Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It's Been a While

Hi. Yeah, it's me. I know it's been a while. I can point the finger of blame to a few things that have prevented me from blogging. The Man bought me an iPad and my daughter kind of took over my laptop. Typing on an iPad can be on the hard side. Life got busy. I had nothing to say.

I would be lying. It's all on me. I think I had too much to say. So much, in fact, that my brain was a whirling  hot mess of thoughts that I just couldn't form a coherent sentence to put here. 

My therapist has told me many times that it was time to start blogging again. My friends kept asking when was I going to post again? My family is mad that I've missed important milestones and birthdays that I would have never missed before. I would always reply, "I know! I know! I really need to!" And I never would come to the computer and follow through.

In the past week, posts started forming in my head again. To the point that I knew it was time to start again and put it down in black and white. The urge to write was there again. Thoughts were coherent. 

Here I am. 

Hi! I've missed you. Lots.

Yesterday was my third anniversary of having gastric bypass surgery. Three years. Has it been that long? I think my jump back into blogging needs to address that aspect of my life so I can move on to the "Sometimes My Life is a Reality Show" posts to share with you. 

Where do I start? 

No one wants to be obese. No one wants to be morbidly obese in this world. Yet, it happens. I swear to you, you literally wake up one day, look in the mirror and think, "How in the world did this happen to me???" I did that. I looked, really looked, in the mirror one day and was just blown away by what I saw. Who was that woman? The puffy face. Eyes lost in a face due to full cheeks. I was just devastated.  

My mother had suffered many health problems by that point. I had to look at that woman in the mirror and make her realize she was heading down a fast dangerous highway to bad health. It was a numbing moment. 

Fast forward and let's skip the whole process of getting my family doc (who was just amazing and I love her to this day) getting the ball rolling. Finding the perfect doctor to perform this operation to maybe a year out from surgery.

The weight came off pretty quickly. The plus side of the surgery. You're so focused on healing and figuring out what you can eat without getting sick the first six months that it's a full time job. You're in a honeymoon phase of losing clothing sizes and getting compliments left and right. Pretty heady stuff there.

Then reality kicks in. If you're smart? You'll want to find out the root cause of that weight gain. What made you get to that size. Hello, Miss Therapist! 

You find out that maybe you really don't want to know. Maybe it's too painful or just to complicated to give that mental energy required to get to that root cause. You might even find that you avoid therapy a few months because DANG, you just can't take the emotional turmoil it causes after a session has ended. 

What many people don't realize is that you can regain after having gastric bypass/RNY.  Some of you may know someone who has, indeed, had massive regain after the procedure. The body is a complex and phenomenal machine. You can go inside and rearrange the inside, but it will eventually figure out what's going on and fix itself to a certain degree. It is up to you to learn new eating habits and implement a lifestyle change before that happens so when it does? You can handle it and go into what we post-op people call "maintenance mode".  

Sister here has had some major therapy during this time so I can hopefully handle this maintenance phase for the rest of my life. I'm not going into all the complex issues that have come up during my sessions. HIPPA and all that good stuff. I'm sure you understand. An addict is an addict is an addict. Once an addict, always an addict. Doesn't mean you are doomed forever. Heavens no. But, the "drug" is always there calling your name. Some days it's louder than others. Ahhhh, the siren's lure. My take on all of this? We self medicate. Addicts take it to a higher level. I self medicated with food. Food was my BFF. Food was always available in massive quantities and I took it that dangerous level. And let me tell you, when that BFF was taken away after surgery? I mourned. Lawd, did I mourn. In fact, I would be lying if I said I don't still miss it with a burning passions at times to this day. 

People comment all the time that I have amazing willpower. Uh...no, I don't. I really don't have any at all. I am terrified. I am paralyzed with the fear of regain. Of being that woman I saw in the mirror that morning all over again. I still see glimpses of her from time to time. When I was going through some old pictures for my Before and Now collage, Makenna asked me if I felt like her. I said I know that woman well and I know how she felt. I can't forget. I don't think I ever could. Back to willpower. What exactly is that? I mean, I do have a strong will. Where I come from we call it being stubborn as a mule. I am extremely mule headed at times (my husband can testify to this). I am also weak. So very weak. I have those days where I eat like someone is going to take it away from me forever in the next minute. Now, I can't eat massive quantities anymore. My pouch/stomach can hold around a cup of food. But I graze all day like nobody's bidness. If I eat too many carbs, I dump. (My husband got a Mac and I'm still learning how to use it so linking to sites is still something I'm learning. Look up dumping syndrome with gastric bypass if you want to know the details.) I can dump like a Queen. My sugar will bottom out. I'll get shakes like you wouldn't believe. I'll get all light headed and clammy. I'll have cold sweats that soak a shirt in a minute. Some of you might wonder why on earth would I do that to myself? I have no answer other than the drug was stronger than me in that moment and I HAD to have that extra taste of a sweet or fresh baked bread. Every once in a while I'll dump from something totally unexpected and it will catch me out of left field. I carry a protein bar in my purse at all times just in case that happens. I've walked around shopping while eating a protein bar to keep from passing out. I may or may not have nibbled on one in church during the service when this happens. That's the plus side of RNY. If you're lucky, you'll will dump the rest of your life. Yes, lucky. It helps keep you accountable. It keeps you mindful of what you're doing. Break the rule, ,pay the price. Trust me, that price is not fun and can be scary. Maybe I have some willpower. Maybe the willpower mixed in with good therapy, support from those around me, and lots and lots of prayers have me where I am today. 

Yesterday was a day of reflection for me. I thought of where I was three years ago and where I am today. And I felt pretty okay with it all. I still go to the gym on a regular basis. I will always stand by the fact that I will never love it, but I know it's necessary. I am into weight training more and toning what I have left. My brain still has serious issues with all the loose skin I still have. I know it's time to address it and get it taken care of once and for all. I think I put it off because it all has felt like a dream and that I was going to wake up and regain all that weight and I would need that skin to fill back up. Whoa. My therapist totally needs to read that. I bet that would be an epic session in just that realization. I still worry and obsess over  stupid things like "Will I be this size when my children get married? Will I be able to take a picture with them on their day and be a decent size and not embarrass them?" See? The brain is a fickle thing. 

