Flu shots, travel, friends and protein powder

Pumpkins on the StairsDid you get your flu shot?  Not the H1N1 version, the one for regular seasonal flu?  I got mine yesterday on campus after standing in line for about 3 minutes.  A simple verification that I’m not allergic to eggs and never had a bad reaction to a flu shot, a little stick, a round bandaid and I was on my way back to work.  Most of my colleagues have had their shots, those who aren’t home sick for days.  Now that our staffing levels are reduced, one person’s absence really makes more of a difference than ever before.  But I don’t want germy people who are feeling lousy to come into work and that includes me.  I do better work if I’m healthy coz my head doesn’t get all fuzzy.

I had a great trip to Chicago last weekend.  The flights were on time and even landed early.  We escaped the tornado watches/warnings.  The AALL work went extremely well; the committee members were in synch and pumped to select and schedule67 programs from 192 proposals for next year’s annual meeting.  You learn a lot about how and how not to write a successful proposal.  It’s amazing how much following directions makes a difference.

After the meetings, I spent the rest of my time with my best friend Phyllis and her family.  She’d moved to a new (to her) house and this was my first time to see it.  I”m a visual person and it helps enormously to be able to picture someone in a place – provides a context.   We went out to eat, played with the adorable shih-tzu puppies, checked out estate sales and did a little shopping – and talked and talked non-stop.  We haven’t seen each other in far too long and this visit was very needed.  Love you, Phyllis!

This weekend one of my errands is to visit the General Nutrition store to investigate samples of whey protein.  Although the expectation is that I will be eating real food as a lapbander (though not in the first two weeks post-op), many patients report using powdered protein in smoothies and to mix in with other foods like soup, pudding, and cottage cheese to boost the protein levels.  I’m to eat a minimum of 60 gm of protein per day and the more I eat, the more I’ll lose – except my hair, which would start to fall out if protein levels fall.

But I need to be able to eat it, not gag.  And obviously all protein powders are not created equal.  All I know is that whey protein is the way to go, and I want to figure out what I want to at least start with since I won’t be out driving around for a week or so post-op.  If you use protein powder yourself, let me know what you recommend.  I’ve heard good things about Unjury, Optimum, and Isopure – but haven’t tasted any of them yet, so what do I know?

Flying off to Chicago

I’ve been running around like a crazy person tonight after getting gas and making an ATM stop on the way home from work.  I vacuumed, changed the litter box, did laundry, packed, sorted out my computer and paperwork stuff and made a fuss over the cat.   The clock goes off at 4:00 am so I can finish up in the morning, cuddle the kitty, and head for the airport.  Since I am totally not a morning person, this will be interesting.  At least this flight doesn’t leave at 6am; those are the pits.

This is a short combo work/play trip.  The work is first — meetings on Friday from 1:00-5:00, then again on Saturday from 8:00-3:00.  We are selecting programs for our professional association’s annual meeting next summer.  I’m chairing the committee next year so I’m shadowing the current chair to learn the ropes.  My best friend is picking me up after the Saturday meeting and we’re going to just hang out and visit for the rest of the weekend.  It’s not a long visit, but it’s long overdue.  I head home on Monday around noon.

Five weeks from today is my surgery and I have lots to do before that.  Many medical visits for pre-op tests.  My health plan requires that I do the EKG and bloodwork at the health plan building, then go to the hospital for the rest of the pre-admission screening.  Though I’m not totally sure what else there is at that point.  The schedule is getting crowded, though, and I hope I can keep it all straight.  Plus other stuff like haircuts, oil change, cat to the vet for checkup, visit to the nutrition store to check out protein powder, etc., etc.

For now, though, it’s Chicago on my radar.  As soon as CSI is over, I’m off to bed so I can wake up way too early and start the weekend.  Have fun, everyone!

Shopping in my Closet and Dresser

The clothes I’ve been wearing lately have gotten loose (or in some cases, started to really fit properly for the first time in ages).  The pants are silly coz they stretch out a bit when they’ve been worn and look even bigger.  But my biggest concern really was the bras.  The ones I’ve been wearing have been stabbing me with the underwires which is not the way I prefer to go through my day.  My plan was to drag out the sewing machine and try another little repair job (this is not the first time the evil wires have been a problem).

Instead, though, I went shopping in my dresser.  Stuffed in the back of the top drawer were some old bras from the “before days.”  I did not expect them to fit but since the newer ones were hopeless, I pulled one out just to see how far I needed to go to get into it – and it FIT.  Honestly, it feels so much better and is staying in place the way the newer ones have been doing lately.  Because, um, they were too big.

Interesting.  It’s kind of novel to think about clothes being too big.  My idea of fitting is actually being loose instead of hugging lumpy curves.  But I’ve lost almost 36 lbs and it’s obvious that it’s time to look at those clothes in the closet and tucked away in the chest just in case.

So I tried on a few more, some pants that I thought were wayyyy too small – and they are small, but I can see myself wearing them again by November.  I haven’t worn them in over two years.  I tried on some sweaters and things that were impossibly snug almost fit and will be available to me when the weather changes enough to need to actually wear sweaters.

I know, of course, that with the WLS this fall, that my shape will be changing and I need to really pull out what’s stored away and separate it by size, using Vickie‘s criteria of “would I buy this again?” rather than just “does it fit?”  Most of us have a ton of stuff in different sizes that we bought because it fit but once we had it home and wore it a few times, we realized that Stacy and Clinton would not approve.  I’d rather have a small wardrobe of things that look good on me than more clothes that make me look not my best.  That goes for coats, too.  I already have another bag of clothes to drop off at the Salvation Army today.  Makes room for me, gives good clothes to someone who needs them. That’s a win-win situation in my book.

