One year later, would I do it again?

It has been almost one year since I had my bariatric surgery. As writer Roxane Gay said, “this surgery is barbaric when you think about it.” Did I mention she said that directly to me? See how I threw in that name drop? Yes! I met Roxanne last Friday at a conference, and I raised my hand, and asked her about how she was doing since she had the gastric sleeve (same as me). She said that she is happy that she did the surgery, and I agreed. She said that she misses being able to “eat her feelings” and I nodded. Food is fuel. Repeat after me. Food is fuel. Here, Roxane writes about her feelings on the surgery.

So, one year later, would I do it again? 100% yes. Now, if you secretly think it is an “easy way out” of obesity, I will say that having 75% of your stomach surgically removed through five small incisions in your body is anything but easy. The recovery time is fairly swift (back at work after 2 weeks), but it took me a few months before I really got the hang of my newly-renovated organ.

Last night I went to the support group at the hospital where I had the surgery, and it was the “meet the starts” panel of people reporting to pre-surgical folks about what to expect. I went because some folks have been doing some diet talk around me lately, and it is bothersome on many levels. I wanted to ask the group how they handle it. I learned that everyone’s recovery is just a bit different but there are some commonalities. Here’s my list for curious readers and people contemplating the surgery:

  1. Everyone’s recovery from bariatric surgery is unique.
  2. Protein is crucial. With a tiny stomach, protein provides slow and steady energy. And make sure that protein is moist. Dry stuff tends to get stuck. Honey mustard, ranch dressing, etc are perfect accompaniments to grilled chicken, steak, salmon, etc.
  3. You may have to say goodbye to your favorite carbs, like rice, pasta and bread. I can’t remember the last time I had sushi. Before my surgery, I ate it religiously. Now I go for a teriyaki salmon instead when heading to a Japanese restaurant. Still delicious.
  4. Your shoe size may change! I was a solid size 8 for years while heavier. I am now a 7, maybe a 7 1/2. I’m slowly replacing all of my shoes. If you’re a size 8 and want to raid my closet, give me a shout out before I sell them all on Poshmark!
  5. Speaking of Poshmark, resale websites are a great place to get rid of clothes that are too big. I also do a lot of donating via the Vietnam Veterans of America, who pick up at my front door. I’ve sold about 7 bags to ThredUp as well.
  6. Many people will comment on your body changes. Some won’t. It’s good to decide up front how you want to respond. My general response when someone tells me I “look good” is to say, “thank you, I feel good.” I did this to feel better and be healthier, so my response is appropriate. I do not mind if people comment. It happens. I don’t sweat it.
  7. You do not need to be so open about how you lost the weight. While I am open about having the surgery, others just tell select friends and family. Totally fine too.
  8. Your tastebuds may change. I can immediately tell if something has added salt now. At first, I can’t stand it but after a few bites, I am usually ok.
  9. Going out to restaurants can be incredibly stressful. Since I’m open about my surgery, I usually say to wait staff, “I am going to eat a small amount of food, very slowly, and take the rest home. It doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.” I find this allows me to eat in peace. I do not do this to help the wait staff. I do it to help me. Remember that if I say this when I’m out to eat with you. It helps me eat in peace.
  10. People are curious and generally uneducated about this surgery unless they know someone who had it. People will think you had a lap band or a bypass. It’s an easy thing to clarify. Don’t sweat it. And I don’t mind answering questions for curious minds.
  11. Not drinking enough can really be detrimental to your body. You’ve seen my previous posts about “severe constipation.” Drink up. I’m sipping on a Powerade as I write. No sugar gaterade-type drinks are fantastic to help with this problem.
  12. Speaking of drinking, be very careful when you drink alcohol again. I will only take a few sips when out in public because you can get drunk very quickly. No one wants a DUI.
  13. You can gain the weight back. The human body is a miraculous beast – that stomach can stretch, you can fill it with ice cream and then fill it up again shortly thereafter, and suddenly, your weight can go up again. So, it’s good to be mindful about food intake.
  14. Exercise is important to one’s success. I wish I could say I’ve been diligent in this area, but I’m trying. Wanna take a walk?
  15. Despite the stats, relationships can survive the surgery!