I am open and honest about my whole experience. I put my three year surgiversary (an affectionate term we post-op peeps give our surgery dates) picture on the book of faces yesterday. I admit I was nervous. Why? It's like trusting your baby with strangers. Will you be judged for how you looked before? (sure, that's human nature) Will someone make a remark that will hurt you to the core. It's very nerve wracking. All I got was support. So many comments and all were positive. Thank you all. So much.

Am I proud of myself? Proud is a strong word for me. I am content at the moment. I know there is still work to be done, but I'm doing it. I know I will never reach that magical goal weight I have in my head. It's kind of unrealistic, to be honest. I am healthy. That's what is most important. I am healthy. I have a good grip on my recovery from obesity at the moment. I understand that there are things I have to do every single day to keep my health and grip. I will have to do them every day for the rest of my life. Some days I find that fact very daunting and I don't know if I can do it. One day at a time. One hour at a time. 

I received many messages on my picture from yesterday. How much weight did you lose? I deliberately didn't put that on the picture because it can't be about a number. When it becomes about a number, then the picture gets skewed and the true reason behind the whole process gets whacked up. I will tell you, though. I've lost 168 lbs. I've regained 4 and I believe that is due to the weight training and building muscle. Those four pounds have really done a number on my brain and I keep slipping into panic mode wondering if that's the beginning of the end. Aaaaaaannnnnndddd this is why therapy is key to me. 

There ya have it, folks. The main reason Miss Hope hasn't been able to blog much the past year and a half. I had to go inside myself and work on me. Truthfully, that is also a constant work in progress that I don't foresee ending and that's okay. I'm in a much better place now and things are starting to find a sense of normalcy and contentment that I've been searching for for a long time. I can't promise I won't blog about this from time to time. It is part of who I am now. It is my normal. I can promise to blog about my life because The Boy? Ya'll have no idea. Makenna? Wait til you hear what that kid has been up to lately. Paige? That sweet baby of mine will be 21 in April of next year. Whaat??? 

Here's the picture I posted on the book of faces yesterday and a bonus one! I contemplated putting it on my page there, but changed my mind. I thought I would save it for here. Kind of a welcome back present for you. 


The picture on the left is a month before surgery. This woman here is the one I saw with the puffy cheeks that convinced me it was time. 

Please take note that it just hurts my heart so badly that in the left picture, I was almost as wide at the door. This was before we left for the hospital that morning and I can tell you....Miss Hope was smoooooth. Nerve pills are awesome, I tell ya. Also note that in the right picture, I am sporting some seriously awesome heels. 

*** If you want to know more about Recovery from Obesity, my therapist is on the book of faces under "A Post-Op & a Doc". Look it up. Dr. Connie Stapleton is her name and she knows all about addiction and the recovery process. She has published books and I highly encourage anyone fighting addiction to check it out. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Miss Hope's Lessons in Marriage

There are a few things I've learned about being married and being in a marriage over the years. I have to admit, some lessons were hard and others not so much. Keep in mind, these are my own personal revelations and don't have to be yours.

MYTH #1:

Don't go to bed mad/angry/upset.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Really? Why not? If I go to bed mad/angry/upset, that is giving my temper a chance to cool down before I say something I can't take back. The Man and I always end up talking it through after the cool down period and pretty much end up apologizing and expressing our separate viewpoints better to the other. Do we always end up agreeing? Heck no. We just come to a compromise or agree to disagree. I have an awful short term explosive temper. I will run off at the mouth for a few minutes, then I'm fine. I get past stuff pretty fast. Cooling down is a good thing for me.

MYTH #2:

Sleep separately until the anger is gone. Couches are optional or guest bedrooms.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

I think not. My bed is awesome. I have 1200 thread count sheets, memory foam, and an electric blanket. You're crazy if I'm going to go sleep somewhere else. I told my husband at the beginning of our marriage that I would never chase him out of his bed. That's his side and I have my side. We can coexist to sleep and not say a word. And we have done this successfully. Don't let anyone chase you out of your bed. Especially if you have an awesome bed.

MYTH #3:

Money is the cause of many marriages failing. (Okay, this may be true in many situations.)

Miss Hope's Lesson:

You're going to disagree about money. It will make you crazy when there's not enough or you don't know exactly how you want to budget to make it work the best. Guess what? You have what you have. Work with it. The Man and I make priority lists all the time. We have to go back and re-do the list because something comes along you weren't expecting. That's life. You're not always going to get what you want or do what you want to do. Work with it. Work with what you have. Forget about what you don't. Pay your tithes (we're pretty big on this), take care of your family, and pay your bills.

MYTH #4:

High end appliances are worth it.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

They are. We just had to replace our washer and dryer (unexpected and a cause to revamp our priority list). I did the shopping around online because we agreed that I would pick out what I use the most. I found what I wanted but those bad boys were the top of the line. I would get giddy over those machines and what I knew they were capable of doing for my clothes and to make my life easier. We went to the store and saw them in person. I fell deeper in love. We decided to get those particular machines and you know the guilt set in and I immediately started talking myself out of those luxurious pieces of machinery. The Man stood firm in that it was an investment that I would utilize to the fullest. I finally gave in. Let me tell you, high end appliances are worth it if you can swing it. The Priority List hates me, but my clothes love me. Oh, and really try to let your husband learn how to use those machines. I'm very protective of my BMW washer and dryer. The Boy can operate them as he and I do the laundry (yes, my son does better than his sisters when it comes to cleaning clothes). I was gone one day running errands and told my son to wash a load. When I called home, my husband informed me HE put the load in the washer. Mild panic set in until he told me The Boy showed him what to do. Whew.

MYTH #5:

Children come first and foremost.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Children are important. My three are my heartbeat and I can't imagine a life without them. Children are going to grow up and hopefully leave one day. The spouse won't.  Keep your spouse in your eyesight. That means treat them well. Flirt with them. Flirt in front of the children (clean flirting, people). Show them a strong united front and that you love each other and respect each other. How you and your spouse act is what your children will look for one day. I want my girls to find a good strong man who has a good work ethic and will treat them with love, kindness, and respect. I want my son to find a good strong woman who will hug him, and treat him with love, kindness, and respect.
The Man and I may not always agree on discipline, but we don't demean, belittle, or overstep their authority when one is correcting a child. One of us has corrected a child and later the other will, in private, talk about how maybe that wasn't the right way. Date nights are important. So very important. The Man and I have a date night once a week. We go out with friends for supper and some socializing. It helps us reconnect as a couple so we're not one of those couples you see in a restaurant after the kids are grown just sitting there with nothing to say. We talk about so many different subjects. We turn the radio up when going out to eat and sing and car dance together. Have fun with your children. Have fun as a family. Don't forget to have fun with your spouse.

