Living small…

the after-algebra of gastric bypass

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Just became a statistic

Posted by LisaM on May 11, 2008

Ah, this one’s hard to write.  I’m in the middle of a trip for my job, and as soon as I get back to llinois, I’ll begin the process of moving.  My marriage is ending, not with a bang, but with a whimper… I changed, he didn’t.  Pick any cliche’ you like to describe it.  I want to be sad, I want to mourn, but it is such a relief to have finally said all I want to say, and to be headed toward something.  I’ve had my head so far up in my own issues for the last few years that I didn’t realize, or wouldn’t admit more likely, that my marriage had stagnated.  I got up and left last summer, stayed away over two months, and came back and tried to rescue it, but couldn’t.  I want to say it’s over forever, but I’m out of the habit of burning bridges… too old, too wary.

I’m leaving that door open, as well as the doors at work, just in case.  Because I want to be strong enough to resist the temptation to come back… and that temptation will always be there.  Safety and security have their attractions, and they always, always will.  NOT taking advantage of that safety and security is the next test, and it’s a big one.  Wish me luck.

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Deal with the genie…

Posted by LisaM on April 11, 2008

There are mornings, and they are always mornings, when I feel as if my gastric bypass results have all the ironic twists of the stories of the genie in the lamp.  “You will get what you wish for… but here’s the twist.”

So–I wished to be thin.  My wish was granted–but now I have to take ten or twelve supplements every morning and force down food along with them to keep them from hurting my stomach.  Food that, for the first time in my life, I do not want.

I wished to be thin… my wish was granted–but guess what? I’m still 48 years old!  My skin under all that fat had wrinkled, but there was nowhere for it to go… so I aged approximately 20 years in the last 2 and a half.  It’s like going to bed as Baby Huey and waking up as the Crypt Keeper.

I wished to be thin… and got a job where I have to stay that way, as a flight attendant.  Now, for the first time in my life, I HAVE to wear makeup.  It’s like trying to paint a wrinkly little canvas every morning with eyes that have aged along with my body.  Not easy…

I wished to be thin… and overall I am so incredibly happy with my decision.  I love this new body and face, even if they could stand a good ironing (or irony…:)). But even the relentlessly positive like me need to get crabby every once in a while.  And it’s the third day of a four-day trip that has lasted approximately forever, and it’s 4:45 in the morning, and I think I need another cup of coffee… gotta fly!

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Weird week from the post-gbs side…

Posted by LisaM on March 23, 2008

Getting blunt again, so don’t continue if you don’t like descriptions of body functions.

I’ve been struggling with this ongoing and enormously annoying urethral irritation for weeks.  Feel as if I have to go pee all the time, and when I do, it burns.  This has been going on since I had a urinary tract infection last month that I treated with antibiotics from the doc. 

Since then, I’ve tried everything I could think of for this intermittent irritation, including moving over to cotton pajamas, microwaving my undies (go ahead, laugh, but it works if you’re subject to yeast infections–kills the bacteria that are hard to get rid of if you wash your clothes in cold water).  All this burning and irriation is a little tough to deal with when you’re working 12 flights in two days.  I’m a flight attendant, if you didn’t know. 

Anyway, after much experimentation and various remedies, I finally realized that, as long as I got my 64 ounces of fluids a day (the equivalent of eight 8-ounce glasses), I had no problems.  It was only on the five- or six-flight days where I had no chance to take a break, and was too tired to make sure I kept drinking fluids that I had real problems.  And the less fluid I drank, the more irritating the symptoms became.  So, now I’m pushing liquids all the time, and doing fine.

I’m learning more and more to listen to my body–to eat what I choose and when.  It’s taken a long time, two and a half years now since the surgery, to be able to trust that I can trust my own food decisions and not second-guess myself.  If my body wants sugar, then I can have small amounts without pain.  The limit is about 15 grams in a serving… any more than that, and I’m going to be doubled over and rocking to try to alleviate the pain.

If I want meat, then I have it, although I can go for days very happily with little or no meat.  Peanut butter on whole wheat bagels is a staple for me, water-packed tuna with light Miracle Whip on a toasted bagel is a joyful thing, as well.  Fat-free strawberry cream cheese on a toasted bagel in the mornings is awesome, too.  If I seem focused on whole-wheat bagels these days, be aware it’s kind of a phase thing.  Last month it was English muffins.

And yes, I eat carbohydrates.  I try to make sure the carbohydrate food source is always a significant source of fiber, something I desperately need for the obvious reasons, but yes, I eat bread.  Every day, sometimes every meal.  But, they’re very specific carbs.  Whole wheats, unleavened breads, and no crackers.  Discussed it with my husband, and it’s pretty much a theory, but breads that rise, and breads or carbs (like crackers) that absorb liquid and swell all hurt me very, very badly.  Thus the toasting whenever possible.

