Status Update #2

Today I went to my bariatric surgeon’s office for yet another follow-up. If you remember, I’m expected to complete one such visit per month for the first year after surgery. I was a little trepidatious about this visit because I didn’t feel as if I’d been doing especially well with my food choices for the last week and a half or so. There was that trip to Canada, and then after being home for all of a day and a half, we left town again for a convention concert in Michigan. Being on the road has always played hob with my diet because when I was growing up, road trips were seen as special occasions that were good excuses to indulge in foods my family normally wouldn’t. Mostly this was just going out to eat, as my mom wasn’t big into on-the-road snacks, but still. I think I’ve already mentioned how the portions at restaurants disgust me.

But not only have I been doing better than I thought, I actually surprised the hell out of my doctor in a good way. Here are the numbers.

Weight on day of surgery: 239.2 lbs
Weight last month: 226.6 lbs
Weight today: 216.4
Total lost: 22.8 lbs

Apparently my doctor wasn’t expecting me to lose as much as ten pounds in a month. Here’s hoping I can keep the pleasant surprises coming.

Also, I brought up the medical bill thing while I was there. I am cautiously optimistic that the woman who handles all the insurance stuff is correct. She said it look like the bills went to my insurance for one billing cycle…thing…and that it looks like they’re going back through for another round. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the bills’ next trip through will make them disappear. And thank you, thank you to everyone on Facebook who’s been sharing my album’s purchase pages around. The fact that you care that much means more than you know.

Also, for any who might be wondering, my band didn’t give me any trouble with getting through airport security.

Now then, the obligatory status update photograph. I’m not sure I look that much different from last month, but here it is anyway:

Status Update #2

Your moment of TMI for the day: I am in that special and awkward place between cup sizes. And I hate it.

And so there’s that. Let’s see if I can disappear another ten pounds of myself by this time next month. My husband and I should have time to get the bikes out and ready for riding this week, so that will definitely help. I’m looking forward to feeling the wind against my face.


A Nasty Surprise

Remember how I was so excited that my surgery only cost a little over $1,400.00? Apparently that was too good to be true. I just returned home from a trip* to find almost $5,000.00 worth of unexpected medical bills waiting for me. Maybe I should have seen that coming. Regardless, I now find myself in a bit of trouble.

See, I was counting on the Flex Account we have through my husband’s insurance to pay for my bariatric surgery. Well this year because of some policy or another—I’m not sure if it was a policy of his employer’s, the insurance company, or the government—we were only allowed to put $2,500.00 in the Flex Account. So I paid the initial bill, and I’ve now used the remainder to pay what I could of the new bills. But this still leaves me with a few thousand dollars that, because of things like my student loans and the fact that my finances are still recovering from the two and a half weeks I was off after surgery, I’m going to struggle to pay off. I was hoping there might be some music lovers out there who would be willing to help me.

Thankfully, this is not the type of situation where I must pay these bills immediately or I’ll have debt collectors chomping at my kneecaps or something, but it is going to pile a lot more weight on an already overstressed pocketbook. If you want to help—and I feel bad asking, but at this point I’m panicking a little—you could buy a copy of my first CD, “Cold September Ground”, which I published in 2011. I’ve been actively selling this album while touring with my band Wax Chaotic**, but if anyone out in the vastness of the internet wanted to buy one now, it would really help me out. You can also buy a digital copy on Bandcamp if physical media isn’t your thing.

I thought I was prepared. I thought I got off lucky. And I feel like a total jackass asking for help like this, but at this point I’m a little at a loss. If you want to help and can buy the CD, that’s wonderful. If you want to help but can’t buy the CD, signal boosts are just as good. Either way, thanks.

Alternatively, I also have a freelance web and graphic design business if you or anyone you know needs business cards, a website, or layout designed for things such as brochures and wedding invitations. My degree is in web and graphic design, and web design is my day job, so I do have an idea of what I’m doing. All quotes are free.

And I’m going to stop whoring myself out now and go take care of the laundry. Thanks, as always, for reading.
*I was able to take this trip because an organization known as Interfilk thought I would be a good agent for musical cross-pollination within the filk community. They paid for the big stuff like airfare and hotel fees, so my adventures in the Great White North are not the reason why I now find myself less able to tread water than I had been. Quite the contrary, I sold more than a few CDs there, so that will help.

**Thankfully we have a concert to perform in Michigan this weekend, so maybe I can get a bit of breathing room.

Motivations for Weight Loss

I’d hoped this blog would have some positive effects for others as well as for myself, and indeed it does appear to be doing so. Sharing my own experiences on my weight loss journey is inspiring some of the people in my life to take more active and/or positive steps on their own road. It’s wonderful to know that I’m doing good. Unfortunately, with good there is always bad.

