Home Sweet Home

We spent the day getting all of our ducks in a row to get mom home! We have a lovely aide named Sophia lined up to start on Tuesday, so with mom’s blood tests in order, she’ll be coming home then. We are working on getting her a hospital bed and all the trimmings. I got her a fluffy, bright twin-size comforter for her temporary bed.

So, overall, a positive day. In between, I worked. Hard to balance everything so I’m glad it’s the weekend. I spoke with one of my donors today & she said I’m the “utmost professional.” I needed that!

I went to Old Navy and got a few things since I’m down 60 lbs now. ūüėÉ

Tonight, I went through mom’s jewelry and “inherited” some necklaces. She had offered many of them on my last journey home but alas, they didn’t fit. They do now! Wearing her clothes and jewelry makes me feel close to her. I try to wear something everyday that was hers.

I recently donated these super cute size 8 fit-flop sneakers because they were swimming on my feet. Then I remembered she had gotten them in a 7! I asked her before she got sick if she’d be willing to donate them to her “incredibly shrinking daughter.” Of course she agreed. I dug through her sneakers & found them! They’re about 10 years old but as they say, what is old is new, and they’re right in style again!

So. Things are a bit brighter tonight. I may even sleep!

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On the road again

It’s Saturday, February 2, 2019, and I am pleased to say that I had the privilege to sleep in my own bed for two whole nights before leaving town again. In the past 3 weeks, I’ve been to Baltimore and back home, then to Rome and back home, and now I am on the final leg of my monthlong journey to New Jersey for a staff retreat in Jersey City. I am heading to my parent’s place first to see my folks.

With her 2nd to last chemo treatment behind her, mom is very weak these days again. She apparently didn’t eat yesterday and she slept most of the day. I spoke with Dad a few times, who sounded like he was glad I would be coming, even if it was a short period of time. Mom has one more round of chemo this month, and then she is done…hopefully forever, but at least we know it is for now. No one can predict the future, right?

Rome was a blast, despite the blustery, rainy weather. I arrived to Rome via London on Sunday, January 27 and went to my hotel called Hotel Artemide, which is located at 22 Via Nazionale. I mention that because it was excellent and I highly recommend it! Very clean, comfortable, and excellent staff. The best parts were threefold: 1) location, 2) spa and 3) free minibar. I didn’t use the spa, but it looked really nice! It would have been great to have brought a bathing suit and taken advantage of the sauna, pools, salt room, etc. I will have to go back – I told Ted we need to stay there together!

1.jpgOn Monday, I booked a trip through Viator (owned by Trip Advisor) via Greenline Tours to Orvieto and Assisi. It was a great day trip. We ultimately traveled about 12 hours, but it was worth it. I had a lovely experience getting to know a Japanese-American couple from San Francisco and a Mormon couple from Salt Lake City, who were visiting Rome for the dedication of a new Mormon Temple (near Ikea, they told me). When they learned I worked for a university in Israel, they said I was doing “God’s work” and the husband said that I “must be a supporter of walls since I work for an Israeli university.” When I told him I was, in fact, not a believer in walls, he said, “Well, then you think people should be able to roam freely.” Um, look at the name of this blog?? The answer is YES! I politely told him that one of the best things about the university that I work for is “apolitical” and that they make a point of focusing on technology & science rather than politics. In fact, I told them, 22% of the student population are Arab. That seemed to shut him up.

2.jpgI spent Tuesday and Wednesday “wandering” around Rome. When I calculated how much I walked between Sunday and Thursday (when I flew home), I realized I had walked nearly 20 miles. I told my dad that apparently the key to me moving more is to be in Rome. Clearly, it motivates me to walk and see the city. My friend asked me if I’d ever move back there. The answer is likely yes, but only if Ted comes with me (big smile).

For those of you keeping track, I have now lost 54 pounds. A few posts ago, I talked about the joy I felt sitting on a plane, and having room between my legs and the seat rest is bliss. Traveling to Boston—->London—>Rome, and then the reverse was cake. I wasn’t stuck in the seat the way I have been in the past. I was more comfortable and didn’t feel as self conscious. This is one metric that I can check off – flying gets a thumbs up! And now, as I write this post, I am sitting on am Amtrak train, again comfortably.

