Thanksgiving 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I spent the day home with the kitty, except for a little trip to Walmart to see if I could nab a fake Christmas tree before things go bananas tomorrow with the Black Friday shoppers.   I went to the dinky little store near my house, which is a really terrible store, and their selection was meh.  If I’m feeling up to it, I may go to the real store later this weekend – or else just be content with a 5′ fake tree I spotted at Home Depot.  I’m allergic to real trees, which is why I bother.

Last week I was able to add fish into my diet, and that went well – tho to be honest, the idea of actually cooking fish just to get a 2 oz serving wasn’t appealing, so I mostly just had tuna, which is soft and comes in little cans perfect for taking into the office.  I’m not in love with plain tuna, though, so looked forward to being able to add chicken this week.  For Thanksgiving I cooked a small chicken in the crockpot, yielding so much meat I wondered why I did a whole chicken instead of just a breast.  Oh well, lots to freeze for future meals.

So far my system is doing well.  It’s been 4 weeks today since my surgery and I had my first fill of 1.5 cc of saline into the lapband on Monday.  My next one will be just before Christmas.  So far I’m not noticeably less hungry but am still limited to 8 oz/day (tho I’m kind of stretching it a little bit).  Still, I’m taking in under 350 calories/day at this point and as soon as I’m healed up, I’m looking forward to having more variety.   Here’s the total change since April:

Last weekend I was up in Foxboro, MA, to visit my nephew who plays football with the New England Patriots.  He’s been on the practice squad for a month and his dad flew up for the weekend and went to the big game with him on Sunday.  It was great to see them again after almost a year, especially since the family will be in Texas for Thanksgiving without either of the New England contingent.

I’m looking forward to a low-key sleep-in long weekend.  I have no leftovers except chicken but am just as happy not to be in a carb-coma on the couch after eating too much food I didn’t really want or need.  My two weeks off post-op really spoiled me for lazy quiet days so I’m thrilled to have these now, and the promise of a long Christmas recess break in just a few weeks.

For now, hope your holiday was happy, your family and friends are healthy, and your weekend is relaxed.

Heading back to work tomorrow

Pumpkins on the StairsMy restful healing time off is over and I head back to the office tomorrow morning.  After 2 1/2 weeks of sleeping until I woke up, the clock will rudely awaken me at 5:30am.  Tessie and I have gotten used to not hearing the clock, and I’m not sure which of us will be most deeply asleep when the assault comes.  She’s going to miss me lots, as I will her.

But I’m getting bored at home, and lonely.  I only had one visitor while on my leave and although I’ve talked to plenty of people by phone, email and Twitter, it’s just not the same as face to face people contact.  I’m guessing that close to 1/2 of the day tomorrow will be spent checking in with people and seeing how much stuff piled up in anticipation of my return.

I feel a little as though I’m in high school.  What will I wear?  What will I do for lunch?  What if I forget my password(s)?  What if no one likes me?  Well, okay, that one isn’t really an issue.  But still.  What will I wear?  I’ve lost 12 lbs since I was there last, and have clothes for it being colder but not so much for the 50’s.  But I want to show off a little and not go in on day one wearing ultra-baggy clothes.  We’ll see.

Food will be a little tricky.  I’m eating small bits 5-6 times a day and am bringing some of those teeny Glad plastic bowls so I can divide up some yogurt from the dining hall (I know they have some I can eat) so I can split it into different “meals”.  Tomorrow is the first day of Category Two, which means I can add fish to the menu, but it makes sense to try it at home first before bringing tuna to work, in case my body has problems.

As for the passwords, well, I’m hoping finger memory will bring them back when I need them.

Real Food Tastes Wonderful

funny-pictures-kitten-and-stuffed-animal-make-a-punNot that I’m eating a lot of it.  But still, it’s way more tasty than endless ounces of water, Crystal Light, and my small portions of ensure.   No, I’ve graduated to 8 oz of soft food per day.  This week that includes eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, mashed potatoes, thin oatmeal, and canned or cooked fruit and veggies.

After seeing the doctor yesterday for my follow up, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things to make sure I had the right stuff since my shelves were pretty bare of almost everything except at least a dozen little tubes of Crystal Light tubs.  I was almost overwhelmed by the amount and colors and aromas of food in the store and was glad I had a very small list and could spend not too much time.  I’m not ready to be around accessible food like that.

My first meal was 2 oz of 0% Fage with 1 canned peach slice.  It took me 30 min. to eat and tasted divine.  Dinner was 2 scrambled eggs, except I couldn’t eat both – it was too much food – so I gave the last part to the kitty, who gobbled it up.  She’s thrilled that mommy is back to having food she eats on plates for her to investigate.

My incisions are healing nicely, especially now that the bandaids are off (somehow everyone forgot to mention that I only needed them for 2 days post-op – I think they need to rewrite some of their documentation).  I go back to the surgeon in 2 weeks for my first saline fill.

For those who don’t know, the lapband system has the actual band part itself, which separates out a small pouch at the top of the stomach.  It holds about 1 oz at a time.  The band fits around the pouch and is connected with very tiny tubing under the skin to a port that’s sutured under the skin in the middle of the abdominal area.   Nothing is visible to the naked eye except the surgery scars.

Inside the little band is a tiny balloon that is filled with saline solution injected into the port, going down the tubing and filling the balloon, thus tightening the band to make it more restricted.  Except of course they only fill a tiny bit at a time, and sometimes fluid can be removed if the band is too tight.  My whole band only holds 10 cc of fluid, which is not much.   It’s a dance of sorts to find the “sweet spot” of fullness that allows me to eat/drink what I need but restricts me from overdoing it and eating everything in sight.  Not that that’s likely now, since I get full on an ounce of yogurt!