A friend of mine is having to censor themselves around other people. Bringing up the subject of weight loss apparently hits a nerve, which honestly doesn’t surprise me that much. It hits a nerve with me, too, and rather obviously. This blog and my having bariatric surgery are direct proof of that. But this friend’s motivations for losing weight seem to be causing particularly intense discussions and it got me thinking.

What are your motivations for weight loss (if you have any)? What would you say are bad motivations for weight loss? And how do you define “bad”, exactly?

Of course ideally we should all want to lose weight to be healthier, and not because we’re caving under the pressure of a society that wants everyone to be waifs. However, this is not an ideal world we live in (or society wouldn’t put so much pressure on, well, everyone) and I can’t help but think it’s more healthy to acknowledge and own all of your motivations for losing weight even of some people might classify them as “unhealthy” or “bad”.

For example, I very much want to be healthier. I mentioned in my first entry that I have some pretty nasty diseases on both sides of my family, many of which are known to be caused/exacerbated by obesity. But I also listed vanity as one of my motivators. I’ve been feeling kind of ashamed that that’s the case, but now that I stop to think about it, I really don’t think I should be.

We are taught that vanity is a Very Bad Thing (though we praise celebrities for it, so good luck figuring out which lesson to go with). I agree that vanity, in excess, can be the cause of some nasty trouble. The dictionary defines vanity as:

“excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.”

So yes, all things in moderation, don’t let it go to your head, etc. But there is a point before vanity crosses the line where being vain is actually a good thing. It’s the point that makes us keep ourselves clean and presentable for work (or public appearances in general), that drives us to practice a sport or an art so we’ll be good at it when the next tournament or concert comes, that causes us to make sure the house is clean before our parents stop by for dinner. It’s necessary to take pride in one’s appearance and oneself because our exteriors are a huge part of how we interact with the world around us. As long as you don’t cross the line, vanity is ok.

It’s taken me a lot of years to figure that out, by the way. I tend to think of people beyond the vanity line as being very shallow and repugnant. I hope very much never to become one of them. But in high school I had trouble recognizing the fact that liking yourself enough to feel good about yourself on a regular basis is not crossing that line. I know that now.

But so vanity is, in essence, all about liking oneself. I think it’s safe to say there are a lot of overweight people out there who don’t like themselves too much for one reason or another, and the reason I think it’s safe to say that is because I’ve been there. But ever since I’ve had my surgery…I like being me more and more every day now. And that’s a really, really nice change.

So yes, I had surgery in part because of vanity. I had surgery because I wanted to be able to like myself. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Doing something for vanity’s sake is not, I feel, intrinsically a Very Bad Thing. I have to live with myself all of my life. I would like to enjoy being me.

But honestly if you’re overweight and you want to lose weight, more power to you. I don’t really care what your motivations are. But I do recommend you be honest with yourself and that you be kind to yourself. You are the only you you will ever have.

Something I Wish I’d Known Beforehand

One of the purposes behind this blog is to use my personal experience to let those who are interested in or actively pursuing bariatric surgery in on a few things. The medical professionals and other patients involved in the process have a wealth of information to share as well, but I’ve noticed while on my own journey that they fail to mention some things. I’m guessing it just doesn’t occur to them to tell me what they aren’t telling me, so I’m trying to detail them as I think of them so you all can benefit from my experience. Well yesterday, I thought of another thing to share.

Band surgery marked the first time I had ever had general anesthesia. They put me under for my wisdom tooth extraction a few years prior, but I came to find out shortly before surgery that that was not the same thing. So if you’re looking into bariatric surgery and have also never experienced the effects of general anesthesia, take note:

You may find it difficult to breathe upon waking. I’ve heard from others who’ve been under general anesthesia that they also had this problem, and the nurses in the post-op recovery room where I had my surgery didn’t seem overly concerned by my gasping for air, so I’m guessing this isn’t that uncommon. But nobody warned me about it ahead of time, and I really wish they had. I wasn’t expecting it, so in my drug-induced haze, I panicked a little and started fighting for air. That only made it worse. It evened out after only a breath or two, but in the meantime it was still pretty scary, especially since I was doped out of my mind and not in full control of my faculties. So again, just so you know, this may happen to you.

Also, personal milestone: Today I am wearing a shirt that was at least a size or two too small for me two months ago. Like many other garments (piece of jewelry, shoes…), I had given up ever being able to wear it again because of my weight. But I’ve been returning to a lot of clothing in that category and discovering that if it doesn’t fit me now, then it will once I’ve lost about five or ten more pounds. Needless to say, it’s pretty damn awesome.

