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?

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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.

Q&A Part 4

  1. What is the most boring thing you can think of doing?

Reading tax law. Or sitting in an empty, undecorated room without a watch or any form of phone/tv/book/game.

  1. What one month on the calendar would you like to eliminate?

June. There are no federal holidays, I feel like I should be on break/vacation and I’m not, the weather gets muggy with the lingering rain and emerging warmth. August is a close second.

  1. What age would you like to be for the rest of your life?

No clue…I don’t mind getting older and having time go by. That said, next year may be pretty swell, so maybe 28 or 29? How stereotypical is that?

  1. What would you like to build if you knew how?

A life-size lego house! Kidding… Maybe a fully customized bed or built in library system, or perhaps even a whole house?

  1. What signs of aging are you starting to see in yourself?

My boobs are not as perky as they once were, and the corners of my eyes/hands have a few baby wrinkles going…but honestly, I don’t pay much attention and I don’t actively notice or care about any of it.

Q&A Part 3

  1. When home alone, do you shut the door when you use the bathroom?

I wish I could say yes to this…

  1.  If you could afford it at this moment, what would you buy?

A house, a day of spa treatments (including a wrap and a massage, my two favorite treatments), an alarm clock wake up light, new pillows, a new mattress!! (sleep number, preferably), a towel warmer, dinner at Komi.

  1. What is the greatest goal you want to achieve in the next five years?

Get married, buy a house, have a kid, take a couple of big vacations, and get promoted. Easy, right?

Of those, the biggest “goal,” as in something to work towards and that will require effort, planning, ambition, sacrifice, etc. is buying a house. We’re hoping to save enough to buy something in 2017 or, at worst, early 2018.

As for the other things… married in November. I applied for promotion today – if I don’t get it this year, next year should do it. We plan on going on a big honeymoon, but aren’t sure where yet; over the next few years, we have a trip to ireland/scotland/england in mind, italy/greece for a friend’s wedding, and possibly China. We intend to wait until late 2018 to start trying for kiddos, at the earliest, but that obviously could change at any point.

  1. What are five things you are grateful for?

A wonderful fiance, friends that care deeply about me, my job and it’s stability, my and my loved ones’ health, my financial independence and positive progress.

  1. If you could own the world’s largest collection of anything, what would it be?

Board games! Alllll of the options for game nights… Or books. I’d love to own a huge library. However, given the existence of public and academic libraries, that’s never going to happen. Maybe the largest collection of electronic romantic erotica? That’s a random goal, right? But it wouldn’t take up space…

About Me Q&A

I found a list of 20 questions to ask on a date years ago, and saved it as a conversation starter. I have that and the 34 questions that inspire love (look it up in conjunction with the new york times). As a get-back-to-blogging exercise, I am going to answer all of these on the blog over time. 

  1. What was your funnest subject in high school & which one did you dread?

It depended a bit on the year, because I had different required classes and electives each year. I dreaded geometry and trigonometry/precalculus. I was never terrible at math, but it required a lot more work for me to get a decent grade. Math never came naturally to me. I loved show choir, when I was in it, and french class was always fun. At various times, I also really loved ceramics, us government, and my block AP US history/honors english class, mostly because of the teachers.

  1. What is one attribute of your mother that you see in yourself?

My mom was super easily amused and had a wacko sense of humor (with a tinge of perversity), and she used that to entertain others and keep others’ spirits up. I have a very similar sense of humor/entertainment, and I use it in much the same way she did. I’m a little more withdrawn/shy than she was, but the elements are all definitely there.

  1. How did your mother and father meet?

My mom lived with her mom while she was recovering from a surgery. My dad was my grandmother’s neighbor in the condo building, and he used to help care for my grandmother (take in her mail, etc.). They met that way, and bumped into each other over laundry in the building’s common areas enough times that my dad was able to get the nerve to ask her out. They were 30/31 when they met.