That’s about all for now. See you all again soon!

 

My Sweet 16

I woke up this weekend with a face full of pimples. My chin and forehead looked like they belonged in a John Water’s movie. I looked at my face – in horror – in the mirror and tried to think about why I was so broken out. I hadn’t used any new face products, my pillowcases were fine, and I didn’t think I was touching my face that much. So, what happened?

Cue Dr. Google.

I found this study that basically says that vitamin deficiencies can contribute to derma-logical changes, and get this – that because people tend to be constipated after surgery, the toxins in their body back up and can come out as blemishes.

Yuck!

I said to my mom, “Apparently I exchanged one bad thing for another!” Listen, I’m not happy about the acne. But I am hopeful that it will clear up.

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Extra room on the airplane seat!

On a positive note, I traveled on my first post-surgery airplane today and I actually had extra legroom in the seat. I even took a photo to document the occasion. This is coming from the girl who had to ask for a seat extender last year. I was even able to put down the armrest without it hitting my thigh. Score!

A whole new(ish) world

One of the wonderful side effects of my weight change is that I can now shop in many more stores – the ones that sell “straight” sizes versus “womens” or “extended” or “plus.” Pick your favorite euphemism.

I have been dipping my toe in some size L/XL items from TJ Maxx, but today, I jumped into the pool & journeyed to the world of Assembly Row in Somerville. For those of you who aren’t local to Boston, it’s a newish outdoor outlet mall with shops, restaurants, AMC theater, LEGOland, and more. I have only been there once years ago to see a movie. I hadn’t ventured there because they had few stores I could shop in besides accessories, etc.

Today I hit up Loft Outlet and got some cute things that were not expensive. Last week I got a few more tailored work items at Ann Taylor Outlet. These are definitely part of my comfort zone – “inside-the-box” kinda clothes. I look forward to branching out, back to BCBG and Nordstrom and Saks outlet for some edgier things. I’m still wearing my plus size Avenue jeans – again, comfort zone, but I’m almost sized out of them.I will miss Torrid and Lane Bryant, but I will not miss the frumpy and sequined tops that scream “I’m fat so I must shine in sunlight!”

I can’t deny it – walking around in my new puffer coat – 2 sizes smaller than my last purchase – feels good! I’ll try to post some photos soon. Ciao!

Creeping towards 50

These are photos documenting my journey. I took a pre-surgery selfie (above) and then took the photo on Saturday when I was able to wear mom’s Medium petite shirt.

As I said to my dad yesterday, “I feeling f’ing fantastic!” Yes, it’s fun to see a thinner face in the mirror, but more importantly, I feel better physically. I have more energy and soon, since I’m going back to my trainer tomorrow, I will be stronger.

I have a self-help book that gives advice to bariatric patients, and they talk about the strangeness you can feel being thin after a relatively short period of time. It helps because I have a distorted view of my physique. I don’t want people commenting on my body because it’s weird but I’m also proud of the work I’ve done.

That’s all for now!

Eating Fast and Furiously

It’s Friday, thank goodness! This week felt like it had 2 Mondays because we had off on Jan 1 (Tuesday) from work. 1 Monday is plenty!

So, there is a dirty secret that the bariatric team doesn’t tell you that happens post-surgery when you eat too much. They talk about the pain you’ll feel in your chest but they don’t mention that you’ll often throw up as well. I’ve thrown up twice this week. I know, gross, but I think it is important to be transparent about post-sleeve surgery. I threw up carrots and string cheese.

Why? Simply because I ate too fast.

Imagine this. You spend a large majority of your adult life having meals in your office while working or being rushed by waitstaff at a busy restaurant because they’re trying to fill the table again or mindlessly snacking in front of the tv. We are trained in the US to eat fast and furiously. And then suddenly, you can no longer do it. Your stomach is 25% of the size it used to be, and if you eat fast, you instantly feel full and that heartburn feeling in your chest. Sometimes you can feel the food stuck somewhere between your esophagus and stomach. I had no idea when my nutritionist told me to practice eating slow before my surgery what was going to happen if I didn’t.

It is a learning process.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Ted!

39 & 44 = Woah

I’m down 39 lbs. I’ll be 44 next week. Deserves a woah.

