6 weeks later…

As of yesterday, I officially had my VSG bariatric surgery 6 weeks ago. Since surgery, I’ve:

  • lost an addition 28.7lbs (I had lost 11.3lbs in the 10 day pre-op liquid diet leading up to surgery)
  • missed one of my closest friend’s weddings – the couple I set up, no less
  • visited ER twice for dehydration
  • been hospitalized for a 4 night stay due to dehydration and malnourishment (once was an admit from an ER visit)
  • had a central line (PICC) inserted into my right upper arm
  • had 5 visits from at-home nursing staff
  • spent 98 hours hooked up to IV-administered nutrition (TPN) — 14 hours a night for 7 nights
  • had 63 saline and hepron flushes administered via my IV line, all but 8 of which were administered by my loving, patient husband, and
  • maxed out my insurance out-of-pocket (or I will have, once all the bills clear).

Needless to say…it’s been a helluva adventure thus far, and I’m one of the lucky few with ‘complications’ from surgery. I still have the central line in, although if I continue to improve my liquid and protein intake, it’ll be removed on Monday. I’m supposed to be getting 64 ounces of liquid and 70+ grams of protein in, averaging ~600 calories a day. I’ve not hit those goals yet. However, I’ve been improving each day, and yesterday I was up to 60g protein, 600 cal, and 30 ounces. So, progress. I don’t feel like death anymore, and while my energy is still limited, I can do more which is great.

As of  now, we’re still planning on visiting the UK over labor-day week, although we’ll make some modifications for my energy levels. I’m still really pumped for the trip. Hopefully, after I return, I’ll be able to start physical therapy again for my knee. I was just about to graduate to agility exercises (pivoting, jumping), so I’m hoping I didn’t regress too much.

Everyone on the interwebz and doctors still say I won’t regret my choice, once I’m adjusted and losing again. Apparently, while this isn’t a normal series of events, it’s not the worst case by far, and at 2-3 months I’ll be just thrilled. Here’s hoping that’s the case! I do know I’m wearing a pair of jeans I couldn’t wear a month ago, so at least there’s that. At this point, I’ll be thrilled to be able to shower without having to tape and saran-wrap my arm. It’s the small things, right?

Financial Bloggers

So, I follow a crapton of financial bloggers on my RSS reader (RIP Google Reader, Meh Feedly), and I’ve been contemplating starting my own personal finance blog. I mean, it’s me, so it wouldn’t be ALL personal finance…there’d likely be some recipe sharing and life updating, like talking about our new house, travel, life after bariatric surgery, etc. I wish I could transition this blog into that blog, but the kink history in this one probably shouldn’t be associated with anything remotely professional or public. Alas. Starting a new blog is a lot of work, so I’m not there yet, and while I procrastinate on that, this blog still works for me.

One of the bloggers I follow posted a little “get to know you” thing, and so I figured I’d post it here, because I so rarely post anything anymore.

  1. Coffee or tea? – I like both, and don’t drink either regularly. I generally prefer coffee unless I’m also getting scones and pretentious china with my tea.
  2. Vodka or gin? – Generally vodka, but I do love me a gin and tonic or tom collins.
  3. Appetizers or desserts? – This is a hard choice…probably dessert.
  4. When was the last time you spent over $100 at once? (Outside of the grocery store) – Maybe at Crate and Barrel after our wedding when we fulfilled registry things?
  5. How old were you when you lost your virginity and was it good? – 22 and it was NOT good.
  6. What is a sport you are good at and a sport you are bad at? – I’m not really good at sports, and I’m bad at pretty much all of them.
  7. What is your favorite way to spend time? – Playing board games with friends and my husband or sharing meals with the same folks.
  8. What is your love language? – Quality time.
  9. If you had a dead body in your trunk, who would you call to help you bury it? – My husband. He has a good serial killer vibe that would lend itself to this. Plus he’s stronger than me.
  10. If you could only use one word to describe yourself, what would it be? – Curious…hence the blog name :).

 

Less Than 48 Hours

In less than 48 hours, I’ll be wheeled back to the OR for my VSG (weight loss surgery). Crazy times.

I’m currently on day 8 of a 10 day pre-op diet. An all-liquid pre-op diet. (Liquid is a somewhat fluid –hah get it?!– term, because low sugar and sugar free yogurt and pudding count.) I’ve lost just over 9 lbs in 10 days. I’ve gotten super creative with soup preparation, and fallen in love with some varieties of greek yogurt. Fairlife milk is delish.

