjusting to life post-obesity. There will be (and have been) a mess of firsts...boyfriends, dating, intimacy, 5Ks, vacations. I will just keep doing my best to plow through them and keep my chin up.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Two Years...And Counting!

Two years ago today, I had RNY gastric bypass surgery at NSMC with Dr. Buckley. It's really hard to believe it's already been two years. But what is even harder for me to believe is that I have essentially maintained my weight loss for almost a full year. I honestly have no idea when the last time was I could claim that. Maybe never.

You see, I've lost weight many, many times in my life. Losing wasn't so much the issue, but maintaining that loss has been. I'm still afraid. And if I am going to be honest, I worry that in 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, I won't have stayed here. It scares the crap out of me because I don't ever want to go back there again. It took all the courage I could muster to have my surgical consult with Dr. B and consider weight loss surgery. The questions that went through my mind were "what if this is no different then every other means I've tried to lose weight?" "What if I lose all the weight yet again, but I can't keep it off...just like every other time...I can't go through that heartbreak again." And that is truly what it was...heartbreak.

I did all the "right" things before having weight loss surgery to lose weight. I ate properly, I exercised regularly and at the right intensity, and I was in counseling to deal with the emotional aspects. I lost the weight. And I subsequently regained it, too. It was like there was this switch in my head that would just one day, after many months of carrying on just fine, flip, and I'd no longer be able to control the eating, no longer have the gumption to kick my butt into gear to go to the gym. It took a lot of heartache to get to a point where weight loss surgery was even something I would consider in my mind...let alone pursue.

I have no regrets about my surgery. I actually never have. I didn't go through buyer's remorse. I didn't grieve the loss of food because in my opinion, I didn't lose anything...I can still have whatever I want, but the quantity and frequency has changed. If I overindulge, which I sometimes do, my body reminds me how awful that feels and reinforces how much better I feel when I eat the way I should on a regular basis.

I think I'll probably always wage this battle with food. But it is my great hope (and expectation) that as more time passes, my relationship with food will become more and more healthy (note I did NOT say normal...we are an obese nation primarily...the "norm" is not healthy). Check out the American Heart Association's Overweight and Obesity -- Statistics document. I'll take my altered anatomy and be abnormal, thank you. :) For many more years to come, I expect. :-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Common Misconceptions About Weight Loss Surgery

Following the Channel 7 News piece, someone posted a comment about how weight loss surgery is not a panacea for obesity and that non-surgical methods should be tried first. People who have had weight loss surgery can also fail. This person is absolutely correct in these statements.

One thing that wasn't covered in the under 2 minute clip on Channel 7 News were the specifics of the evaluation process when considering bariatric surgery. The program at NSMC, as well as many insurance companies, require a diet history be provided that shows repeated attempts to lose weight through non-surgical means. I can't speak for all bariatric surgery programs, but in my experience talking with other weight loss surgery patients, showing this kind of history, and the failed attempts at maintaining weight loss long-term, is a given in meeting the criteria for having weight loss surgery. Anyone reading my blog will know that I have no misconceptions about, nor do I ever present weight loss surgery, as a cure-all for obesity. If the lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, are not maintained post-operatively, regain is common.

So then a person might ask "well then why even have weight loss surgery if you still have to do all the same things you'd have to do without it?" For me, it was because everything else I had done, I had failed at. I was actually quite terrified about failing even with weight loss surgery. But, what the tool of my surgery has helped me to learn is when to stop eating. I had a bottomless hunger before surgery. With my pouch, I do NOT have that...I have very clear, physically palpable limits set on what I can eat. I could exceed those on a regular basis and defeat my tool. I could eat the wrong foods and defeat my tool. I did not make the decision to have surgery lightly or without having exhausted every other non-surgical means of weight loss available to me first. A competent medical team, like the one I have at NSMC, would not in good conscience consider performing surgery on a person without them showing those other efforts to have failed first.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Link to Channel 7 News Story

It aired today, and here is the link.

Health Expo Gastric Bypass Story

I know that realistically, it is a great piece. Emotionally all I seem able to do is tear myself apart for how I look. Dysmorphia really is crappy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quick Update on the Channel 7 Health and Fitness Expo News Piece and Life

The North Shore medical center piece on gastric bypass, which will include the coverage/interview Melina/Charles from Channel 7 did a few weeks ago with me and Zachary (for the Boston Health and Fitness Expo), will be airing on Tuesday, June 23rd. It will air during the 4 p.m. newscast on Channel 7, and again during the 10 p.m. newscast on the CW56. :-) I'm looking forward to seeing how it all came together.

On other subjects, the school year is almost over for Zachary. YEAH! We've been going to his baseball games, practices, riding our bikes and getting together with friends for play dates. We'll be doing some traveling this summer as well, including an adult trip for mommy to visit friends and go tubing...YES!!! And then there is a trip for both me and Z to visit some other friends out west.

I learn more and more about people, what to trust, believe, and question each and every day. And I'm working on accepting the fact that I'm just an overthinker and that causes my anxiety to sometimes spin out of control. I'm learning to manage it better (I think? I hope?) with the wonderful support of friends and professionals alike. I'm a lucky lady in so very many ways.

I'm feeling a bit more in control of my eating habits again as well. I basically have sworn off of eating out for a little while...until I can make better choices when doing so. I tend to splurge when eating out, and then perpetuate the consumption excess when I've already done the damage. This is my life...I'm going to make this work for me, period, end of story. Failure is not an option.

My body feels good and strong again. The headaches I was plagued with for almost 2 months have finally abated. I'm not getting them daily or even weekly anymore. That is an absolute blessing, no doubt. My knees have been more painful lately...I'm not sure why considering I started taking glucosamine/chondroitin in hopes of helping them about 2 months ago. But so far, they are worse and not better. I've been doing the elliptical for exercise but not running. I need to attempt a run again very soon before the next 5K Martha and I run...to make sure I can still make it.

I haven't been to our support group since I think February? Too long. Too many things were planned/coming up that interfered. I'm looking forward to going on Monday night and reconnecting with that group as well. I'm also coming up on my 2 year anniversary of my surgery. Hard to believe it's been 2 years almost, and almost a full year maintaining as well. I'm not sure I could think of a time in my life when I maintained my weight within 5 lbs. for an entire year. It's sort of a bizarre but great concept, I must admit. One of those little "WOWs" we have post-op.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feeling Like a Fraud

I've definitely been struggling lately...with food...with self-image...with confidence. This Thursday, some folks will be here doing some taping for an interview for the Channel 7 Health & Fitness Expo. And it will, from what I understand, focus on my blog and its impact on the WLS community and such. In some ways, I feel like I'm being held up as some kind of success story to which I don't feel entitled. I'm almost 2 years post-op. I still food journal every day...even the horrible days. I still strive to get to the gym 4 times a week, but it's been more like 3 lately. I still weigh and measure my food daily...except when I go out. And therein seems to lie the problem. Well, that and night time. I still go to therapy every 2 weeks. I do all these things and yet I'm still struggling with emotional eating that is beyond being satiated. This is making my scale do loopy things and it's making me feel like a fraud, through and through.

