Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Hiatus and Holiday Eating

I know it's been a few days, but I took a little off to spend and enjoy Christmas with the family.  

The Eldest (my sister Robin) came in from Oklahoma the Tuesday before Christmas, and we enjoyed several days together, mainly getting her addicted to "The Big Bang Theory," before the rest of The Family came in from Waxahachie.  She hadn't seen me since Thanksgiving when I was just starting my pre-op diet, and she could really notice the fact that I was already losing weight -- especially when I almost lost me pants a couple of times when we were out and about.  (haha)

The Eldest helped fulfill my craving for sushi, where I introduced her to, yet another addiction of, as she says, "The best hot and sour soup she's ever tasted."  I had a cup of hot and sour soup and a sushi roll, which had The Eldest not helped me with, I wouldn't have been able to finish.  I'm finding it amazing as to how quickly I get full.  We had a lovely time of running last-minute Christmas errands and viewing Christmas lights.

The Mother, The Father, and The Chihuahua Sister came Christmas Eve Morning after mom got out of the doctor.  [Her lupus is out of remission, so the doctor started on her lupus medications again.  We are slightly disheartened that it's back, but we are rejoicing that her breast cancer scare came back good for the most part -- we'll just have to keep a cautious eye on the future.]   The Eldest and I made a delicious baked potato soup (with low fat sour cream and cream of cheddar soup for the cheese) for our Christmas Eve dinner before taking The Mother, The Father, The Chihuahua Sister out to see the Christmas lights.

My family is great and very supportive of me on this journey -- sometimes a little too supportive.  lol  They've been overly concerned, discussing amongst themselves, as though I'm not even in the room, about what they "think" I can and cannot eat.  Mom even whispers about foods she thinks might "tempt" me.  (lol)  I finally had to sit them all down and put an end to it.  I think I finally got my point across and they finally understand the point of them encouraging and supporting me and not having to be responsible to police and hide food from me.  

I did, however, agree to change our menu from the previously decided brisket and fixin's, since I'm not able to eat beef at the moment, to turkey and all the fixin's.  Besides, The Eldest had a turkey given to her that was burning a whole in her freezer.  For Christmas we had:  turkey, dressing (very moist for my sake), my favorite green beans that I've mentioned in a previous blog, mashed sweet potatoes (with just a little milk and butter, vanilla and spices), broccoli slaw that The Eldest makes, Copper Penny Salad (wonderful marinated carrots with onion and bell pepper -- one of my family's favorites), and deviled eggs. 

I ate my dinner on a 7" salad plate with a few tablespoons of everything I wanted.  Again, I was amazed at how soon I was full.  Funny thing was while the rest of the family was suffering from carb-overload and tryptophan, I wasn't fazed by it at all.  Had I been more on top of things, I could have pulled off some lovely practical jokes on them while they were dozing.  I have plenty of time to prepare for next year!

I did have dessert and savored every bite.  I took up the mantle and made my mom's famous strawberry cake with strawberry butter cream icing.  The Elder (my sister Rebecca), The Eye-talian (The Elder's Italian husband), and The Chihuahua Niece showed up Christmas Morning bearing pecan pie and my absolute favorite . . . BUTTERMILK PIE!  

I waiting a few hours and had my dessert as a snack.  A small slice of each of the three filled me up quickly.  I made the family promise to save me another slice of buttermilk pie.  They happily complied -- after I threatened to make them sleep outside in The Eldest's vehicle if they didn't.  

As always, we had a great time together, and I look forward to the next time we can all get together.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movin' On Up & Losin' Myself

I graduated!  

There were no caps and gowns or commencement speeches, but there were soft scrambled eggs, a baked potato, and tuna fish salad with green beans (Prepared my favorite way: sauteed in olive oil with garlic and balsamic vinegar.  So delicious!). Yesterday was my post-op visit, where I was given the go ahead to increase my food choices to included: canned vegetables, canned chicken, canned tuna, soft mushy fruits, and overly cooked paste and sauce.  

After a week on this diet, I'll graduate again -- just in time for Christmas when I'll be able to eat almost anything.  However, I still won't be able to eat bread (except for cornbread), rice, pineapple, apples, lettuce, beef, or pork until after my first fill because they don't want my stomach working that hard just yet.  My first fill should be the last Friday of this year, or was it the first Friday of the New Year?  Guess I really should look into that.

The scale found me five pounds lighter.  Yea!   That's 32 pounds from when I started the process.  Yea! Looks like my New Year's Resolution to lose weight will actually be successful this year.  