I am Having Weight Loss Surgery Next Month

I’m doing it.  On October 29, I am having weight loss surgery using the lapband method.   It’s not an easy choice in many ways, but for me, it is the right choice.   Over the last 3 months, I’ve done all the official prep with referrals and evaluations from a psychologist and a clinical nutritionist.  I’ve had blood work done and filled out multiple long questionnaires with dozens of questions.  I’ve read Weight Loss Surgery for Dummies and read blogs and research sites both in favor and against the surgery.  I’ve thought and pondered and prayed.

Lapband in PlaceLast week I met with the surgeon and another 10 lapband patients for a bariatric education session.  First was the office itself.  I sat in a chair and felt my legs dangle as I realized that everything was big enough for me.  We all were looking around at the armless chairs right next to each other without spilling over and feeling too fat for the chairs.  We found out later that those were bariatric chairs and could hold 1000 pounds.  Getting weighed was simple and done in a way that didn’t make my tummy flip; we never saw or were told the weight.  The BP cuffs were all for large people.

The surgeon is Austrian and has been doing lapband surgery for over 10 years; it was legal in Europe and other parts of the world before it was approved here in the US.  He was relaxed and approachable, encouraging us to ask all the questions we could think of.   He explained the procedure, drew pictures, and passed around a lapband for us to examine.  He was frank about the possible complications while also talking about what this particular center had experienced since they started doing the procedure in 2006.  We know what to expect and all of us are excited but also nervous because now it’s real.  And it’s considered major surgery even though the lapband is much less of a big deal than the RNY bypass procedure.

Next week I go back for my individual appointment, including a physical and going over specifics for my case.  From there I go to the hospital to have my EKG and meet with the anesthesiologist.  Next month I will see my primary care doctor for a regular follow up and then a bunch of bloodwork.  After that, it’s prep time for weeding out the pantry and stocking up on the things I’ll be able to eat in those first few weeks after surgery.  And cleaning and getting fresh library books.

I will be out of work for two weeks and a few days.  I want to stay home through the first 2 weeks and my first visit to the doctor to have my stitches out and get a fill for my band.  As he explained to us, the stomach gets swollen as a result of the surgery and it takes about 2 weeks for the swelling to go down.  Those first 2 weeks we have nothing but liquid and a little Ensure for some protein – not as a punishment, but because the tummy is too swollen for anything solid to get through the pouch to the stomach.  We don’t want that.

Yes, I will eat differently for the rest of my life.  I can and will adjust to it. I’m fortunate in that I live alone with no other human family to feed, so meals will be easy – and they don’t have to be boring.  Just not huge.  The first six weeks will be a learning time and I’m glad I’m staying put for the next few months so I know I’ll have access to what I need while I’m still looking it up regularly to be sure I know what I’m doing.

Exercise starts the day of or the day after surgery and continues as a key component of post-op life.  This isn’t a plan for people who want to just sit around and watch TV.  Given that I have big knee problems, I will be adding different options.  I have some exercise DVD’s at home with a set of graduated weights and those therabands that I’ve used in PT, and I’m almost back into the bathing suit I last used for water aerobics at the gym.  As I get lighter and knee has less weight on it – and as I strengthen the muscles around it – I’ll be able to take on more cardio options.

I know this is not the choice that some or all of you would make, and that some readers think this is the cheating, fast, no-commitment method to avoid the long hard challenge of losing weight counting points, carbs, fats, proteins, salt, fiber, and anything else that we watch.  We, because I’ve been watching them in one way or another since I was 11 years old.

This is my choice and I’m taking on the risks and limitations that go with it, to get to a better place medically under the supervision of a nationally recognized bariatric surgical center and with the support of my primary physician, my family and my friends.

I’m ready.

Rob is on the Eagles Practice Squad!

Rob Myers practicing with the EaglesThis week was BIG for professional football.  After weeks of summer training camps and four weeks of pre-season games, all NFL teams had to cut their 80-man training roster down to 53 for the football season.

Rob signed with the Eagles at the very end of the training camp period and five days later was playing in the first pre-season game against the New England Patriots, featuring QB Tom Brady’s return after missing almost all of last season.  It was memorable.  He played in all 4 games, had a groin pull, but recovered nicely and played last week at tight end and special teams.

On Tuesday the Eagles cut down from 80 to 75 players, and yesterday they, and all other teams, cut down to 53.  Rob got the call yesterday that he was on waivers, but today was one of 4 players signed to the Eagles practice squad.  There will be 8 on the squad by Monday, I think, but we are excited, proud and relieved that his time as an NFL player will continue.  It’s just awesome.

My parents and I have learned way more than we ever thought we’d care to know about football and know we’ll continue to learn more.  I know that the practice squad, well, practices with the 1st string players as they prepare for the next week’s game.  If anyone gets injured, they can call up a practice guy to play in the game.  Mostly I know this is a real job and Rob is living his dream.  One of his friends from training camp was also signed to the practice squad, and they’re talking about getting an apartment together.  They’re both from Texas and their sisters know each other at college, so we’re practically related.

What this all tells me is that if you have dreams, make them goals, break them down into small steps and take them one by one until you can look back and say, wow, I really did get here. What seemed insurmountable is accomplished one step at a time.

Yayyyyy, Robo!  I’m proud of and excited for you for working your butt off and taking advantage of every opportunity to live your dream.