How can I be any kind of example for anyone, or inspiration for anyone, when I've obviously not got this all conquered? There was a discussion last week on OH, and one of the things someone said to me was that I was fortunate to have overcome the mindset. Really? Have I overcome it? I don't think so. I try damn hard, but I haven't overcome it...not by a long shot.

I cannot fail at this...it is simply not an option. If I ever have regain issues that are significant, I honestly think I'd rather die than live through being obese again. I can't live through that heartache again. I simply can't. I wish I knew what the issue was. I wish I knew how to regain control. I'm using everything in my power that I know of, and I'm still struggling. I know this surgery was no cure for my head...I just wish I understood why in the past few months it has become so much harder to stay on track. All I can do is just keep doing what I'm doing...and writing and talking.

This weekend, Zachary had the courage to ride his bike again. It's been at least a year since he even took it outside. He had a pretty bad fall a couple of years ago with his training wheels, and so he had no desire to ride his bike again. So, when he voluntarily took it out Sunday, I was pretty excited and asked him if he thought he might like to try riding without the training wheels. He panicked and said no way, he was afraid he'd die. I assured him that would not happen, I would be there for him, but he was adamant. So, I let it go.

We went to the park by his school so he could ride there. On the playground were several older kids...probably 12 to 14 years old. It was clear that Zachary felt self-conscious and didn't wait very long before deciding he wanted to go home...and quietly told me he wanted to try to ride without his training wheels. So, off we went. I was very excited...but I was also pretty nervous. You see, I didn't know if I'd have the ability to teach him to ride. I know how to ride a bike...but I didn't know if I could actually teach him to do it. I have this weird thing in my head about physical activities sometimes. I still feel like I'm fat and like I have no skills/ability/business teaching anyone anything that is physical. Low and behold though, here is my son, and it's my job to teach him. And teach him I did. Within half an hour of coaching, holding the back of his seat, letting go for brief periods of time, he was off and riding. He spent many hours the rest of his weekend riding around, setting new "world records" for how many times around our building he could ride without having to stop. He's also learning to put on the brakes hard to skid. I see future injuries coming.


In my romantic life, well, what romantic life? I'm still struggling. I think, honestly, I will probably always be alone. I didn't really date in high school and I didn't really date after high school. I've dated more since my split with Zachary's father almost 9 years ago than I ever have before in my life. I never was a "dater" and I've never been one to be approached by men. I don't know why that is...but I suspect that it's something I do, some vibe I give off somehow that makes them stay away. I wish I knew what it was I do so I could stop doing it. I think that my fat used to protect me from knowing things about myself that I don't much like. I could chalk up not being approached by men to me being fat. Guess what? I'm not fat anymore...and I'm still not appealing to men. There must actually be something about ME that isn't appealing. There are no excuses...no weight to hide behind...just me. That's not so much fun to acknowledge.

I don't need a man to be happy...but I want a partner to share my life with. I want someone to share the joy of raising my child with...someone who will smile back at me knowing as well as I do just how momentous an occasion it was for Z to learn to ride this weekend. We share with family and friends, which is wonderful. But it's not the same. And I still have my last relationship on my brain, despite my best efforts to dismiss those thoughts. He shows up in dreams and thoughts. I still feel a little baffled by it all, and frustrated because I was fully willing and able to accept his child in my life, but he couldn't do the same for me and mine. It hurts still...and I wish it didn't, I want it not to. I have done everything I can think of to get this crap out of my head and yet it still peeks through here and there.

My mother was 64 when she died. And she died without having a significant other. In fact, she didn't really have too many significant others in her lifetime either. I have so many friends who say "your guy is out there, you just haven't met him yet, be patient, enjoy your life," etc. I do enjoy my life...and I do appreciate all that I have. And I am doing my best to make my life happy, me, myself and I. But I have my times when the loneliness really is very heavy and I think that no matter what, I will probably just end up alone. I'm not relationship material. I'm too defective and damaged. I wonder what makes me so different from other women who have no issues meeting men, at least get asked out, without really having to do much to garner that attention. I'm missing something inherently. And I haven't a clue what it is.

Then again, there's that whole fraud thing. It applies here as well. It applies in my mothering (someday, people will find out I'm a crappy mother despite what they see/think), and it applies in relationships of all kinds (if anyone really gets to know me, they'll realize I'm way too messed up to be around). I've talked about it many times in therapy, the fraud concept. I guess it's not a dead subject and will be raised yet again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Daily Tarot Card Reading

Love this one, which came up for me today.

The Sun
The Sun This card signifies a time of clarity and power. The Sun will offer light and warmth after a dark time in your life. It is a sign of rejuvenation and growth, and shows that you are starting to flourish in your current situation. The Sun is associated with happiness, growth and good fortune. Your path has been illuminated and good fortune is on its way.


Yes, I'm ready for the good fortune and growth.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Plastics Consult and Mother's Day

I had my plastic surgery consult on Friday. We discussed my sagging and deflated breasts, my Sharpei-like breast and tummy, my thighs, my buttocks, and my face. All of the possible procedures were explored, questions were asked, and costs were estimated. And then, I went home with my head spinning with so much information that I needed to digest and process. I didn't do this alone though; I talked to some friends who've both had and not had plastic surgery...people who have known me fat and thin to be aware of the changes my body and face have gone through. In many ways, I have my own body dysmorphia to contend with and so I need to rely a little bit on external honest sources to help evaluate my appearance.

I've made some decisions...at least for now. The most visible part of my body to others is my face. I've lost a lot of facial fat. To me, this has made my face look hard and angular. But to others, the perception of my face is classic and healthy and athletic looking. Not gaunt or sickly. I'm going to try and sit with that one for a bit. As for my breasts, well, I would need both a lift and augmentation (implants) because a lift alone would leave me with essentially nothing. And if I had just implants, they would need to be fairly large to fill out the loose skin I have and beause the skin is so loose/has lost so much laxity, it can't really support that kind of implant without looking (in my opinion) awful. The thought of how I will age with those also crossed my mind. So for now, I'll settle for a good bra. My tummy...well, it's pretty gross (to me). But I can't justify the length of time off of work, out of my life, the cost, the risk, just to have a belly that looks good without clothing on.

