Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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Three Months Later

I now have three months of Noom under my belt – but that belt fits differently now. I weigh every day but on the first day of each month, I also take measurements. It’s a non-scale way to measure change.

And as of today, I’ve lost 36.6 lbs and 13.5 inches. I’m down two sizes in clothes. Even jewelry fits differently; necklaces are longer, bracelets actually dangle instead of strangle. Shoes will be next.

My closet is mostly purged of things that are too big and I’ve added clothes that fit or will soon be wearable from eBay and strategic purchases before we were in Stay-Home mode. I even have some Lands End pants from my working days that now fit.

Right now under the stress of COVID-19 and restricted movements, the only thing I can really control is what I put in my mouth. I am so very grateful that Noom has given me tools to change how I eat and how I relate to food. It’s not a diet, it’s a new way of eating. And it works. Who knew?

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Yes, I know weight matters

Fat woman in a bikini

You don’t get to be 65 years old without knowing that carrying around excess weight matters. It matters in how I look, how clothes fit, what hairstyles work, what shape glasses to wear. It matters in how the joints feel and how the spine compresses to pinch nerves. It matters in how fast I can (or can’t) move and how my feet hurt. It matters. I get it.

This has been Medical Month with tests and assorted doctors. And I’m sick of all of them. Each office, even if connected to the same hospital system, has forms to fill out and require me to produce insurance cards and a list of current medication. No, it hasn’t changed since I saw the other doctor on Monday.

Every visit starts with stepping on the scale, which for me means not eating or drinking for at least 3 hours before going, because every ounce matters. Then they take my blood pressure and wonder why it’s high. Because you just made me get on another scale, morons.

If I’m lucky, the medical person, be it nurse or doctor, will listen to me explain why I’m there. But mostly I think they are concentrating on something else because I have to repeat what I said before they seem to comprehend it. Then they tell me that I should lose weight, eat fewer carbs, and exercise more.

Really? REALLY? You think I got to age 65 as a morbidly obese person and never heard that before? Do you think I don’t know that my weight complicates things for my joints and my heart? That people who weigh what I do chop years off of their lifespan? Do you think you are the first person to EVER tell me that losing weight would help?

You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me if you think that’s true. I have been overweight since I was 10, when I remember being put on a diet by a skinny mom. I learned to despise squash and cottage cheese because fat girls needed to eat that to help lose weight. I’ve damaged my body and my spirit by yo-yo dieting for 50 years. Massive amounts of weight, my friend. And I’ve always gained back every pound and more.

Except this time. I had lapband surgery 10 years ago and gained most of it back, but I am still 40 pounds below my top weight from before surgery. This is the first time EVER that this has happened. For me to stay at the same weight, or within 5 pounds of it, for 4 years is a MAJOR accomplishment. So telling me to lose more, to get to an ideal weight, is laughable. And it’s not going to happen.

It hurts me when you see me as just a big blob. I need you to LISTEN to me when I tell you I will eat carefully, I will try to move more, but if I die tomorrow, I’m good. I’ve counted calories and fat grams and points and protein for long enough. I can’t do it anymore.

I am more than the size of my body. I am someone who feels and hurts and laughs and loves her family and friends and her sweet cats. And if I do not lose another pound, I will not blame you if something goes wrong with my heart or my back. That’s on me.

I’m practicing being strong because I have two more medical appointments next week, and I know they will have me get on a scale before they even talk to me. I’m not looking forward to it.


Two Years and Three Weeks Later

On April 4, 2009, I rejoined Weight Watchers. Again. For the eleventy-third time.  I was mildly thinking about bariatric surgery and knew that I would have to have 6 months of a proven track record in an accountable weight loss program, and that WW would count.  But the only thing I was committing to was following a sensible program to reverse the weight-gain process and see what happened.

