Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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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.


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2011: The Year in Review

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here; interactive chat with friends has been more appealing than writing a blog post these days.  But I’m feeling delinquent and out of touch, especially with those of you I only see in blog-land.  Rather than try to catch up, here’s a sum up of 2011:

Year of Surgeries:

  • Surgery #1 on March 2:  elective plastic surgery to remove hanging belly skin and upper arm lifts.  I was out of work for 3 weeks and took another 4-5 before I was really feeling good.  The arms look amazing and I relished wearing sleeveless tops this summer.  However, I also had complications – abscesses along the lower suture line, and the discovery of a serious infection in my lapband port area.  The surgery wasn’t connected to the lapband at all, but the moved belly button was less than 2 inches from the port and, well, things happen.
  • Surgery # 2 on August 2:  removal of the infection, surrounding tissue, and the lapband port.  I had an open wound that is still not 100% healed up, tho it’s not a problem.  I ended up missing work time due to daily nurses for wound care.  Necessary but annoying.
  • Surgery #3 on Nov. 22:  Lapband port revision, aka putting in a new port to replace the one that was removed during the infection surgery.  Went extremely well and I’m now starting the process of getting fills to complete

Exercise:

This did not go well in 2011.  All the surgeries didn’t help, as my ability to exercise was limited for long chunks of time.  My personal trainer moved to a different gym 45 minutes away, which is just not convenient for me.  Rather than switch to a new trainer, I’ve decided to let it go for a year, save the money, and work on my own.  I know it’s not the best solution but for now, it’s my choice.  And $110/month adds up nicely.  I still have my gym membership, mind you – just gave up the training.

Weight:

I’ve been eating off-plan since the March surgery.  Major abdominal surgery will do that to you, especially with the fear of having to throw up under those conditions, but I continued to maintain the loss until my surgery in August, which removed all lapband restrictions.  They’re still not back and I can really see the difference.   I can and will improve my eating choices but this has really shown me how much it helps to have the band in place.  I have weight to lose again, and it WILL happen.

Family:

I visited my parents and brother and sister-in-law in October.  Everyone is doing well and staying busy.  My niece/goddaughter got engaged this year and is getting married next summer.  In Houston, in July.  Can we say hot?  Her brother, Football Nephew, is now a member of the Washington Redskins, and was promoted to the active 53-man roster from the practice squad two weeks ago.  We’re so very proud and happy for him.

Tessie and I celebrated our four-year anniversary last month, and I love her more every day.  She was a wonderful therapy cat when I was home recovering, and sticks close unless I’m vacuuming.

Home:

I’m moving!  Not far, just to a different building in my same complex.  I love where I am but will be happy to move to the 55+ building (most residents are retired so I will be the young one) where rent is almost $200 cheaper and I’ll have a walk-in shower, which my knee will love.  It’s the same layout as what I have now, but flipped and a tiny bit smaller – but still over 1100 square feet, so what’s not to like?  I’ll be on the second floor in the SW corner in an elevator building.  Yayyyy!

I move on Jan. 27th so am applying a Peter Walsh approach to looking at my stuff before packing.  Stuff is going to Goodwill or the trash so I can just pack up everything that’s left.

Work:

I’ve completed a full year in my current position, and love what I’m doing, aside from the concern of how to be sure there’s work for my staff on a consistent basis.  Preferably that doesn’t involve too much of my time to dream it up, document, train, produce “work from” lists, and then do clean up.

In July, I celebrated a wonderful annual meeting educational program for my national professional association, after months of work, worries, and details as chair of the program committee.  I also turned down the chance to run as vice-chair/chair-elect of one of our special interest sections.  I’m ready for the next generation to move up and am happy NOT to be in charge of anything.

Have a happy and healthy 2012.  Do the necessary things, but also do what brings you joy.


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A Year in My Life

Two events in my life happen every July:  my birthday, and my national professional conference.  Next year they will even overlap – and I can’t begin to tell you how much I will enjoy spending my birthday doing that, although it will be nice to see friends on the day and I’m guessing there will be cake somewhere.  In any case, both occasions give me a chance to view the previous year in perspective.

Last year my conference met in Washington, DC where it was hot and sticky (kind of like now everywhere).  The convention center was humongous and we had quite a hike from the hotels to our event location.  I had been working on weight loss for a few months and was down about 20-25 lbs. from my starting weight.  But I weighed so much that it barely made a dent in my appearance or how I felt.

