Raise Your Sails

Republishing because I needed something positive this morning. Hope you need it, too. Don’t lose hope. You’ll survive. Even thrive. Just. Move. Forward.


Fix your eye
On the endless sky.
See the light behind the storm.

Raise your sails
For the new-found sea.
Un-anchor from the shore.

Find your wind.
Begin again.
Don’t linger in the shoals.

You’re the one
Who will feel the sun.
Ride the wave wherever it rolls.

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Present Tense

My book, Present Tense, is available on Amazon tomorrow for free. February 9-13! Normally $2.99. Check it out. It’s a quick read; probably finish in one go. Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free anytime. It’s a vignette-style memoir with a glance at PTSD and how it starts. It does not answer the question of recovery, but it gives an emotional starting place.

Why’s it so hard to be nice to ourselves?

I’m pretty hard on myself.

I just had a major surgery (last Thursday) and I’m expecting miracles. I expect that I should be out of pain, off oxycodone, totally withdrawn from all pain meds and on my feet doing laundry and keeping house. In my wildest post-op fantasy, I should be holding down a job, fixing dinner every night and dressing for success all damn day. Also, adopting orphans and feeding the homeless.

When I write it down, it sounds ridiculous.

I haven’t had a job in 6 months. I’ve been sick for over 4 years. I’ve been recovering from weight loss surgery for just over a month and gallbladder removal for just under a week. I can barely hold down food at this point, let alone a job. Calm down, Mother Teresa!

I guess I’m impatient because I know how long I’ve been sick and how much I want to be better. My goal is be a productive human being again. Stop wasting time on being sick. Be a better wife, mother and human. To serve others and have purpose. To lose weight overnight and be a rockstar tomorrow. I’m ready for all the glory without any of the work, pain, time. Honestly, I want to take away the burden of a sick home from my husband and daughter. Bottom line. I feel so selfish.

Today was a success because I am almost 48 hours out from my last oxycodone pill after having taken them every day for over a month. My nausea is subsiding and I’m able to stand up straight without pain. My weight has gone back down to 399.8 and I’m doing laundry by myself. I am not exactly following my post-op diet but I am eating food that I can stomach.

I can only have a few bites at a time. I’m supposed to have nothing but protein, but when ur sick? Protein sounds awful! Chicken soup/veggie soup/broth is about the only protein I can stomach and even so, how much soup can a person handle? When you’re nauseous, ever heard of BRAT? Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. I’ve been having a small piece of toast throughout the day for a coupla days because it’s all I can keep down. I can only eat a few bites, I over-chew and it stays down. Breaking the rules, but being nice to myself. Still losing weight, of course, because I’m barely eating anything.

Important not to make a habit out of bread. Also, trying to keep liquids down. That’s the most important thing I can do right now. Stay hydrated.

Goals for today:
Drink liquids.
Eat a little.
Stay off oxy!
Do a tiny bit of laundry.

Check!

OH! And be nice to myself. Check.

As a sidenote: I wish the nurses and doctors during my recovery had mentioned the oxy-nausea thing. Instead they told me to return to a soft food diet, not “get off oxy asap!” It’s not food, it’s the drug. Pretty sure. Because what they thought was an ulcer is now almost assuredly a side effect of the oxy. Glad they listened to me finally, took out my gallbladder and saw through the EGD that I did not have an ulcer. They prescribed carafate for my “ulcer” that they thought I had (before they saw the EGD results) and I nearly puked on that med. Stopped taking it immediately. But now I have a very expensive script that I only used once. I have resolved to care for myself the best way I know how…listen to my body! And fight for myself.

Hammered Dog Doo

I went in for gallbladder removal and EGD on Thursday of last week. I just have to say that gallbladder pain is the worst pain I’ve ever had. And I gave birth the old-fashioned way.

The thing about natural childbirth (or any birthing event, C-section) though is this. Even though your ripped and torn, bleeding and bruised, banged up, sore and hamburglarized–some sort of magic manic-euphoria sets in and you don’t feel pain like a normal person. It’s as if the pain gets blurred. Dulled by the giddy feelings of falling in love with your baby. You can just basically forget you have legs or a babymaker for hours at a time.

