Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One year ago today ...

One year ago today I was off to see the wizard! I can't believe that it has been a whole year since I had my gastric bypass surgery. 2009 has been one wild year for me. I have discovered more about myself, my faith, my marriage, my family in this past year than I ever imagined possible. The most important nugget of truth I have received out of all of it this year has been "I can do it!" I believed a lie about myself for so long - I wasted so many years thinking that my dreams were unattainable. But I am here on the other side of a long journey (that isn't really even over - I feel it may have just begun!) to tell you that if I can do these hard things - you can too.

 
Here is a list of goals I set for myself about a week before surgery:
  • I want my feet to stop hurting - check!
  • I want to be able to walk more than a mile without stopping because of my back - check - I run 3-5 miles regularly now.
  • I want to stop wearing my CPAP machine at night - I bid this farewell early on.  Hope you're enjoying it, Tim!
  • I want my knees to stop hurting - not nearly as bad or as often as it was before.
  • I want to be able to cross my legs comfortably - I almost always sit with my legs crossed now.
  • I want to be able to run around with my kids - I beat their butts on Wii Fit today.  :)
  • I want to feel like I don't have to avoid mirrors - I don't avoid them but I still don't love them.  :)
  • I want to be able to fit comfortably in a roller coaster when we go on vacation this summer - that was fun!
  • I want to be able to fit comfortably in an airplane seat - don't have to sit with my arms folded across me the whole flight to keep from feeling like I'm in other people's personal space.
  • I want my blood pressure to go back to normal - check!
  • I want to be able to go to the doctor and not have my blood pressure go up just at the thought of having to get on the scale - check.
  • I want to shop in a "normal" store for clothing - check.
  • I don't want my kids to be embarassed by their fat mom - having them cheer me on when I run is the ultimate experience for me.
Goals added at 6 month mark:
  • I want to see my collar bone. Isn't that strange? I can feel it now, but I don't feel like it is quite visible. - check!
  • Along those same lines - I would really like to see my hip bones. That might be a long time in coming simply because of all the extra skin I have in that area. That may have to wait for the tummy tuck. - Yeah - so not happening till I get rid of some of this extra skin.
  • I want to be able to buy cute bras and panties. HEHEHEHE. Yeah - big girl panties and bras have been what I have always gotten - but I'm now in a size that I can buy those cute little sets! I haven't done it yet because the sizes have been changing so fast, but I'm feeling more comfortable with this now. - check!
  • I want to no longer see myself as the fattest person in the room. Even though I have lost so much weight, I still see myself as "the fat girl". - still working on this, but getting a lot better.
  • I want to get the the "century" mark in my weight loss. I actually want to loose 130 pounds total - but this is a good progress mark for me. - check!  110 pounds (sneaking up on 115 now) down!
  • I am now adding some distance goals for my running. I want to run a 10K this fall, and hopefully a half marathon in the winter. I can't believe I just said that. - this got derailed a bit with my surgery this fall, but I'm anxious to still meet these goals in 2010.

Measurement  - Pre-op - 3 Months - 6 Months - 1 Year
Full Bust 50 - 44 - 40 - 39
Rib Cage 46 - 39 - 35 - 35
Waist 46 - 39 - 37 - 36
Hips 56 - 50 - 45 - 42
Thighs 30 - 26 - 24 - 23
Arms 15 - 14 - 13 - 12.5
Total 243 - 212 - 194 - 187.5

 
My BMI has gone from 47.4 to 29.5 (Morbidly Obese to plain overweight).


And finally - here is proof in pictures.




And so I can proudly say that I have met my goals.  I have lost 85% of my excess weight in a year.  I have faced many of my personal demons surrounding food and why I eat it when I shouldn't or don't need to.  I have made exercise a regular part of my life.  I have started running!  I got my PMP!  All of this in just the last year.  Who knew I could do all of this in one year?  What a wild ride it has been.  I look forward to what is ahead in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 in Pamelot

I had a lot of fun making this little video on slide.com.  I think these pictures speak volumes about what I have experienced in this past year.  It's been one wild ride.  Would love to hear what you think of it!


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Thanksgiving and WOW Moments

I know, I know, I know - I have been neglecting Pamelot yet again.  I apologize profusely.

I had a great Thanksgiving.  I was able to go visit my sister and have Thanksgiving with her as well as go to a surprise birthday party for my grandmother.   She is an amazing woman.  She is 90 years old and still lives alone in her own house.  It was great fun to see cousins I don't get to see very often.

So I've been thinking about some things that I am thankful for and I wanted to get them down.

I am thankful for:
  • my family
  • healthy children
  • healthy parents
  • my marriage
  • my job
  • my health
  • my friends
The list could go on and on.  I am a very thankful girl.  And as I reached my 11 month surgiversary I am especially thankful for how different my life is this year than it was last year at this time.  I am down about 110 pounds from when I had surgery.  And amazingly enough - I still get some WOW moments on this journey.  Here are a few I have had recently:
  • I have never, ever, in all my life, shared clothes with my sister.  She's always been much smaller than me - even as adults - we're just built completely different.  But when I got down to my sisters I tried on some of her clothes!!  And they fit!!!!  I even managed to fit in a size 10!!!!!!  You just have no idea how great that felt.
  • I love hanging with my sister.  LOVE IT!  We went out on the town one night and something happened to me that HAS NEVER happened to me before.  I got hit on.  HA!  I have been with my husband since I was 15.  Those there waters have never been chartered before.  I didn't know what to do with myself.  Thanks to my brother-in-law for keeping the wolves at bay for a while.  :)
  • I have been wanting to commemorate 100 pounds down and I did while with my sister - I got a new tat.  No - I can't show you where.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  I'll just say it's not somewhere that would be affected by any future plastics - which I hope to get at some point.  Have I mentioned how much I hate all this extra skin?
  • I also love seeing my cousin, Angie.  While together down in the Keys for my grandmother's party we went running together.  I don't know if she will ever know how much that little moment in time meant to me.
  • While down in the Keys for my grandmother's party we all stayed in a fantastic vacation home - a ton of us.  In the past this would have filled me with dread - the thought of being in such close quarters with others while I was sleeping - because I snored.  I didn't just snore - I really really snored - wake the dead with the sound snored.  But I didn't have to worry about that.  I shared a big room with a lot of other people and no one heard a peep out of me. Normally I would have had to lug my CPAP machine with me, make sure I was sleeping next to a power outlet, get it all set up, and wear it at night to ensure that I didn't snore.  NO MORE!
  • When I got home from our trip I had an appointment for a stress test.  Doesn't sound like much opportunity for excitement, but I passed with flying colors.  The most impressive thing was that my blood pressure was great.  My diastolic number stayed around 70 the entire time.  My doctor was impressed with how much better I am doing since this time last year.  It felt good.
So as I approach Christmas and my 1 year surgiversary I am anxious to revel in all the changes that 2009 has brought into my life.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Throwing Away Feels Good

I love throwing things away. Love it.  Decluttering feels good down deep in my soul.  I'm always amazed at how quickly I accumulate stuff (a.ka. junk).

Recently we have been moving some things around in our house.  We had been using our dining room as an office.  This was mostly because we had a desktop computer and lots of books and nowhere to put them.  We also did not have a nice dining room table - so what's the point?  We had a small kitchen table.  But now we have inherited my mom's nice dining room table and her matching hutch.  The hutch was in the living room as a sofa table (kinda) and the nice table was crammed into our eating area in the kitchen.  So upon suggestion from  my mom we decided to flip flop everything - take the office apart - put the desk in the kitchen and put the nice table in the dining room.  Sounds simple right?  Yeah - not so much - we've been at it for over 2 weeks now.  We had so much crap in the office - we've had to go through it - decide if it's necessary, needed, wanted, or can just be tossed.  I get a little too excited about throwing stuff away.  :)  Not only have we gone through the office (now the dining room again) but we have gone through a bunch of stuff that was in the kitchen.  We had a traditional "junk" drawer - and  a bread box that we never used for bread that was full of odds and ends too.