I’m going to throw in here before I get going on this that about 8 days ago, I bought a condo with my husband. It’s new construction so we don’t move until next April, but you know, I didn’t have enough going on, so we thought why not? We’re actually super pumped, but to say it’s been stressful between that purchase, my upcoming surgery, and a ton of work commitments is a MAJOR understatement.

I’ve grown even more thankful of my husband, who is so incredibly supportive it’s unbelievable. Even though he has absolutely no reason to, he’s been doing the pre-op liquid diet with me (even while he was traveling for work!), and plans to continue my food phases post-op. I have 2 more weeks of liquids, then 2 weeks of pureed food after surgery. I never thought I’d be so excited to be able to eat cottage cheese and soft scrambled eggs.

I realized that I’ve eaten some form of egg nearly every day for at least 4 years. I went through a ~2 year egg whites for bfast phase, a year of egg sandwiches or egg casseroles, then shifted into hard boiled eggs after doing Whole 30 last summer.

I’m learning that sometimes, food is too much of a distraction for me to enjoy a social event without. I’m also learning that other times, the company is so encompassing that food doesn’t matter at all.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve experienced and am sure I will continue to experience all sorts of reactions when I confide in people about my surgery. Especially women, because holy fuck has society done a number on us, and none of us has escaped without some form of body issues, a lot of which center around weight.

Tell folks has been interesting. My experiences have varied, including:

  • Not telling most people at work beyond stating that I’m having “stomach surgery” to those in my direct line of command. Except, when eating yogurt at a company lunch event, my boss’s boss’s boss lady sits next to me, and definitely clues in to my surgery right away. Apparently her mother-in-law had the VSG a year ago, and she herself has considered it. She was very supportive and totally nonjudgemental, but it was weird for the one person who most directly can influence my career to know what’s going on, but no-one else at work does. Odd.
  • Friends not getting it, but very “you do you” about it.
    • Pro of this: no clear judging, yay.
    • Con of this: in an effort for folks not to judge me, I think I’ve been underplaying the seriousness of the surgery. So then they think it’s a non event, or don’t really send many supportive vibes, which is sad since arguably this is a much riskier surgery than my knee surgery or any other thing I’ve ever had done.
  • Folks being super encouraging, loving, and understanding (understanding level varies with their own experiences with weigh struggle).
  • Friends and folks who don’t want to have the surgery for whatever reasons, but then are either not wanting to talk about it with me, are envious in some fashion, or are more curious than supportive. Curiosity is better than avoidance, but “I’ll be interested in how it goes” isn’t the same thing as “good luck and I’m here for you!”

Just a sampling.

On the plus side, I’ve definitely bonded more with the family member who had the surgery a year ago, and that’s been nice.

And now I’m just internally freaking out a little about 1) am I nuts to alter my body permanently? 2) WTF will food and socializing be like after this? 3) I WANT A BURGER. and 4) I wish folks could just validate my decision, and that just is so fucked up in what it says about my need for approval of others.

Life’s a journey, folks.

Bariatric Surgery

I’ve officially decided to do the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, with a timeframe of likely having surgery in early-mid July. I’m still a little hesitant on it, but only because it’s such a big decision. I hate having to tell people and explain it, though. I feel like a lot of people don’t know what the surgery is or assume it’s a cosmetic surgery, and I feel like folks will think I’m taking the easy way out or that I’m a failure for being unable to lose and maintain weight loss without surgery. I know that’s not true, logically, but there’s some shame associated with it that I need to get through.

When you are obese, your body strives hard to maintain that weight. There are multitudes of studies that show metabolism is forever impacted, and that all but around 5% of folks who lose weight end up regaining it. With weight loss surgery (WLS), the number of folks that maintain goes from 5% to well above 75%. I want to be in that 75% percent. I’ve been able to lose (and have regained) the same 65 lbs again and again over the last 10 years. I’ve only been under 200 lbs once that I can remember since elementary school, and that was when I ended up going to the hospital for passing out from not eating enough.

Weight has always been a shameful thing to discuss for me. My mother and sister wouldn’t stop talking about it. My mom’s self hatred because of her extreme obesity shaped my self-esteem and my life as much as it shaped her own. Her heart disease (and mental illness) and eventual death shaped me even more. My sister’s weight and the bullying and esteem issues that went with it didn’t help. In my family, I was the “tiny” one, but I myself was always medically obese too. I’ve been told I carry it well, and that I don’t look obese, but being honest, I am. I always have been. Despite that “tiny” label, I was only ever called pretty in my family with a caveat of “you look so good, keep up the diet” type of language. It fucks with you.