I’m feeling good, except for my continuing knee pain, and as of this morning, and down 59.2 lbs since April.  I don’t really know my surgery day weight, since I gained about 7 lbs of fluids while I was in the hospital and lost all of those plus another 10 lbs.  The doctor told me to expect only about 5-6 lbs more in the next two weeks, which still sounds pretty good to me.

I pulled some clothes out and realized I can wear things I haven’t worn in at least 4 years – and some things are too silly looking to keep wearing.  It helped that I saw Stacy & Clinton yesterday on a WNTW rerun, and their makeover victim candidate’s before clothes looked a lot like mine.  Major incentive to weed!

One Week Home Post-op

Cute Girl with a Basket of ApplesIt’s hard to believe that I came home from the hospital a week ago today.  I still have band-aids and a gauze bandage over my incisions, but the stitches come out on Monday.  They’re starting to be itchy so I know they’re healing up.  Yayyy!

I went for a driving outing today, my first time out since I came home.  It was weird to be driving during the middle of the day on a weekday.  Usually when I’m out driving to run errands, it’s a busy weekend afternoon.  I’m on familiar roads and looking for lane changes and parking.  But today it was crisp and clear day.  The leaves are mostly turned and fallen to the yards and sidewalks in big piles, though there were some faded gold holdouts.

I went to Walmart looking for sugar free Torani syrupsHungry Girl talks about them a lot and uses the syrups, not in fancy coffee drinks, but to flavor shakes and in other recipes.  They’re popular on the banded community to add variety to protein drinks.  Though available online, I wanted to see what I could score locally, and rumor had it that Walmart had a small supply.  I bought everything I found (which wasn’t much) – vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and raspberry.  I can see myself adding some into yogurt when I’m able to eat it.  I’m really craving a gingerbread flavor and may resort to buying that from Amazon.

Coming home I got lost and ended up in a nice little meandering side trip that was calming and mind-clearing through back roads, soft hills, and the unmistakable feel of late fall.  I know we have some warmer weather coming up this week (62 sounds very balmy at this time of year) but I also know it won’t last, so better to enjoy what I have when I have it.

For exercise I walked up and down all the aisles of Walmart, even the food ones, as well as a loop at the complex.   I could feel almost every step and every deep breath in my upper left shoulder, something that seems to be not uncommon for bandsters.  Right now I have a heating pad on it and am planning to sleep on the right side tonight since it’s sore.

My body feels more sensitive, or else I’m just more aware of it.  My tummy is sore only in the middle; the other incisions itch but look pretty good (I peeked when I replaced band-aids). My hair is falling out a bit, more because I was cutting back on food pre-op than because I’m not eating now, tho I’ll pay for this later.  I get hungry but not in the before-hungry way; my small Ensure meals do fill me up and I’m drinking all the time.  My face looks thinner and every morning the scale drops a bit – not leaps and bounds, but I’m down to territory I haven’t seen in almost 4 years.

It feels good to have some time off work, to sleep until Tessie and I wake up (yesterday was our 2nd anniversary together).  To watch West Wing episodes in the morning, then taking walks, futzing around the house, playing with the kitty, and catching up on things left undone, followed by more walking.  All with a water bottle in my hand and my tiny measured sips of Ensure.   I’m almost completely caught up on my sleep and am ready for new things.

You Too Can be Satisfied with 2 oz per Meal

Orchid close-upI read up on all of this stuff before the surgery – before even committing to the surgery.  And I sort of wondered at the time how it would actually work to be on clear liquids for two weeks.  Well, clear liquids plus 8 oz of Ensure or Boost, delivered as four 2-oz portions.  Sounded kind of silly but it was an improvement over the 1-oz serving they gave me at the hospital after I had the barium test and had proven I could actually swallow.

But the reality is different.  I drink  64 oz of water and Crystal Light a day, plus my single can of Ensure spread out into 4 meals.  And I’m really full.   I forgot that I could also have sugar free popsicles until today, but just nibbled on an Hawaiian pineapple pop and it was soooo tasty.  I don’t know when I move from one stage to another, but as long as I’m in the clear liquids stage, there’s no point in being whiny about it.   Changes will come when it’s time.

I should be out walking more and I promise that tomorrow I will take 3 walks outside instead of the one outside and one inside.   My concern is that as the pain meds become a thing of the past (yes, that quickly – go figure), my knee and back pains are coming back.  In the hospital, they didn’t hurt at all.  But now, yeah.   So it’s a line to walk between getting the exercise in, and I know I need it, and taking care of the other pains.  It’s also colder out so the arthritis is kicking in.

But excuses are not acceptable.  One thing that’s to my advantage while I’m staying home for this recovery period is that I have a crack at the fitness center here in the complex.  Mostly I avoid it like the plague because 1) it’s small, 2) equipment doesn’t always work, and 3) the student residents seem to have claimed it.  Hopefully during the day it might be easier to get in and use a treadmill or maybe the elliptical.

So the plan for tomorrow is to actually walk up to the main building and ENTER the fitness center to check it out.  The walk alone is more than I’ve done in quite a while (and it’s not even that far, I’m just lazy) and it will be a good goal.  If I’m tired, I’ll just rest up there for a bit before heading back, which is downhill anyway.  And I will come back knowing what, if any, the options are for me up there to use while I’m home and unable to drive.

I feel pretty good, just a little tired and sore around the middle when I move weird.  So far, so good!