So as we have gone through the junk in the kitchen, Daren came to me with several items that I had traditionally held very tight to.  One was my Weight Watchers bag.  A little black bag with all my Weight Watchers stuff in it.  The plan - the eating out book - a bunch of stuff.  I always wanted to hang on to it because I was going to do Weight Watchers ... again ... for real this time ... when my head is ready ... I know I can do it.  Daren came to me with it - a big smile on his face.  "Do you want this?"  I did a little dance while I yelled "NO I DON'T!"  I weigh 20 pounds less than I did when I got married - can you tell I'm excited?  :)

Then he came to me with something that almost made me cry.  It was my blood sugar tester.  I had gestational diabetes with both of my pregnancies and several flirtations with Type 2 diabetes since then.  I hated that damn thing.  Hated pricking my finger - hated watching the number climb higher and higher.  I avoided that stupid thing like the plague.  But I kept it cause I knew I needed it and I needed to be able to check my blood sugar from time to time.  So when he asked me if I wanted to keep it - I chose my reaction - instead of crying - I did a little dance and yelled "NO I DON'T!" 

I really do love throwing things away.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Biggest Loser


I am a big fan of The Biggest Loser. I haven't always been a fan. When it first came on I saw a few episodes, but I just couldn't get into it. And I know why - there was just something wrong about sitting in front of the TV eating Doritos and watching others work their butts off and losing tons of weight. I just didn't want to be reminded of what I wasn't doing for myself.

But once my head was in the right place and I myself was losing weight I became a huge fan of the show. That was just this past season. And I quickly became a HUGE fan of Daniel. For several reasons. The first being that I felt he had the desire - had come to that mental place of making the big changes in his life that were so desperately needed - and I felt bad that his partner (David) had not come to that same place and was proving to be a hinderance in his journey. The second reason I was a huge fan is because I kina felt like I knew him! Daniel went to my kids school (my kids attend a small Christian school) - we had seen him on campus - everyone knew who Daniel was. So he was the hometown kid and even though he didn't know me - I felt like I knew him (though I realize I really didn't). My kids also recognized him and we quickly began to cheer him on.
We were super excited to find out that he had been given a second chance on this latest season of the show. His humble attitude and gracious spirit led him to choose Shay as his partner - he identified with being the heaviest contestant on the show. (On a side note - how does losing 17 pounds in one week earn you the privelege of getting voted off?!?!?! Seriously? So wrong!)
So we were so disappointed when he got voted off the show last night - just 2 pounds shy of losing 200 pounds! He has accomplished so much and even though we really don't know him - feel a sense of pride in his awesome accomplishments.
At the end of the episode they did the "reveal" of the ousted players. They showed Daniel going home and re-uniting with his family. They also showed him re-uniting with his friend, David, from the previous season. David is obviously still struggling with his weight. When Daniel asked him where his head was with his weight his response was ""I've got other things going on that are more important to me right now," he told Daniel. "I'm overweight, yeah I'm a big guy... I don't feel unhealthy. So when that changes, then I'll start losing it."
I just started to cry when he said that. That is exactly where I was at one time. I had other priorities. I had small children that took up all my time. I had a career that I was trying to move up in. I didn't "feel" unhealthy. I also recently saw an interview that Ellen did with Mo'nique where she addressed her recent weight loss. She said she started out at 262 pounds and that at that weight when she looked at herself naked in the mirror she didn't see anything wrong with herself - she saw a sex kitten - full of life and vitality.
I did all the same things ... for years. I wouldn't do Weight Watchers. I wouldn't entertain surgery. I knew that I was not mentally ready. And to cover I convinced myself that I was OK with who I was and how fat I was. I was a good person. I was a nice person. I was outgoing and I had lots of friends. I chose to ignore a lot of things. I chose to ignore my high blood pressure that had me taking 3 different pills. I chose to ignore the SEVERE sleep apnea I had that impaired my sleep as well as my body's ability to regenerate, etc.... I chose to ignore my high levels of triglycerides, my high cholesterol, my insulin resistance, my not-so-gradual path to type 2 diabetes, my inability to breathe going up stairs, the fact that all of my doctors were concerned about my health, the fact that my children couldn't sit on my lap - or rather my lack of lap.
I knew that I needed to loose the weight - but I also knew that I wasn't ready. I knew that any effort to do it would be totally unfruitful until my mind caught up with what my body was screaming at me. So seeing David say that totally brought me back - seeing him in such denial about his need to change broke my heart. But to be honest - until he's ready - he won't be able to do it. And it's obvious he's not ready. This battle is as much a mental battle as it is a physical battle. Dealing with my issues and going through this divorce from food was one of the most difficult mental battles I have ever been through.
So I am praying for the renewing of David's mind and healing of his heart. I know that his friend Daniel will be there to help him along the way when he is ready.
And thank you for being such an inspiration, Daniel. Not only to me and to my family, but to all of those who's hearts you have touched through your appearance on The Biggest Loser.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Overweight

I know! I know! I know! I have been neglecting Pamelot again! I have many worthy excuses, I promise. Though, I'm sure you're not really interested in any of them. It's been a crazy few weeks getting things ready and set up for this year's Upward Cheerleading season. The work as Cheer Commissioner is keeping me a bit busy. I am also in a very busy phase of my project at work.

I am now 10 months out from surgery - hard to believe. I am in the phase where I am able to eat more and more foods - my body is adjusting nicely to my new insides - and I am feeling like I have adjusted to "my new normal". It's no longer this new novel thing to have had gastric bypass. I feel like I have finally adjusted and settled in to life with a smaller stomach and less intestines (romantic isn't it?). I don't have to think so hard about what I'm going to eat, or plan ahead so much. This is just my life and I have settled into it. And I like it.

The weight loss has slowed dramatically - as I knew it would. I would like to lose 20-30 more pounds. I feel that when I up my exercise (I have been slowly getting back to exercise since my ear surgery) I will be able to get a better handle on that and make some progress there. The scale still does move, which is encouraging.

I was having an interesting conversation with some co-workers about BMI yesterday. We were talking about what a "normal" BMI is - how most people are not "normal", and how even though I have lost over 100 pounds I would still be considered in the "obese" range. We were playing around with a BMI calculator and seeing what different weight and heights gave us. So I plugged in my latest weight and discovered .... I am finally overweight! I am no longer obese!

18.5 or lessUnderweight

18.5 to 24.99Normal Weight

25 to 29.99Overweight

30 to 34.99Obesity (Class 1)

35 to 39.99Obesity (Class 2)

40 or greaterMorbid Obesity

Some calculators also put a category of BMI's above 45 as "Super Morbidly Obese". At my heaviest just before surgery my BMI was 47.6, and so I fell into that awful category. As if "obese" isn't bad enough - you add morbidly to it - then super morbidly. UGH! I always hated that! But it was telling me what I didn't want to hear.

Dictionary.com defines the word morbid as:

1. suggesting an unhealthy mental state or attitude; unwholesomely gloomy, sensitive, extreme, etc.: a morbid interest in death.
2. affected by, caused by, causing, or characteristic of disease.
3. pertaining to diseased parts: morbid anatomy.
4. gruesome; grisly.