The fact of the matter is, except for my face, all of my skin issues are invisible to the majority people because in clothing, I look great. It's only without clothes that any of these things is apparent. Hopefully, if some man comes into my life and gets close enough to see me naked, he won't be disgusted by what he sees. I also think that perhaps I have an unrealistic view of what women my age, who have had and nursed babies, look like after that. I think that while their tummies and breasts may not be quite like mine, they probably aren't nearly as different as I believe them to be in my head. Until such time as I really can't stand it anymore, I'm going to do nothing. I'm going to try and really be happy with my body and where I am in my journey.

Mother's day was, as it has been the past three years, a good and bittersweet day. I miss my own mom, despite our turbulent relationship. But I had such an awesome mother's day because of my own son. He cooked me dinner Saturday night (yes, yes he did and it was AWESOME!). He wrote me the most beautiful letter that is laminated and I will cherish forever. And his gift, wrapped in paper he decorated himself with his own artwork, was a lovely breakfast tray he decorated. How much better does it get than that?



We went to dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and her mom as well. Dinner was great. I overate, so I felt awful and then had a blood sugar drop on the ride home from NH. Thank goodness for Jolly Ranchers candies. I wonder sometimes if I will EVER stop doing stupid things like that, knowing how it makes me feel. I know, they didn't operate on our brains, only our tummies. It still frustrates me with myself to put myself in that position. My mistake was having too much bread with dinner. Ugh. Anyway, we all survived and it really was a lovely day and weekend.

And here is my beautiful boy this morning, before I woke him up. Those animals are his "friendship club" and the bulk of them are actually at the foot of the bed, not pictured. You can't see his sweet freckles in this picture, but they are getting darker and more prevalent on his nose and cheeks now that the days are nicer and we are outside more. Life is good, really.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Little Rays of Light

My son gives me more joy than anything on this Earth. Last night, one of those moments occurred that just made me feel like "yeah, I guess I'm doing okay with this parenting thing most of the time." I worry a great deal that I'm falling short (in case you hadn't noticed).

Zachary wanted to play Electronic Battleship. We've played many times before but never to completion of the game. I think he gets bored and quits...or he feels like he's going to lose and so he gives up. It's always frustrating to me because I want him to actually finish the game. Last night, we played. I had sunk 4 of his 5 ships. He had sunk 2 of mine. He said once that he didn't want to play anymore, and I said "come on, we're going to finish this game, you can do it."

Well, I had 1 ship of his left to find...the little patrol boat (requiring 2 hits). Not an easy find, could be anywhere. Suffice it to say that he kept at it and ended up winning the game. What a proud moment for me that he finished and I saw that huge beaming smile on his face to be called "admiral." I told him how proud I was of him for finishing, that it was his first time and I was really very pleased. He said "I only did it because of you." I asked him what he meant by that. He said "I only finished the game because you made me feel confident."

As my friend Dave would say, "BEAMIES." Yes, he gets it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anniversaries and Time

Three years ago today, it was a Friday...and it was the day my mom died. Each year I remember this day, obviously. This year though, I'm in such a different place that reflecting on the changes in the past three years is pretty intense. Zachary has started classifying some things in his life as "before Nana died" and "after Nana died" in terms of memories. It's obviously a big marker in time for him as well.

I had to take Zachary to the pediatrician that morning three years ago. And I had to take him to North Shore Children's Hospital after that to get blood work done. While we sat there waiting, I called mom's ICU nurse to check and see how she had done that night. The nurse wasn't able to talk to me then, and they suggested I call back in half an hour. I did just that, and found out why she hadn't been able to talk to me earlier. Mom hadn't had a particularly good night, and they had her on BI-PAP which helped. Then, they tried to take her off that, and her blood pressure and pulse oxygen plummeted, so they put her back on BI-PAP, to no avail. They moved on to C-PAP. She did better. At that point, I asked that her pulmonologist give me a call so I could get a better idea of her condition, prognosis, etc. Since mom had been in the hospital since Wednesday (and this was now Friday morning), I hadn't yet talked to any of her doctors, only her nurse.

Around lunch time, I called and checked my voice mail at home, and there was a message from the doctor there...I have no idea why as I had given both my work and cell phone numbers. But I called back and left a message for the doctor to return my call at work. About an hour later (just about 1 p.m.), the doctor called and instead of a progress report, I was beckoned to the hospital immediately. Mom had apparently taken a turn for the worse and had been intubated and we needed to get there now. I asked what had happened, since all that I knew was that she had pneumonia. They believed she had a massive blood clot that traveled to her lungs. I began sobbing as I made my way to my boss's office to let him know I had to leave. I couldn't even catch my breath, I was so taken off-guard. I called my brother's cell, got voice mail. So I called my sister-in-law's cell and told her to find him, reach him, and for them to meet me at the hospital.

When I arrived there, the chaplain was there. Never a good sign. They explained what all had happened, and that basically the next 12 hours would really be a good indication of how things would go. At about 5 p.m. they suggested we get some food while they changed her bedding. At about 6:15, as we choked down food at McDonald's, my cell phone rang and we were told to get back to the hospital ASAP. Mom had crashed several times and they were doing everything they could, but didn't think they could sustain her even at that level for much longer. They told us that even if by some miracle she came through it, her quality of life would be negligible. My brother and I made the decision for them to stop trying. And so, the medical personnel left the room, turned off the alarms, and monitored our mom from outside of the room while we stayed with her, talking to her, holding her hand. She wasn't conscious and hadn't been since they sedated her around lunch time to intubate her. At best, it was 15 minutes before the doctor came back in and let us know she was gone.

I made arrangements for Zachary to sleep at a friend's house that night and he was with his dad the next day. That gave me the evening to sort of regroup. His dad and I would tell him the next day when he came home. He was sad. I don't think he really understood what it meant. It was a solid 6 months before he broke down sobbing out of the blue one night in the car saying "I miss my Nana."

I think about the sports he's playing this spring, how he's doing in school, the kind of child he is, and I wonder how thrilled my mom would be to attend every game, practice, etc. that he plays in. She would surely be at every musical event at school, art show, open house, she would take any volunteer opportunity if it meant spending more time with Zachary. I know she would love doing homework with him, playing with him. She would have a much greater appreciation for his limited time as a small child than I feel like I'm having these days. I feel so caught up in a rat race that it is taking concerted effort to remember what is truly important in life.