My right knee hurt all the time and I lurched when I walked because of the pain and immobility.  I used a cane to get around all week, and took cabs to go longer distances because I wasn’t sure I could manage the stairs of getting on and off buses.  I wore colorful but shapeless floaty dresses and felt like a whale; the folds of skin developed rashes from chafing and heat.  I had little energy and opted out of events and social things I wanted to do because I wasn’t sure I could get to them in any comfort.  It was great to see people except I didn’t really want them to see ME.

Flash forward to July 2010 in Denver, which was hot but much less sticky.  I lost 80+ lbs between the two Julys and it made such a huge difference in how I felt, looked, and acted.  Many of my friends weren’t all that surprised by my new appearance, since they follow me on Facebook and had been following progress and pictures for months.  Others were completely in the dark and didn’t recognize me, which was cool but odd.

Changes in looks, attitude, comfort, and behavior came slowly over the last year and had become normal; it’s just seeing them with the perspective of a year to see the difference:

  • Fitting into one seat on a plane – and not needing a seat belt extender
  • Being able to move quickly and easily
  • Spending lots of time in the exhibit hall and hallways without needing to sit down every 10 minutes
  • Clothes were fitted and still colorful and comfortable
  • Went shopping for more clothes when realized some of what I brought stopped fitting while in the suitcase flying out
  • Making good choices about food, including giving my ticket for a dessert reception to someone else.  Brought protein powder and bars.
  • Felt more confident, assured, and comfortable
  • Had way more energy and was on the go for very long days
  • No CPAP machine to lug around since my sleep apnea is gone
  • Took a mountain train excursion to actually see something of the area instead of hiding in my room

Maybe the biggest obvious sign that things were different:  I was happy to be photographed and even like the results.  In the past, I hated it because I didn’t think I looked in real life the way I looked in pictures – even though it was an objective image.  This time I thought the pictures looked really good because I knew that I looked good.

I’ve lost lots of weight before, and really did think I was the same person inside at the lower weight that I’d been at the higher one.  This time I know I am different.  The lapband was a big part of it, because I simply can’t do “life as usual” now.  I’ve had to think about choices, actions, and consequences, and have taken responsibility for things that didn’t work as well as those that have.

Yes, I celebrate losing weight, but except for big landmarks, I try not to make a big deal about it (my friend may disagree with my success at it, but I do try!).   I’m using anchors to remind me of my success in very tangible ways – I have a Pandora bracelet that I got for Christmas, with charms to mark this specific journey.  And I just bought a new “anchor ring” to replace the one I started with that now falls off all my fingers.

It’s really now about just living a new way.  That way includes eating healthy “pouch friendly” foods that include enough carbs for me to feel normal and balanced, including exercise on a regular but not extreme basis so it’s something I can actually continue.  I weed out clothes that no longer fit and buy new (or gently used) ones that work with the changing body.

I’m not in this for a number on a scale.  I’m in it for my life.  I like myself, my body, my health, my attitudes better now than I think I ever have.  What a nice birthday present to myself!


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What to Tell the Doctor

Child’s drawing of a doctorTomorrow is my first appointment with my new doctor here in my new home. I picked my brain and came up with a 4 page set of lists of things that I thought someone would probably either ask me or want to know, such as who my Boston doctors were, allergies, ongoing medical issues, current medications, surgeries, etc. Tho that might be all. My brain doesn’t retain this information for very long and I can’t spell medical words without spell check to fix the mistakes, so it was easier to just write it up in advance.

The purpose of the visit is really to sort out my CPAP situation. You may remember from my Day in Insurance Hell that although I need the machine to help me live with sleep apnea, who actually is paying for the one I’m breathing with now is up for grabs. I need to get this sorted out and quickly.

But this is the first time I’ve seen the doctor. And I don’t know what else she’s likely to ask or want to know. It’s going to be quite obvious that I am obese and I have a sneaky suspicion that she will bring it up – because in my experience, all doctors bring it up. It’s as though they don’t know that I already know this about myself.

Weight is the elephant in the room. The doctor knows that I need to lose weight and I know that I need to lose weight. Who will say something first? Waiting for her to bring it up will make me anxious – already is, actually – and is likely to raise my blood pressure. Or I could take charge of it and raise it myself first, which would give me a chance to say, “I have had a life-long weight problem and although I have more to lose, I have maintained a 70 lbs weight loss for 5 years.”

The trick is being able to do it simply to impart information, not to get defensive or combative. The conversation will happen sometime – it always does – so I think maybe I need to practice. I might need it tomorrow.