I also eat Kashi bars like they’re going out of style.  They are my snack when my energy levels start drooping on the plane.  And when I have a 14-hour day ahead of me, I know I’m going to be burning calories, so I eat as many as four during the day, one every three hours or so.  Keeps me from being so hungry that I overeat after work, and keeps my energy levels steady.

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Why “the after-algebra of gastric bypass”?

Posted by LisaM on March 12, 2008

First, I’m calling it the after-algebra because “aftermath” is too simplistic.  This is the most complicated change I have ever undergone in my life, and mine has been a life full of changes.  Second, I thought it was funny, but realized I might need to explain it, because my sense of humor tends toward the opaque… 🙂

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Eating while traveling after gastric bypass

Posted by LisaM on March 11, 2008

There is, further down in my older posts, a piece on eating while traveling, but at the time I was traveling by vehicle.  Now, as a flight attendant, I’m in hotels almost every night, and making sure to get my needed protein during a 13- to 14-hour day is even more important.

So, I’m typing this at a hotel breakfast table in Indianapolis.  My breakfast choices were limp bacon–I did have one slice, which I chewed up very well, but wouldn’t eat a second slice on a bet.  There were also egg rounds, these circular pre-fab slices of scrambled egg, warmed up and  shoved in a steam table drawer.  There were also boiled eggs.  Fortunately or unfortunately, eggs still make me nauseous, even at nearly three years post-op, so neither of those was an option for me.  I could also have had a donut or sugared cereal.  Bleah. 

My choice ended up being a well-toasted bagel with cream cheese.  And yes, I can eat an entire bagel at this point, and it will hold me for about four or five hours.  That will keep me going until I take a break after one of our four legs and eat the Kashi bar and string cheese that I’ve been hauling around in my crew cooler.  Breakfast is usually the only meal that I eat at the hotels I stay in, and having a hot breakfast (and coffee) is key to feeling halfway decent through most of the morning.  Captain’s waiting for me, gotta fly!

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My past posts – 2006 and 2007

Posted by LisaM on March 9, 2008

Moved the following from my old weblog on blog.com, which is extremely slow and very hard to use, thus the move to WordPress.  I’ll be adding more shortly.

April, 2007  

First major complication over… almost

Been reading up on it, and gall bladder removal (cholecystectomy) is a complication in 10 percent of GBS patients.  Gallstones affect about 30 percent of us, but not everyone has the dang thing yanked out. Some doctors take out the gall bladder while they’re in there.  Some will only do that if there are stones or sludge present.  Mine got a complete bill of health barely a year and a half ago, before the GBS.  

This was a bad one–I’ve seldom been so miserable for so long.  Hours in ER waiting rooms, both at Alton Memorial Hospital, which was useless, and Barnes Jewish in St. Louis, which was of some use.  Horrible, ravaging pain, which has yet to completely diminish, but is distinctly better.  This all because I am not just one in a million, I’m one in ten.  I hate statistics.

Oh well, there are worse things – could have ended up with a bleeding ulcer or hernia.  Think I’ll take the gall bladder, all things being equal.  At least, thank the good Lord, it’s done!  Thank you, Dr. David Linehan of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, MO.  You rock!

March 26, 2007

Now the struggle is not to lose TOO much

Have been struggling of late, with my first post-op complication (and one hopes, my ONLY post-op complication!).  My gall bladder is going into spasm after everything I eat after the hour of 10 or 11 a.m.  And yes, I’ve tried eating the same thing for lunch and dinner as I do for breakfast, but it still goes into spasm.  I have no freaking idea what’s going on. 

My primary care provider (love that man) has contacted the surgeons directly that he wants to have yank this malfunctioning organ, and they are supposed to call me to set up an appointment to talk to them about getting this done.  I hope to hell they call this morning.  I’ve been off work for a week, am looking at even more time off post-surgery, and need to get this done quickly.

If you’ve ever wondered what gall bladder spasms feel like, it’s much like having a balloon in your chest that someone is blowing up.  Only the balloon has hammers, blunt objects that protrude on every side.  It is bloody awful, and makes me squirm madly, trying to find some position, any position that will diminish the pain and will let me breathe.  Hope to get this resolved soon.

February 17, 2007

Checking in…

Thoughts from the shower about losing lots of weight:

Shaving your armpits becomes a complete pain in the butt.  Yes, when I was fat, I was even fat IN MY ARMPITS.  They became, thereby, convex, with an outward curve.  They are now concave, and damned hard to shave.