It’s still a surreal feeling to lose almost 40 lbs in less than 2 months. It contradicts everything I learned when overcoming an eating disorder. “Love your body as it is.” “Don’t lose more than 2 lbs a week.” “You’re more than your weight.” Yes. I agree.

But I will also add in that there is incredible joy when you can easily cross your legs (without having to use your hands to lift up said leg) after not being able to for years. And, there is incredible joy when you can walk up several flights of stairs relatively at the same pace as the people you are hanging out with (and not be out of breath). And, how about that feeling when you can start browsing in any store because you’re (this close) to being out of plus sizes.

I’m carefully balancing right now: I am not depriving myself of my favorite foods and drinks (sipping on a flat white at Starbucks as a write), but I am also aware that if I overdo it, I will regain the weight. It’s a juggling act – be mindful but also be kind to yourself.

It’s been a minute since I wrote so here’s a general life update:

  • Ted and I are still going strong. I met his adorable 9-year-old twin boys. Although it will take some time for them to get used to Dad’s new friend, I think it went ok. Progress!
  • Mom is doing remarkably well. She’s still the strongest person I know. She has a few more rounds of chemo and then she’ll have some reprieve. We all hope this cancer remains a chronic illness and she’ll live a long, happy life!
  • Work remains awesome. Still loving what I do.

Life, overall, is good. I saw a few old friends the other day and they said I looked happy. I am happy. I understand what it is like now when you meet someone and it just “clicks.” I feel so lucky to have met Ted and to have had my weight loss surgery.

10/30/18

It’s been about a week since my surgery. I’ve mainly been in the house, recovering and trying to eat my protein and drink my ounces. It’s not easy. My body has been reacting to my surgery is many ways, so it’s a lot to take in. But my incisions are healing nicely and I have no pain.

The hardest feeling to adjust to is fullness. It happens very quickly and can come upon me before I suspect it. I’ve gotten permission to expand beyond protein shakes pretty quickly so tonight I made egg salad with a bit of Greek yogurt and a pinch of tarragon. It was pretty tasty but very filling.

I keep trying to go out for a drive to Target or somewhere but I don’t quite have the strength yet. Ted took me to Walgreens yesterday so that was helpful. He’ll be back on Thursday so I’ll have more help again. He’s the best!

Mom started chemo again yesterday. She seems to be handling it fairly well. She even went out to J Jill to buy some new pants! She’s been calling me every day, appropriately mothering her daughter healing from surgery, and it’s nice to have our roles reversed for the time being: mother caring for daughter. I’m glad to have our daily – sometimes twice daily – chats while we’re both home. We compare what we’ve eaten, how we feel, etc. It’s a sweet opportunity for us to support each other equally.

I think I’m over the regret I felt last week about having the surgery. I can tell I’m starting to lose weight. My clothes don’t feel different but I can see my cheekbones starting to emerge again. I’ve missed having a great canvas for blush!

Over Thanksgiving, I will plan to shop in mom’s closet for some of her bigger sized things that are now too big on her. She has some nice things! I told her I’d bring a big suitcase. Meanwhile, I have about 5 bags packed to donate of my largest sizes. Eventually my wardrobe will completely change. It’s very surreal. I have a lot of nice things so if you know anyone who is plus sized who might enjoy a free wardrobe freshening up, send me a note as I’m happy for my things to go to great, deserving homes. I’m also going to sell things on ThredUp.

Wow, long update. Thanks for the support and stay with us on our journeys!

How to survive a gum graft and frenectomy

download.jpegWhile I was recovering from my second (gulp, yes!) gum graft and frenectomy, I did a ton of googling and didn’t find a lot of reporting from patients on what to expect. Most of the things I found online were from periodontist offices, which is helpful, but I thought I’d share some of my survival tips for future oral surgery patients.

A little background first: I had a gum graft and frenectomy about a year and a half ago. When I went to visit my dentist for my first teeth cleaning post-oral surgery, he told me that the doctor didn’t do it well and I would need it to be repeated. Sigh. Not what you want to hear after 3 months of recovery! It took me another year to schedule the re-do because I had started a new job, but this past January 4, 2017, I went under the knife again.