Upcoming: What it’s like getting through airport security with a medical device in one’s guts, and my April meeting with my surgeon. I am expecting and actually kind of wanting a fill. And here’s hoping my weigh-in at the doctor’s office shows marked progress.

LAP-Band™ and Weight Loss

Recently I made a post to let my friends and family know some things. One of the things I realized when I started writing that post is that I’ve never really talked about the numbers involved with LAP-Band™ weight loss. That’s definitely an important thing to discuss in non-blog capacities, so let’s go ahead and get into that now here on the blog.

The materials given to me by my doctor say the following:

“Typically, LAGB patients can lose 1 to 2 pounds per week consistently…LAGB patients can lose 50% to 70% of their excess body weight within the first year and then the remainder during year two.”

This information is similar to what one can find on the LAP-Band™ website.

Does this mean that my goal of losing, in total, over a hundred pounds is realistic?

Well, yes and no. As my surgeon says, the Band is a tool. How much weight I lose depends, in no small way, on me. I need to make sure I’m eating good, healthy food that is low in fat. I need to make sure I’m exercising regularly (thank the gods it’s finally starting to be bike weather). And there are Band patients who’ve lost about as much as I want to lose. So there is hope.

There is still a part of me that’s a bit pessimistic, though. I suspect that most of that doubt springs from the fact that I gave up hope of ever being thin again a long time ago. That hope has largely returned thanks to the Band, but still a dark spot remains. Matters are only exacerbated by my primary care physician telling me that Band patients don’t lose, on average, close to what I want to. …while she is a very intelligent woman and a wonderful doctor, I think I’m going to go with the statistics given to me by the people who do Bands for a living.

But so anyway. Yes, I think my ultimate goal is achievable, depending on how hard I’m willing to work toward it. It helps that lately I’m really wanting to be less sedentary, and that I had my surgery right before spring. I love spring. After a long Indiana winter, there’s nothing better than being outside in the temperate air and seeing the first blossoms of the year. Yesterday my husband and I unearthed the bikes we haven’t ridden in years from our shed. We need to do a little work for them to be in riding condition, but once that’s done, I foresee me spending a lot of time on my bike.

Other activities I plan to engage in, as I may have mentioned, are yoga and bellydancing. The latter will have to wait a little while, though. I’m still heavy enough that more than twenty or thirty minutes of being up and active at a time makes my hips hurt. But walking and biking will help with that, and I’ve heard yoga can be fairly low-impact.

So here’s looking ahead to the future. I went shopping at Goodwill yesterday to try and find a nice shirt for an upcoming event, and found instead a black suede ladykilt. It is currently far too small for me, but I have it hanging up in my bedroom as a reminder of just what I’m aiming for.

As you all are my witness, someday I am going to be able to wear that kilt.

A Period of Annoyance

Apologies to my male and squeamish readers, but it is now time to talk about ladythings. More specifically, bloody ladythings. Oh yeah. It’s Red Week.

Why am I writing about my period on a weight loss blog? I know there are many ladies out there (and very possibly some men, as well) who understand that more often than not, That Time Of The Month means that it’s time to eat everything in sight. See children, when some ladies’ hormones fluctuate the way they do immediately before, then during, and then immediately after their menses, we get food cravings. I imagine these are akin to what some women feel when they’re pregnant, but having never been pregnant myself, I have no way of knowing.

Regardless, food cravings such as these are especially bad when you already have a problem with food anyway. So why am I writing about my period on my weight loss blog? Because right now I just want to eat, but I can’t. So instead, I decided to vent.

Apart from the food cravings, hormonal fluctuations can bring about changes in mood. I, for example, am feeling a little emotionally crummy today for no apparent reason. …which is also making me want to eat. Actually, I don’t—yet—have any specific food cravings this month, so it’s really mostly just the general emotional side of things being irritating. But the fact that I can’t eat is making me feel a little crummier, which, you guessed it, is making the urge to eat even stronger. Stupid, useless method of self-comfort. Go away.

I did not have to deal with this last month, and I didn’t miss it. Last month I was just out of surgery. I was therefore far too distracted by certain things like being in pain and constantly tired to even think about emotional eating. So this period will be the first (yeah, the damn thing hasn’t even started yet and already it’s fucking with me) since my surgery when I’m not distracted by post-op recovery. Today has been…well, as I said, kinda crummy. Here’s hoping tomorrow will be better.

And guys, be thankful you don’t have to deal with this shit.