You can wash all your business while you’re in the shower.  This has cleanliness implications that pretty much boggle the mind.

I had to retrain myself on how to wear a towel wrapped around me without it falling down all the time.  For the last 30 years or so, the towels haven’t actually gone all the way around me, so it was a moot point.

September 26, 2006

My re-birthday is today!

My surgery was one year ago today, and it’s important to me to record where I am right now:

All my labs were perfect when I went to see my primary care provider today to discuss the results. 

I’ve lost 144 pounds as of this morning.  One year ago, I weighed 303 pounds.  Today, I weigh 159.

One year ago today, I wore size 30 t-shirts, size 26-28 jeans.  Today, my size 12 jeans are getting loose, and I’m in women’s medium shirts.

One year ago today, I was 5’1″ tall and super obese according to the BMI standards.  Today, due to regaining the height lost to the pressure of the weight, I am 5’2″ tall, and am merely overweight.

Here’s the comparison of measurements:

Body part     9/19/05     9/26/06 – today

Neck             17″            13.75″        -3.25
Shoulders     25             14               -14
Chest            44              35               -9     
Breasts        50.5           39.5            -11
Midriff           41.25         30              -11.25
Waist            49              29              -20
Stomach       62              39              -23
Hips              60              42               -18
Thighs           34.5           23              -11.5             
Calves          19              15.75         -3.25
Ankles           11              8.75          -2.25
Bicep            16               12              -4
Forearm       14               10.25         -3.75       
Wrist              7                  6                -1

I’ve lost over 130 inches, and 144 pounds, and I am extremely happy with my progress and my health.

August 25, 2006

Slogging through the Slough of Despond

OK, the title of this one is a reference to Little Women.  If you never read it, you still should.  Love that book, if not least because Jo is my favorite, and the only one of the bunch that isn’t relentlessly cheerful.  Much better than the movie.

My particular Slough of Despond is my first plateau.  Been stuck at 135 pounds lost for over two weeks.  Rationally, I know the weight loss isn’t over–that I will lose more weight, it’s just a matter of time.  Emotionally, it’s really a struggle.  I’m still 18 pounds from my goal, which I think is a pretty realistic goal. 

Most people lose 70-75% of their weight above ideal.  I weighed 303 when I had the surgery, and the “ideal” weight for my 5’1″ height is 109 pounds.  (As laughable as that is).  So you take 303, subtract 109, and you get 194 pounds.  Multiply that times 75%, and you get 145.5 pounds, which would leave me weighing 157.5 pounds total when I lose 75% of my excess weight.  Right now, I weigh 168.  My goal was 150 pounds, so I’m shooting for a 78% weight loss.

This is not unreasonable, and I can still make it.  I’m only 11 months post-op tomorrow, so there is still time.  Most people continue to lose weight until their 16-18 month mark, so there’s still plenty of time.  Right?  Right.  Just got to keep on keeping on.  If this sounds like a pep talk, it’s because that’s what it is.

July 16, 2006

Seven tips for eating on the road

OK, we’ve  been on what was scheduled as a week-long vacation for eight days now, and two more to go after today before we get home.  Typing this out in a Holiday Inn in Alton, Illinois, while my husband gets the work done that he had to be here to do today.  We’ll be here tomorrow, though we’re switching hotels, as his company’s paying for tomorrow night.

This trip has taught me a lot about how to cater to my gastric bypass needs while traveling.  It’s also taught me that I’m an Internet JUNKIE!  I was up in the wilds of Wisconsin for six of the last eight days, and I was in electronic withdrawal.  No cellphone or Internet.  Though I could have checked my e-mail on my sister-in-law’s dial-up connection, after watching it take five minutes to load a page I just gave up.

Anyway – eating for gastric bypass on the road. 

1) Take a cooler if you can.  It’s a hell of a lot easier if you travel by auto and can take a cooler for things such as string cheese, cottage cheese, and drinks.  I’m still gnawing on the string cheese that I brought from home and have toted into and out of numerous hotel rooms.

2) Keep your pills cool and dark.  I kept my pills in the top level of the cooler, so they weren’t actually in the ice.  Another good thing about traveling by auto is that no one is pawing through your many medications and supplements wondering what kind of hypochondriac you are. 

3) Celebrate your freedom!  Traveling has gotten me away from that unholy interest in what the bathroom scale says on a daily or twice- or three-times daily basis.  Probably a good thing, but I’m itching to get back home and see if I’ve lost any weight.  Going to be hard to restrain myself ’til the morning after, as I only weigh in the a.m.