 

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. 😃

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!

I’m her girl.

We sat around her, staring into her hazel eyes, peering out from a pale, grey haired face. My brother threw out humor; Dad said he spent the day reminiscing; and I, of course, started sobbing immediately.

This morning, Dad called me around 9:30am and said that things weren’t looking good for mom. I asked if I should come. He said yes. He called my brother; he said he’d be joining me. We wrapped up things at work (thank you to my wonderful supportive job and boss), and arrived at Riverview Hospital around 6:30pm.

The room was darkly lit and mom was resting peacefully. She greeted us with a voice that was stronger than I anticipated. She was happy to see us. So was Dad. He actually greeted us downstairs in the lobby.

Mom told us that she wanted to close her eyes and not wake up in the morning. After taking that in for a few moments, we started chit-chatting and a bit of joking, reminiscing, and crying (again, me).

We left an hour later, feeling fairly sure we’d be seeing mom again tomorrow.

That was a few hours ago. I’m laying on mom’s bed, writing, after speaking with Ted. My brother went to pick up his wife at the airport. Dad is watching some nature show downstairs – on full blast – after having a few snifters of whiskey.

I know many of you reading this love mom and want to speak with her. She’s peaceful, at the end of her life, and she just wants to rest. She spent her life caring for everyone and now it’s our time to respect her wishes – quiet, peaceful, rest. She can’t have an influx of visitors. It’s just family time now. It isn’t personal towards anyone. It’s just what we need right now. No cell phones, iPads, laptops.

Please remember that I’m going through something really tough. While I know you want a response on my cell or here or email, please be patient. All love and prayers are appreciated. And, a few people have felt the need to tell me how to feel or how mom should be treated. Trust our judgement, please, to do what’s right for our family. Most of you have been wonderful & I thank you for that.

Dad just came in to say goodnight. I’m sleeping in mom’s room tonight. A great comfort, I told dad. He said, you’re her girl! That I am. Always & forever.❤️

2/12/19

Working from home this afternoon (again) as we get hit by a moderate snowstorm.

Trying to figure out next steps for mom – rehab, then home with a home health aide. She wants to get home badly – I don’t blame her – but we need to make sure she’s strong enough. Dad “facetimed” me from the hospital today so I got to see mom. She could see herself on the phone, and commented on how she looked. Ha, she and I are so alike!

I am trying to juggle a lot of things right now – work, caring for my folks, and then my hot water heater started leaking so I needed to dig up an extra $1,200 this week for that! Did I mention how happy I am I am going to my therapist tomorrow??

I do have to say that, physically, I feel very good. I can walk a lot more than before my surgery and I feel better in general. I don’t mind seeing myself in the mirror the way I used to, and it’s fun to try on a size large pair of pants – and they fit! It brings a lot of joy to my life, which is helpful when there are major stressors going on.

I do know that a lot of important people in my life are reading this blog – and I thank you for that. It makes it a lot easier than having to respond to a lot of texts and calls, though I don’t want you to think they aren’t appreciated, because they are! My family couldn’t get through all of this without our wonderful supports in our life.

Ted’s Valentine’s Day gift arrived today in the mail. Excited to give it to him (he’s reading this so hi!). Can’t wait to spend the evening with him and his kiddos. They crack me up.

Dad just called me while I was writing this – mom is heading to the rehab floor at the hospital, which is great progress!

 

 

 

2/11/19

Working from my couch this afternoon after going to my office & a meeting. Good to be back at work in person.

Taking a break to give you an update. Mom is about the same today – no better or worse. She’s still dealing with severe CDiff and little energy. I spoke with her briefly this morning and she sounded tired but ok.

It’s hard to be away from her, and it’s hard to have left Dad, but he’s going to dinner tonight at a friend’s house so he won’t be alone.

I’m trying to find a home health aide to help when mom goes home but I’m having trouble finding one. If you have any leads, let me know!

In other news, Thursday is Valentine’s Day, and this is the first year in many when I’m in love & have someone to share this cheesy holiday with…Ted has the kids that night so it’ll be a family affair! Thank goodness for Ted.

PS down 57 lbs!