Today, I ate scrambled eggs, again 'cause I'z likes 'em.  And (drum roll) egg noodles with marinara sauce.  Egg noodles?  (I need to go to the store!)  Spaghetti and angel hair pasta aren't the best choices because they don't really get chewed that well -- we usually just slurp them down.  From now on whenever I have pasta, I need to have something I can bite, chew, and enjoy.  

Oh, here's where I can use your input.  I've started researching different workout possibilities for when I'm given the go ahead to begin participating in more strenuous activities than just walking.  I'm interested in your thoughts, so let me know if you have any suggestions.  Just remember I haven't worked out in years, so I'm not ready for New York Marathon level of workout . . . but someday!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monumental Moments

Five days into my post-operative diet, and I'm proud to say I: 
1) am experiencing less and less pain. 
2) am gaining more and more strength. 
3) have been able to shower once again.  
4) have not obsessed over the scale.  
5) did not wrestle the hot dog from my father's hands, shove it in my mouth, swallowing it whole like a snake would eat a rat. 
6) did not, after smelling my parent's Cool Ranch Doritos, hide in the closet and, at the very least, lick off the seasoning.

Now, that's not to say I didn't think LONG AND HARD about the last two.  I guess I'm getting a little "soup-ed" out -- there's only so much tomato and cream of (fill in the blank) a person can take.

I felt well enough today to go out on a little excursion with Mom.  I even drove!  The field trip? To PetSmart to buy cat food.  I did pretty well, but really felt it when we got back home.  I forgot that I hadn't had lunch, so I was hungry, thirsty, and hurting -- not a good combo all together.  It wasn't anything a little soup, pain medication, and nap couldn't cure.  

While at home, I really need to be more aware to drink more throughout the day.  Whenever I'm at work, I always have water at my desk because talking to patrons keeps my mouth and throat dry, so at home I really need to keep on top of it, so I don't get dehydrated.

Mom and Dad are leaving tomorrow afternoon, so I'll be on my own.  (Yes, they'll take the rest of the hot dogs and Doritos with them.)

Friday morning is my post-op check up.  I'm looking forward to seeing how much weight I'm lost since surgery.  I decided not to weigh until Friday's visit, and that's been hard!  I'm also looking forward to the go ahead for REAL food.  

I'm craving sushi!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Increased Food = Increased Strength + Reduced Pain

Having slept extremely well last night, I woke up this morning and went straight to the pantry to grab the box of Cream of Wheat.  IT'S DAY THREE, which means I can start eating soft runny foods instead of just drinking clear liquids.  I've always been a fan of Cream of Wheat (and Malt-o-Meal) since I was a kid, but I will say, this morning's Cream of Wheat was the absolute BEST I've ever had.  I'm sure it could have been muddy rainwater, and I would have thought it delicious since it was something other than broth, jello, juice and popsicles. 

I spent the rest of the morning puttering around the house doing little things here and there -- sat in a chair and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. With my Cream O' Wheat in me, I felt stronger and for a moment contemplated running around the block.  (Not really.)  I spent the rest of my morning debating which soup should be my introductory. 

Progresso Creamy Tomato Basil won, and just like the Cream of Wheat, it was the BEST tomato soup I have ever had!  For this evening I'm thinking a lovely Campbell's Cream of Mushroom or Cheddar Broccoli paired with a dry 2010 Cranberry Apple Juice. 

My pain level is much less today -- just sore and really bruised at my incisions.  I was able to sleep almost normally last night and only woke once in pain.  It's nice to finally be feeling stronger.  Tired, but stronger. 

I realized I never took my measurements before surgery in order to keep track of my inches lost, so that's on the agenda for this evening.  Mom said she'd help -- hopefully, the camera will be far far away.  She's again mentioned all the shots she wish she'd taken.  Who knows.  She might be the next Annie Leibovitz or Olan Mills.

Healing and making progress.  It's been a good day!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Beef Broth Kisses and Popsicle Dreams

Well, I'm alive!  A little worse for ware, but making it. 

Surgery went well, yesterday.  I think the worst part was coming out of the anesthesia BLIND, FREEZING and in PAIN -- thankfully two of those were remedied quickly enough by several warm blankets and a shot of THE GOOD STUFF; it would however, take my glasses 30 minutes to travel to me from the family waiting room.

They had me up walking soon thereafter, although I wouldn't pass any "yellow line test." They walked me to a little x-ray room where they had me drink a cup of barium, so they could make sure everything was flowing well. They then ushered mi familia in for a wonderful family reunion, where I finally got my glasses and could see just how cute (and married) my post-op nurses was.

