Tuesday, June 14, 2011

1 Year Cancer Free

So 1 year ago we bid Elvira adieu. I guess you can say that I am now 1 year cancer free.  For some reason I am much more emotional about that now than I was a year ago.  I'm not sure if it was because when I was actually in the midst of dealing  with all of this a year ago I was just in pure survival mode or what.  I didn't really have time to be emotional about having cancer when I was faced with it a year ago.  It was so surreal - all the words that were floating around.  Kidney ... tumor ... bone scan ... cancer ... stages ... survival.  I just needed to survive.  And I did.  And now ... on the other side ... I can look back ... and appreciate just what that means.  I had kidney cancer.  And now I don't.  And it kind of freaks me out sometimes.  And I am blessed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What a difference a year can make

So today is my birthday.  Yes, Yes.  I am celebrating the 9th anniversary of my 29th birthday.  :) 

Someone asked me today if I had any big plans for the day.  All I could think was ... it's so nice not to have big plans for today.

Last year at this time I had just found out that doctors had found a rather large tumor on my right kidney.  And better yet - quite by accident.  They had not even been looking in that area - it just happened to show up on an abdominal CT scan that was done looking for something else.  My birthday was spent making appointments.  Appointments with the urologist, appointment at the hospital for pre-op testing, bone scans, upper endoscopy to make sure we weren't missing anything else. My birthday was spent educating myself on kidney cancer and the effects on the body of having only one kidney instead of two.

My beautiful RAMP girls took me out to dinner and I'm afraid that I wasn't the best company that night as I felt like I was kinda just floating along and not really participating.

So do I have much planned today?  Nope.  Isn't it great?  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

All sorts of conflicted

This is hard.  And, frankly, I don't like it!

I will be honest with you - I'm avoiding school like the plague.  There are some people I just can't face right now.  I love y'all like a fat kid loves some cake, and I just can't face the fact that I am not going to be entrusting my kids to your care on a daily basis.  I know it's not like I'll never see you anymore.  I also know it's not like you people won't still be praying for and caring for my children even now more than ever.  Most of you haven't been my kids teachers in years (Terry and Gynell!!!! Bless your heart!!!), but as the end of the school year draws near I find myself all weepy just driving my kids to school.  And my girls' teachers are being so wonderful - giving them beautiful and meaningful gifts to remember their time at Wake Christian by.  The girls love it and love telling me about it, and I go in my room and boo hoo.  Not to mention I sit down in church right behind the teacher that they most likely would have had next year in 3rd grade (and who has always been my son's favorite teacher) and I can't make it through the service without bawling.

And yet I am feeling sure of what I'm doing.  God is showing me that I'm doing the right thing.  He never promised me it would be easy - though that would have been a nice side effect.  We took the girls over to their new school today to take a tour so they would feel more comfortable and have a better understanding of what to expect over there.  The guidance counselor was showing us around and we ran into the current second grade class that they would be in as they were cleaning up after lunch.  So she introduced the girls to them and said that they would be in their class next year in third grade.  The kids started to clap for them!!!!!  The girls felt like rock stars! It was so neat.

So, yeah, I'm conflicted.  I hate the leaving part.  I'm tired of crying over it - especially with this dang headache.  And yet I'm also excited about the cool things that are also happening and how God is taking care of all the details and how the kids are excited about this new adventure.  I was so worried that they would not be.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Change is in the air

So my husband and I grew up going to a small private Christian school our whole lives.  I even took it a step further and went to a small Christian college.  And when I say small ... my graduating class was 22 kids. 

Going to a Christian school is all I have ever known.  It's all my husband has ever known.

And, up until now ... it's all my children have ever known.

And while I love and appreciate all that a Christian education has to offer me and my children, there are also limitations that are inherent to small private schools.  Namely they they just don't have many of the resources that are available in the larger public schools.  And so I have always said - even before I had children - that while I really want a Christian education for my children, if I feel that they need resources that they just can't get at a smaller school I won't hesitate to get them those resources because I don't want them to struggle.

Well, darn it all if God isn't calling me on it!  We knew that it was likely that one or more of our children would struggle with learning issues.  And both of our girls have really struggled since entering school in Kindergarten.  Wake Christian has gone above and beyond in their attempts to make things work for them.  Hear my heart - I love that school.  I love those teachers.  LOVE THEM!  It absolutely breaks my heart to be leaving.  I have to follow my heart and what I feel God is leading me to do for my children. We have spent a lot of time in prayer over this very difficult decision.