2/7/19

I’m sitting on the reclining chair at Riverview Hospital, across from mom, who has more pink in her cheeks and some of pep in her voice. The bottom line: she’s coming back to us.

She started improving yesterday, and continues to, slowly but steadily. Her white blood cell count is moving up, and her blood pressure is getting steadier. She’s seen infectious disease doctors and oncologists and specialists – oh my!

Dad is at home, dealing with a non-functioning heater, so that’s a fun thing to throw into the mix. Not.

We’ve had a few visitors – this morning, a doctor friend of the family was here when I walked in. I think I’ve known her since I was 4! I went to elementary school with her daughters, so it was nice to reconnect.

People keep asking me how I’m doing. I’m tired, numb, and the most important thing right now is to help my folks. My job seems to be understanding.

If you are spiritual, please keep mom in your prayers. We don’t care what religion. We just ask for collective good thoughts sent our way.

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!

 

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!

Post Op Update

I can’t believe I had surgery on Monday and I’m doing very well with my recovery. Slept well and am now slowly drinking my protein and water as instructed. I’ve set an alarm to drink 2 ounces every 15 minutes. And I just took a quick walk outside! My back and arms feel a lot better today.

I’ve been eyeing this lipstick set on Sephora so just treated myself!

Now I’m watching a new show called FBI on CBS which is mildly entertaining.

And I can tell that I will be so bored soon so I may switch to reading which never bores me. Any suggestions?

Ted will visit me on Friday or Saturday followed by Ken & Marina on Sunday so that’ll help with the boredom. I’m going to aim to go out a little next week. Maybe a movie…or two….

Last Hurrah Week

Work is behind me for 2 weeks now as I embark upon my next journey. Busy getting ready for my surgery and recovery. As of tomorrow, I’m on protein shakes and sugar-free drinks for about 2 weeks. I just removed my nail polish so they can take my oxygen. I’m ready.

Mom is doing very well. She even had lunch out with my dad! She’s talking about going out for Thanksgiving. All great in terms of providing her with normalcy.

Mr T came over last night and we had pizza & ice cream cake – and wine – as part of my “last hurrah” week.

Tonight I gave myself a home facial and am settling in for the evening. Tomorrow I’ll be getting cut & color. All good things.

1 week

My surgery is in one week! To commemorate the occasion, I packed two bags of clothing and shoes to donate.

Mom is slowly gaining some energy. Dad ordered Italian tonight. No news on returning to chemo. One day at a time, as everyone keeps saying.

Mr T made me a lovely “linner” yesterday before I drove to Hartford for work. Landed another donation – the donor doubled her gift and said it was because I convinced her to give more. Fundraising IS fun!

I’m watching The Sinner now on Netflix. Anyone else watched it? It’s very compelling. Jessica Biel is excellent in it! She’s come a long way since 7th Heaven.

A big thank you to my cousin KS for sending me a necklace with the word “breathe” on it. Lovely thing to get in the mail on a rainy Monday. I will wear it and look at it as a reminder to focus on my breathing.

Small Miracles

Mom is home and slowly acclimating back to her regular environment after a 1-week hospital stay, which we all believe was crucial to her well being. She has her appetite back, thanks to a happy little pill that gives her the munchies. She’s had pizza, chocolate, even a hamburger! Dad’s working on a plan for the next stage, which will include some physical therapy and nursing care at home to help her out. He’s got a lot on his plate and he’s handling it like a champ. But he’s exhausted. So if you call or text him, don’t keep him on the phone too long. Ken is visiting this weekend.

I spent the morning at the hospital getting my pre-surgical tests – blood, EKG, and chest x-ray. Tomorrow, I have a mammogram to make sure all is good there before I have surgery. My PCP insisted on it. And that’s it. I’ve fulfilled all of the pre-surgical requirements so the next step is my pre-hospital stay diet, and then a week from Monday, I will have 75% of my stomach surgically removed. And my life will be forever changed.

My review yesterday, overall, went well. My boss said I have far surpassed their expectations for me, and with the 7-figure gift I’m finalizing, I have met my FY19 goals within 11 days of the fiscal year! So that’s pretty fucking fantastic, pardon my French. It can only go up from here with work. My boss said he’d like to put together a promotion plan for me so that by next year, I will gain a “senior” title.