Funny thing about the whole day was there was this lady I usually call "Mom" who turned paparazza on me.  That's the last time I teach her how to use her camera phone and tell her I've started a blog on my weight loss journey.  She said to me this morning, "I should have taken a picture of you and Dr. Smith before you went back for surgery," tonight, "We need to take a picture of your incisions."  Now, I live with the dreaded fear of photos of me half sedated in a hospital gown wearing no makeup being leaked to the public.  There goes my future political career.  I am starting a photo journal of the process as well, but you won't be seeing those pics for some time.  I snapped some photos the night before surgery (Fully clothed! No Biggest Loser style photographer, here!) and plan on taking an updated photo each month.  Eventually (when I'm comfortable enough), I'll add them to my Flickr account and allow you to take a gander.  Don't count on seeing mom's handiwork there. 

I'm on a 48 clear liquid diet, so it's been: beef broth, chicken broth, sugar free jello, no sugar added juices, sugar free popsicles, coffee, and tea.  On the third day of Christmas I'll graduate to sauces, smooth or blenderized soups, cream of wheat, blenderized cottage cheese, protein drinks, and puddings until my post-op visit a week from today on Friday, December 17.

I've been working to stay ahead of the pain by setting the alarm on my phone to go off every four hours, so I don't miss a dose of pain meds (liquid yuck).  Last night, I got off by just 2 hours, and well, let's just say OUCH! 

My job this week is to just walk.  Get up and move around. Keep the longs a breathing.  Keep pneumonia at bay. Not lifting. No pulling. No changing a flat tire.  And to look helplessly as someone else has to pour the HUGE jug of apple juice my sister bought at the store.  In her defense, it was on sale! (she knows me so well!)

My family has been great.  I feel bad asking them to do things, and they keep telling me to stop apologizing.  I appreciate everything they are doing for me.  I have learned, however, that one should have a more stoic family when it comes to abdominal surgery because laughter really isn't the best medicine.  Laughter hurts.

(Yesterday morning's pre-surgery weigh in found I had lost an additional TEN pounds since Monday's pre-op visit.  That's a grand total of  37 pounds since the end of August.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Night Nesting

Tonight I've been nesting.  Since I won't be able to push, pull, lift, or tow for several weeks, I've been going around around the house getting things done:  Laundry done and folded (thanks to my sister).  Dishes washed. Kitchen cleaned.  Sheets washed and back on the bed.  Chester's litter box cleaned.  Trash and recycle bins ready to be hauled by one of my lovely family members to the curb tomorrow evening.

Mom and Dad came in tonight with my sister Rebecca.  Rebecca doesn't have to work the next couple of days, so she wanted to come for support. 

My last meal tonight was a soupy chili and low fat cottage cheese for a snack.  I drank my last drink of water - until after surgery - about 11:30pm, totally missing my last 30-minute window to drink anything before midnight.  Since my surgery isn't until 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, my brain is trying to convince myself that I'm somehow going to die of thirst. 

I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something, yet even if I do, it'll be all right. 

I'll post again as soon as I'm coherent enough from you anesthesia stupor.  However, don't be surprised if I post some mumbled jumbled nonsense.  Just reason that I'm still alive and well, but still riding the anesthesia/pain med cocktail.  Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Excitement Level: 70%  Nervous Level: 150%

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Dreamed A Dream. . . Of Chicken Fried Steak

Les Miserables and Susan Boyle may have "dreamed a dream in time gone by," but lately I've been dreaming of food.  Seriously!  Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Spaghetti and meat balls with garlic toast. Actual dreams.

For the last thirteen days, I've been on a modified preoperative diet to shrink my liver.  They want it to shrink because it sit on the stomach where my band will be attached, and shrinking it means they won't have to move it a lot during surgery and run the risk of damage. My diet consists of three meals a day. Two of protein shakes, and the third of any soup I want -- as long as it's not cream based. I can have snacks of low fat cottage cheese, sugar free pudding and jello, and V8 juice, and another protein shake.  Due to my height, I need at least 105 grams of protein a day. 

I have become a skilled Shake Artisan (Smoothie King's got nothing on me). In the morning, I always go for a coffee-based pairing; in the afternoons, something a little more fruity.  The key was finding the protein I liked and loading up on recipes.  It's been fun trying different combinations.

The Tools of My Trade:

My JCPenney Cooks 5-in-1 Power Blender with Attachments.  Works great! Easy to clean! Easy blend-to-go access! (And, of course, you know I got it on sale WITH a coupon!)
Jay Robb's Whey Protein Powder.  Thus far, my go to protein powder of choice.  Tastes great! Blends smoothly! 25 grams of protein per scoop! (Like Raisin Bran, 2 Scoops in the morning and usually at dinner.)  Zero grams of sugar! One gram of carbohydrates! 110 calories!