It’s been about 2 weeks and I’m healing very well. I went for my follow-up today and I’m on the road to recovery! ¬†Here are my main learnings from this second experience.

  1. You’re going to miss more work than you think.¬† Even though this is a routine procedure, it is still surgery! Give yourself about a week at home to recover, especially if you’re taking heavy pain killers like I was. I took almost all of the Oxycodone that I was prescribed because the first few days were tough. As a result, I was in no shape to work or do much of anything. My doctor gave me a note for work and it stated that it could take up to 10 days for you to be back to work. Take the time – you may need it!
  2. Stock up on shakes!¬†For about a week, I couldn’t chew on anything. Period. I survived on Odwalla Chocolate Protein Shakes. They are very caloric, but you’ll need them to keep up your strength. Odwalla shakes are dairy and soy, so keep that in mind if you have any allergies. And, now that the dressing has been removed from my gum graft area, I’m sticking to soft foods and shakes for another few days.
  3. Mozzarella is the perfect post-surgical soft food! Enough said.
  4. Use the mouthwash. It’s going to be painful to brush so use the prescription mouthwash twice a day. It will save you from horrible breath!
  5. Stock up on Advil and Tylenol: You’ll want to switch between the two. One for pain, one for swelling.
  6. Re-freeze those instant¬†ice packs: Get a few of those “break and turn cold immediately” ice packs for the day of surgery. Then, pop them back into the freezer to reuse all week. Life savor, and fairly cheap.
  7. Do not talk: Trust me, I talk more than anyone else I know. You’ll recover faster if you shut up.
  8. It will hurt, but it gets better each day:¬†It’s surgery in your mouth – it is going to hurt! But fortunately, the mouth heals fast so I promise it gets better.
  9. No crunchy food: It will get stuck in your stitches and hurt very badly. Take it from someone who learned the hard way. Stick with soft foods for a long time!
  10. Grilled or roast chicken cut up into tiny pieces will become your bestie: Best solid food besides the mozzarella. Get a roasted chicken at Costco and cut it up into small pieces. I’ve been eating it plain, and tonight I make it with brown rice and melted cheese. All soft, tasty, and filling.

Good luck with your gum graft and/or frenectomy from one oral surgery survivor to another!

 

 

Intuitive Eating

Have you ever heard of “intuitive” or “mindful” eating?” It’s a great alternative to the diet mentality where you deprive yourself of certain foods to lose weight. Intuitive eating basically encourages you to listen to the cues that your body provides in order to nourish yourself.

On the website www.intuitiveeating.com, run by Evelyn Tribole MS, RD, they highlight the 10 principles of intuitive eating, which you can read in full here.

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I really like the concept of “honor your hunger.” I stopped doing that for years during my time with binge eating disorder. Now I’m working hard to pay attention to when I am hungry and what is my body craving. Lately I’ve been wanting peanut butter, which may be because I like the taste, it’s easy to eat, and it is filling. I’ve been stocking up on Nature Valley Peanut Butter biscuits. They’re portable and taste good.

I also really like “respect your fullness.” That is definitely something I’ve needed to be mindful about during my recovery. I used to eat so much and then be so uncomfortable. Now I try to eat a good-sized portion that will fill me up but not leave me so stuffed!

Can’t wait to learn more about intuitive eating as I move along the next chapter in my healthy relationship with food and the emotions I feel around eating.

 

 

Sugar Cravings Be Gone!

sugarFor 41 years now I’ve been a sugar addict. I love my carbs, I love my sugar. It can be in the form of fruit, bread, chocolate, cupcakes, ice pops. You name it. Delish.

Recently, I started taking a medication that helps curb my sugar cravings. It’s unreal. Today, I took one bite of this delicious chocolate cake at work, and thought my mouth was going to explode from the sugar intake. Like, explode in a bad way. I pushed it away.

Unreal, right? It’s fabulous. Fabulous, I tell you.

Europe: September 2013

Oh, where do I begin?

The last time I wrote, I was embarking on a journey to Europe and was sipping on a cup of espresso in France, waiting for my connecting flight to Barcelona.

I’m going to share the tale of my adventures in Europe through words and pictures. The words are excerpts from emails I sent to my family and friends while abroad. I think it does a good job of capturing my feelings at those very moments.