Life feels very overwhelming right now to me. I've had a sinus headache/issue for over 4 weeks now. It's wearing me down physically and mentally. It's keeping me from working out as regularly and intensely as I would both like and need to. I'm eating more than I should. As a result, I'm seeing changes in my body and in the scale that I really don't like and want. And it has me feeling mildly panicked. Every day, I start new and remind myself that it is NEVER over, and I don't EVER have to give up this battle with food. I just need to keep doing my best. Right now, it feels kind of like my best isn't good enough in any area.

This too shall pass.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First 5K--Completed

Martha and I (and her hubby Kevin) ran in a 5K today in Ipswich. It was my first (not theirs). But all of us, having had WLS in the past 3 to 4 years, were pretty pleased with ourselves to run the entire thing and finish NOT in last place. This was NOT in my foreseeable future some 3 years ago, I can say that. With arthritis in my knees, hips, and ankles, and a Morton's Neuroma and neuropathy in my left foot/ankle, I never thought I'd be running again. But, with great shoes and glucosamine and a lot less weight on me, I guess it's possible.

Martha and I are going to do the "series" of runs (we have to complete 5 of 12 by December). Great motivation to keep going and have a friend to do it with. YEAH!

Here we are, at the finish line and post-race. Yes, those are very smug smiles on our faces. Seeing Zachary waiting for me, cheering me on at the finish line, waiting to high-five me, I don't think anything could have been better.

Pre-Race


At the Finish Line


Post-Race

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Onward and Upward

On one of the OH boards today, someone commented on how this IS easy...easier than it has ever been. And so, she wondered "did I in fact take the easy way out?"

The losing part WAS easier (for me) with the surgery than it ever was before. It gave me the ability to manage my appetite and portions without constantly feeling deprived/hungry. I do (and have since being a pre-op) work out regularly at a pretty intense level. I also waited (not by choice) about 9 months from the time I started the process to have surgery to when I actually had my surgery and had many hoops to jump through for surgery to happen.

With that said, know that maintenace is a different ball game altogther...it's hard. Your ability to eat more, fall into old habits if not diligent, stop food journaling, not exercise, test the boundaries of tolerable foods more and more occurs as you get more comfortable with your new plumbing, in my opinion. That, combined with not having the losing of weight to motivate you and needing to find different motivation to keep on track, makes things more of a "head" game than a physical game. It is a difficult head game at that. But the head game ultimately affects the physical if we let it. And that, for me, has been much harder.

My goals have changed. I focus on staying physically in shape, keeping my body looking as good as it can and feeling as good as it can. That involves regular exercise and eating properly. I have definitely been struggling with this the past couple of months. I have felt physically and emotionally pretty cruddy as a result. My weight went over my "acceptable" (to me) 2 lb. fluctuation this week. That means that the indiscretions with food choices, amounts and not exercising must come to a halt. Period, end of story. I will NOT become obese again. No way, no how.

This Saturday, I will run my first 5K with Martha...she inspires me. I'm terrified...I am. Terrified that pain in my joints will completely hamper me. I need to stop thinking this way but it's hard. I first injured my knees back in 1997 running on pavement. I have had two knee surgeries since, and haven't run outdoors since then either. I have only trained indoors on a treadmill. But, this is a goal for me...one that I think is very worthwhile and will help keep me moving forward, focusing on the positive changes in my life since having RNY. It's all about the goals and motivation and finding what works over the long haul.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Big Step

I have always been pretty terrified of even considering plastic surgery as a post-op. I look fine in clothing. But out of clothing, my breasts are sadly very wrinkled and deflated and my belly is extremely wrinkled and deflated looking. There's not really any fat there left to fill it out. And while it isn't awful, it does bother me sometimes. I will wear form-fitting clothing and when I sit down, I still have rolls. My breasts are more or less rolled up into my bra. Lately, I have been thinking that I have just worked too hard working out, eating right, taking care of myself to still feel like I look fat (yes, sometimes that's how I feel when I see these rolls of skin). I know that I have fared better than many, many people with regards to skin issues. It still bothers me. Pictures follow at the end of the blog entry.

I have a friend who had a circumferential lower body lift post-WLS...and she had a lot of complications. She spent the better part of 8 months in and out of the hospital, lots of surgeries for necrotic tissue, etc. Being a single mother of a fairly young child still, the idea of this kind of recovery to begin with, let alone if I had a complication, has made plastic surgery something I would not even consider. But, more and more I have been thinking that it wouldn't hurt just to find out what my options are and what the cost would be.

So, today I called and scheduled a consult for an hour. May 8th. Can't hurt to ask, right? Better to be informed...always.







Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Coincidences

Yesterday I wrote about our humanness, and the sharing of emotion that connects us all. Today, well, I came across this song, which isn't new by any means...but this was the first time I'd heard this version of it. And so, I checked out Matt Brouwer's official website and read his bio. Could he have said it any more succinctly? I don't think so.

"I hope my music is an invitation for people to engage in the celebration of life, both the great times and the difficult stuff too. No matter how the specifics of our experiences differ, the essence of what we go through is the same. Music helps us celebrate those big moments and also offers comfort and hope in dark times as well. Music provides that common ground. Beyond one song or one album, my dream is to grow old with an audience and share the years, never being afraid to go deep into the conversation of what it means to be human. I’ve seen how music can bring clarity and resolve to our experiences in a way that marks that passage of time and helps assign meaning to those moments we often take for granted. With this new CD I think that’s the message, being compelled to aggressively seek out that kind of connection with an audience that lasts beyond the shelf life of a product because we were courageous enough to dig a little deeper." ~ Matt Brouwer

"I Shall Believe"

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thoughts on Loss and Love

In talking with a good friend recently, the topic of loss and how we cope with it is foremost on my mind. She has experienced much loss and heartache in the past 5 years. As is often the case with life, just when you think you're on the "up side" of dealing with something painful, you have your bearings again, life throws you another whammy to slap you back down. Along with two other friends of mine (and probably scores of others that I don't know about), we just keep telling each other and ourselves "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" (think Dory of "Finding Nemo") because sometimes, that's really all you can do.

The third anniversary of my mom's death is coming up on May 5th. It's really hard to believe it's been almost 3 years. I've thought about her a lot more the past few weeks. Zachary has talked about missing her much more lately as well.