MYTH #6:

Tolerate your in-laws.

Miss Hope's Lessons:

Do your best to love your in-laws. This is your husband's first family. This is your children's family. This is your family. I'm very very blessed in that I truly love my in-laws. You don't always have to agree with their views. Guess what? They don't have to agree with yours either. Call your mother in law on occasion. Keep her up on what's going on with her son. Over the years, I've called my mother in law and complained about her son. Yes! I went there! Best part? She is so sympathetic because she lives with his father....who acts the same way or does the same things. Yes! Someone who gets it! Your spouse is the best and worse of two individuals...just like your own kids. Seek out the best and know that comes from two people who are your MOTHER and FATHER in law. I'm so sorry for those of you who can't get along with your in-laws. It's a sad situation (I've been there) and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

MYTH #7

No need to use manners after you say "I do."

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Bull. There's even more need to use manners. I am not of the generation that my mother come from where you wait hand and foot on your husband. Growing up, I would just get so mad over how my mother would wait on my father. Fix his plate, fix his drink, fetch this, and fetch that. Boy, have I eaten some humble pie in the past couple years. Since my mother has developed health problems, my Daddy has waited on her hand and foot. He has become the most amazing caregiver and I see the love he has for my mother.This has proven to me that what I saw growing up wasn't servitude. It was my mother's way of showing love for my father as he is doing now for her. I fix my husband's plate most of the time. I'm fixing the kid's and I just keep going. I don't mind. I want to do things for my husband. He fixes me coffee when I ask him to in the evenings. We serve each other and every single time, we say "Thank you." or "I appreciate that." Use simple sweet manners. I promise it will be a good example for your children and your spouse will feel appreciated.

MYTH #8:

One person must always be in control of the t.v. remote.

Miss Hope's Lesson:

Well that's a big fat false. My husband loves sports. With a complete passion. He has given up watching many games because Miss Hope hates football with an all burning passion. I can tolerate some baseball and adore the Olympics. My husband loves him some NASCAR. Bless him. On race day, he has the remote for sure. I don't watch the races as they bore me to tears. I love ghost shows. He tolerates the ghost shows and I tolerate the races. There are many we like in common and if there's a really good game going on? I understand him watching it on the laptop with headphones over one ear, while watching updates on said game on his phone, and watching a show with me. All at the same time. Share the remote. Watch family shows with your kids. Our children do not have televisions in their bedrooms. We feel that spending time together watching television is more important than them all going separate ways after supper. That's our personal belief. One gaming system located in the living room keeps play time on that bad boy to a decent level.

Marriage isn't always easy. But, it's so worth it. I like my husband. He is my friend. My very best goodest friend. I trust him with my life, my children, my heart, and my washing machine and dryer. I look so forward to growing old with this man.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Miss Hope Update

I've had a few ask what's been going on with me personally. I suppose I can give you an update on how life after gastric bypass is treating me.

As of today, I've lost 157 pounds. Yes, you read that right. That number conflicts me on the inside greatly. While I'm so thrilled to have lost that number, I'm saddened and embarrassed that I HAD to lose that number. Thing is? I still need to lose around 20 more pounds to fit in with the medical community's definition of "normal". If I don't lose that last 20, then I'm going to be satisfied. (reason #3 I'm in therapy)

I go through spurts where I'm loyal to the gym. I'll go my required three times a week and do my level best. Then something will happen, like surgery, and I get a little lax and it takes a bit to get back into the groove. I have low blood pressure now. I can't win with that pressure. Before surgery, I was an inch away from being put on blood pressure meds. Now, I almost black out every time I stand up or bend over and straighten up. It's really irritating to be honest. When I was taken back for surgery and they were doing my vitals, the nurse make this low sound of appreciation and said, "You have the blood pressure of a runner!" To which I snorted and replied, "Please. The only running I do is a brisk walk for a good sale." I admit I walk like a fiend on the dreadmill at the gym in my pathetic attempt to condition myself for the Zombie Apocalypse, but it's not an every day all day occurrence.

About the surgery. I was allowed to keep my gall bladder when the bypass was performed. It was in good shape and my surgeon wasn't one to take out something that was working. Alas, a side effect of rapid weight loss is the destruction of the gall bladder. I started having pains under my sternum radiating under my right rib cage after eating certain foods like beef stew, meatballs, or steak. (beef- it was my enemy). After the second attack and a trip to the surgeon's office, he deemed it necessary to remove it. Gah. I put it off yet again and he smirked and told me if it was my gall bladder, and he was pretty positive it was, then the "attacks" would become more frequent and I would end up begging to have it out. Also, he wanted to remove it before it was seriously diseased. If it got in too bad of shape, then laproscopic surgery wouldn't be an option and I would have to be cut open. Well crap. I kept his advice in the back of my mind and went about my business.

In November I went for my well woman checkup. I have given birth three times and STILL hate that visit with a passion of great proportions. Another side effect of GB (gastric bypass) is screwy messed up monthly cycles. I was no exception to that rule. I dealt with horrible cycles that just about incapacitated me for a week at a time. I asked my OB/GYN what could we do. After a moment, she decided to do a biopsy on my uterus (mother trucker, that mess hurt! After she was done, I said...did you get a good sample? She replied yes. I then said...good, because that is the ONLY shot you will ever get to do that!). If the biopsy was fine, then we could do a uterine ablation procedure called Novasure. She gave me the option of a hysterectomy, but I declined as I didn't want the recovery period of that serious procedure. I waited for a week to see what was going down in the uterus. I went in for a follow up and all was fine. That meant we could go ahead with the ablation. Out of curiosity, I asked if she would be willing to go in with my surgeon and do a two-for-one. Ablation and gall bladder removal. She shrugged and said sure. Have his office call her office. Sweet!