Unhealthy mental state or attitude - check. I had a bad attitude (some would argue I still do!)
Characteristic of disease - check. High Blood Pressure, Sleep Apnea, sneaking up on Type II Diabetes, hard to breathe, hard to exercise, hard to do just about anything.
Pertaining to diseased parts - check. Not much to explain there - felt like my whole body was diseased.
Gruesome; grisly - check. That is definitely how I felt about myself.

But I spent many years denying and simply avoiding this about myself. If I can actually loose these last pounds I will find myself in a "normal" BMI range. That actually blows my mind a bit.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I'm still here!

I'm still here! I haven't blogged since surgery - it took a lot more out of me than I had anticipated. I really had a hard time with the vertigo and pain afterwards. But I am finally back to work now and seem to have a handle on my vertigo.

Now I am working on getting back to my exercise routine. I am going to try to take it slow and start out with some walking and work on the elliptical before starting to run again. But the weather is perfect for a good long run and I'm anxious to get back on the road.

And I had hit another stall in my weight loss with my surgery - hardly eating anything and hardly moving - my body was in like hybernation mode. But now I seem to be moving in the downward direction again. I have about 30 more pounds I would like to loose. I am also seeing that my size 12 clothes are starting to get a little loose. Hard to wrap my mind around. I'm hoping that once I get back to my exercise routine it will really start to melt off.

I recently agreed to take on the position of "Cheer Commissioner" for the Upward Cheerleading season that coincides with their Basketball season. I have been a coach in this league for the past couple of years and have always really enjoyed it. So this year when I was asked if I wanted to be the "Cheer-missioner" I jumped at the chance. That season is about to get under way. I have always coached the Kindergarten - second grade squad. It can be a total challenge dealing with that age group, but I love the girls that I get to coach and get to know.

So I'm just checking in for now. I promise to be better on my blogging. :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Surgery Report

I had surgery this morning. And it went much better than expected. Surgery was scheduled to begin at 9:30. I was about a half hour late going back to the OR. Surgery was about an hour. The doctor discovered that there was actually no cholesteatoma tumor - just a ton of infection and residue from the infection in the form of fungus. Yeah - fungus - EW! The doctor cleared out the infection in the middle ear and in the mastoid bone. He also reconstructed my ear drum from a some facia from my ear.

I am relieved to have not had a cholesteatoma as they tend to grow back and I would have probably had more surgeries to come to remove more of them. I am also glad that he didn't have to do a "canal wall down" procedure where they make an incision behind the ear and basically remove the ear and go in behind the ear canal. He was able to go in through the ear with a powerful microscope.

I am having quite a bit of dizziness and vertigo since the surgery. Doc had anticipated that and sent me home with some good drugs and a patch that I can wear for 3 days. Hoping that as I recover and the swelling, etc... from the surgery goes down that will get better. Unfortunately, that will just take some time.

I am also having quite a bit of pain. Trying to do all that work through my ear canal means there was a lot of pushing and pulling. My ear is very sore. Also - rebuilding the ear drum from part of the facia in my ear - not fun. Again - doc sent me home with some good drugs for that as well.

I was also sent home with this lovely contraption:


Yes, I agree, it looks like I have a jock strap on my head. :) It's meant to give my ear some protection from bumps, etc... With 3 kids and 2 dogs, let me tell 'ya, it is helpful. I get to take it off Tuesday morning. Then we will start with some ear drops and applying ice off an on throughout the day to help with pain management and swelling.
All in all the surgery went better than expected. Here's hoping that the recovery does, too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Myths about Weight Loss Surgery

I frequent a site called Obesity Help. They often have some great articles on there. I really liked the one they recently posted on myths surrounding weight loss surgery. So I am posting it here.


1. Weight loss surgery requires an inpatient hospital stay.
Not true! In fact, most weight loss surgeries can now be performed as an outpatient. The laparoscopic adjustable gastric band is the most popular outpatient weight loss procedure. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy can often be performed as an outpatient. Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass can also be performed with an overnight stay or a short one to two-night hospital stay.
I was released from the hospital the day after my surgery.

2. Weight loss surgery has high risks.
While weight loss surgery used to be considered a high-risk operation in the 1970s and 80s, this was due to many factors including the large open incision required, the severe medical problems of the patient candidate, and the relative inexperience of the surgeons and staff. All of these factors have changed markedly. Today, weight loss surgery is performed very safely with low risks in the hands of experienced surgeons and centers. And while any treatment or surgery or intervention has risks, for most people considering weight loss surgery, the risks of not undergoing surgery usually far exceed the risks of undergoing the procedure.

3. Surgery is the “easy way out.”
Successfully losing weight and keeping it off with weight loss surgery requires lots of hard work. It requires undergoing a rigorous evaluation and then attending educational classes and support groups and working on lifelong healthy habits and behaviors. It requires a great commitment and desire to achieve a valuable lifelong goal of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
Don't get me started on this one. Major pet peeve of mine.

4. You have to weigh over 300 pounds to qualify for weight loss surgery.
Many studies and many societies including the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health and the Medicare Reimbursement Process consider people candidates based on health conditions plus a calculation of the height and weight called the Body Mass Index or BMI (go to www.sasseguide.com to calculate your BMI). Numerous studies in recent years have shown marked health advantages to even moderately obese individuals who undergo weight loss surgery. Many people qualify who are as little as 50 pounds overweight.
My insurance requirements were a BMI of 40 or above OR BMI of 35
with 2 co-morbidities. I started out at a BMI of almost 48 and I
had 2 serious co-morbidities - high blood pressure and severe sleep
apnea.


5. People who undergo weight loss surgery need to have advanced, serious health conditions such as advanced diabetes and heart disease to qualify.
Each individual is assessed based on his or her specific health conditions and the Body Mass Index calculation. It is widely agreed that anyone with a Body Mass Index over 40 qualifies for weight loss surgery, even in the absence of health problems. It is also widely agreed that people with a Body Mass Index over 35 qualify for weight loss surgery when one or more obesity-related health conditions is present (including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea).

6. You have to be in perfect health to qualify for weight loss surgery.
In fact, many people undergoing weight loss surgery do have health problems related to obesity. Some of these individuals have mild forms of the conditions and other people have more severe forms of the conditions. Each person should be assessed by an experienced bariatric surgeon to determine candidacy.
If you were in perfect health - why would you need surgery? Let's
own up to it - if you're heavy enough to qualify for surgery you are not in
perfect health.


7. There is a long recovery time after weight loss surgery.
Most people recover from weight loss surgery within one to two weeks. Some people go back to work and activities within a few days, especially after adjustable gastric banding surgery.
I timed my surgery between Christmas and New Year's. I took 4
days off of work - I was back to work a week after surgery. It was one of
the easiest surgeries to recover from - and I've had my share of
surgery.


8. After weight loss surgery, you won’t be able to eat anything that’s good.
Most people can eat a wide variety of all kinds of foods after weight loss surgery. Some people who have had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery experience an unpleasant sensation when eating concentrated sweets such as desserts. However, most people can eat just about anything after weight loss surgery in small quantities.
Let's face it - I have redefined what "good" means to me. It does
take a while to get back to being able to eat "normally", but with the exception
of foods high in sugar - you should be able to eat other foods in
moderation.


9. You have to be a certain age to have weight loss surgery.
While it’s true that most centers describe age criteria, the range is usually very wide such as from 18 to 65. In addition, there are many studies citing the benefits of weight-loss surgery in patients over 65 and under 18.

10. You can’t have surgery if you have diabetes.
In fact, weight loss surgery is fast becoming a primary treatment for diabetes, particularly type II diabetes because of the high rate of cure of the disease after weight-loss surgery.