I suspect that the loss of my recent love relationship has stirred up some of its own grief/loss feelings. It's a loss that has taken me much longer to move past than I had hoped or wanted...I've struggled mightily to let go. Being with him, well, it was as though I was intoxicated, literally feeling euphoric. All of my inhibitions felt like they were gone and the communication with him was just there. I was me, in my best sense. There were times that being with him felt surreal because the intimacy was so intense. I knew in my heart that he just "got me" without a whole lot of explanation. Though I've been in love before, it was never like this. This was the closest I've probably ever allowed myself to get to a man. It's hard to understand, let alone explain, how I could feel what I felt in a short period of time. I was, for once, open enough to trust and believe it was a mutual feeling, and one that would continue to grow and be strong enough to withstand life's trials and tribulations. As such, the love in my heart for this person just doesn't really want to let go and believe that what was, and touched me so profoundly, is *poof* gone. He's moved on, and I'm trying very hard to do the same but it takes time I guess...more for me than some.

So many different events can trigger seemingly unrelated memories and feelings because the emotions (grief, loss, angst) are the same. The more I think about us as human beings, the more I profoundly realize that we all have different circumstances in our lives, but the emotions we feel are all the same. Personally, I feel like it's my life purpose to figure out how best to connect to other people through those emotions. It keeps me feeling human, compassionate, and alive.

I've also reflected a lot recently on the value of friendship to me. I cherish all of my relationships...friendship, family, and romantic. I've touched on this topic before in other posts. My level of commitment to these relationships seems at times to be much greater than the average person's. But, as I continue to journey through life, I am learning how to discern between the folks who do and don't invest as much in the relationship as I do. I'd much prefer to be on equal footing with a person than not. The give and take is crucial. I'm learning to weed out the ones that don't share the same value system with me in regards to relationships. Occasionally, I make a mistaken assessment and my heart is whomped. Life happens. Loss happens. I continue to learn to live with it and move on, taking what lessons I can from it.

I'm trying to not let my trust and faith in people be rocked every time I'm disappointed...but that's another lifelong lesson I suppose. My recovery from such events has gotten shorter over the years at least. Give enough trust to be happy, but not so much as to be easily hurt. I tend to trust more easily than I should in circumstances I shouldn't...and I have difficulty trusting in the situations that I should trust in. It's almost as though my entire sense of what is and isn't appropriate with regards to trust is warped. Well, it probably is, now that I think about it. A lack of healthy boundaries throughout childhood probably has done quite a bit to form the skewed schema of trust that exists in my head. More conscious effort will be required to keep this straight I guess.

I am so very, very happy and grateful though, to have in my life friends who have endured through years and years of struggle with me. Their willingness and commitment to stand by me through thick or thin has done so much to help me realize that it's worth it to continue to give people chances to earn my trust. I'm glad I don't just blindly shut the whole world out when my issues flare up...I think that would be a very, very lonely and isolated place to be. Not a lot of personal growth is going to come of that either, I suspect. This is my personal thanks to friends old and new for showing me love. I value it more than you will ever probably know despite my best efforts to show you.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Intuition

One of the lessons that I learned at an early age was how to read the "feelings" of other people or situations. It was actually a survival skill in my household. If I could "sense" what the mood/atmosphere at home would be before I arrived, I could better prepare myself for how to handle it and respond to it. I can clearly remember walking home from school some days and having that feeling of dread hit the pit of my stomach, when I was easily over a mile away from home still, for no apparent reason...just "knowing" that the home situation was going to be an emotionally volatile one that day. I learned how to keep my head down, my voice low, and try to be as invisible as possible during these times. It didn't always work, but I would try my hardest.

Over the years, I've realized that this ability to pick up on people's feelings without them even being present is not necessarily something everyone can do, let alone with accuracy. Time and experience has shown me that I do indeed have this talent quite well-refined. But, because I also have my issues (and we ALL have issues, don't get me wrong), I tend to discount my perceptions/feelings on these matters much of the time...or I allow other folks to talk me out of them. That is, of course, until someone or something comes along to slam into my face that indeed, it is a foolish thing to do, discount my own perceptions/instincts/gut feelings on situations. I can't actually think of a time that I discounted my feelings/gut reaction and didn't regret it later on. If I had heeded what my gut was saying on more occasions, I'd have avoided so much pain in my life. I'd have held myself in higher esteem. You see, when I start doubting myself, I start demeaning myself at the same time. If it's not the issue of someone else, then it must be MY issue, and that I expect, demand, need too much. That I'm clingy. Unhealthy. Undesirable. All of these thoughts result in me going down a really bad path of feeling worthless and unlikeable, never mind feeling lovable.

I'm certain it all comes back to/stems from my trust issues. I don't trust other people...how can I when I don't even trust myself? So, for now, this is going to be my focus. Tuning back into my own intuition and even when I try to fight it, following what it tells me. Learning to trust myself. You know what's funny? I just bought a couple of books on this very topic a couple of weeks ago...before I realized just how imperative this would be to me at this point in my life. Coincidence? Nah, I don't think so.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Battering Kind Of Week

This has been one of those weeks that I need to find some way to completely let go of and forget about. So many things happened this week that are just plain ugly and could ruminate in my brain until it explodes.

My son has had a fever all week and he's been home or at work with me because he can't be at school with a fever. No other symptoms. And now, it looks like Monday/Tuesday may very well be snow days.

My food intake has been more erratic than it should be. My exercise habits have been less than consistent this week. Two times to the gym, that's it. It was very difficult to get there between having to work from home and leaving work early with a sick child. And these things lead me to be extremely concerned that I will regain my weight. That thought absolutely terrifies me.

Add to that all the other stress of the week (dealing with issues with my son's other parent and his diatribes, the gist of which basically have me painted as a naive and controlling parent), well, I think that I'm pretty much shit on the bottom of anyone's shoe. I feel pretty damn worthless, stupid, useless, a horrible mother, miserable co-parent, you name it.

If I could disappear, well, honestly? I think I would. I don't want to deal with anyone. Not my child, not my friends really, not my therapist, not anyone. Just hide somewhere. And yet, I feel insanely lonely and in need. I could really use a good cry and someone to hold me while I had that cry. Unfortunately, that isn't going to happen. I'll probably opt for a bubble bath and a good cry later this morning when Zachary is out with his Big Brother.

I know I need to update his Big on what's been going on with his dad...and I just can't even figure to how to do that. Or if I even should...given that according to dad, I'm just indulging the child in his need for attention.