I’ve gone through cycles of weight loss and gain. I worked my ass off and got borderline anorexic in high school, only to hit a lot of 195lbs my junior year. Then I got a part-time job and quit dance, and then I went to college, and by the time I graduated college I was 260lbs. My first year of grad school I lost 20lbs, and then my second year when I moved to DC I lost another 20lbs when I had a cholesterol scare and needed a medical clearance for a job (weight watchers helped me out this time). My blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. have always been good, thankfully. I was in the clear. Then I graduated and had time again to have a social life, and over the next two years I gained back that 40lbs plus 5. Then my mom died, and I shoved all that into a personal trainer and calorie counting and working out again. I lost 30lbs, then the holidays hit and my grief won. I also started my happy new relationship. Over the next 2ish years, I gained that 30lbs back, plus 3olbs. I hit an all time high. I was miserable by it, so I did Whole30, lost 20lbs, and started working out. Then I tore my ACL and both meniscus in my left knee, and gained another 10lbs back. And that’s where I’ve been for about 8 months.

I’m not unhappy, and I’m not at death’s door. I can live my life. I also have faith I could lose some weight on my own. I don’t have faith that I can lose as much weight as I could with WLS, and I don’t have faith that I could keep it off. I have success in losing when I eat 1200 calories and work out literally every day, but that’s so impossible to maintain long-term without additional tools. My cholesterol has been testing high over the last 6 months, and that’s not a good sign. I have every weight-related illness possible in my family history (sister and dad with diabetes, dad/sister/mom with blood pressure and cholesterol issues, mom with heart disease…).  I don’t want to go down that road.

WLS isn’t dangerous anymore. 20 years ago, maybe it was, but there’s very minimal risk nowadays. The risk of the surgery itself is less than 2%, and the most common complications are heartburn or acid reflux afterwards. The benefits are extreme – most people lose over 50% of excess weight within 12-18months and keep it off, and all weight-related health issues go away. People are happier and have more active lives. My sister had WLS last summer, and she’s lost 200lbs. She started out much heavier than me (she’s only now at my weight), and it was definitely a life/death thing for her, but her success motivated me. It also taught me about WLS and how much safer it is now, and how much more likely it is for insurance to cover it. I never thought it was an option for me, but I learned it was.

There are multiple types of WLS. There’s gastric bypass, where they remove a large portion of the stomach and reroute part of the intestines. There’s the duodenal switch, where they remove a large part of the stomach and reroute all of the intestines. There’s the lap band, where they put a silicone band around the stomach, but there are lots of complications and most surgeons don’t do that procedure anymore. Then there’s the vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), where they remove part of the stomach. The VSG has been done for decades as the first step in the duodenal switch procedure, and when doctors realized how effective it is on its own, people started getting the VSG alone about 5ish years ago. Now the VSG is one of the most popular procedures. I like it because it isn’t malabsorptive – they don’t touch your intestines. Bypass and the switch rely in part on reduced stomach size meaning reduced portion and less hunger hormone, but they also rely on food moving through the stomach and digestive process more quickly so that not all of it is absorbed, thus meaning less intake and more weight loss. That makes me nervous, and I don’t want to do that. The VSG is all about less food and less hunger hormone, and has none of the malabsorptive part.

For me, I want to lose weight and keep it off. I want kids, and I want to be able to get pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy, and be active with my children – being a lower weight helps with all of those things. I want to be healthy and not progress down the family history diseased path. I want my knee to have less weight on it so I can reduce arthritis risk.

Yes, appearance, more clothing options, etc. are nice side bonuses. I’ll be able to physically get in more sexual positions. More clothing stores will be available to me and those stores will cost less. I’ll never have to worry about fitting into chairs or seat belts or not being able to do something because of a weight requirement. As sociological studies show, I’ll be treated better by strangers and likely be respected more at work.

So this is my decision. It means post-op, I’ll be able to eat very little food at any given meal. I’ll have to focus on protein first to make sure I stay healthy. I won’t be able to eat much sugar without getting sick. I won’t be able to have carbonated drinks, alcohol will hit me super hard, and drinking and eating at the same time is very much not recommended. I’ll have to force myself to have a bunch of gross protein shakes and vitamins daily. But, I get all the aforementioned benefits, so totally worth it in my mind.

My pre-approval process is pretty straightforward. I’m lucky and I have good insurance. I have to see a dietician 3 times (1 for 1hr, 2 for 30min) and go to a nutrition pre-op 2 hour class. I have to do a 2hr psych consult. I have to have an endoscopy. I also have to get a letter from my primary physician, and see her and the surgeon in the weeks before surgery. Then I do a 14 day liquid diet leading up to the surgery itself, and ta-da. I’ll be in the hospital one night, then home. There’s a 4 week food phasing recovery plan – 2 weeks liquids, 2 weeks soft foods, then all foods are OK.