11. You’ll have a large incision and a big scar from weight-loss surgery.
Many centers perform over 95% of the weight loss surgical cases with minimally-invasive surgery or laparoscopy. This normally requires five or six small incisions on the abdomen.
I can't even see the small incisions from my surgery any more. I
have much larger scars from other surgeries.


12. Weight loss surgery is irreversible.
While most weight-loss surgeons and centers believe that it is best to think of the surgery as permanent, the truth is that surgery can be reversible. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, in particular, is reversible fairly easily. Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is reversible but requires a more significant operation in order to undo the bypass procedure.
It is helpful to think of it as irreversible, though.

13. Weight loss surgery has no real benefits except for looking better.
The truth is that weight loss surgery is primarily an intervention for improved health. While there are side benefits of improved self-esteem and cosmetic appearance, many of the health complications caused by being overweight can be dramatically improved or, in some cases, completely resolved by surgical weight loss procedures.
Two immediate benefits that I had from surgery was resolution of my
blood pressure and my sleep apnea. I was quickly headed to being a
diabetic and that resolved as well. And while I won't lie in that I feel I
do look better - there are parts of me that are SCARY from the extra
skin.


Kent Sasse, MD, MPH, FACS, is founder and medical director of both the
iMetabolic International Metabolic Institute and Western Bariatric Institute. He
is the author of Outpatient Weight-Loss Surgery: Safe and Successful Weight Loss
with Modern Bariatric Surgery. www.sasseguide.com.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Helping

My friend, Leah, has a fantastic way with words. She is a wonderful author. She recently put a great post on her blog about Helping and I had to put a link to it on here for others to see.

http://rondostreet.blogspot.com/2009/09/helping-101.html

She has hit the nail right on the head.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Extra! Extra!

Lots and lots of extra droopy skin.

Yeah - I know - I sound really ungrateful for losing 105 pounds. But seriously - the extra and droopy skin is actually becoming problematic. I won't go into the TMI of it all - just know - it can be disheartening.

That's all I got today.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

10th Level of Hell

OK - so I thought I was miserable when I posted this just 2 days ago. After the past 24 hours - I have discovered I had no idea what miserable was.

It started with one of my twin girls saying that her stomach hurt. A little while later she started throwing up. About 3 hours later her twin joined her. About 3 hours after that my son joined in. About 3 hours after that my husband and I also joined the bathroom brigade. At one point I actually had Megan throwing up on Caleb as he was throwing up in a bucket while Marissa was in the shower (I was cleaning her up from throwing up on herself) and she began having an 'accident' in the shower. Oh yes this lovely bug moved from shoving things out one end to shoving them out the other - all uncontrollably and projectile in fashion. So I threw all 3 kids in the shower at once and I ran to the other bathroom because I was having my own "issues". While in there taking care of myself my husband was banging on the door "LET ME IN!" That is how my day went yesterday. All of this on top of already thinking I was miserable. Throwing up really enhances vertigo by about ten times.

And having had gastric bypass urgery - stomach bugs are a whole different experience. I throw up a lot these days if I irritate or annoy Kanga. If you fill her too full - she just sends it right back at ya. Bing bang boom - you're done. Pretty fast and painless. Writhing and systematic wretching - not good - not good at all. Food passes out of Kanga pretty quickly - so there isn't any contents just sitting around waiting for a party. You need to be concerned about keeping that to a minimum as it can induce an internal hernia up by the diaphram.

So today we all seem to have broken our fevers - still quite weak and shaky. We are just trying to slowly re-enter the land of the living.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Listening and Seeing

I've been noodling this post for quite some time - even before I was diagnosed with the cholesteatoma and new that I was having those problems. But I'm always amazed at how the Lord can tie all the things in my life together in ways I would never imagine to point out my dependence on Him.

I found this great little book at Lifeway books last month. I was in there looking for a gift for a friend and I ran across this book. I was in the midst of studying for my PMP so I promised it to myeslf as a little treat once I got through that exam. It was actually two books in one by the author Terri Blackstock. I've read a lot of her books and I love them all. The book is called "Miracles" and it is actually the complilation of two small books - "The Listener" and "The Gifted".

"The Listener" is about a man who wakes up one night after an odd dream that depicted the parable of the coin with an exceptional ability to hear people's deepest spiritual needs. He could look at someone and hear what their soul was crying out for. It may not even be something that they consciously knew they needed - but when it was spoken back to them it was like a healing balm. At first he saw this new ability as a curse - he didn't want this responsibility. But his good friend and pastor showed him how to use the information to minister to people. In doing so, he helped to spread a little fire among his wife and his close friends to reach out to those who were hurting (and who of us isn't) and to give them a hope that they may not have known even existed. He was the only one with the supernatural ability, but everyone seemed to catch on with his enthusiasm to help and soon they were all taking that extra step to speak to someone in an effort to show them that someone cared and wanted to help. Not just others here on earth, but also a Heavenly Father who loves them deeply and will never leave them. He kept the supernatural ability for 2 weeks and then just as suddenly as it came - it left. He was devastated and struggled with how could he continue to do God's work if God took the ability away from him. But his friends who never had the ability (and most who didn't even know he had a special ability in the first place) showed him that they had all just stepped out of their comfort zone in an effort to answer a call that was too important to ignore. People's souls and deepest needs were at stake and they owed it to their Lord to get out of their own comfort zone in order to reach those who needed it most.

"The Gifted" starts out with a small group having a bible study in their office after work one evening. During their Bible Study there was a horrific earthquake and they found themselves trapped in the rubble of their building. One man's legs were crushed and he was unable to move them. Another man's lungs were seared with smoke from a fire. And one woman's eyes were blinded from flying shrapnel during the cave in. They were rescued from their building and found themselves in the hospital with all the other people who were injured by the devestating earthquake. None of their injuries were so urgent that they warranted immediate surgery as the doctors were having to triage the immense amount of injuries coming in from the earthquake. When each of them woke up in the morning they found themselves completely healed. But not only healed - supernaturally healed. The one with his legs crushed found himself running to people he didn't know - for reasons he didn't know. The one with his lungs seared was normally a very quiet and shy person woke up with this need to tell anyone and everyone about what the scriptures had to say about their worth to the Lord. The woman who's sight had been taken found that when she looked at certain people in the eye she would get a vision into their past that told her what they were struggling with.

When the three of them re-unite shortly after being released from the hospital they find that when they combine their gifts they are able to reach so many people. The one with the legs that won't stop and he doesn't know why can lead them to people. The woman with the visions can tell them what she sees, and the man who can't stop talking then knows what to talk to them about and how to frame his discussion - what Scriptures to use, etc... They are a dream evangelism team.

But much like "The Listener", they suddenly loose the gifts that they were given and wonder what will happen to their ministry without their gifts.

So these stories really spoke to me. Wow! To be able to SEE or to HEAR what people's greatest spiritual needs are - to be able to say the right thing at the right time. To be able to show the love of God for His people in such a meaningful way! But the question that is really begged in this book is - why don't we do it anyway? Do we really need a supernatural gift to reach out to the people that need him most? Do we need to know someone's deepest spiritual need in order to meet it? Because the bottom line is that each person's deepsest spiritual need can only be met by God anyway. His love covers all - no matter what the issue - His love for you is enough. It is His people here on earth who are tasked with conveying that message. And let's face it - we suck at it! I know I do.

And so it got me to thinking that I need to Listen better. I need to stop being so judgemental about various people I know or even meet in my day to day interactions. I don't know what they're going through that may make them act that way. But the fact is ... I do know what God can do for them - what Jesus HAS done for them. And I believe that I am His hands and feet - here to speak of that love in a way that only I can. So I need to just get over myself - because it's not about me - and be a better vessel for The Saviour. It often sounds trite, but I don't want people to see Pam when they look at me - I want them to see Jesus.