I'm trying to tell myself this too shall pass. But right now? It feels all consuming. Please, please let it pass quickly and let me get back to living soon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dreams That Die

When I was pregnant with my son, it was a very, very difficult time in my life. And I have no doubt that it was the very presence of his developing being in my body that kept me alive. Without that, I would have had zero motivation/reason in my mind to continue living. Things were really, really bad. I was alone, broken-hearted, betrayed, scared.

I wrote a poem for Zachary once he was born that summed up how I felt about what his existence had meant in my life:

For My Sweet Zachary

You came into my life as such a surprise,
At a time when my hope was all but gone.
The universe knew this.
It gave you to me as its gift.

To tell me to keep on....
To have hope...
To keep my heart open...
To remain loving, caring, committed...
No matter what the world throws my way.

I was terrified.
Afraid I would not be good enough,
For you,
To you,
With you.

This tiny life inside of me
Continued to grow each day.
And I remained amazed that my body
Could and would sustain such a miracle.
I was profoundly touched
That the universe believed I deserved such honor
To be chosen as your mother.

You arrived eight days early.
And I was giddy with excitement
As I labored to bring your life
Into this world,
To begin your journey
As an independent human being.

And when first I held you,
I'd never seen anything so beautiful
In all of my life.
And I cried that you were mine.
That the waiting was over
And you were here.

For me to love,
To hold,
To nurture,
To protect,
To teach,
To learn to let go.

We have so many years
Of this journey ahead of us.
And already
I've learned so much.
I've learned what really matters.
You are here,
You are safe,
You are healthy,
You are beautiful and happy.

And I've learned
That for now,
Loving you
Is all that I really need to do
To be enough.

I love you Zachary Ryan,
Now and always.

– Love, Mommy
June 11, 2001

It's probably time that I share this poem with him. It's been on another website of mine for years. Much of my older poetry is on there. I wrote poetry a lot when I was younger, it helped me work through many of my feelings growing up. I have continued to write on and off over the years, but this is really the last decent poem I've written...that I felt passionately enough about to write something that felt so true to my heart.

I have not always wanted children. Before I was married, I swore I would not have children because I was so afraid I would mess them up. By the time I got married, I'd done enough work on myself to think that maybe, just maybe, I could be a decent enough parent not to screw up a kid as much as I was. With my ex-husband, there was a tubal pregnancy, and subsequent fertility issues for me. We tried to conceive after the tubal pregnancy, but had no luck.

Zachary's father and I had been trying to start a family for 8 months...charting morning temperature every day of the month, checking cervical mucus, etc. All to no avail...until of course things were an absolute mess and it was pretty clear the relationship would be ending. I went back on birth control pills and got pregnant that first month back on them. Imagine my surprise...I was terrified, I had no intention of ever being a single parent. I have always believed that children need two involved parents.

My pregnancy was difficult on me. Alone, scared, stressed by finding out about the "woman" that he'd gotten together with. There was no partner with whom to share the joy or excitement or fear of my pregnancy. The nights that the baby's movements inside of me kept me up, there was no one to wake and share that with. It's still a really painful memory to me, all of those months.

For such a long time, I held out hope that I would have more children with a loving partner. In the last year or so though, my aging body has been something I've had to reckon with in my mind with regards to this dream. I very sadly reconciled myself to the fact that I would probably never have more babies. I started to believe though, within the past few months, briefly, that I might actually have this dream become a reality. It pains me to have to let it go again...I thought I was done with my heart breaking over the loss of this dream. Apparently, I'm not.

I look at the beautiful little boy I have, and I am so incredibly lucky to have him. He is my miracle. He wants siblings...he talks so much about how he wants it to be more than just he and I. And I understand that feeling for him. I really do. I want that too. At this moment though, I think that I'm probably destined to spend my life without a partner...without more children...and I want to go back to being okay with that instead of feeling heartbroken about it. I'm not quite sure how to get there again. Maybe it's just something that will take time.

My weight is now stable...my health is good. I'd be in a good place to have more children...well, except for being 40 (and I was reminded at my physical that my eggs are old, *sigh*). I'm a fit 40...more fit than I ever have been, mentally and physically. And yet my dreams feel like they are being left to die. It hurts...it really does. I feel angry about it too.

I struggle with why it is so hard for me to let go of connections to other people. It seems as though others are able to move on so much more easily when a connection has ended...almost as if people, relationships, are disposable. For me, all I can think is "how can anyone have that strong of a connection to another person and then simply walk away and let it go?" I can't do that...it seems to take so much time for the feelings to dissipate. I have people that I was so close to many years ago, and our friendships/relationships have ended, and STILL it plagues me...why we can't still be close. I think I'm a good friend. I certainly try to be. But the fact that a relationship with me can be so easily walked away from leaves me with self-doubt as to my worth as a friend and what I have to offer. What is wrong with me? Why can't I just turn the feelings off and walk away like others can?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Transfer Addictions?

Transfer addictions...they warrant some thought now and again. Whenever I go off-plan for any length of time (more than a day), well, I have to really start evaluating what the heck is going on in my life, in my head, and determine if my behavior is more related to general misbehaving or trying to mask some other turmoil in my life. I haven't written in several weeks. Why...hmmm...well, probably because I don't want to write about all the stuff going on in my head these days. It's ugly. And if I'm going to write at all here, for me, it needs to be an honest accounting of what's happening with me. So, I'd prefer not to write at all than to put some BS out there that doesn't genuinely reflect where I am...head, heart, mind/body. I guess occasionally I'm pretty good with avoidance.

Honestly, I feel as though I'm mentally spinning my wheels of late. I can't figure out where I am, where I'm going, or even where I want to go. I'm doing my best to talk to friends, read, sort through things in my own mind and in therapy. Truth be known, I haven't a clue what's going on with me lately except for lots of self-doubt and insecurities. I hate feeling that way. It's like all of my insecurities are ruminating in my head and I don't know how to dispel them. I feel inadequate, unlovable, fat, unattractive, and defective in so many ways. I don't even want to verbalize those things right now because they just make me sound so ugly as a person. Insecurity in general is so unattractive. I wish that awareness alone was enough to make it not so. I'd be so psyched.