And, Mr Ted came over last night for dinner. He gave me – seriously – the best massage I’ve ever had. He eliminated knots in my shoulders, legs and back that I’ve been carrying around with me for years. Seriously, I told him I felt like I should give him a tip! My body feels better today that it has felt in years. He’s a keeper.

19 days

It’s amazing how pjs and a cozy bed can help one’s mood.

I went to the Mt Auburn group tonight and while the session wasn’t super helpful, I did get some great advice:

“This surgery is the best thing I ever did.” — said a woman who had the surgery 6 years ago.

“I was driving again 8 days post-surgery.” –said a woman I met at the last group who was pre-surgery and is now post.

I told them all I care about is getting back in the car to see my mom as quickly as possible.

Optimism.

10/2/18

It’s almost 10pm on October 2. Just home from spending 4 days at my parent’s place. It was very hard to leave this time. Mom is quite weak and having trouble eating, likely from the reconstruction of her GI tract during her surgery in June.

She’s had 2 weeks off from chemo, but I think she’ll be ready to get a dose next Monday. She may need TPN, which is basically IV nutrition. She’d have to go to the hospital to get the right dosage, and then she could get the rest at home.

We made the decision for her to start sleeping in the downstairs den so she doesn’t have to do the stairs to her room. Her weakness plus arthritic knees equal a stair climbing nightmare. She’s moving tomorrow.

We also discussed getting a home health aide to help her which ultimately helps my dad. I believe it will improve both’s quality of life.

It is so hard to do this from Boston. I wish I could be there longer but I have to get back to work.

Last night, I tucked mom in and she said, “You are the best daughter in the world.” I told her she was the best mother. I doubt I’ll ever forget that moment. This came after a visit from our rabbi friend, who offered us her wisdom and sang a prayer for us. Mom & I cried. It was beautiful.

My surgery is in 20 days! I’m starting to go through my clothes, looking for smaller sizes, and preparing to donate the larger ones. It’s surreal but so exciting! I can’t wait to feel better and be able to move more.

As always, thank you to all of you who have reached out to me & my folks. It means a lot!

High highs & low lows

Talk about a day of ups & downs!

Today was mom’s birthday, and she spent it weak & in bed. She wasn’t up to taking calls so I caught up with a few people who reached out to me to check up on her.

One was a close family friend who is also a rabbi. We had a deep, meaningful conversation about dealing with parental mortality. We laughed, I cried. It pushed me towards the direction that I need to have some difficult conversations with my mom. I’ll leave it at that.

I realized that both my parents need support ASAP so instead of leaving Saturday, I’m heading to NJ tomorrow after a few morning meetings.

In the middle of everything, I secured my first 7-figure gift (bequest, actually) for my job. Guess I work best under pressure?

And, later, Mr T came over. I cried as I told him about my day, and he just came & put his arm around me. It was all I needed. #keeper

Now, I know you’re all wondering with baited breath: did I buy the makeup brushes? No, but I did pick up a few cupcakes with sprinkles for me & Mr T. Cost less than 10 bucks. They were delish. I did, however, finally purchase the Alex Woo necklace I’ve been eyeing for years. I gave up this week’s house cleaning so instead, I invested in new jewelry.

Rainbow Sprinkles

I spoke with mom today and she sounded much peppier. So that’s a good thing. Her friend was visiting & she enjoyed her company. Dad is happy I’m coming to visit this weekend.

Tomorrow is mom’s 76th….ahem, I mean, 39th birthday. So if you read this, please text her or send her a lovely message on Facebook. We gave her a warm & cozy blanket, and then I picked up a few more things for her today at TJ Maxx.

The excitement of my week is that I finally had the plumber come & stop my toilet from randomly running. It would just start out of the blue. And it would scare the crap out of me because it’s so quiet at my condo! Seriously, I’m such a light sleeper that it would wake me up in the middle of the night. I have no clue why I’m writing about this other than to say: adulting is hard.

On the contrary, Sephora is selling this make up brush set for about $70 that looks like it’s filled with candy sprinkles. And I’m dying to buy it. Do I need it? Nope. But I feel compelled to own this brightly-colored set of trinket. It’s even sitting in my online cart.