  1. Who would you like to have a closer relationship with?

My aunt and uncle in the midwest (my mom’s youngest brother). These relatives have a daughter that lives with her husband and newborn in DC, and we’ve hung out a few times more recently too. I never really saw these relatives growing up because of distance, but they’re all intelligent and kind people with good senses of humor. They also value family and show up for one another. When my mom passed, this aunt really went out of her way to show me love and support. I think we both want to build a better relationship, but it’s a bit awkward for me since it’s still so new. I’m going out of my way to visit them this May so we can try to foster the relationship, and she’s offered to plan a shower for my wedding which shows her interest too. Hopefully, we can build something. I get really sad and anxious when I think about having a baby and doing major life things without my mom. My future MIL is nice, but she has lots of kids and isn’t the most supportive…she doesn’t really put a lot of effort in reaching out, and she reacts oddly when I do, so we haven’t built much there yet. This aunt would be there for me in a second if I asked, and I want to establish something where I’d be OK calling on her, and I can be there for her and their family too. We’ll see how it goes…

  1. What do you think happens to you when you die?

This is a hard one. I think something happens. I don’t think we just go into the ground/dust forever. I don’t know what the exact next steps are, but I think there’s some sort of afterlife place or experience, where we reunite with loved ones, and we reincarnate or in some way are able to support people on earth. I’m pretty agnostic at this point, wherein I think there’s something, but I don’t know what, and I don’t spend a lot of time on trying to figure out what’s next.

Emotional Train Wreck

First off, I’ve learned that I’m really terrible at resisting temptation when I’m on vacation. I can generally make better choices than I would’ve before, but it’s hard, especially when relying on other people’s kitchens and cooking. When I’m home, I control when I eat out, where I eat out, and the caloric content of my snacks and breakfast. At other places, egg whites and the like are not in abundance, and so I start my day immediately 300 calories above where I want to be. More than that, I still am a bit of a food tourist, and I like seeing the unique sweets or restaurants a place has to offer. When there’s no gym available, and honestly, when no one else is working out or prioritizing fitness, it’s difficult to get that in too. I went to Boston a few weeks ago and to Philly/NYC this weekend, and both times I ended up completely off-base in my fitness and food choices. It sucks, because I do so well at home, but then I see little to no progress because of those weekends.

Anyway, aside from that, I’m an emotional mess. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster for a few weeks now. I feel tired and about to cry a lot of the time. Work has been busy, which is good, but my current supervisor is completely incompetent and that wears on me. My dude and I had a slip up, of sorts, because of him being really stupid about something. Given that, it’s been really hard to trust him and to relax about our relationship. Doubt festers and breeds jealousy, which are negative emotions that I don’t like experiencing. They change how you view people and experiences, and that’s not good. We’re working on it, but it’s challenging.

More than anything, though, is the persistent missing of my mom. As time goes by, the reality of it sets in more and more. It’s so hard. My dad is actively dating this other woman, which sucks, and yet he also is really lonely and sad when he’s not with her, which sucks too. My sister isn’t doing all that great – her job was seasonal and is over, and she has too much time on her hands, and it’s easy to see the toll that’s taking. On my end, I just feel alone. I know I’m not; I have family, friends. The world, and their worlds, don’t and shouldn’t revolve around me at all.

That said, it’s difficult. People are very self-involved, and the ones who do reach out have such negative things going on in their own lives (or their outlook is just that way) that it doesn’t aid the situation. More often than not, though, people are just really busy, too busy even to reach out to call or check in. People don’t use the phone at all, which never used to bother me, but now does. People don’t ask about my mom or how any of that’s going, as if it just didn’t happen. Maybe they just don’t know what to say, but it feels like they don’t care. People that don’t live nearby put the onus all one me – if I want to talk, I can call, and they’ll try to answer, but that’s the most anyone has offered and it seems pretty fake, honestly. I just wish people would voluntarily reach out on their own – it’d make me feel a lot more cared for.

Really, it just makes me want to hole up and never reach out to anyone. It puts me in the “would they notice if I X” mindset. Really, there’s nothing less comforting than having people consistently check their calendars for weeks out and still not having time for our friendship. I hate it even more because people keep throwing it back to me like “this used to be you” in terms of my schedule. And yes, for a few years, my schedule was constantly booked. The difference, though, is I always found time for people. If someone wanted to hang out, I made sure to find a time within a week or, at most, two, to dedicate time to that person (which was WHY my schedule stayed so booked). I also sent emails and articles and such to people in the interim to foster the relationship. These people, it’s not like that.  It’s harder because I’m in a place right now where I need people more than ever, and yet I’m the one trying so hard to make it work, and I feel like this is a time when I shouldn’t have to try like that.