For now though, I guess I'll just keep keeping on...one stinkin' day at a time sometimes, hoping each day will be a little better than the last. I'll keep going to the gym. Going to therapy. Being active with friends. Eating as I should and not always how I want. I've been showing more indiscretion lately with my food choices, always getting what I need but then eating more of the things I don't need. The idea of living in a state of chocolate and wine oblivion (ok, you could probably throw sex in there too) sounds pretty darn good sometimes. That scares me. I don't want to regain weight. I don't want to not be dealing with life on life's terms. I didn't go through all of the things I've been through in my life only to fail...but it's what I'm most afraid of. *sigh* Tell me it gets better...that I'm not just settling into a period of long-term weight loss that will always be this troubling in my mind. (Did that make ANY sense at all???)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Communication and Abandonment

I've realized that I really am quite an oddity. In spending a good deal of time with girlfriends lately, it's become clear that I communicate far more than "your average bear." I don't know how NOT to talk about what I'm feeling and thinking...sometimes to my own detriment at times. It affects my relationships. Hopefully, the folks who love me understand where this comes from and will have patience with me while I muddle through some of the muck. There will always be muck in our lives, won't there?

My friend Tammy and I were talking today about my need to communicate. And last night, I was talking with my friend Alla about this same topic. Yes, it's an actual need for me. How did it become that? Well, many years ago, when I was a kid growing up, I learned that to have feelings of my own, to have thoughts of my own, made me selfish and self-absorbed. To express feelings of any kind that weren't empathy for the crisis of another family member (ok, realistically that was mom), I was sure to receive a reprisal of some sort. Usually a tongue lashing and withdrawing of affection and the ever-present "knowledge" that I thought only of myself. (Side note: I realize now that kids and teens ARE ego-centric...it's actually TYPICAL, not uncommon.)

When I started in therapy, I was 12 years old. The reason for my therapy? I had an eating disorder. I was anorexic, which led to anorexia/bulimia. There were many therapists in the beginning. I liked some of them very much…but I guess mom did not and so, the therapist was switched. And finally, I decided that to be a “good” anorexic I needed to not talk at all. I spent months going to weekly therapy sessions where I didn’t speak a single word. Instead, I sat there and I peeled away the dead foliage from a hanging spider plant in the shrink’s office. I can’t remember why exactly I finally did start talking…I only remember what the experience was like. I was sobbing because I was opening my mouth, sharing the thoughts in my head, and so once again I had “failed” at doing something well…being the best at something. In this case, being a tough nut to crack anorexic. I’d opened my mouth.

Therapy became the only place that I could talk…well, until the therapist I saw for a while (that I HATED) basically said I had no reason to be afraid of my mom since she didn’t physically beat me. I didn’t realize that emotional abuse and withholding of affection couldn’t elicit fear in a child…someone never told my BRAIN that. And so, I was afraid of losing her love, disappointing her, and I never wanted to let her down. But I apparently did quite a fine job of letting her down and disappointing her and pissing her off on a pretty regular basis. Most of the time I thought she hated me and wished I didn’t exist. Because my mom didn’t beat me, he felt there was no justifiable reason for me to be afraid to talk to my mom about things, feelings…and so he told her that because my fear was not based in reality, I was a pathological liar. To this day, I am brutally honest with everyone because I fear being caught in even the slightest exaggeration/non-truth and being deemed a liar again. I’ve chosen partners who have lied to me ad nauseum…I know what a pathological liar is. I am not one, never was. I’m not even your generic, everyday liar. I don't lie. Never did.

I digress. When my dad died and I ended up in the hospital, the principle of communication as a basic need was stressed as necessary to my very survival. How? Well, in a psychiatric hospital, there is such a thing as constant observation. That means being in a group with others who are constantly monitored/in the presence of a staff member. Sometimes, you're on "one on one", one staff to one patient. This can actually be better in some ways. But what it means as a group is that no one in the group could go in the kitchen to get our own coffee/cereal because there were sharp/dangerous objects in there. We couldn’t shave or use razors. We couldn’t shower without being watched, go to the bathroom without being watched, sleep in a room without a staff member there to watch you all night, sit in the dining room with others to visit or go in the TV room to watch a show unless everyone else in the group wanted to do that.

Being in a psych hospital meant that every physiological symptom, mood, etc. that you had was under scrutiny. Have a headache? What stressor caused it? Upset stomach? What prompted that? The goal of the staff there was to get you to talk about your feelings...communicate. There were many means to encourage this. The threat of being put on constant observation was one. I remember having a migraine and asking for aspirin and being told by the nurse that she’d be happy to give me aspirin right after I sat with her and talked about what was going on to bring on my headache. I didn’t want to talk. I told her to fuck off and keep her aspirin. That landed me on a six-week stint of constant observation.

I spent a lot of time on constant observation because I wasn’t going to follow their rules. I also employed distractions to not deal with my feelings. I crocheted massive blankets. You know what that got me? Put on crochet restriction. Yup, they basically told me that I could not isolate myself that way and so, I was only allowed to crochet for an hour a day. Things that people take for granted in their day-to-day lives as hobbies, distractions, tools for coping/escaping from the everyday stuff that can get you down? Well, in a psych hospital where everything is examined and there are no accidents and everything has a motivation, those kinds of distractions are not allowed to be employed. Unless you want to be restricted in every means possible, you learn to communicate. It’s drilled into your being that what you are supposed to do is talk about your feelings and your thoughts. If you keep them secret, they keep you sick. You verbalize them and work through them, health is restored.

I guess I learned that lesson really, really well over those two years. I don’t know how to NOT talk now…and I find it’s not always a good thing. The rest of the world doesn’t operate under these same rules/guidelines…and so, I’m perceived (or maybe just am?) intense. I’m often misunderstood as I muddle through an explanation of the rawest of my emotions. Oftentimes I am making sense of it AS I SPEAK…it doesn’t all make sense when it first comes out. And that, well, that leads to some pretty difficult relationships sometimes. I’ve probably hurt more than one relationship in my life unintentionally by being this honest, open and direct person in a world of folks who don't typically do or understand or maybe even want that.

One of the things that my mom used to do when she was having a hard time was to take off. Leave us. Literally, she would disappear for a few days. Her friend would call us and tell us that she was ok, but that she was overwhelmed and was going to be away for a few days. On occasion, this came on the heels of one of her attempts to kill herself. We had no means to contact her directly, only could contact a friend of hers. We didn't know where she was, how exactly she was, what we had done to upset her, or when exactly she'd be back. When we were younger and this happened, we would be sent to stay with friends for a few days. One of my best friends, well, my mom abused the ability to call on her family so much for help/assistance that I was no longer allowed to have my best friend's phone number. Her mom and dad decided that if I had the number, my mom would pester me for it at some point and use it to call them and ask for favors...which they didn't want to have to oblige. And so, I was unable to call my best friend for years...wasn't allowed to have her phone number. I also knew that if I did anything wrong (sometimes I didn't even know what I had done wrong, and I suspect that sometimes mom's disappearances weren't even related to anything I did), mom would take off/abandon us/me (her doing this continued until my senior year of high school when she finally had a therapist who told her he would help her work through her feelings, but she really needed to return to her child). In hindsight, it really doesn't or shouldn't surprise me that I have issues with people abandoning me when I'm less than perfect. I never expect anyone to stick around for me long-term.