I saw the bariatric surgeon and asked if he would willing to do this gall bladder deal and let my OB/GYN do her thing. He shrugged and said sure. His office said they would work out the details. I left thinking it would March or April before their schedules could work it out. Wrong. I got a call within two days saying that February 1 worked for them. Uh...ok. That was less than two weeks away. I agreed and when I got off of the phone, I realized that was the night of my daughter's birthday party. Crap. Mama went into combat mode then and I had that party all settled and ready to go no matter if I was home that evening or if it was decided to keep me over night.

I can't lie. I hate surgery. Hate the thought of it. And here I was going willingly into the operating room to have TWO procedures done. The morning of surgery, I had two NSV's (non-scale victories). First, the hospital gown was a regular one and it was huge! No big girl gown for me! Second, my husband was sitting there with me waiting for go time and I made the comment that I had room on either side of me in the bed. No overspill! The nurse laughed and said that I used the big girl bed last time for bariatric surgery and this was a standard bed. Say what?

My arrogant ass doctor (yes, I said that word and I meant it) was 40 minutes late. My OB doc was fit to be tied and ill as she could be. I can't blame her. He finally strolled in like he had all the time in the world. Next thing I know, these two nurses came in and started whipping up rails, started to roll, and talking 90 miles an hour. Hold up!!! I stopped them and told one...you better put the happy juice going in the I.V. because if you don't? I'm going to panic and make a run for it. She shot back that she needed me alert to get on the gurney in the O.R. I shot right back...I was out of it when I had bariatric surgery and you managed just fine. Knock. Me. Out. She did.

I woke up with my husband sitting there and hurting like nobody's bizness. Once I managed to potty, they let me go home. Laugh if you must, but I had that man stop at Mickey D's enroute home to get me a coffee. I dozed most of the short trip, but that coffee was mine when I was alert enough to drink it.

It was a tough week. I hurt. Badly. Liquid pain killer (liquid works better for GB patients post-op), pajamas, and coffee were my best friends for a solid week. By week 3, I was feeling pretty decent. Except for a sharp pain in my right side. I found out at my post-op visit that the surgeon had to put an extra stitch internally in that incision as I was bleeding and it would dissolve on it's own in about three months. Good to know. The gall bladder was ok looking, but it was going to need to come out. Here's the kicker. When you lose a massive amount of weight, your internal organs have a much bigger area to move around. I had a space in my bowels (he took a look around while inside to make sure all was well) that was heading towards being a kink with an internal hernia. He fixed it and feels like that, in conjunction with the gall bladder, were the roots of my evil. I got to say I think he's right because I'm now able to eat beef with no problem and haven't had any pain like before when I would eat. I have to add here how I love how God works. I was second guessing my decision to have surgery the first of the week. I ended up having the worst cycle in history the week before the ablation AND two gall bladder attacks with hours of pain. I was so ready for that Friday morning to get here. God has to slap me around some times to get a point across. I respect that. I'm stubborn.

FYI for the womenfolk. I have not had a cycle since the procedure. Granted, I would have only had one but it wasn't there! I pray that the procedure works for me and I don't have to worry about that mess again. I'm also hoping that not having heavy cycles will improve my iron levels because I sure could use a boost in that area.

I feel good. I still get irritated that food is still my main focus. Making sure I get protein in and fluids every single day. It still feels like a full time job that will never end. Therapy is showing me that I'm still in the learning phase of this area of my life. Eventually it will be a way of life and I won't have to spend so much time obsessing over food.

I'm still a food addict. I still want stuff that isn't good for me and I want to graze all day sometimes or just forget this altered digestive system for one freaking day and be "normal". Guess what? THIS is my normal now. Yeah, therapy is definitely one of the good decisions I've made in life.

I find it hard to believe when people tell me how good I look. I mean, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart but Big Girl Brain butts in and tells me it's not true. I am a victim of my own poor choices. I have loose skin (which I knew would happen) that is just crazy. Hopefully, next year at some point, I will have a tummy tuck (insurance will pay to remove the loose skin- I will have to kick in the rest for a contour and shape up of the abdomen area. Oh. Dear. Lord. I just realized I am yet AGAIN planning to go into an operating room willingly. I need to have my head checked again. And again. And again.) when I'm finished losing what my body will allow me to lose.

Don't get me wrong. I see how far I've come and I know it wasn't "free". I am human. I see my flaws before I see the positive. I really need to get past that.

Can I offer up a small piece of advice? You don't have to take it, but I sure wish you would consider it. When you come across someone who has had a weight loss surgery, PLEASE don't feel compelled to tell them that your best friend's second cousin's Aunt's daughter had this surgery and she gained ALL her weight back. We really don't need to hear that. We know we can gain the weight back. You telling us this is like a hammer on a glass window. All we hear is "You look good now, but you're going to fail and be obese again." Just don't, okay? Each person is different and telling these stories is an insult to those who have had this surgery and maintained their loss. We, the ones who have braved the knife, want to be successful. We want to know we made the right decision for our health. Don't knock us down. We're like pregnant women. Don't tell us horror stories about births gone wrong. It's just not necessary. Thanks.

I don't have a picture because, again, Big Girl Brain never thinks she looks good enough to take one for the update picture. I will take one within the week and have the oldest work her magic for a collage. Remember now, when you see me, you'll see a person who's lost weight. I see a person who has loose skin under her neck, more wrinkles around the eyes, and skin baggage around the middle area.

Positives from the past six months are:

-Crossing my legs. I never get tired of crossing my legs.
-Wearing tall boots with skinny jeans or leggings. I am a complete diva in my mind when I wear those boots.
-Discovering that the new hair growing on my head is curly. Really curly. To the point my stylist finally told me it was time to stop fighting it and work with it. Wait til you see it.
-Finally agreeing to fly to see my in-laws this summer. I haven't flown in ten years because I didn't want to buy another seat. True story. That, and I hate flying.
-Having amazing friends that are surely so exhausted from hearing the ups and down from this surgery, yet still talk me through the hard parts and lift me up when I need them to do so. Thank you, Neighbor Debbie and Sherry Lou!
-My family has adjusted to my new way of eating. My almost 9 year old son knows what Mama can't have and he doesn't mind reminding me. I need that.

I suppose I need to quit saying life after gastric bypass eventually. It's simply life. My life. I'm loving it and working on loving it more and more each day. My marriage is strong and we celebrate ten years this September! The Man has something up his sleeve and I'm content to sit back and wait for it to happen. My children are beautiful and healthy. Each child is walking their own path and I'm lucky enough to be along for the ride to shake the pom poms when they succeed and hug them when it doesn't go just right. 