It’s all worse after this weekend and with the holidays approaching. It was extremely difficult to spend time with my dude’s family. It’s awesome seeing him in that environment, and I like meeting the people he cares about. That said, seeing his mom interacting with the family and him, and doing all the things my mom used to do…It just brings home how I’ll never have that again, and I will never again have someone to look out for me or care about me in that way. I don’t have that cheerleader, that source of love and comfort (and occasionally that pain in the ass).

When it comes to the holidays, thanksgiving will be nice. I’ll see my aunt and uncle, and my dad, and the dude is coming with. Thing is, I haven’t spend thanksgiving with my parents in years, so that’s not as painful. Christmas, however, is going to be a nightmare. Being back home in the house without her, being near my sister and her overwhelming emotion and grief, and having no one to hold together the traditions. My dad’s already discussed not even doing presents, which right there is already upsetting. I may get to see some friends from high school, but really, I won’t have anyone there for me. It’s all about me holding together the traditions and making sure everyone else holds it together, but as per usual, no one ever checks in to see how I’m doing. That’s not how my family works. I thought my dude was coming with, but his mom’s birthday is that weekend and birthdays are a huge deal in his family, and honestly, it’s ridiculously expensive to go to where I’m from. I couldn’t pay for it without my dad helping me, so I do get that. And, as always, time off is hard to get.

I struggle balancing what’s fair and reasonable to ask for as a need with what my partner may wish to do of his own initiative. On the one hand, it’d make a huge difference to me to have him there. I could really use the emotional support. On the other hand, can I ask him to spend the money and take the extra time off work, potentially stressing his time with his family? That seems unfair. Plus, the woman side of me feels like it should come from him; if he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t feel the need to be there, then I don’t want him there…even if that makes it even harder for me.

Anyhow, emotional train wreck, basically.

And no shit, five minutes after I finished writing this (at work, since that’s where I was hit with emotion today),  my dad emails to say he booked a vacation for an 11 day European trip with his new girlfriend. The vacation is in april. Serious, much? And only 2 and half months after his wife of 33 years unexpectedly died. WTF? If I wasn’t a wreck before…

Too Soon

My dad went on a date tonight. My mom died 6 weeks ago. Isn’t that all there is to say?

On the one hand, he doesn’t have many friends, and making friends in the middle america states is difficult. Spending day in and out alone, thinking of a future alone, minus occasional interactions with my sibling and I, well, I get being lonely. He’s a dude, he could even be horny. I understand that he may want companionship and feel lost in his grief.

That said, joining an online dating site and making a date just 6 weeks after your wife of almost 33 years passed? Going on the date 2 days after what would’ve been your 33rd anniversary? WTF?

And of course, he’s told no one, just me. I want to encourage him to be happy, and I do want him to find happiness with someone else…but I can’t comprehend it yet. I thought I had a year or so.

Thing is, I still reach for the phone to call my mom, I still think of telling her things. I’m constantly shocked when I remember she’s gone. I can’t even understand the world without her yet. I’m still trying to understand a world with my dad without my mom, to imagine more weekends and situations where we’ll be together and she won’t be there. So…it’s a bit difficult for me to believe my dad can not only comprehend it, but can let someone else in so quickly.

I’m trying to remember the ways in which my dad demonstrated his love for my mom and showed his grief. I believe he desperately loved my mom and was truly heartbroken when she passed. This may just be his way of coping because he doesn’t know what else to do. But really, it’s hard, because I need to adjust to him alone before adjusting to him with someone new. But, it’s his life, not mine, and we’re all grownups, and my needs don’t necessarily come before his, not anymore. :(.

On the plus side and not too soon side, dude and I are madly in love and it’s fabulous (and celebrating 7 months!), and I’ve lost 15 lbs and 14 inches. So, *woot* on those notes.