Paris, September 9: Email to mom

img_5798Chilling at airport in Paris.¬† My flight doesn’t leave for 3 hours – slight delay – so having an espresso & croissant.¬† And yes, I could taste the butter!

I don’t think it has officially sunk in yet that I’m in Europe! ¬†Looking forward to a nice shower tho!

 

 

 

Barcelona, September 9 (later that day): Email to parents and brother

IMG_5845.JPGAt my “apartment” that I rented for a couple days. It is really nice!

And the most random thing happened at the Paris airport. I was chatting with a girl from New York online ‚Äď ‚Äď she randomly got online behind me ‚Äď ‚Äď and we got to talking and it turns out that she is from Lincroft and went to Middletown South!¬† ¬†She is 32 so we wouldn’t of known each other, but we thought it was really funny that we had to go all the way to Paris to meet someone from the same hometown.

I am going to shower and get some food and rest. Today is my reading  day.  Will hit the town tomorrow!

 

Rome, September 14: Email to close friends and family
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Greetings from my happy place – Rome. I haven’t felt this content and at peace in years.¬† The people in my cruise group are fabulous & I’ve ¬†made a lot of friends.

You guys are going to laugh but the first night, I got propositioned by a 67 year old man from north Carolina.¬† Yes, “propositioned.” Everyone keeps making fun of me for it!¬† No, I did not accept the offer.¬† He said “no strings attached.” He could be my father!

Yesterday we spent the day in Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii.¬† Since I’d seen Pompeii before, I sat and had a coffee with an 85-year-old man from my group.¬† I hope I’m on a European cruise when I’m his age!¬† He is an attorney – still working – and we talked politics (he’s a republican for Hillary), socialized medicine, you name it. The tour guide gave me a big kiss for taking care of John.¬† I enjoyed it!IMG_5888.JPG

Today I’m wandering Rome.¬† I walked my 10,000 steps in 2 hours!¬† Now I’m relaxing at a cafe near Piazza del Popolo on my way to St. Peter’s.

Tomorrow I’m going with the group to Pisa and Florence.¬† I haven’t been to Florence in a long time so it’ll be nice to see it again & experience it through my new friends’ eyes – many of the people in my group have never been.

After Italy we head to southern France.¬† I booked a trip to Nice & Eze upon the recommendation of my colleague.¬† Then onto Marseille and back to Barcelona.¬† Now I’ll have people to hang out with in Barcelona.

Somehow I got a free drink package on the cruise so I’ve been enjoying a lot of free wine!¬† There is a Cirque de Soleil tent on the ship so a group of us plan to do that one night.

That’s pretty much it.¬† Off to stroll some more!¬† Ciao.

 

Cannes, September 16: Email to close friends and family

Hello from France.  Traveled from port in Cannes to Nice & Eze today.

In the last few days I’ve walked about 30¬† miles!¬† Not looking forward to sitting behind a desk again.¬†Ate a crepe with Nutella today.¬† Ok…maybe 2 of them ūüėĄ

 

Marseilles, September 17: Email to college friend Jen after spending the day with her longtime pen pal, Lucille

IMG_6120.JPGIt’s like we’ve known each other for years!! ¬†I think Lucille & I both know you so well. ¬†I filled her in on your life!
Lucille, please come visit us.

 

Barcelona, September 18: Email to mom

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Sad to come home (followed by many sad-face emoticons)

 

Food Glorious Food

8256b56a968008a5aa7dc1bb54f480b6I did something really dumb today. ¬†I didn’t eat anything all day. ¬†Yep. ¬†First meal of the day was after 8pm. ¬†This means that I worked an entire day plus went to a doctor’s appointment with nothing in my stomach but two cups of coffee.

By the time I got home tonight – around 8pm before eating – I was a grumpy¬†crybaby who was clearly hungry and very bitchy. ¬†It’s not a good idea to not eat all day. ¬†After I ate, I felt better. ¬†Full. ¬†Happy. ¬†Not as bitchy.

Most of you know that I used to have an eating disorder, so going a full day without food is not a good thing for anyone, but especially someone like me.

What is my takeaway?  Eating food = less grumpy, less bitchy.

I have a 10:15am appointment tomorrow and I plan to eat BEFORE it!  What a novel idea?