Yeah, it's simply just life.



Monday, March 04, 2013

Fourteen is the new Twenty

Yeah...hello. I must be getting old for sure because time has flown by and I really didn't realize how long it had been since my last post. Have I been busy? I honestly have. In the past couple of weeks my middle child voiced to me how upset she was with me. I was confused. What had I done?

It was what I hadn't done.

Her birthday blog post.

* Apologies to you, Internets. I am halfway through writing this thing and it is long. I guess that's what happens when you don't blog for a while? Go ahead and grab a beverage...you're going to need it.*

I suppose I need to find that missing birthday post now, don't you?

On February 6, I finally had to face the fact that my baby girl had both feet in the teenage world. She turned 14 and I also had to admit she was going to start high school next year. I'm sorry, what? Surely, the math must be wrong. She is my baby girl. The one who loves to sit and read and fly below the radar.

Ahhh..time waits for not one single soul.

Allow me to fill you in on her busy life since we last spoke.



In September, she came home from school and informed me that her chorus teacher suggested she try out for the local theater group and audition for the Christmas Carol musical. I went to the website and was immediately overwhelmed. I sarcastically shot back, "And is she going to go with us to this so called audition?" The reply after school the next day was an absolute yes.

Fast forward a week or two and we are two parents and a school chorus teacher at a church....in a room...with over a hundred kids. We had to fill out an application with all her experience. A theater resume, if you will. One of the lead volunteers running the show is hollering something about "Please note on your application if any rehearsals interfere with cotillion." Are you kidding me? I discovered that a majority of these kids auditioning went to fine art schools, took lessons hours a day, and lived for this way of life. Well, crap. I knew right then and there we were in over our heads.

I asked Makenna if she was sure she wanted to do this. She was firm in her decision and when they took her back with a small group to learn a song, sing it, and speak with a British accent, she took off without looking back.

Then we waited for a couple of weeks. We checked the website every single day (okay, maybe a few dozen times a day) to see if maybe, just maybe, she made the ensemble and could sing in the background. We pretty much psyched ourselves and Makenna not to make it. (Seriously, the crowd of children auditioning was just crazy.) Imagine my surprise when I opened the website one morning before school and there was her name! In the ensemble. Woot!

I took her to the first practice and when she got in the truck afterwards, she literally glowed. She had found her people. People who loved the sing and who were really good at doing that.

It was a commitment that we supported and she never missed a rehearsal/practice. In fact, she was in district honors chorus for school and after her performance, we literally ran from the building to get across town so she could make the last of practice. She didn't want to miss a minute. As The Man was in a funky shift work kind of deal, there were many nights with me and my son sitting in the Tahoe for hours while she sang inside. He was smooth and never gave me issue. When I would take him inside to potty, I would tiptoe to the door and listen to the group singing. I was just blown away.

One night she jumped up in the truck with this huge pile of papers. I said...what is this? She said a copy of the script. Know what I got it? I GOT A SPEAKING PART! Yes, she did. She had four words to say in her very first play. I didn't know this at the time, but it's kind of a good thing to pull that off.

The week of performance, we moved from practice place to the theater itself. Wow. The Imperial Theater was a sight to behold. The history in this place was just amazing. I sat with other parents in the dark seats and watched the magic of pulling a play together. I heard the director holler insults and have tantrums of the Hollywood variety (or what I assume to be the diva attitude of Hollywood). I didn't know if they were going to be able to have a play by week's end, but they sure enough pulled it off.

She missed two days of school doing day performances for local schools. (I found out later this was the dress rehearsals for the weekend play and the days were excused from school as they qualified for public volunteers hours.) Every single show was better than the last. I pulled Stage Mom duty a couple of times. The kids are put up in a room over the lobby. It is dank, old, smelly, and a way to keep them corralled. They would come down the stairs, go down the alley to the back of the theater when it was their turn to perform. I graciously declined staying up in the room with thirty plus kids running around on adrenaline. My kid was potty trained and knew how to act. I had no patience for the others. So, I did alley duty. No kid was allowed to go down the alley without an adult watching and protecting. During day performances, I became great friends with the coffee shop next door. The Sunday afternoon performance of alley duty? I took a thermos of coffee.

Our family dressed up in Sunday finery and attended the Saturday evening performance. Paige said it was more fun watching me watch the play. By this time, I knew it pretty much word for word and I was leaned forward in my seat watching each scene intently, mouthing along with the talented actors on stage. I sang every song that was performed (we still go around the house singing a favorite or two to this day). I almost couldn't see my child on stage because of the tears of pride...or was it exhaustion? (Performance weeks makes for long hours. I'm talking midnight here.)

She had been bitten. By the Stage Bug. She has found a new love called the stage. It was an amazing experience and she was off to audition for more more more!!! Since then, she has auditioned for two other plays, but sadly didn't make either one. There are more to be had and acting camp is in her future this summer. I have a feeling we'll be doing the Christmas Carol again this year.

Miss Thing has also discovered a desire to sew. To make things she can wear and show her fashion flair. She can't follow a pattern, but she loves a good you of tube tutorial. She has claimed the playroom/guest room as her sewing room and she will lock herself away for hours whipping up some creation. She saves her money for trips to Joann's or Hobby Lobby so she can spend it all on fabric and craft supplies. The mall is an afterthought and she has no desire to hang out there with groups of kids her age.

She loves a wig, too. I believe her hair to be amazing and I refuse to let her cut it off or color it some ungodly color. The compromise is a wig. Santa brought her a bunch of Styrofoam mannequin heads so she could carefully place those wigs and whatever hat is popular at the moment (did I mention the love of hats, too?).

How many of you are Whovians out there? You know who you are. This child is a great fan of Doctor Who. Her favorite is the tenth doctor, but she tolerates the eleventh one well. I've watched a few episodes and it's a pretty interesting series. I decided to see if I could pull off a Doctor Who themed birthday party. She was giddy with excitement. We did loads of research and I was bummed that most everything Doctor Who related would have to be ordered from the UK. I put out a plea on the face of books and was shocked at how many Whovians came out of the woodwork to help me give this child an amazing party. The 11th Doctor wears a fez. She insisted everyone coming needed a fez. Gah. I didn't want to spend the money. What did she do? Bought the material and made them herself.