Who knew where that would lead?  I certainly didn’t – because I was taking one next step at a time, as they came up, and didn’t obsess about getting to an unrealistic place.  Those steps led to lapband surgery, working with a personal trainer, and most recently plastic surgery to get rid of excess skin.  (Which I’ve told you about in excruciating detail.)

Two years and three weeks after walking into WW, I stepped on the scale and realized I was at my goal weight of 175 lbs (well, okay, 175.2 but I’m still counting it).   I’ve lost 46% of my starting weight for a total of 137 lbs.  The last time I was at this weight was when I was in grad school 34 years ago.

Why didn’t I jump online and tell you all about it, you ask?  Well, I confess to putting it up on Facebook and getting some very supportive responses.  But mostly I wanted to just sit with it a while and let it settle in.

Many people start a weight loss journey at this point and don’t understand why I would stop at 175 lbs when in BMI terms it’s still obese.  But I’m where I had secretly wanted to be when I started all those months and years ago.  I don’t pretend to be skinny.  I will never be down to 125 lbs, nor do I want to.  My primary care doctor set my goal weight at 165-175, and I do intend to lose another 5-6 lbs.  There is no hurry, though, and it will get easier when I’m allowed to get back to the gym.

I’m now 9 weeks out from my plastic surgery, something I had no intention of doing when I had my lapband surgery much less when I started back at WW.   The arms are healed and back to full functionality; the belly still has a little bit to go but then, it was major abdominal surgery.  Sometimes I forget that.  Just another step, though a dramatic one.  But it was the right choice for me, at the right time.

One WW tool I learned (and remembered) was anchoring; having something very specific to see or touch to remind me of what I’ve accomplished and what my goals are.  For me, that’s a silver Pandora bracelet for my weight loss journey.  I already have a clock (it was time), an owl (a wise decision), Chinese symbol for happiness, a present (a gift to myself), a Christmas tree (for the pictures that opened my eyes for the need), a queen bee (“Never underestimate the power of a woman”), an embossed Inner Strength bead, a dangling tennis shoe (exercise and the gym), and pretty glass beads.

Next step:  buy two final charms, one a pair of dangling scissors (for surgical “cutting”) and a butterfly.  For the new me.


More Than You Wanted to Know About My Plastic Surgery

This is going to be a bit long but I wanted to get this down for myself and for anyone else who may be considering doing this particular combination of plastic surgery options. After a 130lb weight loss, from a combo of WeightWatchers and lapband, I maintained my weight for 5 months within a 3 lb range. My insurance paid for an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and bilateral brachioplasty (upper arm lifts) – I was extremely fortunate to have both covered, as that rarely happens. Here’s how it went:

My procedure took 5 hours, for which I was intubated and catheterized (fortunately not while I was awake to know about either one). Between belly and arms, the surgeon removed ten pounds of skin and fat, but mostly skin. There was no liposuction. However, post-op, the doctor told me that they had done a bit of muscle contouring in the lower belly to achieve the goals we wanted. Which meant more pain and a slightly harder recovery but a better ultimate result.

The tummy tuck incision is along the bikini line (not that I’ve ever worn one, but you get the idea), and it went completely across my front and wrapped slightly around the sides, ending on the side of my butt. Surgical drains (4) were inserted on both ends beyond that point to drain out fluids, help reduce swelling and improve healing. They are emptied and contents measured 3 times a day. I’m hoping hoping hoping that the drains will be removed on Tuesday’s post-op visit coz they are a pain in the butt – literally.

The very long incision is covered by Tegaderm, a clear acrylic dressing that helps hold the skin together for a more narrow scar, protect the incision from bacteria, and serves as a barrier to water. Supposedly I can keep it on for up to 2 weeks at a time, even through showers. (Not that I’ve had one yet; those stupid drains have to go first.)

My belly button is original but it was reattached when the skin was tightened so I have a dressing over that, too. And on top of everything I have a giant abdominal compression binder that feels like a corset. It actually does feel good to have the extra support, especially if I start to cough, and my drains are clipped to the top, which fits just under the bra line. Not exactly attractive but it works.