Aren’t they cute?

Good night, all!

9/25/18

Insurance approved my surgery for October 22. Yay! Today I shopped for cute kitchen wares to make my protein shakes a bit more fun to drink. I think my fave purchase is my Wonder Woman shaker bottle.

I worked out with my trainer again today. I lifted weights and pumped iron. All good.

Mom didn’t get out of bed today. I would be surprised if she took any calls besides me or Ken. Dad is his wonderful self. I decided to go see them this weekend since I have a 4-day weekend. It means I’ll have to miss my cousin’s wedding but I know he’ll understand. His mom passed away from cancer so he gets it, I’m sure.

It’s a little after 11pm now and I’m listening to the rain that has been coming down all day. It’s actually peaceful. I’m hunkered down under 2 blankets, listening to podcasts, and hoping for a good night’s sleep.

Thank you to those of you have been reaching out. It means a lot. Please know that between work & mom/dad & my relationship & home ownership that I’m sometimes out of steam when it comes to anything else. I try to fit taking care of myself in there too. I know folks are reading this and I understand the updates on mom are helpful. This is also a place of catharsis for me. Sometimes I write a thought here & then let it go.

If it’s raining near you right now, go take a listen. It’s soothing. Ciao!

May we be inscribed in the book of life.

It’s been a whirlwind week. I drove to Curvy Con – experienced an amazing 2 days with 1,000 of the coolest women on the planet – and then head to NJ to spend Rosh Hashanah with my parents. We didn’t do services this year. To the contrary, mom gets her chemo on Mondays so we spent the day with the oncologist and then at chemo. I stayed for a few hours, and then dad came up to relieve me, so I went back to their place and took a very deep sleep nap. I drove back to MA last night, stopped off at Mr. T’s place for dinner, and then slept in my own bed for the first time in what felt like weeks.

My dad had some “Jewish guilt” about skipping services at his synagogue, but he didn’t want to leave my mom alone, and he said he has a hard time hearing anyhow. I told him that going to services doesn’t make him Jewish. I reminded him that caring for his ailing wife was mitzvah enough. We had some brisket and kugel – provided by a lovely friend of theirs – and we celebrated with an episode of a travel show on Netflix. It felt like the most appropriate way to spend Rosh Hashanah this year.

We started talking about Thanksgiving. Mom said, “I can’t go anywhere.” So I suggested we bring Thanksgiving to her. I think Mr. T will join me in NJ and he even offered to make the turkey! He’s the best.

Talk later!

 

Day Off

Wow, I really needed today! Our offices were closed so I had time to catch up on things. I got my car inspected and detailed (it’s glistening!). I also went to the gym and met with the head trainer. He’s definitely a kindred spirit. Very smart and patient so he will be a good workout partner.

My bags are packed and in the morning, Mr T & I leave for our adventure in VT. We have dinner reservations at my fave restaurant there, and I’m even squeezing in a massage on Sunday. We have access to a nice spa with our hotel reservation, so I look forward to R&R along with our hike at Emerald Lake. Boots are packed!

In the meanwhile I’m also planning my trip to NYC for CurvyCon! Should be a very fun experience.

I also managed to schedule about 5 donor visits in 2 days next week!

Today was another good day.

Mom is hanging in. She’s been getting IV drips to hydrate her in between chemo visits so I think that helps. But she’s very tired. I seem to catch her when she’s in bed, resting. She keeps herself entertained with “Madame Secretary” on her iPad on Netflix. She’s been sleeping through her visitors. But she gets a full report from Dad. And their lovely friends bring them dinner almost every night. It’s wonderful. Today mom had challah with melted Munster cheese for dinner. Sounds good to me! One day at a time for mom.

 

October 22

I found out today that my surgery is likely going to be on October 22, as I requested. It’s after my big work event on October 8 and my family birthday party on October 20. Mom’s chemo runs through December so the hope is by Thanksgiving, I can at least travel by car if need be. I did my part in working it around work & family – two things I ❤️!

When I found out the date, a huge emotional wave came across me. It wasn’t nerves or stress. To the contrary, it was pure excitement. The thought of feeling better – be it with my knees or sleep or stomach – was nearly overwhelming to process.