We thought that our son, Caleb was old enough to participate in the decision of whether he wanted to stay at Wake Christian - the only school he's ever known - or if he wanted to leave and go to a public school as well.  He is entering middle school (Lord help me).  I was completely surprised by his reaction.  He asked very mature and intelligent questions about the public school and about his choices.  In the end - he decided to go to the public school and we felt his decision was a wise one.

And as I sit here and think about the changes that are coming I am starting to feel ill prepared.  I have NO IDEA what they are about to face - none. I mean I could go on about the differences between Christian and public schools when my daughters started to say "you mean there won't be any Bible stories there?  They don't pray before lunch?"  That's kind of just the tip of the iceberg people.  I never went through a lunch line in a cafeteria. My kids are entering a year round schedule where they are essentially  in class for 9 weeks and then "track out" for 3 weeks. One of my daughters will be getting specialized help with her education in the form of IEP.  All 3 of them will be riding a bus to school.  My mom was a bus driver when I was young - and I rode on her bus, but I never got on a bus and rode to school.  My girls will be on a different campus from my son.  I was always at a school that was a K-12 campus.

Don't get me wrong - I feel confident that I am doing the right thing for my children.  I just get sudden attacks of panic when I think of all the things that I can't anticipate or help prepare my children for.  And I know that experience is not a unique one.  I know I'm not the only parent that worries about sending her children out into the world.  :)  And so I will pray over my children and entrust them to my Lord.  This is a new and exciting adventure for all of us.

I have already enrolled them in their new schools and met with their principals and guidance counselors in their new schools and have been very encouraged at how eager they were to welcome us, to work with us on the transition.  They were knowledgeable on the challenges that my children would face in making this transition and were anxious to work with us to face those challenges in way that seem to make a lot of sense.  In the end, we are looking forward to the new school year - which actually starts July 11 because it is a year round calendar.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


So a lot of you know I had a countdown going on.  The countdown was for a vacation that I had coming up. My mom has worked for a company called At Home America for 20 years.  She is a rock star.  She wins the incentive trip every year.  This past year she won enough to bring me, my sister, and our husbands with her.  It was a great fun trip as it was also a chance for us to celebrate our husband's 40th birthdays.  In fact, my husband turned 40 while we were gone.

Just where did we go?  Moon Palace resort in Cancun, Mexico.

And did we have fun.  It was our first vacation without children ... ever.  And we thoroughly enjoyed just not having to be on a schedule the most.

But the funnest thing we did was that my husband decided to celebrate turning 40 by going parasailing!  He had always sworn he would never go parasailing because he is scared of heights.  I didn't even have to like persuade him or anything - he just decided he needed to do this to mark it off his bucket list and feel young again.  It was amazing.

It was especially fun being on vacation with a ton of people you knew.  Everywhere you went there were people we knew which was really fun.

I can't thank my mom enough for everything.  We needed this break so much.  Daren let loose like he has NEVER let loose before (please no comments mom - you did so good - you were such a good mother-in-law).  And let's just say that for the most part what happens in Cancun stays in Cancun.  Wink, wink!


I have grown up struggling with migraines.  I got my first one in sixth grade.  Good Lord I can remember it now.  I digress.

They got much better after I had my hysterectomy (along with my gastric bypass - the best thing I ever did). But I occassionally get one that digs in and hangs on.  When that has happened my neurologist has decided to do a course of Topamax as a preventive  medication for the headaches.  I did this about 4 years ago for about 6 months.  It worked well - got the headaches under control - I went off the medication when the headaches got manageable and it was good for a long time.  Well I have a headache that won't let go now - it's been here for over a month.  I think it's stress related (more on that later), but it will not die.  So back on Topamax we go.

Ramping up on Topamax SUCKS big time.  Topamax is an anti-seizure medication and has some rather loverly side effects.  It makes my fingers, toes, and even my nose tingle randomly.  And darn it all if it does not make me STUPID.  But in the past it has made my headaches go away.  So I am suffering through the side effects to get to the point where the headaches go away.  The thing that is different this time around is that I have had gastric bypass.  So I have 2 things that are different - one I weigh less - so one would think it would take less of the drug to do the same work. BUT I also have the malabsorption issues to deal with because of the gastric bypass so it may actually take more of the drug to do the work than it did before.  Bottom line - it may take some trial and error to find the right dose to do the job.