So how does this tie in to what I'm going through myself? Be a better Listener - as I am being forced to recognize the risk that I have of losing my hearing in my left ear all together. Really, God? Ironic much? So I see it - not so much about my physical act of hearing as it is my spiritual act of worship in everything I do - leaving myself so open to the Lord that "hearing" someone's spiritual needs becomes second nature because I'm listening with His ears - not my own. OK - that makes me all verklempt.

And people looking at me and not seeing Pam - but my Lord. More and more people don't recognize me when they see me. It literally happened to me 4 times today. It's OK if they don't see the old Pam - but they really need to see Jesus - and what am I doing to ensure that they do?

And what about the times that we as Christians DO hear and see a person's deepest physical and spiritual needs and DO NOTHING? I know that I myself have been guilty of this. It breaks my heart that I would waste an opportunity to show love in the way that I have experienced it myself. And I have to admit that this point has been sticking in my craw an awful lot lately because I have experienced this in my own family - specifically in the past year at times that were excruciatingly crucial times for not only physical but spiritual needs to be met. I know that people in my own church were aware of specific physical and spiritual needs of people in their own church and no one called, no one stopped by, no one made an effort of any kind to reach out to one in their own flock who so desperately needed it. Why do we expect anyone outside of the church to have any kind of respect for us and what we have to say when we can't even effectively minister to our own. Why would they let us minister to them? We can't even minister to those within our own congregations that we may not understand or be comfortable with their spiritual need. Wake up! We don't have to have to have all of the answers - we have the only one they need - one and only one. Wake up! Just because you're "born again" doesn't mean you won't have spiritual struggles! If anything - those struggles suddenly become more pronounced. I know it can be uncomfortable. I know it isn't easy, but the cost of doing nothing is too high. It has to stop.

OK - so that is my soapbox for the day. It feels cathartic to get it out. Thanks for sticking with me on that one. I hope I didn't sound too preachy. If I did - maybe it was needed?

Miserable

Yeah - that's all I got. I'm miserable. Surgery is scheduled for September 28. So I have a little more than a week left. The vertigo has become more frequent and random and the pain will not go away. I am quite simply - miserable. And I hate feeling like I have to depend on others. Having my parents living here is a tremendous blessing for me right now, don't get me wrong. I love that my mom is here and I lean on her ... a lot. :) But it also grates me to have to ask for help - to ask for rides here there and everywhere because I really shouldn't be driving anywhere. It's gotten to the point that even riding in the car makes me ill. Which brings me to a big decision I am struggling with right now - whether or not to start short term disability now and not wait to just take time off once the surgery has taken place for recovery. But it's really getting to the point that work is just plain difficult to get through right now.

So there's my whine for the day. A little cheese and crackers might top it off quite nicely. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Circumstances Beyond My Control

So no sooner do I say "barring circumstances beyond my control I will be running a half marathong in November" ... I get circumstances beyond my control!

I haven't blogged very consistently the past few weeks. I have been suffering from awful headaches - migraines that won't die - pain on the left side of my head that won't go away - dizziness that is becoming more consistent and increasingly frequent severe vertigo attacks. I had been to my Primary Care Physician, the ER, the neurologist, and my ENT. I thought that I was just stressed out from the PMP Exam prep and that if I could just get past the PMP Exam and stop thinking about the exam and get some rest I would come out just fine on the other side.
But after the exam the pain and the headaches were not leaving and I found myself increasingly dizzy. We tried the "usual" treatments that have always worked for my migraines in the past, but I started having a nagging feeling that something else was causing the pain on the left side of my head.

Left side of my head ....... yeah - so there is so much going on with me on that side of my head. I have had 5 surgeries on my left ear. Yes, 5. I have always had some hearing loss in my left ear. The summer before my senior year in high school I went on a mission trip with my best friend. We spent much of that time arguing. I was saying "What?" a lot and it was a bit frustrating for my friend. I remember at one point she looked at me and said "You're not listening to me. If you were listening to me you wouldn't be asking 'What?'" In her defense - who thinks a 17 year old has a hearing problem? When I got back from the mission trip I talked to my mom about how frustrating it was that I was finding that I couldn't understand what people were saying. She said "Well, remember you've always had trouble with your left ear - we'll make an appointment to get it checked out." So after several doctors appointments and seeing an ENT it was decided that they would do some exploratory surgery on my left ear. My ear canal was very small - like my body grew, but my ear canal never did. They weren't sure what they would find when they opened up my ear canal and were able to see past the ear drum. They actually did a skin graft from my left arm and used that skin to open up my ear canal. They said that when they went in my ear drum was thickened - like it had cartilege on the back side and they wanted to do another surgery to explore my middle ear after my ear canal was healed. I had my first surgery in April of my senior year and the second surgery in July before heading to college. The second surgery was pretty much exploratory. They decided to leave the bones in my middle ear alone at that time, but warned me that I may need to have prosthesis bones put in later in life. The work that they had done on my ear canal improved my hearing tremendously.

After my children were born I found that my hearing was getting progressively worse again. Now I lived in Michigan. I found an ENT there and he decided that it was time to try to put prosthesis bones in my middle ear as they had deteriorated to the point of not being able to provide enough conductivity for adequate hearing. So I had surgery to put prosthesis bones in my middle ear.

After that surgery and I had the packing removed I was so excited! I could hear so well! Almost too well! I could hear the blood pulsing through my head I could hear so well. It was almost overwhelming and took a lot of getting used to. About 2 months after that surgery I came down with bronchitis. During a coughing fit I suddenly lost my hearing. I went to the ENT and he discovered that the prosthesis bones were protruding through my ear drum. We thought it was just an unfortunate incident related to the bronchitis, so we decided to try again a few months later. But again, a couple of months after that surgery the prosthesis bones worked their way out through my ear drum. Apparently my body was having no part of these prosthesis bones. I was fitted for a hearing aid and I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to wear a hearing aid at the ripe old age of 29.

The hearing aid was wonderful when I first started wearing it. Surround sound! Who knew? But I would wear the hearing aid and then I would get an ear infection and not be able to wear it. It would take a couple of weeks to clear up and then I could wear the hearing aid, but only for a few weeks before I would et yet another ear infection.

During that time I moved to North Carolina and I found a new ENT. Dr. Mann. I was having another ear infection and was very frustrated that I was not getting full use of my hearing aid. During my first appointment with Dr. Mann he said "Well, we can't keep going down the road of trying to restore your hearing in the ways you have tried before - that obviously isn't going to work. But I would like to challenge you to think 'outside the box' regarding getting your hearing back to an acceptable level." OK - cool - I can do that - I can think outside the box. He proceeded to tell me about the BAHA (Bone Anchored Hearing Aid). It starts with putting a small titanium implant in the bone behind the ear. The titanium fuses with the bone via oseointegration. That implant then transfers sound vibrations to the functioning cochlea. So yeah - you read that right - they put a screw in your head. A sound processor then "snaps" on to the implant to process the sound and transfer it to the titanium implant. All I could hear was "screw in your head". Yeah, doc, I don't know what box you were in - but I'm not thinking outside that box - sorry. But he encouraged me to think about it and to consider it. I came back about a month later for a follow up visit and he asked me if I had thought any more about the BAHA. Nope - I haven't thought about it at all because you're nuts if you think I'm putting a screw in my head. But he pushed the issue further and told me that I could actually try the BAHA without having it "installed" via a headband that I could wear. He would even allow me to take it home for a week so that I could try it in different settings, etc... OK - fine - I will try it. He had me meet with the audiologist who explained everything to me and fitted the headband for me and sent me on my merry way. It was about a 20 minute drive home and by the time I pulled into my driveway I said "It looks like I'm getting a screw in my head!" It was amazing! I could hear again! The advantages to bypassing my ear canal and middle ear with the BAHA were very compelling and I decided to go ahead with having the BAHA installed. That surgery was December 23, 2004. I love my BAHA! And you would never know I have one unless I show it to you - and I show everyone! :) Since having the BAHA installed my ear infections have gone drastically down and I can once again hear my children. It's fantastic.