I haven’t figured out how much I’ll tell me office, but likely something along the lines of “stomach surgery” and not go into more detail than that. I have and still do feel that my weight and my health are my business. I will tell close friends and family because 1) it’s a surgery and that’s risky and 2) it will impact our interactions. I hate bringing it up though. I just feel like there’s so much judgement, and I’m probably or possibly projecting all that, but still. I hope people realize that it’s a big decision and not one I take lightly, and it isn’t a solve-all-your problems thing. I’ll still have to work out and eat right in order to make a long term difference. It’s a tool to help me find more success in the long run.

2016 in the Aggregate

There was bad – my massive knee injury, my husband’s back injury, a friend’s mom dying, my husband’s car kicking the bucket and my car troubles, celebrity deaths, family illnesses (within my family and friends’ families), election results…

However there was SO MUCH good. I got married and went on my honeymoon, had a slew of awesome activities leading up to the wedding, got promoted at work, bought a car with my husband, went to 3 family member weddings and was in one friend’s wedding. A friend (a couple I introduced!) of mine got engaged, one friend had a baby, another got pregnant, and my dad sold his house, bought an RV, set a retirement date, and got engaged.  My sister lost 175+lbs, learned to cook, and maintained a year having quit smoking cigarettes. I went to Puerto Rico, California, Arkansas, New York City a few times, Philly, South Carolina, New Jersey, Nebraska, and Indiana. I saw Aladdin on Broadway and several stand up comedy shows, and I had countless game nights with friends and went to a bunch of awesome restaurants.

Not too shabby, 2016. For all the shit people give you, you were kinda awesome.

2016 Resolution Update (Part 2)

In 2016, I wanted to focus on frugality, fitness, and friend (relationships). 

For frugality, I’d give myself a B-. I contributed to my joint savings with my now-husband as anticipated, and I contributed to my own savings too. We successfully completed a no-spend month in January. However, I definitely went WAY over budget from my beginning-of-year plan. A couple of things were outside my control – an injury with lots of medical expenses, and car issues galore – but some were just me spending money on shopping or eating out needlessly. We did, however, make hard choices about big money things. We paid off a large debt from the dude’s crapped out car, we bought a new car, and we bought a new mattress.

For fitness, I’d give myself a D+. I’m about the same weight I was at the beginning of the year, and I yo-yo’d a good 20 pounds in the middle (lost it doing Whole30 successfully, then gained it back). I was working out a bit for a while, but I hurt my knee in May, and that really just kicked things to the curb.

For friends/relationships, I’d give myself a A-. I definitely called people of my own initiative a lot more. I did better doing that with folks who live farther away, but it was an improvement. I tried texting folks more regularly too. I visited family who lives far away that I wanted to get closer to, and tried to foster that as well. I didn’t send surprise mail, but that’s OK. I still am not getting a ton of reciprocal actions from my people, but I’m hopeful that will change. My dude and I were great at date nights through the summer, then in the fall that sort of fell apart with all the wedding planning. We were both OK with that though :).

 

Goals: (strike through means I completed it)

  • Have an IRA opened by end of year
  • Contribute 5K to joint savings and accumulate $10K in personal savings (growth of ~$3500)
  • Invest in one stock (even if just one share)
  • Follow through with no-spend January… at least mostly (no spending on entertainment/eating out – necessary pharmacy/grocery/car expenses allowed, and preplanned trip to NYC allowed)
  • Join the gym at my office and do 10 minutes physical activity each day (starting 1/25)
  • Have a fabulous wedding/honeymoon🙂
  • Cooking Things: Make brioche, baguette, cheese (got a kit for this for xmas), macarons (w/birthday gift kit from last year). Grill ribs. Cook a recipe from each cookbook I own.
  • Create a pinterest board of tried and true recipes.
  • Travel to an international destination
  • Complete at least one thing from my bucket list  did archery

Things I’d like to continue from 2015:

  • Book Club(s) – kink-friendly ones
  • Game Nights  – had 33 game nights (which is, after counting, the exact number we had the year before too. weird)
  • RSS reader
  • Goodreads – read 52 books  – I read 74 books
  • Cooking at home/trying new recipes  – I made 63 new recipes

Things I like to get back in the habit of from prior years:

I didn’t do any of this…

  • MyFitnessPal – tracking calories and community of fitness-minded folks
  • Cardio & Strength training – with a trainer or on my own
  • 100 days of happiness on instagram
  • Gratitude practice of some sort – possibly something weekly that includes categorical buckets…
  • Journaling – both on here and in my physical 52 list book

Local things I’d like to prioritize:

I didn’t do any of these…

  • military band concert
  • hirschorn museum
  • udvall museum (the air and space museum out at dulles)
  • see something at strathmore
  • visit either Winterthur, Hillwood estate, or Dumbarton House Gardens.
  • shenandoah hiking
  • supreme court oral arguments

2016 Book Recap

This is just for personal record-keeping. These are the 74 books I read in 2016. Divided by category.