Hello? Is this thing on?

Excuse me while I clear some cobwebs around here ....

Tap tap tap.  Is this thing on? 

Just making sure ...

Cause you know ...  I go through spurts.  I know - I have been absent for a bit.  But get ready - I'm about to go off in this piece!

Cause you know ... it's all about Pam.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Yeah - I know.  It's been over a month since I have blogged.

So to be honest - I've been struggling.  But I've said that before on here.  But I think especially since my 2 year surgiversary I've been trying to find my "normal".  I can eat so much more than I could before not to mention being able to eat things I just could before. I can tolerate much more sugar than I used to be able to.  And so I am finding my fine line between what I CAN eat and what I SHOULD eat.  I've never been very good at that - it's kind of what got me 120 pounds overweight in the first place.

And so to be honest - I put on a few pounds (and NO - I'm not going to tell you how many).  Enough to wake me up let's say.  I knew what got me there - but I wasn't so happy about it. So I decided to get back to basics.  Protein first - putting protein shakes back into my regular diet - drinking more water - more veggies - you get the idea.  And right now I'm feeling much more in control and better about where I'm headed (according to the scale - a relationship I hate but rely on).  Of course, tomorrow I may feel differently.  :)

I rely heavily on some veterans in this WLS community.  Those who have gone before me and who are walking the walk and talking the talk.  Part of that walk and talk are those who openly admit to making some questionable food choices.  Because fact is - this is a TOOL - not a magic bandaid for obesity.  You will get to the point where you can eat more and eat more "normally".  The question is whether you should.  But I believe it's also a matter of living with those occassional bad choices.  How do  you live with them?  Do you let it become a path to more and more bad decisions?  Or do you get up, brush yourself off, and get on with it?  Do you beat yourself up?  Do you constrict yourself so much that you NEVER get to enjoy certain things in life again?  Or do you make room in your life to enjoy the occasional cupcake?  (or at least a couple of bites of one ... with frosting!)  I know that it can be a hard hard thing to figure out.  Especially for those of you reading this who are very new to WLS - those who are "newbies" just a little bit out from surgery.  It's hard to understand - I get it.  And as a side note - I think that part of why I wasn't blogging was because I felt as though I shouldn't be someone that others are looking to for advice or to see how to live post WLS.

But a recent discussion about all of this got me to thinking - particularly about acceptance.  Acceptance of this new life I have - that the strict rules around the surgery aren't so strict anymore - about the fact that I need to be more mindful about my relationship with food.  Sometimes I just hate that about myself.  I don't want to be more mindful - I don't want to think about it.  But it is part of my make up part of who I am.

And I liken it to the different stages of acceptance.  I know - not quite the same as the grief process, etc... but this is Pamelot and I can do what I want with it.  :)

The first stage is Denial.  I like to think I was here long before surgery.  I don't have a problem - I'm fine - y'all have a problem and that's not my problem.  I don't need help - I can do this on my own.  Y'all can bite me.

The second stage is Anger or asking 'Why me?'  I like to think this was me right after surgery.  Those times when I was on clear lilquids - scared to death to eat anything - and yet sitting on the floor at night in the dark in front of my refrigerator ... so angry!  Angry that I can't come to the refrigerator to soothe myself - angry that I got to the point where I had to have surgery in the first place - angry that I can't just eat!

The third stage is Bargaining or 'But what if I...?'  I think this was me about a year ago.  I had lost most of my weight and was feeling great.  What if I eat this?  What if I don't eat this?

The fourth stage is Depression of "I don't care anymore" and I think I've been here since about Christmas or my 2 year surgiversary.  This sucks.  I am so tired of thinking about it all the dang time.

And the fifth stage is Acceptance.  OK - this is me - this is my life - what next?  I think I'm here right now.  How am I going to live now that I've lost 120 pounds and I can eat more normally than I could before?  Because it's true - there's nothing that tastes as good as being thin feels.  So what am I going to do about it?

Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you're going to do about it. ~ Kathleen Casey Thiesen

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Power of Positive Thinking

I've blogged about this before - the power of positive thinking.  But this morning as I was getting ready for work I heard a segment on a new study by the Cleveland Clinic that notes that "those who are generally optimistic about their health are more likely to follow treatment recommendations. "

This study was particular about Coronary Artery Disease, but it doesn't take much to see how this could apply to any health situation - particularly those of us trying to loose weight, and those of us who have lost it and are trying to keep it off.