So, if they would have swaddled my little gallbladder sac like a precious newborn, I might have made it through okay. But that didn’t happen. That sack of marbles got tossed on the bio-waste heap with all the other dysfunctional organs time and junk food has stolen from my body.

But I did figure out the source of my nausea. I’ve been oh-so nauseous for days! Before GB removal and after. Just before the new year, I went into the ER for stomach pain. They pumped me full of dilaudid. The nurse said, “They typically give that to trauma patients, so you’re lucky!” After 24 hours of pain meds though, I didn’t feel lucky. I just felt sick as a dog. That stuff made me so nauseated! Never again. They had to administer the pain med with anti-naus meds to not make me more sick??! No!

You should also know, I hate taking pills. I hate it. I hate taking heart meds, pain meds, weight loss meds, any meds. I grew up in a household where you suffered through your pain. And that made me tough. Occasionally, I would get some aspirin or cold medicine, but for the most part, I was allowed to just sleep it off. Let my nose run. Hack up a lung. Let the fever break. Let the earache ooze. Let the scrape breathe! And, for the most part, I did okay. Never really needed more than that. I would’ve liked more than that sometimes I guess, but I didn’t need it.

I had measles, chickenpox, mumps, whatever. I only had shots once. I have had shingles. Twice! And I just rode it out. This is a way of life. This is a philosophy. Let your body do what it needs to do. I’ve always been interested in alternative medicine. I don’t smoke pot, but I’m sure pot is better at pain management than oxy. Why don’t we have something natural instead of synthetic? And I know pot doesn’t make you nauseous. Quite the opposite.

Only until I entered the modern healthcare system at 39 with heart failure, did I need meds. I needed meds before that for my heart, but I ignored it. So this modern approach to pain management is new to me. I think I’m addicted to oxycodone. I am not taking any more as of this morning. I think it’s partly causing my nausea and even though I’m still in pain, I’m done! I’d rather be sore than sick to my stomach. I can handle anything except nausea.

Oxy can cause nausea. Itching. Stomach irritation. Vomiting. Ulcers! Great med to give someone who just had their stomach diced up like a tomato. But I don’t think anyone expected me to still be on oxy. But they’ve been doling it out like M&Ms. The gallbladder complication really threw a wrench into my recovery. So. Cold turkey. I’m basically giving up heroin lite. Oxy is an opiate. Same class as heroin. AND I’m so done.

This morning I feel clear. Sore, but on the mend. I don’t need pain meds, I can muddle through without. Our bodies send us messages all the time and we should listen, not mute. I shouldn’t just take oxy because it’s sitting there in the cabinet. I shouldn’t just take it until they run out. I’m in charge. I should go easy until I heal and be a little sore. Or alot sore.

I’m adding back my meds that I know were safe before weight loss surgery, then I’m adding the new ones one at a time. I gotta get straight. I was taking stomach ulcer meds to try and keep up with what the oxy was doing to my gut. No thanks. But you don’t always realize what’s happening with taking so many meds. How they interact and what they’re even made of. Oxy is an acid. Not good for sensitive new tummies. You simply take what the doctor hands you. When you’re sick, you can’t do the research of a pharmacist from your recovery bed.

At some point I didn’t realize that my post-op weight loss surgery pain had migrated to opiate addiction. I was muting my messages. Plus, to suffer gallbladder stones on top of it, that was sending mixed signals for sure. I’m glad to be on the other side of it. I’m glad to take control right now. I still hurt, but nothing I can’t handle. Time to be tough.

I was praying so much this past weekend. Praying to make it through. Praying for the nausea to leave. Praying for healing. Praying for an ulcer-free stomach. Praying for the back pain from yanking out my GB to go. And I think I just got my answer. Thank you, Lord.

Current weight=402.2

I went up with surgery which is expected. I was up to 409 when I came home after being down to 397.8 before surgery. So I get to break 400 twice I guess? πŸ™‚ They pumped me full of IV juices, so that’s one of the reasons I went up. Oh well. 402 is not bad! Onward and downward!