During the planning, it was discovered I was to have some surgery (more details in a later post). I was frantic to have this party fully ready to go as it was the night of my day surgery. I wasn't going to punish her because I had to get a few cuts. I had every detail taken care of before I left for the hospital that morning. The pizza was ordered, paid for, and to be delivered that evening. The cake was there and ready to go. All that had to happen was kids show up, Dad and Sissy chaperon, and let the fun happen!

I still can't believe it all went down without a hitch. I was still loopy from surgery, but managed to hang until around 9:00 p.m. The kids were fantastic and had an amazing time. The limit to invite was ten and nine made it. They were so sweet to me and I don't remember too awful much. (Yay for liquid painkillers!)

Now here comes the mushy part.

Makenna, you have no idea on this earth how proud I am of you. You make my heart swell with love and amazement at all you do. You have dreams and you're not afraid to chase them. If there is a task you want to do, you jump in with dogged determination and come out the other side successful. Your heart is generous and you love your family and friends fully. I am secretly sad that you will be grown and ready to chase those dreams into the world before I'm ready to let you go. I love you dearly and will always be the one in the audience clapping like crazy and telling everyone around me, "THAT'S MY BABY!!"  Thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part of your dreams, your thoughts, your journey.

*sniff*

Now, are you all ready for a few pictures?

This was her microphone she wore. This was at a last late rehearsal. No pictures allowed of the play itself due to copyright issues. Bummer.
 
 
Here is Martha Cratchit. She is the eldest daughter of Bob. Big sister to Tiny Tim. This is the alley behind her to the back of the theater. Not a dark scary place at all.
 

Opening night! The weather was beautiful so The Man, Boy, and myself sat outside on park benches and waited to go inside.

Sunday performance. A little on the tired side. She sat downstairs outside with  me to get a breath of fresh air.

Boy, does she look tired here! That would be snow from the last scene in her hair. She went through every performance and avoided that plastic snow until the last show. They seemed to try to use the last of it and everyone was covered.

Night before the party. We invited the tenth Doctor to attend in cut out form. This thrilled her beyond belief to have him there.
 

And here is the tardis. The time traveling machine. It and the Doctor now reside in her room.
 

So thankful for an amazing bakery that saw my vision and rose to the challenge of making a tardis cake. A picture is displayed on their face of book pages. The background is a galaxy gray with fairy dust mixed in to make it sparkle like stars. We all agree that we will never have a cake without fairy dust mixed in to make it sparkle.


Yes, this is The Shirt she has worn since she was 8 years old. I'm wondering if she'll be able to wear it for at least ten more years? That's my girl. The Birthday Princess.
 
 
 
 
Happy Birthday, Makenna!
 
 
 
We'll have to do a post on her wigs so you can see the different looks she has now. Thanks for sticking with me. There are quite a few things to catch up on so I'll be back very soon.





Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Simply a Good Marriage...

I've encountered a few questions here and there in the past year related to my surgery. Most are easy to answer...others make me stop and think a moment or two.

The one question I've been asked time and again is "How's your marriage? Is it better or worse?" Even my therapist has asked me that same question at least twice (is she trying to trip me up and get a different answer?)

I'll be glad to answer that question.

My marriage is amazing.

It is better than amazing. It's simply over the moon.

Nope. I'm not lying. Hand on the Bible. (and we all know how I love me some Jesus) I am telling the honest full complete truth.

I would have never had this surgery if I didn't have the support of my husband behind me 110%. Sure, it was ultimately my decision to make, but I needed him to be standing beside me every step of the way. And he has. He went to the seminars with me, doctor's appointments, pre-op appointments, and he was there when they wheeled me back to surgery and was waiting when I got back to the room. He knows as much as I do about the post-op life and keeps a loving eye on me when I eat to make sure I'm okay. He doesn't hover over me, but I know he's watching and when the food addiction wants to take control again, he's there to help me get a handle on that raging monster.

Many marriages don't survive a spouse having a drastic weight loss. Insecurities rise to the surface and the marriage can drown. Many WLS* patients who are in unhappy marriages pre-op find confidence that was deeply hidden after the weight loss and will spread their wings. My wings were never clipped so I never worried about my marriage drowning in the aftermath.

We have taken this walk together. I'm about 35 lbs smaller than when we met and started dating. Oh yeah....this man is loving the new and improved Miss Hope. I've rediscovered confidence I forgot existed. Then again, I'm paranoid and very reluctant to wear more fitted clothing. So many times I put an outfit on and critique it in the mirror (usually on Sunday mornings before church) and when I'm an inch away from changing into something else....he reassures me that it's fine and I believe him. He has ALWAYS called me "Beautiful", even when I didn't believe him because I knew what I looked like in the mirror. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but one day we were going on base/post and I looked at my military I.D. and then I put it beside my face and said, "Wow! Look at this!" He glanced over and did a double take. He then said the most memorable thing. He said..."Ya know, I never saw you like that. I just saw my beautiful wife."

Please, don't think we're not a normal couple. We disagree on occasion. I backseat drive better than anyone I know and it gets me lots of sideways eye rolls and huffs of exasperation. I also PMS like nobody's business once a month, and still he stays. I tend to nag when I ask for something to be done and weeks later I'm still waiting. Yet, here he stays.

Tomorrow is our 9 year wedding anniversary. We joke all the time that we've known each other 11 years total and STILL LIKE EACH OTHER! I can't imagine my life without him. I want to grow old with this man. I want to finish raising our kids, spoil grankids, and travel in our golden years with this man.

I am grateful my husband had an amazing upbringing with wonderful parents. I love his parents with all my heart and wish we lived closer to each other all the time. Anyone who knows my in-law's can testify I'm telling the truth. Neighbor Debbie and I share custody of them at times and she claims them for her own, too. I know I'm blessed to have such a loving relationship with my mother and father in-law. I cherish it and hold it close. They did an amazing job raising my husband (although my FIL would be glad to tell you a few stories about raising The Man that would make you think a little different!) and they love their grandchildren fully and completely. My children know the love of grandparents even though distance separates them. Thank you, Mrs. M and Mr. C!!! I owe you a debt of gratitude!