Now on to the arms: incisions are on the bottom of the arms (think holding your arms out to the side, palm forward; what’s on the bottom got trimmed up) and run from the elbow into the armpit. These incisions are also covered with Tegaderm and I have dressings that run from my back to front inside the armpit. It is next to impossible to make them stay in place. I also have ace bandages wrapped on both arms.

Believe it or not, this 5-hour procedure was day surgery. My insurance (and university) allowed me to transfer in a wheelchair van from the surgical center to the university health inpatient facility for 4 nights, and it made a HUGE difference. Just having two people at a time help me get out of bed was huge (just try getting up when your belly feels sliced open and you can’t put any weight on your arms). There is simply no way I could have managed home-care on my own, or even if I had someone there to help me.

My first week post-op was spent in the infirmary and at home, loopy on percoset, wrapped up like a mummy and dressed in my fleece pajamas. Because getting in and out of bed is so hard, I haven’t napped in bed since I got home. I get into bed by sitting on the side and looping a scarf around one foot at a time to pull the legs up without pulling on the abs.  I sleep with bed wedge pillow to elevate my head and a big pillow under my knees to keep the body in a folded position, also to reduce stress on the abs.

As of now, I feel physically a lot better than I did even yesterday; every day is an improvement. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how the surgeon’s office thinks I can change the dressings on my own. The ones for the drains are on my BUTT and the ones on my armpit run front to back – how the heck do I change the dressings when my arm movement is restricted by stitches? I’m also apparently incapable of correctly wrapping ace bandages on my arms – again, having each one hampered by incisions is not making it easier. I saw my primary care doctor on Friday for a quick checkin and the nurses changed the dressings for me – and asked me how anyone thought I should be able to do them myself. No idea coz I have the same question.

I go back to the surgeon’s office on Tuesday – Day 14 from surgery. I am really hoping the drains come out and I get permission to drive plus a signed note to return to work. I need to find out what the long term plans are for those awful “under the armpit” dressings and when the stitches come out (the ones in the arms; the lower big incision are absorbable). I am still swollen and will be for a while, but every day that gets better and the more I return to normal life activities, the better that will get. No workouts at the gym, certainly, but even the usual ups and downs of standing, sitting, walking here, stairs, etc. will make me feel more normal.

And I can’t wait to get rid of the red moleskin shirt I’m currently wearing. I look pregnant because of the drains clipped in the front on the binder, and this is the only thing (other than my fleece pajamas with polar bears wearing pink scarves) that can cover the drains. Do you think burning it would be too excessive? Only after I’m fitting back into other things again, of course 🙂


Christmas Then and Now

Two years ago I spent Christmas with my family in Texas.  I weighed in at 312 lbs and was sad and not in a good place with my body or my weight.  This year I went again, weighing 182.2 lbs and oh, what a difference!








Everyone I saw told me how beautiful I was, asked me how I did it, didn’t I feel wonderful, was it hard, what could I eat, etc.  And I found I had a hard time knowing what/how to respond, other than to say “thank you.”

I’m in a good place now, a stable place.  I’m proud of my accomplishments, because they are considerable and have been life-changing.  I’ve lost 130 lbs and enjoy shopping for clothes and finding things that both fit and flatter.  My belly and upper arms are annoying because of all the extra skin, but I’m having medically necessary plastic surgery in March to have those areas trimmed (at last I think we’re doing the arms; it depends on insurance).

Back in 2008 I said: “I don’t want to diet. I want to eat sensibly in moderation, to enjoy a variety of food, to ease the stress on my knees, to be comfortable in my body and with myself.  That may be mutually exclusive.  All I can do is try and take things one small step at a time.”

That pretty much describes where I am now.  Emotionally I’m in a very calm place.  I haven’t really found the weight loss to be hard this time, not since I heard the “click” that said “It’s time now” and took it one step at a time.