The Buzz!

What’s the buzz? It’s not a new radio station in town. It’s not a hot wings restaurant down on the corner where the servers wear footballs over their tatas! It’s me, my weight!

I just broke 400!!!

I weigh 399.8 today. πŸ˜€ Starting at 513 lbs. in August of 2012, to finally be down past 400 is huge! 113.2 lbs. lost! I am so happy. I am so thankful. I am so very excited! I am so excited to be at this weight-busting moment!

I had wanted to meet this goal before the end of 2016, but I’m only 9 days late. πŸ˜€ Better late than never.

Thank you for just cheering me on. It helps. Woot!!! I’m losing! I really am.

And if you’re having trouble starting your NYE diet resolution, be afraid, because I’m on your a$$ and I’m coming for you! What better motivation to start! LOL πŸ˜‰

Confessions of a Hungry Mind

I am at 410.2 lbs.

Since I entered the hospital in August of 2012 at 513 pounds, I have lost 103 pounds!!! That is astonishing! I was at a lethal weight and classified as super morbidly obese. I’m so glad to shed that baggage and move forward. Phew. I got a skinny girl off my back!

On the gallbladder front, I bitched and moaned enough (went to the ER twice!) that they are going to perform an EGD (stomach scope) and remove my gallbladder at the same time next Thursday. Also phew.

I’m a little nervous about gallbladder surgery, but looking forward to less pain! Everyone says it’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Alot of gallbladder victims out there. Fortunately, humans don’t seem to need it. And I read an article that said alot of other animals don’t have a gallbladder.

Did you know your GB stores about a cup of bile every night? Mmmm, so hungry now. If you saw a cup of bile sitting on the counter, what would you do? I would immediately throw up. BUT! Bile helps you digest fats and other foods. So, after surgery, with no more GB? Low-fat diet. On top of my other weight loss surgery post-op food requirements! I can basically have…not alot. Protein shake anyone? Sigh.

After a few weeks, after GB removal, they said 90% of people go back to their normal diet. So that’s good. I’m basically in pain every time I eat now, I only eat about an ounce of food at each meal. That’s okay! I’m learning to be satisfied and restrict myself so I’m not doubled over in pain with gallbladder seizures! I feel very weak, but I’m not exercising, so…whatever. Just, on with the show! I’m still losing at the rate they want me to, so no worries.

I think I’m in so much pain because those gallstones take up the space where your bile would be stored and I don’t have enough bile to begin with. So it makes eating painful and difficult. Without bile, stomach cramps and immediate bathroom needs are frequent symptoms. These are just my supposings. Again, I’m not a doctor. Not a medical doctor anyway. They do call me Dr. Hotstuff from time to time.

No. They don’t. My husband does. No. He doesn’t. I call myself that when I’m alone in the bathroom after every meal. LOL

Cheers to weight loss!

Why the dress? The dress above is my dream dress for remarrying my sweetie, 20-year vow renewal in 2 years. Maybe in Vegas? By Elvis? Good to have goals!

Also-I made veggie lasagna the other night. Really good. Smashed up cauliflower and broccoli with melted Italian cheese and pepperoni on top. Pizza sauce in the middle. I had just a small portion. Really liked it. Put some ricotta cheese in there. No noodles. Didn’t hurt my tummy. When I make it again, I’ll take a pic and post the recipe. Basically, any good lasagna recipe but no noodles and sub in veg. Family loved it too.

Just thought I’d share the last few days since I’ve been quiet. Ta!

When the Dinner Bell Rings, I’ll Be There!