Raising kids isn't easy, either. This Man has been the most amazing father to my three babies. He may butt heads with the oldest at least once a week, but that gal knows her Daddy loves her. In fact, she'll text him quicker than she will me! The middle child is comfortable and confident in his love. They give each other a hard time and pick like crazy on each other, but she's quick to sit on his lap like she's still 2 years old when she needs a Daddy moment. Oh, that boy of ours. He is quite the handful, but that boy loves his Dad and his favorite time is when they go every three weeks to get a haircut and stop at the Waffle House for breakfast. It's their time and it's special. I thank God all the time for letting this man be the Father he is to these incredible people we've been blessed to raise.

I appreciate every single time he opens a door for me. I appreciate how he never fails to tell me I look nice/good/beautiful when we go somewhere. I appreciate how when we're sitting in the evenings watching t.v. and I look over at him and say..."Hey, I'll give you a dollar if you fix me something to drink (usually coffee)." and he will get up and do it. (I probably owe him a few hundred bucks by now.) I appreciate how he loves me and accepts me as I am....even when I can't.

Happy Anniversary, Honey. I look forward to many many more with you. There's nothing better than being able to tell you I love you every single day and mean it from the bottom of my heart.









*WLS-Weight Loss Surgery

Monday, September 10, 2012

New All the Way Around School Year

I am aware my younger two have been back in school a month. My College Kid has been walking the campus for a few weeks now. I didn't do the annual back to school picture of the youngest two as I wanted to include the oldest in on the post, too. Add in the fact that when the younger two started, I was wide open getting the oldest prepared to leave the nest. Holy cow! Preparing a kid to have their own place is expensive! I kept thinking of things I felt she would need and we had the Tahoe packed to the limit and her car when we took her that big Friday.

Of course, I took pictures to share with you all. I thought I'd share some and explain as we go. Kind of like an Edge Show and Tell post. Won't you come along for our first day pictures?


First day of 8th grade. For the first time since she was three years old, she has bangs. Granted, she was still learning how to make them work, but she loves them. I can't believe this tiny kid will be in high school next year!!


Yeah, she has personality. 


 When we went school shopping, this boy took off in the store after asking his size and did a little shopping of his own. I was kind of impressed. This is the shirt he picked out for his first day and I think he did pretty good. Man, that's a good looking guy!!




He picked out his backpack. I have to laugh at him wearing camouflage shorts. He is the exact opposite of a boy who wears camo. He loves those shorts, but I find it hard to match a shirt! I know. I know. Everything is supposed to go with camouflage. Not in my mind, people.


 We had the third row of seats down and this vehicle was packed to the limits that Friday morning. I told my husband that if we got hit on the road, we would literally explode.




 See this small amount of stuff? When we were checking Paige in to get her keys, I stayed in the truck with The Boy. This young kid pulled up in a small beater pickup truck beside us. He had an old bicycle thrown in the back and in his truck was a garbage bag, a blanket, a pillow, and cardboard box. That's it. All his worldly goods he thought important. I started laughing because I know that's how boys roll. That kid had less stuff than this pile right here.




We stopped for breakfast on the way. We laughed. We drank coffee. I enjoyed every single second I had with my girl. Yes, her siblings went with us. The Boy's psychiatrist felt it might be a good thing to take him to see where Sissy was going to live. It gives him a picture in his mind and it truly helped with the initial separation. It was definitely a family affair.



I may have texted my child more than a few times to beg for a first day of school picture. I threw the whole "I have one since you were in 3k so pleeeeeaaaaasssseeeee". She's a good girl and Mama got her picture. Look at my girl all growed up!!
 
 
 
It's been an adjustment all the way around. Third grade now has real grades! (Don't get me started over the past two years where he simply got S's). I admit I was nervous about the real grades and we worked in a 3rd grade workbook all summer and talked about grades and how important they are. I am THRILLED to say he got his interim report last week and has 100 averages thus far. Also, his teacher called to tell me he's been moved to a higher math level class. Chances are he'll be tested for gifted in the Spring. Who's bustin' buttons right now? This Mama!! Homework is a different story. It looks like the ADHD meds are wearing off earlier due to him taking them earlier in the day. He may have to take a "piggyback" medication in the afternoons so he can focus on homework and have calmer evenings. We're still contemplating this.
 
Eighth grade is what my Makenna loves. She has every single class with her best friend. Projects are the norm every single week and she never complains. Chorus is her passion and she's trying out for all-state this year. She's already researching fine art degrees. What?? I just tell her she can succeed greatly at whatever she decides. I love how this kid has a great group of friends and she's finally getting a little social on the weekends. She's always been content to sit at home, but now she's wanting to do sleep overs and go places! YaY....I think.
 
 
College has been an eye opener for Paige. First thing she realized is that there is much walking to be done. She's finding her way and we text quite a bit. I send her pictures of Prissy and her siblings on a regular basis. She even got a picture of her brother's first interim report. I have vowed to keep her involved in their lives and vice versa. She's had her car towed with a call full of panic to her Daddy. God bless the man because he can figure it all out over the phone and she had it back within the hour. She's making friends and exploring her new area. This past weekend, the air conditioner went out in her room/dorm/apartment. My child is not one to sweat so she got busy finding out how to fix her air. Suffice it to say, they will be getting a new motor in their A/C today. She was put out that her room mates were just going to sit there and swelter and suffer. I told her that's why I've made her do the things I did while she was growing up. You have to prepare these kids to take care of themselves! Another example to show you is the first week, she was taking the garbage out and chatted with the maintenance man. He was disgusted that the first night, there were a half dozen calls to come plunge toilets. The kids had no idea how to plunge a toilet. Paige blinked and informed him she's been plunging toilets since she was tall enough to do so. In fact, her Mama bought one and it was sitting beside her toilet at that moment. He was thrilled to hear this. I miss that girl with every fiber of my being, but I am so proud that she's out there and taking care of herself and having fun.
 
It's been interesting the past month for sure. I'm hanging in there and watching my kids grow at the speed of light. It feels like I'm going to blink and it will be Christmas morning!
 



Monday, August 20, 2012

One Blessed Year Later.....


(image courtesy of google images)
Well, hello!! Welcome to my celebration! Yes, my friends, it's been ONE year since my surgery. August 18, 2011 happened to be one serious life changing day for this ol' gal. 