So that leads us to my thought regarding pain in the left side of my head ... hhhhhmmmmm ... I wonder ... I haven't been to the ENT in 3 years - maybe I should get my ear checked out. My appointment with the ENT was the day after my visit to the ER for some headache "snake juice" to knock my headache out. While in the ER the doc looked in my crazy left ear (no one ever looks in there and says 'Yup - that looks normal.' because it so is the farthest thing from normal in there) and declared my ear fine.

I went the NEXT DAY to the ENT and the Physician's Assistant declared that I had a raging infection - that there is no way anyone could look in there and declare that OK. I had blood and puss in the ear canal and she needed to clear that up in order to see further to what was going on in my ear. She used a small vacuum to try to clean it out which sent my dizziness into full force. She put me on Ciprodex drops to clear up the infection and renewed my prescription for Meclazine to help with the dizziness.

Over this past weekend I started the Ciprodex drops, but whenever I would put the drops in I would have a severe Vertigo attack. It was awful. So on Monday I called the ENT back and explained the situation. He asked me to come back in today so that he could see what he could see.

Today when I went back I was able to see what he saw - he used a microscope that had a camera in it that projected on a TV that I could see. I geek out over that stuff. There was most obviously something in there that shouldn't be. And when he touched it to try to get it out the vertigo was set off again. Dr. Mann said it was a cholesteatoma.
What is a cholesteatoma? A perforation of the ear drum will generally heal without surgery. In some cases, however, instead of normally healing, the skin of the ear drum can grow through the hole into the middle ear. If infection is present, the skin will continue to grow into the middle ear and will become a tumor of the ear termed a cholesteatoma. Cholesteatomas are NOT a form of cancer. They are benign tumors. As they grow, they can look like an onion peel of white skin formed into a ball.

Cholesteatomas actively erode bone because they contain enzymes which are activated by moisture. In time, cholesteatomas will eventually erode the bone leading into the inner ear. This can cause nerve loss and deafness as well as severe imbalance and dizziness. The thin plate of bone that separates the roof of the ear from the brain can also be eroded by cholesteatomas. This exposes the covering of the brain. In extreme situations, it can lead to brain infection and other severe complications.
Cholesteatoma is a serious condition and, when diagnosed, requires prompt treatment. Medical treatment concentrates on drying the infection within the ear. Antibiotics, given both by mouth and drops in the ear, combined with weekly cleaning of the ear under the surgical microscope, can clear up the infection.

A (CAT) CT scan is obtained by the ear surgeon to determine how much the cholesteatoma has spread in the ear.

The bone behind the ear is called the mastoid bone. It connects to the middle ear. In a healthy ear, it is filled with air. In most cases of cholesteatoma, the mastoid bone is filled with irritated mucous membranes and cholesteatoma itself often grows into this bone. The CAT scan will guide the ear surgeon as to how far the cholesteatoma has grown and whether it has eroded into the inner ear or brain. The CAT scan will also indicate the degree to which bones of hearing have been eroded.

Some of the risks that Dr. Mann has highlighted to me that he will be very careful to monitor during surgery are risks to the nerve hearing that I do still have in my left ear. I have lost a siginificant amount of hearing in that ear, but it seems to be all conductive hearing or bone hearing. My nerve hearing is still in tact. Fortunatley, I do already have the BAHA and could rely on that should anything happen to my nerve, but it would be markedly reduced from what I currently enjoy.

Also, with any surgery that involves the middle and/or inner ear there is concern about several nerves that run through that area. One is a facial nerve that provides feeling and motion to that entire side of my face. Another nerve is one that provides taste to that side of my tongue. With all the surgeries I have had on my ear I already have some funkiness going on with the taste. Anything that goes in my left ear makes me taste metallic - I would hope that would not become permanent. He will employ facial nerve monitoring during surgery to lessen the risk of anything happening to the facial nerve, but it is something that he wanted to be sure to discuss with me. I have had this discussion around every ear surgery I have had. So I am used to hearing about this risk.

Dr. Mann believes that the cholesteatoma that we could see via the microscope in his office has grown into the middle ear and is either cramping the inner ear or the vestibular nerve. What we could see in the office was the part that had grown into the ear canal - he believes it is a bit bigger behind the ear drum.

So to circumstances beyond my control ... I don't think I'm going to be able to train quickly enough for the November 1 half marathon. I am very disappointed about this. I have been very frustrated that I haven't been able to run or workout like I would like to due to the pain, migraines, and dizziness. I am anxious to get back to working out more regularly. Heck - half the time I don't even drive myself places right now. And I hate being reliant on others for basic things like going to work.

My surgery is scheduled for Monday, September 28 - not even two weeks from now. I am relieved to have an answer to the pain that won't go away and the troubling dizziness. No one wants to have surgery, but if that is what will help get me back to normal - I am all for it.

I had to open my big mouth and just say "circumstances beyond my control" didn't I?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NO WAY!

So I know this is kinda stalker-ish, but I found my high school math teacher and track coach on the web site for the school he now teaches at in Michigan. My husband had suggested that I try to get a hold of him to let him know I was running. That would be of particular interest to someone who really had to motivate me to run even a half mile in high school.

So I found him and I sent him an email and let him know I was running and how much I was loving it seeing as how I never thought I would ever find myself saying that. I am up to running 5 to 6 miles during the week and on the weekends when I do my long runs I am up to about 8 miles. (I need to step that up if I have a prayer of finishing a half marathon in November!) I wanted to let him know that I could still hear and feel his encouragement from the past and wanted him to know how much it meant to me, etc...

He graciously wrote his former student-now stalker back and let me know that I was now running farther than him! Math-teachin-track-coach say what? Let me assure you that thought had NEVER crossed my mind!

So Mr. Verkaik - please know you have made my millenium! Whodathunkit? :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Having fun with my fatty clothes

So I'm not sure how we started playing around like this, but the kids and I were having a ton of fun with my fatty fat fat clothes tonight. The pictures are not the best quality because my kids were taking the pictures, but I think you will enjoy them just the same.

The first one is my daughter, Marissa and I in my jean jacket - buttoned up and everything.


Now with Megan.


That was plenty fun and then Caleb and I decided to take it a step further ... and get in my pants together!



The girls were not to be outdone and wanted their turn ...




Megan really enjoyed this.





But the piece de' resistance is this picture of all 3 kids in my pants and jacket together. I don't know whether to laugh or cry! But be assured I laughed my skinny little butt off! HEHEHEHEHE!




Whodathunkit?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I can't believe I'm going to say this ...

I am signing up for the City of Oaks Half Marathon.

There I said it. So now I have to do it. Barring circumstances beyond my control I am going to run a half marathon on November 1st.

Before the half marathon I have a couple of other races that I have signed up for. I am probably doing the North Hills 5K next weekend on September 12. I am walking with "Team Rukamp" at the Heart Walk on September 27. Then I have signed up to run in the Triangle Run/Walk for Autism on October 10. (By the way - if you are interested in donating to a fantastic cause you can make an online donatoin on my web page at http://trianglerunwalkforautism.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=307405&lis=0&kntae307405=CAECA424F0694E0B9E8149ACEF5694F9) Then I am going to be running the American Tobacco Trail 10 mile run on October 24 - just 1 week before the half marathon on November 1.