My husband says his grandpa used to sing this silly song, “When the dinner bell rings, I’ll be there…” That’s me. I always looked forward to supper. Meat, potatoes, gravy, bread, butter, veggie. Look Ma, I ate all my peas! I gotta big mouth. πŸ˜€

I had a corn-on-the-cob eating contest with my brother one day before the age of 5 (but now I realize with myself because I was the only one participating). And at the end I said, “I gotta big mouth!” I was proud of my accomplishment. My brother heartily agreed with me. “You sure do!” LOL

I’ve always had a big mouth and a big appetite. But last night, for the past few days, I’ve hardly had anything. AND, I haven’t been hungry. Like, I’m skinny-girl eating and I feel like a dainty little flower. I stopped solids two mornings ago. My stomach was sore and bloated. “I better cut back,” is what I told myself. So, then it was hot broth and hot tea. Then the following day, yesterday, I had nothing before 5 pm because I had to get an ultrasound for gastric pain (no food or drink for 8 hours). I was nervous about that because I thought, “I’ll starve! I’ll kill someone or myself before 8 hours is up!!” But I was fine! I ate dinner around 7 pm.

According to that ultrasound, turns out, I have gallstones! Eeek. Still don’t know what they’ll do, surgery or meds. I hope, I really hope, they’ll take it out. It’s full of stones. I’m sure it has been for a while. I’m thinking now that I had an episode in March this year.

On my art front…
The above painting is something I’ve been working on for a while. It’s not finished but coming close. I started it several years ago when I was in art school and had an extra blank canvas that I thought I needed for school, but ended up abandoning that project, or changing it for time’s sake. So I started with old utensils and black spray paint. I’ve added some other media and now it’s a sort of multi-media collage of sorts that’s turned into a therapy piece about my weight loss journey. I’ll post when I’m finished. I just thought the plates and knives were fitting for my post today. I like the shadowy effect on some of the forks and spoons.

Weight loss=40+ lbs!!!
WEIGHT=415.0 πŸ˜€
3 LBS AWAY FROM MY LOWEST WEIGHT TO DATE SINCE HEART FAILURE IN 2012! WOOT!

Gut Buster!

Hello.

I am having a ton of stomach pain today. I don’t know if it’s my stomach or gallbladder. Could be either. My stomach is still swollen (typical) after gastric bypass. So, no way of knowing where the pain is coming from because your gallbladder, stomach and liver are all very close together. But I am having some twingy pain in my back and under my ribs. Sounds like GB. Plus, a few other symptoms that I won’t go into, mainly color of stool, and other things that make me think I’m having an attack.

I’ve read and been told that many weight loss surgery patients lose their gallbladder after their initial stomach reduction. Most common cause for gallbladder loss is excess fat in the abdomen region. Which I have plenty of. So, I’m thinking I just might lose my gallbladder.

What does your GB do??
It produces bile in cahoots with the liver. The bile helps get rid of digesting fat. If you eat too much fat? The bile can’t keep up and the excess fat is turned into a lump and absorbed into the gallbladder as a stone. So when you’re GB fills up with stones or you try to pass these lumps/stones, it can cause an attack. Ouch. (This description may be inaccurate, but it’s close and I should clarify that I do NOT have a medical degree. I’m not a doctor, but I play one on WebMD, in my mind, on my tablet.)

Also, because I had an episode in March that led me down this WLS path to begin with, that’s why I’m thinking I might be having an attack. Really bad pain in my upper left quadrant in the abdomen. I thought it was like a hernia or something in my stomach. They never tested my gallbladder and they never found the source of pain. Hm. I’m thinking I had a gallbladder attack!

Anyway, I have an ultrasound at 4-ish today to find out if I have anything going on and where. Phew. That will be a relief. On the poundage front…

Freakin’ FINALLY! Got on the scale today. After starving myself (or what felt like starving myself) 418.4 lbs!!! Plenty of fluids yesterday and no solids. Hot broth and hot tea. I don’t think my excursion to Habanero’s was well received by my new tummy. It was delicious. I didn’t have much, but I don’t think I’m ready for soft solids yet. Oh well. Loss of 2 lbs after two days of killing myself is good. The scale is constantly moving in the right direction and I have not gone up! Win-win! I’ll take it.

Stats:

13 lbs since surgery which was 17 days ago

Total since Thanksgiving=over 37 lbs.