There is still a great deal of people who view any type of weight loss surgery with disdain.  I used to be one of them.  I knew people who had gastric bypass surgery and who had gained the weight back.  I knew people who had awful complications as a result of the surgery.  And still today there are a bunch of people who in general poo-poo those of us who "did it the easy way".  That is a discussion for another time -  this is so not the easy way.

What I'm trying to get at is the power of the positive thinking.  If you go into this journey with pessimism - you may not get out of it what you want and/or need to get out of it.  If you go in doubting your own success - why should you be successful at all?  But if you go into this with a positive or optimistic attitude that you can do this - that you can succeed ... maybe you will be more successful than those that don't?  Not that we should go into this pooting rainbows and butterflies - we absolutely need to go into it with eyes WIDE open - this is a serious surgery with serious ramifications to your health and long term implications.  Absolutely.  BUT ... it can also be the tool that helps you live a longer and healthier and happier life ... if you want it to.

It would be so easy for me to succumb to the negativity that I have experienced with the rare complications that I have encountered over the past year.  To be depressed and to decide that because of these complications I should just give up.

But I can't.  I have to CHOOSE to be positive.  CHOOSE to take hold of what I believe is mine ... a new life without all the weight.  I CHOOSE to be healthier.  I CHOOSE to be a runner.  I CHOOSE to be the example to my children that I want.

What do you CHOOSE?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Half the battle

Half the battle with any exercise plan is just getting out the door.  Sometimes I feel it's about 90% of the battle.  This is a great article on Active.com about just that thing:


Just Do It!

New Inspiration

Yes, many mea culpa's for not being a better blogger.  As usual - I have many excuses - the chief of which is the flu that hit our house and took us all out for a few weeks.  I am still dealing with a lingering sinus infection from it.

I also have a new job.  I still work for Fidelity Investments, I just took a new position in a different part of the company.  It's a Project Manager position in the Institutional Technology Group.  I'm very excited to be focusing more on my Project Management skills and abilities and to be taking on new challenges.

And I have been struggling with the inspiration to get my running going again.  To be honest - I have been almost afraid to get going again because it seems as thought every time I do something happens that trips me up again.  I know in my head that the two aren't related, but they sure feel like it.

But I think I have found my new inspiration.  My daughter, Megan, has informed me that she wants to run a 5K with me.  There is a 5K that our school does as a fund raiser every year and she has told me that she really wants to run that race with me.  I ran it last year and did the fun run with her afterwards, but this year she says she wants to do the 5K and she wants us to cross the finish line together.

And isn't this why I had the surgery? Why I lost all the weight?  To change the legacy that I was leaving for my children?  Wow.  Kinda huge for me.  And definitely the best inspiration I have had in a long time.  I truly believe that just about anyone can do a 5K if they really want to.  So my 2nd grader is about to do her first!  We started our running training today.  It's GORGEOUS here in North Carolina today.  About 78 degrees and a beautiful Carolina sky.  We did a run/walk combo for about 1.5 miles.  We are looking forward to increasing our running endurance and mileage in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Who knew Lane Bryant would be a stronghold in my life?

I keep getting their emails and their catalogs in the mail.  I enjoy throwing them away.  But this last time I got this twinge that I should really just take my name off the mailing list.  It's a waste for them to send this to me. I have been a size 10 for a year now.  But part of me can't quite let go.  Part of me feels like I need to hold on ... just in case?  Like a safety net?  How silly - its just a catalog!  like I can't get back on that mailing list in a snap if I need to? 

I don't need to!  I am a size 10 - for real!  It's been a year.  I am not going back.  I refuse to go back!

But dang I love those clothes and that lingerie.

But I don't fit in it anymore!

AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!  Why is this so hard?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's all good ... kinda

So I had my 6 month check up with Dr. Jalkut.  But before the actual appointment I had bloodwork and an abdominal and pelvic CT.  Dr. Jalkut said (and I quote!) "You're perfect!"  My bloodwork showed that Liza (the name I have given to my remaining kidney - as you all know I name everything) is functioning very well all on her own now that Elvira is gone.  The CT showed NEOD - otherwise known as No Evidence Of Disease.  :)

I am a very fortunate girl to have caught the tumor when we did (just .10 cm short of stage 2 renal cell carcinoma).  To know that the cancer is gone and that I have essentially beaten this thing is a wonderful feeling.