Yeah - that wore me out just writing it. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kanga 2, Pamelot 0

So 8 months after surgery I have discovered that I am still having to make sure I obey the rules of the pouch. Today was a stark reminder of just how much I need to obey the rules or my life will be miserable. I had lunch earlier today and there were two problems. One - I really wanted lunch. I was so ready for lunch. Two - it was super yummy and I wanted it all! So what did I do? I ate way too fast. And I didn't stop when I should have (after a couple of bites). So Kanga made sure to remind me who was in control. I was miserable until Kanga refunded the Roo. And keep in mind - this was after 3 bites of food. But I ate too fast, and I didn't chew chew chew chew before I swallowed. UGH!

And after a stressful day all I wanted was some chocolate. I had been craving it all day. I tried to satisfy the craving by getting an Odwalla chocolate bar. No - no - no. No. Have I mentioned, not so much? Yuck! I had to stop at WalMart on the way home and the York Peppermint Patty was calling my name from the checkout lane. So I gave in. And I totally regretted that decision. I totally dumped. I was struggling to make it home before I was taken over by the carb coma I was slipping into. There is nothing worse than feeling like you can't keep your eyes open while you are driving!

So I have to admit defeat to Kanga today. She has won 2 rounds to my 0.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pamela DeVries, PMP

Looks good doesn't it? :)

I did it! I passed the PMP exam this morning. It's been a crazy few weeks as I studied for this difficult test. I am glad to be done.

For those interested in taking this exam I can suggest a few things for you.

And now, as my instructor so eloquently said "I care, yet I am totally indifferent." I have those 3 letters behind my name and that is really all that matters! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Great Pics

I've been meaning to post these pictures for some time. I am currently taking a break from my frantic studying for my PMP exam which is in just 2 days.

A few weekends ago we went to a wedding of a dear friend. It was a beautiful day and my lovely neice took some fantabulous pictures of the family. She is a budding photographer. I think you will agree that for a 13 year old - she has quite the future ahead of her in photography.






This is us hanging before - waiting for the nuptuals to start.


My beautiful chitlins.

Me and my man.



The clan.

I love this pic.




All dramatic!



Me in my pretty new dress - a strapless!



I love this pic, too!



This was on the property where the wedding was - it was beautiful.



FUN!



And this was just us being silly.

Friday, August 28, 2009

America's Fat Hatred

There is a new article in Newsweek this week called "America's Fat Hatred". I found it very interesting and if you get the chance to read it - please do. In particular it addresses America's prejudice against fat people - it digs into the question "Why do American's hate fat people so much?" Here is an excerpt from the article:


Fatness has always been seen as a slight on the American character. Ours is a
nation that values hard work and discipline, and it's hard for us to accept that
weight could be not just a struggle of will, even when the bulk of the
research—and often our own personal experience—shows that the factors leading to
weight gain are much more than just simple gluttony. "There's this general
perception that weight can be controlled if you have enough willpower, that it's
just about calories in and calories out," says Dr. Glen Gaesser, professor of
exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and author of BigFat Lies: The
Truth About Your Weight and Your Health, and that perception leads the nonfat to
believe that the overweight are not just unhealthy, but weak and lazy. Even
though research suggests that there is a genetic propensity for obesity, and
even though some obese people are technically healthier than their skinnier
counterparts, the perception remains "[that] it's a failure to control
ourselves. It violates everything we have learned about self control from a very
young age," says Gaesser.

In a country that still prides itself on its Puritanical ideals, the fat self
is the "bad self," the epitome of greed, gluttony, and sloth. "There's a
widespread belief that fat is controllable," says Linda Bacon, author of Health
at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. "So then it's unlike a
disability where you can have compassion; now you can blame the individual and
attribute all kinds of mean qualities to them. Then consider the thinner people
that are always watching what they eat carefully—fat people are symbols of what
they can become if they weren't so virtuous."

But considering that the U.S. has already become a size XL nation—66 percent
of adults over 20 are considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers
for Disease Control—why does the stigma, and the anger, remain?

Call it a case of self-loathing. "A lot of people struggle themselves with
their weight, and the same people that tend to get very angry at themselves for
not being able to manage their weight are more likely to be biased against the
obese," says Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and
Obesity at Yale University. "I think that some of this is that anger is
confusion between the anger that we have at ourselves and projecting that out
onto other people." Her research indicates that younger women, who are under the
most pressure to be thin and who are also the most likely to be self-critical,
are the most likely to feel negatively toward fat people. .

As many women's magazines' cover lines note, losing the last five pounds can
be a challenge. So why don't we have more compassion for people struggling to
lose the first 50, 60, or 100? Some of it has to do with the psychological
phenomenon known as the fundamental attribution error, a basic belief that
whatever problems befall us personally are the result of difficult
circumstances, while the same problems in other people are the result of their
bad choices. Miss a goal at work? It's because the vendor was unreliable, and
because your manager isn't giving you enough support, and because the power
outage last week cut into premium sales time. That jerk next to you? He blew his
quota because he's a bad planner, and because he spent too much time taking
personal calls.

The same can be true of weight: "From working with so many people struggling
with their weight, I've seen it many times," says Andrew Geier, a postdoctoral
fellow in the psychology department at Yale University. "They believe they're
overweight due to a myriad of circumstances: as soon as my son goes to college,
I'll have time to cook healthier meals; when my husband's shifts change at work,
I can get to the gym sooner.…" But other people? They're overweight because they
don't have the discipline to do the hard work and take off the weight, and that
lack of discipline is an affront to our own hard work. (Never mind that weight
loss is incredibly difficult to attain: Geier notes that even the most rigorous
behavioral programs result in at most about a 12.5 percent decrease in weight,
which would take a 350-pound man to a slimmer, but not svelte, 306 pounds).

These words called out to me big time. Being overweight has always been a stigma about self control. I have had people say these exact words to me - and it led to the feelings that I have abotu myself that to this day - 100 pounds lighter - I still struggle to overcome. So does the fact that I have now lost 100 pounds mean I found my self control? Hardly! I don't believe it was a matter of self control or will power. I can do hard things - I believe that about myself - but essentially - I don't believe I can do them of my own will power. It is Christ who works within me and through me to accomplish His great works. And it sure wasn't my own self control and will power that made me lose this weight. Let's not be fooled people - I had major surgery to re-route my insides to FORCE me to loose this weight. That is the realization I came to - I needed a major intervention in my life to change A LOT of things about myself - not just my self control around eating. This journey has been about FAR MORE than just calories in and calories out for me. I have had to confront a lot about who I am and what I do and how I react to things. That is NOT FUN!

I had developed many coping mechanisms for my life that had to do with food. If I felt stressed - I ate. If I wanted to reward myself - I ate. If I was upset - I ate. If I was happy - I ate. If I just didn't want to feel what I was feeling anymore - I made it go away by eating. And if you wanted to get in my face about what I was eating or how much - oh just you wait - you ain't seen nothing yet - I would just do it more to prove I could. I did it out in the open - I did it in private when no one was looking.

I've been on the receiving end of hurtful comments about my size. From subtle comments like "You have such a pretty face", or "We only have booth's left and you probably don't want to squeeze into one of those - why don't you wait for a table to open up", to the not so subtle from family members about "How could you let yourself go like that?" I've even been laughed at - to my face - in public - about how fat I was. The whole sticks and stones thing? Crap, I tell you. Pure crap. It hurts and it hurts for a long time.