In 2016, I read 74 books: 9 nonfiction (6 memoir), 10 YA, 24 Misc. Fiction (12 romance), 11 erotica, 18 re-reads, and 2 books I didn’t finish.

In 2015, I read 71 books: 11 Nonfiction (5 memoir), 22 YA, 23 Misc. fiction books, 9 erotica, 2 re-reads, and 4 books I didn’t finish.

Nonfiction:

  1. Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon (biography)
  2. Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola (memoir)
  3. The Real Thing: Lessons on Love…From a Wedding Reporter by Ellen McCarthy (memoir)
  4. I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert (memoir)
  5. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (memoir)
  6. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (memoir)
  7. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (memoir)
  8. Rising Strong by Brene Brown (psych)
  9. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (psych)

Young Adult:

  1. Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
  2. Finding Audrey by Sophia Kinsella
  3. Upstaged by Patricia McCowan
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  5. The Crown (Selection #5) by Kiera Cass
  6. The Heir (Selection #4) by Kiera Cass
  7. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
  8. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
  9. The Heiresses by Sara Shepard
  10. Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

Miscellaneous Fiction (includes chick lit/romance):

  1. The Whip by Karen Kondazian
  2. Longbourn by Jo Baker
  3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick
  5. Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
  6. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
  7. The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes
  8. Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
  9. Self Help by Lori Moore (essays)
  10. Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes (essays)
  11. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J.Ryan Stradal
  12. Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  13. Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (romance)
  14. Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley #2) by Alice Clayton (romance)
  15. Nuts (Hudson Valley #2) by Alice Clayton (romance)
  16. Happy Ever After (Bride Quartet #4) by Nora Roberts (romance)
  17. Savor the Moment (Bride Quartet #3) by Nora Roberts (romance)
  18. Bed of Roses (Bride Quartet #2) by Nora Roberts (romance)
  19. Vision in White (Bride Quartet #1) by Nora Roberts (romance)
  20. Untamed by Diana Palmer (romance)
  21. Merciless by Diana Palmer (romance)
  22. Wyoming Strong by Diana Palmer (romance)
  23. Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas (romance)
  24. Accidentally Yours by Susan Mallery (romance)

Erotica:

  1. Grey by E.L. James
  2. Michief and the Masters (Masters of Shadowlands #12)
  3. Protecting his Own (MoS #11) by Cherise Sinclair
  4. Perfectly Paired (Topped #3) by Lexi Blake
  5. Submission is not enough (Masters and Mercenaries #12) by Lexi Blake
  6. Dominance Never Dies (Masters and Mercenaries #11) by Lexi Blake
  7. From Sanctum with Love (Masters and Mercenaries #10) by Lexi Blake
  8. You Only Love Twice (Masters and Mercenaries #8) by Lexi Blake
  9. The Men with Golden Cuffs (Masters and Mercenaries #2) by Lexi Blake
  10. Ruthless (Lawless #1) by Lexi Blake
  11. Her Highland Master by Anya Summers

Didn’t Finish:

  1. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
  2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Rereads:

  1. Servicing the Target (Masters of Shadowlands #10)
  2. 1001 Dark Nights: Show Me, Baby (MoS #9) by Cherise Sinclair
  3. If Only (MoS #8) by Cherise Sinclair
  4. This is who I am (MoS #7) by Cherise Sinclair
  5. To Command and to Collar (MoS #6) by Cherise Sinclair
  6. Make me, Sir (MoS #5) by Cherise Sinclair
  7. Lean on Me (MoS #4) by Cherise Sinclair
  8. Breaking Free (MoS #3) by Cherise Sinclair
  9. Dark Citadel (MoS #2) by Cherise Sinclair
  10. Club Shadowlands (MoS #1) by Cherise Sinclair
  11. The Dom’s Dungeon by Cherise Sinclair
  12. Mr. Cavendish, I presume by Julia Quinn
  13. Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn
  14. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn
  15. Fat Cat by Robin Brande
  16. Amelia by Diana Palmer
  17. Heartbreaker by Diana Palmer
  18. Hurt Me So Good by Joely Sue Burkhart