I use skim milk or low sugar juice.  Frozen berries and fruit.  Aldi is my go to store for these because I can get a gallon of skim milk for 99 cents and wonderful frozen fruit at amazing prices.  A tablespoon of peanut butter provides a little extra protein and goes great with the chocolate.  Coffee is great with chocolate or vanilla protein powder, and some mornings I add a little sugar free hazelnut creamer to add a different flavor.  

My other protein drink of choice is Nature's Choice Zero Carb ISOPURE Protein Liquid.  I keep one in the truck in case I get hungry and need need a protein fix.  Each bottle has 40 grams of protein.  Zero sugar and carbs.  160 calories. Tastes GREAT!  My favorite flavors are Alpine Punch and Apple Melon, which tastes kind of like an apple Jolly Rancher, but not as sweet.  Great to sip on throughout a day of shopping and errand running.
  After surgery, I'll gradually work my way back up to foods -- even chicken fried steak -- but from now on, I'll always have to incorporate protein shakes and drinks into my daily life.  Honestly, I should have been doing this all along; it's amazing how much energy the right amount of protein gives me throughout the day and has made me feel fuller and lose weight.  By adding the right amounts of healthy protein in my diet during my four months of nutrition training, I lost over 15 pounds.  Since Saturday, the last time I weighed while on my two week pre-op modified diet, I've lost an additional 12 pounds -- not sure what I've lost since Saturday.

Now those pounds might look like 10 bucks to a billionaire, but I'm well on my way!  Off to bed, to wake up to my last band free day.  

Excitement Level: 60%  Nervous Level: 40%


Monday, December 6, 2010

T-Minus Two Days. . .

This morning, I trekked through a good dose of traffic from south Fort Worth all the way to Trophy Club, Texas, for a few tests: blood work, EKG, blah, blah, blah, etc., infinity, plus more.  All these tests are important because come Thursday at 12:30pm, I'll be checking into Baylor Medical Center at Trophy Club to undergo a little procedure that should give me the necessary tool to continue regaining my health and my life.  

I'm having gastric lap band surgery.

I officially started the process back in the summer.  Thankfully, my employer has a wonderful Wellness Division and the director has streamlined the process.  They see the value of getting employees healthy, so all the battling with the insurance company has diminished; I received my approval in less than a week when most others took about four to six weeks.

The first step was PAPERWORK!  Loads and loads of paperwork!  I had to read and watch a lot of information on several procedures, but if you know me, you know that I like my research!  I had to attend two surgical seminars and their two support groups.  Then I decided on the surgery I felt was right for me, as well as the surgeon.  I had four nutrition appointment, each one month a part, where I began practicing a post-surgery life style.  Had a psychological evaluation. (YES!  I passed!)  My insurance did my final approval.  The date was set.

So, here I am.  

I'm currently in the last few days of my pre-op diet to shrink my liver, so it won't need to be moved around too much.  I'm excited and nervous, but mostly stressed about getting everything in order at work (and home) since I'll be out for three weeks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I know you've heard the rumors, so I'm here to set the record straight 
          . . . (drum roll, please) . . . 

For those of you not fortunate enough to follow my musing from over two years ago, you can take a stroll down (my) memory lane hereWhy start blogging again?

I'm about to embark on a journey.  A journey I wanted to share:  for support.  for accountability.  for encouragement.  to chronicle.  to (possibly) help someone else along the way.

This blog has been the works for over a year -- in my mind at least.  I've started it a thousand times, but could never get past the point of registration that asked for the blog name and URL address.  I wanted something meaningful -- even if it was just to me. 

 URL Address Meaning:
"Amending Self" -- Improve. To change for the better; to alter; to enrich.
"A Mending Self" -- Heal. To restore; make repairs.

Blog Name Meaning:
It's a funny thing how the mind works.  I ran across the following quote in a magazine about six years ago while waiting in a CareNow to get a flu shot, "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."  I was going through some difficult medical stuff at a time, which at that point seemed hopeless to me.  Reading that quote reminded me of the awe of metamorphosis. The hope in the struggle.  It didn't magically make every thing better, but it gave me just a hint of Hope and stuck with me ever since.  

I was reminded of it again, recently, while reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my weekly children's program at the library.  Silly?  Maybe, but that's just how my mind works.  I thought about where I've been and where I am in my life's process.

And so, I began the process of building my chrysalis.  This shall be the story of my metamorphosis.