So, lessons learned for now…communication is good. I believe that. Honest communication is imperative. But learning how to communicate honestly and openly with finesse? Well, that is an art form…one I wish to cultivate in myself. I think it will save me and others a great deal of heartache. Oh, and learning to recognize that if others don't communicate as openly as I do does not necessarily mean they don't care, love me, or are about to leave me. Of course, sometimes that IS the case, but not always. Abandonment issues die hard I guess.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

18-Month Follow-Up and Updates

I had my 18-month follow-up appointment on Tuesday with Melinda at Heart and Wellness. We reviewed my labs, which look really good. My hemoglobin is finally up to 13.9 (YEAH!!!) after switching to ferrous fumarate instead of ferrous sulfate. I did have a bone density done the week before, and we reviewed those results. I've lost between 3% and 5% of bone mass in the past 19 months since surgery...so that isn't good. I take all of my calcium supplements as I should, so we upped my vitamin D-3 intake to 1000 IUs twice a day, each taken with my calcium (800 mg calcium citrate at a pop). She told me that at some point given my family history, I will be needing to take something like Boniva or Fosamax (which are hard on our tummies), but that by the time I need it, they'll have something else that hopefully won't be so hard for me to take. I'm a little disappointed in the bone mass because it was my biggest concern pre-op. My mother had really severe osteoporosis, diagnosed at a young age. So I have taken lots of steps (long before having WLS) to limit my risks but still obviously am having some issues. :( Makes me sad because I don't want to be as limited physically as she was at an early age.

All else was good. My weight was pretty stable and my body fat was 18%. She looked at me at first and said "you look too thin to me" and I had to explain to her that I haven't lost any more weight, but I was exhausted from not sleeping the night before and crying because I'd been dumped by the man I was pretty head over heels in love with (and thought he was too...but if someone can give up that easily, well, I guess it wasn't really love for him...I'm still feeling pretty shocked at how it all went down, to be honest). She cautioned me to make sure I continue to eat enough, that the tendency to NOT eat during a time like this is great and would be really, really bad for me. I assured her that I know I cannot do that because I have a son who needs me.

Anyway, all is pretty good physically. My heart is broken, but I'm doing what I need to do. I admit, it's been a struggle to eat what I need to the past few days, but I'm doing it. And I'm making sure I go to the gym, and I'm getting to bed at a pretty decent hour, and I'm talking to/crying to friends as need be. I had therapy this past Tuesday night, and we made another appointment for next week. I usually only see her once every two weeks, but we both recognize that I have a tendency to start going down a bad road in my head and making this all about how I was deficient and she wants to make sure that I don't go there...so do I, to be honest. I'm fighting it really, really hard. I feel like a failure at relationships...even when I think I'm doing it right, well, anyway. She and I talked about (ok, I sobbed about) how I really want to deal with this and my issues head-on. I don't want to use food, alcohol or sex to deal with them. She said I was doing just that, dealing with them and it would hurt like hell, but it would be ok. She assured me that I was ok...that I was doing just fine and I WAS in fact dealing with my stuff.

Just wanted to update you all. I've gotten lots of support and hugs without me having to give any word to people about what's been going on specifically. I really just didn't want to talk about it. The heart will heal...but man, it just so sucks right now. I miss him. :(

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Purpose

Here I sit...struggling with a knot in my stomach that extends from my hips to my neck. I don't know whether to cry...I don't know that I really want to talk about it either...but I know it feels awful. And it also feels kind of numb at the same time. I also know that it's coming from fear. I feel as though I've failed in this area of my life sometimes. I get the feeling that people look at me and think I have my life so together. Well guess what? I don't.

Inside, sometimes I feel like a complete and total wreck. In fact, I feel like that a great deal of the time. But I think I've become a pretty good actress in that externally, people don't usually see that. If it gets so bad that it actually starts to spill out, well, I'm already at the point where I'm not sure how to keep pushing through. I don't actively seek ways to hurt myself, but I don't deny that I have those times when not waking up or an accident happening doesn't actually sound like respite.

There are days when I literally cannot stop the tears from flowing from my eyes while I sit quietly at my desk at work. I hide in my cube...I don't want anyone to see me this way because it's obvious that I'm hurting and if I start to talk about it at all, I'll completely fall apart. I've pushed a few people away when they've noticed the tears in my eyes and they've asked what's wrong. All I can do is say nothing and walk briskly away to splash cold water on my face. I still fear that I'm going to start crying and lose control and never regain it again. And if that happens, I'll end up back in the hospital and lose my child. I still have nightmares/dreams about being back in the hospital. I have at least a few of them each month. In those dreams, my child's care is always of great concern to me...who has him...where does he think I am...will I ever see him again.

I am tired of battling this crap in my life. I am angry that after so many years of therapy there is pain, there is daily battling my demons, my fears, my insecurities. They are all still there...despite years and years of therapy. Despite opening myself up to people. Despite trying to have a positive outlook. Despite trying to remain a person who has hopes and dreams. Despite talking to myself in my own head to talk myself OUT of these places. It is still a daily battle...and I'm really, really worn out and I feel beaten down. It is a lot of work and diligence. Sometimes I just don't want to work at it anymore.

I watch my son struggling with his own depression and I feel like I've cursed him. That all of his anxieties and worries are all my fault. Despite my best efforts to fix myself so that he may grow up healthy, I failed. Great, now by my very existence, I've hurt his life. I don't know how to reckon with that guilt.

When I feel crappy, and it starts to spill out, my insecurities about people loving me come out in full force. It's like "shit, they'll see the REAL me and realize that I'm this needy, clingy person who makes them absolutely insane and annoys them and they want to ditch as quickly as possible. How could I have ever believed that anyone could actually love me? What a fool I am!" It takes such tremendous effort NOT to allow my thoughts to stay there. I know that if I let the thoughts go there, well, the abyss will just get deeper and darker. I try to focus on how my experiences might help someone else. And when I feel like I'm a failure at even that, it seems like working through all this crap in my life has been for naught. I have nothing to offer...nothing of any value to anyone...least of all the people I really care about. If I can't be here for anyone else, what purpose do I even have here at all? I guess I still have a whole lot to learn about letting go.