Don’t get me wrong – as I consumed a large glass of delicious Brunello last night, I realized it was one of the last drinks I will have in at least a year. But when I think about sacrificing wine for health, there is no question what outweighs the other.

Mom is doing ok these days. She’s now had 3 rounds of chemo – out of 18 – and she’s eating a bit more as her nausea is subsiding a bit. I bought her some new clothes today for my next visit to her, in about a week and a half. Between now and then, Mr T & I are heading to one of my childhood haunts – Manchester, VT – this weekend, and then I’m off to the Big Apple for CurvyCon!

So, it’s a good day.

PS Thank you to those of you who reach out after reading my posts. I’m not always great at getting right back to you, but trust me when I say your outreach is invaluable.

Strength

My mom is the strongest and bravest person I know. ❤️

Immersion Day

I took the day off from work and experienced what Mt Auburn calls “immersion day,” where you spend the day learning everything you’d ever want to know….and more…about bariatric surgery. We heard from the surgeon, behavioral psychologist, dietician, nurse, and from each other – 4 strangers about to embark on a monumental life change.

I still have many tasks ahead prior to surgery: physical with pcp, visit with pulmonary specialist, 3 group sessions, a visit with the nutritionist, a visit with the psychiatrist, blood tests, and more. Tonight I placed an order on amazon for a food scale, measuring spoons/cups, a book on bariatric surgery, protein shakes, and a Where’s Waldo? Book. Ok, the last one is for a 6-year old bday party coming in Sept!

I’m glad I waited to call mom until after the day was over because she had a rough night and had to see the oncologist today. She felt better when we spoke later in the day because she had gotten an IV drip. Still, she wanted to hear about how my day went. I called back again later and filled my dad in on the day. I reminded him how brave & strong he and my mom are in this process.

Today was exciting – for the most part – and it confirmed: I’m ready for the surgery! I’m working hard to have it done at the end of October, before mom’s chemo is done, and after our big campaign event at work. Trying to imagine 2 weeks off from work, staying home because I’m on pain killers, is daunting.

I don’t remember the last time I took 2 weeks off, in a row, from work. I’ve been slowly telling my colleagues that I’m having the surgery so they aren’t caught off guard when they see me in Jan at our next retreat and I’m a bit smaller.

I am also mourning the loss of my wardrobe a bit. It may be larger sizes, but I love the stuff I’ve acquired over the years. But, it’s just stuff. I’ll replace it with more stuff.

Ciao!

NYC–>BOS

It’s 2pm and I’m on the train, heading home after an overnight in NYC for work.

If I wasn’t convinced I needed bariatric surgery before, I am now. Between walking 8 short blocks to the subway – taking the train – and then walking to the event, I was sweating so profusely. And so tired. Seriously, a couple clearly in their late 70s walked briskly by me and made it to the event a good 3-4 minutes before me. And then I traveled back the way I came, fortunately this time in the company of my wonderful colleagues. Seriously, they are amazing people.

By the time I stopped to pick up a salad at Sweetgreen and made it to my hotel room, I was sweating again. And tired. I sat on the bed, texting with Mr T, watching Bachelor in Paradise on my iPad, and eating my salad. My legs and back were hurting. I looked at my phone and saw that I had walked about 7,000 steps. 2.4 miles. Not even what the daily recommendation is (10k).

I don’t want to feel like this anymore. I joke that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in about 10 years. It’s true. I used to be such a good sleeper, and as I’ve gained weight, I’ve had trouble. I’m ready to throw my CPAP (which my family and I call “Jacques”) out the window. I want to kick Jacques out of my bedroom!

I have all of these desires – to go hiking with Mr T, to pick up skiing again (did you know that I could go over moguls as a kid??), to go snow tubing, to kayak on the Charles River. I want to take advantage of my gym membership! My mom was teasing me because I bought hiking boots – and truthfully, they’re still in the bag – but I bought them as a symbol. I cannot wait until I’m in a place where I can put them on and hike the Great Blue Hill with Mr T or double-date with Ken & Marina on one of their trips to New Hampshire.

The good news is: I’m motivated.