4) Let ’em look!  Since I’ve often been eating all three meals on a given day in restaurants, I’ve gotten used to the funny looks when I take my supplements with my morning cottage cheese.  Altogether, I take over ten pills, so it takes a while.  I just keep my eyes on my newspaper, take a bite, take a supplement, take a sip of water, and repeat ten times.

5) Know your proteins and other food contents.  Knowing the basics of what foods contain what protein amounts has been invaluable.  I know how many grams of protein (approx. 20) a chicken breast has in it, and about what 4 ounces of meat looks like (it’s the size of a deck of cards) and that four heaping teaspoonfuls of cottage cheese is about 4 ounces and about 13 grams of protein.  My dietician requires 56 grams of protein a day, and I shoot for 60-65 each day.  So far, I’ve been making it. 

6) You don’t have to eat it just because they serve it.  I feel more like a normal person than a patient after this last week.  It’s kind of like getting the agoraphobe out into open spaces again.  Little by little, I’m realizing that I can cope with the diet I have to eat without getting all het up about it.  The fact that Denny’s served me eight ounces of cottage cheese and another eight ounces of fresh fruit didn’t mean I had to eat it all–not that I could have anyway.  I ate what I could and left the rest, just like a real person.

7) Don’t wait too long to eat.  I’ve learned, as well, that if I leave it too long, I can eat more than I should at a single sitting.  Had to attend a family funeral on Wednesday–ate lunch around 12:30, and then didn’t eat again until nearly 9 pm.  I was nearly ill with hunger, and then ate a little too much of Texas Roadhouse’s Southwestern Chicken.  It’s grilled chicken covered with a black bean and cheese sauce.  Tasted wonderful–and racked my digestive system up like a pool shark racks up the billiard balls.  I survived it, but it was bloody painful. 

That’s it for now–happy traveling!

July 05, 2006

9-months post-op labs back

My nine-month labs came in this weekend, and they are perfect–so jazzed.  That means I’m doing all the right things, and paying scrupulous attention to my supplements has been the key.  I am careful to get what I need every day.  And it’s paying off in weight lost, too – as of this morning, I’ve lost 127 pounds.  Woo-hoo!

June 20, 2006

Even at nine months out, you can still have problems

Have a feeling that yesterday was way Freudian.  Here’s the deal – went to a lunch that was the last obligation I had to the job I departed from about two weeks ago.  Ate a little bit of fajita chicken meat, nothing else.  Enjoyed the luncheon – one old friend from a previous contract position, one new friend from the university where I worked until two weeks ago, and one other person from the university. 

Felt fine after I got home, and ate some crackers and cheese about 2 pm.  Within a half hour, I was throwing up.  I continued to upchuck for the next six hours straight, pretty much.  Felt much worse if I laid down, just hurting all over in the area below my ribs.  Finally, about 8:30 pm, the chicken exited in almost exactly the same shape it went in.  Felt better immediately.  My basic mistake was, I think, not getting any kind of sauce with it, and it was just too dry. 

So, why Freudian?  Let’s see–had to get the last job out of my system.  Couldn’t stomach what they fed me.  And possibly even that someone was a chicken, as in cowardly… 🙂  not sure who.  Pick any moral of the story you want.  But whatever it was, it was an ending.  I can finally move on to what I’m supposed to be doing.  Writing.  Onward and upward!

June 16, 2006

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti Sauce

Crockpot Chicken Spaghetti Sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, flash frozen
1 can of Campbell’s Healthy Request Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can of Hunt’s No Sugar Added Spaghetti Sauce
1/2 lb. of mushrooms
Garlic (powder or fresh, your preference) to taste
Onion (powder or fresh, your preference) to taste

Turn the crockpot on low and put in the can of soup, the can of spaghetti sauce, and the chicken thighs.  If you like, you can just wash and slice the mushrooms and add them, the garlic and onion, whether powdered or fresh, to the mixture, then leave it all in the crockpot for eight hours.

You can also slice the mushrooms and saute’ them in a teaspoon of olive oil along with the garlic and onion, and add them to the mixture, then leave in the crockpot for eight hours on low.  Either way works, but sauteeing the mushrooms adds a little more flavor. 

When the chicken’s fully cooked, stir the mixture to shred the chicken, and change the crockpot to warm until it’s time for dinner. Serve over rice (my husband’s preference) or spaghetti.  Should feed three or four people, especially if one’s had gastric bypass and doesn’t eat that much.

We had leftovers the next night, and I served the chicken sauce over toasted garlic bread in an open-faced sandwich – my husband loved it!  I just ate the sauce by itself, as it’s about the consistency of sloppy joes, and added parmesan cheese.

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