0.76 avg. lbs. per day since surgery

Weight=418.4

2 lb. loss since Monday

Not quite a pound a day, but I’m trying.

I know this all may seem highly neurotic and super detailed but! I have a finite window to lose as much as possible and this time (0-6 months after surgery) is the most important and the most rapid weight loss I can enjoy. So. It’s super important to get as much as I can off now. This is hard but worth it. I don’t like paying this much attention to food and weight and the scale and my digestive system, but this is what I have to do. This is my job, sort of. It would be a shame to spend thousands of dollars to fix my problem and then leave some of my game on the field. Or fat on the body.

I do keep encountering little obstacles here and there, but I just gotta try, try, try. It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings and I’m just warming up. La, la, la! Mi, mi, mi…

I don’t have a tree this year.

I don’t think I had a tree last year either. It was damaged by a burst water pipe above our storage unit. The year before that? I had half-a-tree. Just put up the top as a mini tree. So what?

I tend to reject any commercialization of Christmas. It’s not that I’m a Scrooge. Quite the opposite. We watched Disney’s A Christmas Carol last night and I was moved to tears when Ebenezer donates a very large sum to the charity collector. When he said, “I am obliged to you…bless you.” I just lost it.

To hear Scrooge say those kind words, those generous words, those humble words, I just can’t even…

I reject the commercialization of Christmas because it’s disgusting to me. I don’t shop on Black Friday. I don’t buy presents. I don’t like trees and lights and ornaments. Well, I do, but I don’t like what they have come to represent. Who doesn’t like shiny, colorful blinking lights? But I could go to Vegas on Christmas and be satisfied. I don’t think Jesus had a beautifully adorned pine tree in the manger. That’s a northern European tradition. I guess I just don’t get it. Why don’t we decorate a palm tree instead?

To say pine needles, lights, presents and all that glitters represents the spirit of Christmas or Jesus’ spirit is kind of offensive to me. Maybe I am a Scrooge to begrudge? A Bescroodger? Idk. But I can’t help throw up in my mouth a little when I see posts of trees and presents and tidings of joy espousing the love and spirit of Christmas. Sorry. And yes, I fully acknowledge this may be an attack on Christmas. It might be an attack on your very heart. Maybe I feel all the things I feel about Xmas because of my past. Okay. But. Attacking Christmas as we know it? Is that a bad thing? I mean, my biggest worry about Christmas is not what cup I am going to purchase at Starbuck’s.

What I feel deep down in my heart? I feel that we should all be walking the streets, trying to find the most in need, the loneliest, the hungriest souls on the planet who need a small bit of care. That would be the true spirit of Christmas. Not safely snug in our homes, exchanging elaborate gifts with people who need nothing. And I know, children want the magic of Christmas, the wonder of the holiday, but what are we teaching them with these empty traditions? Not what Christ was about. I can tell you that. Not the real wonder and awe of Christ.

I am recovering from surgery, so I don’t think I could wander the streets today, but honestly, I don’t know that I would have the courage or comfort to wander them at full health. But my heart wants to. I know it’s right, but I’ve never started this tradition for myself. We have moved away from gift-giving and tree-pimping. Thank God! But we haven’t made it out of the house yet. Hopefully, next year! What an amazing Christmas it would be to help people who were just like Mary and Joseph? Amazing.

This year, I am remembering the sacrifice Mary and Joseph made. And the sacrifice that Jesus made for all time. Merry Christmas to all. Not just those who can afford it. Sorry to personally ruin Xmas for anyone. I mean, have your fun and gifts and stuff. Just don’t forget others who are in need. That’s Jesus’ spirit. Tiny Tim was the smallest of all and needed the most. Don’t let Tiny Tim fall. (Shameless, I know.) God bless us, Everyone.

A Moment Alone

I wrote this poem several years ago for those who are in the process of grieving. It was a hard time in my own life when I was not in good health. The picture I took in 2009 in Sarasota, Florida on Siesta Key Beach. Best beach and sunsets in the country IMO. You are welcome to share with those who may be mourning an important woman in their life.