The CT itself is not hard.  The prep before hand is NASTY.  You have to drink this stuff called Readi-Cat 2.  It's Barium Sulfate suspension liquid.  You get to choose between two lovely flavors - berry or mocha.  In other words crap and coffee flavored crap.  It used to be that you only had to drink one big jug of the stuff.  But recently they have changed that and now you have to drink two big jugs of the stuff.  You start 1.5 hours before the scheduled scan and you drink 1 jug in 10 minutes.  Then 30 minutes later you drink the 2nd jug in 10 minutes.  This is a feat in and of itself - to get the whole jug down in 10 minutes.  Then at the CT they do an IV with contrast in it while you are being scanned. 

While the Readi-Cat was nasty - I lived through it. But in the afternoon I started feeling nasty.  It quickly turned into excruciating abdominal pain.  The pain was severe and lasted about 4 hours.  Once I got through the pain I practically passed out into a coma for the next 11 hours.  I have talked with my doctor and I presented as though I was having an overdose reaction to the Readi-Cat.  Wondering if because of the gastric bypass (smaller pouchy tummy and not as much intestines for it to go through) if two bottles of the crap was too much.  I'm hoping to get some more definitive answer to that before I have to do the CT Scan again in 6 months because that was really not fun at all.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Funk Be Gone

OK - since my last post I've been doing my darndest to get out of this funk.  That has meant that I have run twice since that post.  Not fast and not long, but I'm running.  And it doesn't hurt - it feels like it used to - it feels good.  I'm trying to take it slow and get back into it at a decent pace instead of jumping in over my head and immediately trying to go too far.  I do have some races in my mind, but I don't dare say out loud what they are.

And I pulled out my tape measure to compare my measurements from last year.  I have lost an inch or two in several places - waist - rib cage - bust - hips - thighs.  So while my weight seems to have stabilized - I have still been kind of settling into this new body of mine.  I am consistently in a size 10 or medium.  I would have never have dreamed I would get here. 

Speaking of this new body ...  I have started meeting with some plastic surgeons to start to understand what my options may be in this area.  I don't plan on doing anything in the near future (I think my husband would have divorce me if I put myself back in the hospital willingly at this point).  I also called the insurance company to understand if they would ever cover an abdominoplasty.  They said they do cover abdominoplasty if it can be proved that it's medically necessary.  I think I need to find a doctor willing to help me prove it's medically necessary.  The first surgeon I went to was not at all interested in doing that.  He doesn't deal with insurance unless it's reconstructive surgery.  He also has his own OR in his office that he uses.  I get that - I see the advantages, but with my medical history - I'm thinking that may not be the best idea I ever had.  Not sure - have to think that through.  Doing it in their own OR keeps costs down - but - I just don't know.  Even though I know I won't go to this surgeon - dang it if he didn't get me all excited about the possibilities that a tummy tuck and some liposuction could provide. Wowie Mommy!  I have more consultations coming up - so we'll see what that reveals.

Speaking of doctors and hospitals and all that jazz.  I have my 6 month check up this coming week.  I did bloodwork this past week and I have the full abdominal CT Scan on Tuesday before meeting with my urologist.  I am nervous, but I'm fully expecting a clean report.  :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What is my problem?

So I hit my 2 year surgiversary mark and it's a new year.  I am gun-shy to set any goals for myself.  I think it's because 2010 was such a SUCKY year for me.  I set goals and was not able to meet any of them because of my health issues.  It is really kind of messing with my head - so much so that I have been unable to "see the forest for the trees" as a friend of mine recently pointed out. 

I'm at the point where a lot of WLS patients start to experience regain.  And if anyone had an excuse for regain this year - it's me. 5 surgeries in one year.  Kidney Cancer, middle ear tumor, pancreatitis, internal hernia, wisdom teeth removed.  For someone who is acustomed to eating her feelings ... this past year was one huge exercise in restraint for me.

But I am feeling like I need to get back on the wagon and do what I know I need to do.  Why am I so afraid to start running again?  Probably because every time I have tried to get my running going again something else happens and I have to stop.  Another surgery - another injury.  I'm just feeling like this past year is finally catching up with me.  I've been strong for a good long time and now I'm just tired.

I am in a funk.  I can't get going.  I haven't been blogging.  I haven't been running.  I'm tired and I need to wake up.