Some people in the weight loss community call this a Surgiversary. I'm cool with that. I don't really remember being in the world much this time last year. Little did I know just how much life would be changing for me.

Since my last post wasn't the greatest in being positive, I have deemed my celebration post to be all positive.

Being positive will allow me to tell you about some of the NSV's I've experienced in the past twelve months. An NSV is a Non-Scale Victory. It's those little and big things that are not related to the scale. I've had a few that have made me happy, cry a little, and just plain out do a happy dance.

I think my favorite one is being able to cross my legs. You read that right. I love being able to cross my legs like a lady and not hurt. I was able to do this comfortably a few months ago and every single time I do it, I grin on the inside.

I've lost 8 sizes in clothes. Think about that a minute. Women's clothes go by 2's, you know (2,4,6, and etc). Suffice it to say, I was on the high end of the plus size spectrum. I now shop in the misses department with ease. Ha. No, I don't. The first time I went in the misses section was ....well, it was hard. My husband and I went to a store after supper out with the friends one night. I needed some pants. All of mine were falling off. He did a pit stop at the bathroom and I headed on to see to what I could find. I automatically went to the plus size section. When I got there, I realized the clothes were too big. I just stood there a minute. I walked over to the misses section and just stood there again. When my husband found me, I was literally about in tears because I was so overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. The choices! The styles! Oh my!! It's funny now, but it sure wasn't funny then. It's been 14 years since I've been able to shop in a section where the tags read small, medium, and large.

My fingers are thinner now. Since ring sizes go by half sizes, we can safely say the size 10.5 I wore before can't compare with the size 7 I can wear now. Yes, another eight sizes lost in the hands. Just within the past couple of weeks I had to go buy a simple wedding band. My original rings fell off long ago and the ring of my Mama's was too loose for me to feel safe wearing.

Let's talk about shoe sizes, too, shall we? I've worn a size 10 since I was ten years old. No joke. Firm foundation is what my Daddy has always called it. When I lost a hundred pounds fifteen years ago, I got down to a size 9. (I still miss those shoes!) Giving birth twice after that weight loss plus putting on a massive amount of weight, I've flirted with some size 11 shoes in the past couple of years. I've got plenty of size 10's, but some 11's have snuck into my closet. Lately, I've been buying size 9.5 shoes.

While on the subject of shoes, guess who has some sassy  heels? Yeah, baby, this GIRL has some heels. And you know what?? I can wear them without dying!! They are actually comfortable! And I feel awesome wearing them, too!

I am off of my cholesterol medication. That was HUGE for me. Having to take that medication scared me. In my mind, that was flirting with danger right there. My family doctor took me off of that medication within a couple months of the surgery and I've had blood tests to check for it every three months since then. I am officially off of it and not worried about it now.

My blood pressure blows my mind. I was an inch away from being put on medication before surgery. I was going to be just like my Mama and on blood pressure medication when I hit my 40's. Well, lo and behold, that stupid pressure has gone the opposite direction! Now, I have low blood pressure and get the dizzies when I stand up. My pulse is lower and I honestly don't feel like my body is struggling like it was 13 months ago.

What about sweat? Anyone who is overweight knows sweat intimately. It's what happens all the time no matter what the weather is like. Summer time is hard, especially in The South. There's nothing like trying to put on a little makeup during the summer and it basically starts melting off before you hit the front door. Lord help when you hit the humidity. There goes the rest of it down the drain. It has been wonderful not sweating all the time. In fact, I stay cold in buildings and keep coats in the trunk of the car. I feel sure I will be wearing thermal underwear this winter as my core temperature struggles to regulate. I read that may be problem for a year or two while my body adjusts. I'm perfectly fine with that.

I'm in therapy now. Can I just say I just love me some good therapy? I have no shame in admitting I need help with figuring out the root of my food addiction. I want to fix it. If I can't fix it, I want to understand it and have better tools in my arsenal to fight that demon that lives inside of me. I am very blessed that a renowned psychologist who specializes in addictions and treating WLS patients lives in this area. We're really digging into my psyche and I may fall apart before all is said and done, but if I do? Putting the pieces back together to make a better Miss Hope is worth it.

Pain is not a constant in my life anymore. I think I do have a tad bit of arthritis in my left hip, but years of being overweight and three pregnancies are big contributing factors with that issue. Before, just standing at the washing machine killed my back. Standing at the stove crippled my back with pain. Walking long distances (like simple grocery shopping throughout a grocery store) would almost put me in tears. I have none of those issues now. I can shop like a champ, walk the mall, and wash clothes all day long.

These are just a few NSV's that I wanted to share. I'm sure there are more, but I don't want to bore you all too much. You've been too patient with me like it is. I'm excited to experience more this upcoming year.

I...uh...went through my pictures trying to figure out what to share with you. I am ashamed of how bad I looked before surgery. Recently, a friend asked how much weight I had lost and I told them I was almost embarrassed to say because it meant I came from a bad place. I need to stop that. I made some poor choices with my food, health, and body. I stepped up and am now trying my best to work with this amazing tool I've been given so as to improve my food choices, my health, and my body. Yes, it was bad. Now it's not so much.

Thank you for hanging with me the past year. So many of you have supported me and I am forever grateful. The battle hasn't been won, but it's been a heck of a fight.

One year after surgery (give or take a day because you really don't start losing until the week after because of surgery and such).........


I HAVE LOST 140 LBS !!!!!!!!


(clicking on the collage should make it bigger for you to see. My computer guru is at college now and I had to muddle my way through this thing. Sorry!)


 This was me in January of 2011 during a visit for Neighbor Greg's Military Retirement. Silly me thought if the picture was from the neck up, you couldn't see the bad part. Yeah.






This was in the past month. Neighbor Debbie gave me that lovely necklace for my birthday and when I wore it to church, I took a picture for her as proof I loved it.



I went this morning for my one year visit with the surgeon. He said he declares me a success thus far. So do I. All my nutrition levels are good and I am to keep doing what I'm doing. I do believe I shall. I'm having a few issues with the gall bladder and it will probably have to come out sooner rather than later. Eh, that's pretty standard for WLS kids.  (For some reason, the gall bladder surgery TERRIFIES me.) He also said my coffee addiction love is okay, too.

I'm feeling pretty decent, Internets. Yep...pretty dang decent.