I have made the excuses about why I couldn't exercise - why I couldn't loose weight. Not all of them were invalid either. From my PCOS, to the various surgeries I had, to my "genes", to my hectic schedule with 3 small children, to my hectic schedule at work, to having all the other responsibilities that life throws my way - be just that - in the way.

And I have swung to the opposite end of the spectrum - feeling like I had found the promised land! I have found the answer my obese peeps! You can loose weight too! I found myself wanting to run up to anyone I saw who I thought could benefit from the surgery and shake them going "Wake up! You can do it! If I can do it - you can do it! Follow me! I know the way!" I didn't feel an anger, but I identify strongly with what was said in the article about how people who struggle with their own weight are more likely to be mad at others about their weight. I went through a stage where I did feel judgemental of others and it bothered me because I have been on the other side of that coin.

All that is to say that I know that it takes time to confront your own demons. You have to be in a place where you can be prepared - mentally, emotionally, physically, to do the battle that needs to be done to win this war. I am no where near winning this war. I am still in the midst of the battle to be sure. It is still a constant struggle for me. I am far enough out from surgery that I can eat more normally than I could right after surgery - and it is now where the rubber meets the road - this is where I have to be sure to make the right decisions. I have to be sure to use this "window of opportunity" that surgery has given me to make the hard changes for my life. I don't get it right every time - the surgery is the tool that helps me make the right decisions right now.

But let's get back to the point of the Newsweek article. What do you think? Do you have a prejudice against fat people? Do you think that you have problems with other people's issues because you struggle with that issue yourself? Such as impatience, laziness, self control, foul language, etc... Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

100 Pounds Down!

I finally hit the monumentous goal of losing 100 pounds! I belong to the century club! It's just a little surreal to me.

I was saving a pair of pants that I was barely squeezing into before surgery so that I could see the difference. I was waiting until this very milestone to see what they would look like.



I can fit into one leg of these pants! How crazy is that?




You've heard it here people - I am never going back.

Going Crazy

I am almost done with my Boot Camp class for the PMP Exam Prep. I have one more day of class left. Last week I went ahead and scheduled the exam for Friday, September 4. I thought that was pretty aggressive - only leaving me 2 weekends to really study. Well, today I got a bug in my bonnet and I moved the exam UP to next Tuesday - September 1. I figured after this weekend I really didn't need anymore time - no need to wait all week to take the test - just get it done and be done with it! I am so tired of this and want to be done with all the stress surrounding this exam.

Well, while I was rescheduling I noticed that there is an opening on Saturday. Now I am wondering if I shouldn't just take Thursday and Friday off from work - study study study study and take the exam on Saturday. I so seriously want to be done with this thing.

What do you think?

Monday, August 24, 2009

1st grade chairs


On Monday mornings I go into my daughters' classroom and count the lunch money. When my son was in first grade 3 years ago I did this as well. The only chairs in the 1st grade room are for 1st graders. The teacher is a little stick of a thing and apparently doesn't need a regular chair. When my son was in first grade - I would stand by a cabinet and count the money. I always felt like I would either fall on my ass getting into the chair, or have my ass hanging off the chair, or if I managed to get in the chair without falling I would have to worry about it collapsing beneath me. Today I went in and I sat in the little 1st grade chair and I fit! I didn't fall - I sat in it without any fat ass hanging off the side. I even crossed my legs underneath the little 1st grade table! I love the unexpected WOW moments in life!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspire!

Another thing that I have heard a bit of lately is "You are such an inspiration!" Again - the compliments sometimes make me uncomfortable and I am working at taking them more graciously and in stride. So I got to thinking about that word - INSPIRE. This is what the dictionary says it means?

  1. to affect, guide, or arounse by divine influence
  2. to fill with enlivening or exalting emotion
  3. to stimulate to action; motivate
  4. to draw forth; elicit or arouse
  5. To be the cause or source of; bring about
  6. To breathe life into
  7. to stimulate energies, ideals, or reverence

And so in thinking about this word and about all that has happened in my life this past year - I started thinking about those who inspire me. I found this quote below and it summed up a lot of my thoughts perfectly:

There are so many people in my life who inspire me. It feels great to be told that you are an inspiration - so I wanted to spread the love. Here is a list of people who inspire me!

  • Daren - you have had an exceptionally rough year and you continually show me your committment to me and to your family by doing whatever needs to be done - even if it is hard or painful. You have gone above and beyond.
  • My parents - collectively and individually. They have truly taught me by example that I can do hard things.
  • My kids - their amazement and wonder at the world around them allows me to see things through the eyes of a child - all new and sparkly. :)
  • My sister - again with I can do hard things - seems to be a theme in our family. :)
  • Shari - you have been through a lot on this WLS journey - you are a wealth of wisdom and information. You pass it on like no one else can.
  • Nikki M. - for teaching me to rock what I got and love my body - extra skin and all - after all - it's the only one I got!
  • Pam T. - working your way up to a 10 mile race! Your blog and seasoned advice are always timely and accurate.
  • Krystal - yes, you are a GREAT mom!
  • April - you can make anything fun!
  • Rachel - for doin' it "the hard way" - pushing through and keeping the end in sight.
  • Jen M. - for cheering me on in my running - pushing me to further distances - encouraging me up those hills!
  • Rebecca - following your dream and going back to school - and for being my "walk the walk" friend.
  • Amy S. - your thoughtfulness and insightfulness are great!
  • Marsha - what would I do if I didn't have you for a neighbor?
  • Dani - your first race! Don't worry - those haters don't read my blog. :)
  • Becky - you are a good friend who sticks closer than a "sister" - even during the hard times.
  • Liz - I love your "homesteading"
  • Linda H. - you are so good at what you do
  • Aunt Maggie and Audrey - taking the road less traveled - but if you can do it - I can do it!


  • Tonya N. - your passion for a cause that is not only so important but near and dear to your heart is totally inspiring.
  • Amy J. - you just totally make me laugh with your stories about your dog!
  • Dana S. - going back to school and becoming a lawyer - you rock!
  • Tracy E. - IRON GIRL!
  • Kelsey - leaving yourself open to God's plan for your life.
  • Aunt Stacy - showing me that living with a difficult man can be done. :)
  • Debbie H. - going back to school while working full time.
  • Marcy - living a life of service in a foreign country.
  • Kellie F. - being so great at what you do and your love for the kids in your class.
  • Terry and Gynell - being right where God has called you.
  • Laura E. - pursuing your dream and going back to school.
  • Leah G. - you inspire me with your blog - not to mention your friendship. :)
  • RickPete - your introspection into the changes happening in your life are thoughtful and provoking.



So thank you to all who inspire me in so many different ways. You have all stimulated me to action in ways I couldn't even imagine. Thank you for allowing me to bask in the glow of your inspiration. :)


Friday, August 21, 2009

How cool is this?

There is a website that I frequent quite often and that I have had a link to on my site for quite some time. If you go down this blog, on the right hand side you will see a small TV where you can watch the latest episode on the WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) Channel. It's got tons of great information, the latest news on the various surgeries, etc...

There is a segment in these episodes by Yvonne McCarthy (a well known advocate in the WLS environment) called WLS Journeys. She always likes to feature a website for people to check out and visit. In this week's episode - she is featuring mine!!!!!! How cool is that?

You can either watch the episode through the little TV lower on my page, or by following this link:

http://www.weightlosssurgerychannel.com/breaking-wls-news/weight-loss-surgery-news-august-21-2009.html/#more-5457

The segment is about half way through the episode!

Let me know what you think!