Tomorrow is my “Immersion Day” at Mt Auburn where I learn all about the surgery and aftermath. And I met with a dear friend this morning (hello!) who has a friend who is 5 years out from her surgery, so she’ll be a good contact for me. And my family friend (hello!)’s wonderful wife had the surgery and she’s already reached out to me to offer tips and support.

Ciao for now!

 

BC/AC

I told my dad I feel like our lives are divided: BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer). He totally got it.

Today is mom’s first round of chemo. As luck would have it, I am here in NJ so I’ll be able to accompany her. It takes 3 hours – she said, “You don’t have to sit with me,” but I’ll bring my laptop and work from the hospital. It isn’t like I haven’t done it before. Again, grateful to my amazing boss and job that I have this flexibility.

This was today’s FB post:

Screenshot 2018-08-13 11.04.36.png

Sharing it here in case you missed it. Mom is barely eating – she is enjoying protein shakes, eggs, and a few other favorite foods. But I doubt she is even consuming 500 calories a day. But Dad is enjoying the food deliveries, although he said he has lost 10 pounds too (which delights him).

Speaking of weight loss, dad and I had a big heart-to-heart on Saturday night about my bariatric surgery, which is still full steam ahead. He and mom said they want me to hire someone to help me post-surgery since they can’t be there to help me. I said I would consider it but I’m not really sure what help I’ll need. Maybe laundry – but my cleaners do it for me – and errands – Amazon, anyone? I have Mr T, Ken, and Marina, and some friends who can help, so we’ll see if it is needed. I’m hoping to have the surgery towards the end of October, after my 2 big work events. #priorities

More later about the chemo.

So, it’s 10:22 pm. Chemo day #1 went very smoothly!

We arrived at the doctor’s office at 12:45, and mom’s chemo went from about 1:30-5:30pm. It was an extended day but it should run about 3 hours now on Mondays.

I worked through most of the chemo as mom & dad chatted with the nurses and other patients. Of course, they knew other people getting treatment. Small town.

Mom had energy and more of an appetite tonight. Amazing what some drugs can do! I ran out and got her pills, more snacks, etc. We all settled into College Jeopardy. I killed it tonight. I’m seriously the smartest 43 year old college student. Ok, I’m obviously kidding but it’s always nice to win in fake Jeopardy.

We then watched the most painful show to watch – it’s called “escape to the continent” or something like that. Brits go to their favorite places in Europe, look at tons of homes, and never end up purchasing one! So frustrating. Bring on House Hunters International – in 30 minutes, they’ve sold all of their earthy possessions, looked at tons of houses, rented one, and moved in. Yes, all in 30 minutes. Bring me that instant gratification, please and thank you.

But I digress.

Mom did great today.

I’m off tomorrow for a work event in NYC. Ciao!

Balance.

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing on my tiptoes, teetering very delicately, trying not to fall to one side or another. On one shoulder, I’m juggling a relatively new job (less than 1 year), a new relationship (a couple of months), home ownership (must. replace. lightbulbs.). On the other shoulder, I balance my own health issues (you’ve heard about them about them all here), mom’s cancer, and dad’s need for support. How does one balance it all?

And, how do you factor in the self care?

It’s crucial to find time for self care. I have found that when I sacrifice myself to help others, I can crumble.

I’m working on it. I had a manicure today – checked my work email during it, of course – and will be chilling out with Mr T tonight, which is always enjoyable. And, although this sounds weird, we’re doing a really cool event in NYC for work that I wanted to attend, so I am going to NYC next week for the day. This allows me the opportunity to see my folks as well. So, it’s a balance of helping others and enjoying the work that I do.

I tell you, I am generally exhausted all of the time. I’ve been relaxing at home (when I can) with 7 (?) seasons of the show, The Closer. I think I’m midway through season 3. It’s one of those formulaic crime shows, so you can pretty much predict how it will end and the crime gets tied up in a little bow at the end of each episode. There are a few longer storylines, but in general, you can watch one or two episodes, and be satisfied. It’s funny how these type of shows are calming for me, despite the fact that it is a cop show. Perhaps it makes my life seems small and insignificant in perspective, which isn’t always a bad thing.

Didn’t mean to get on a TV tangent!

Now to focus on changing the light bulbs….