9 Months Post-0p

It’s been nine months since I had bariatric surgery. Time is just flying by!

Things that have changed since surgery:

  • I’m several dress sizes smaller. I have no idea what my pants size is because I no longer wear pants, but I imagine I’ve gone down a few pants sizes as well.
  • my hair is thinner–  this is a side effect of surgery and will hopefully go away, and I’ve been taking biotin to support hair growth. I think it’s working, I’m slowly starting to see some baby hairs growing. Hopefully this continues and I get all my hair back!
  • My shoes are too big. I didn’t really notice until about two weeks ago, but my feet have gotten smaller since surgery. I’m guessing that I’m down at least a half size, but more likely a full size. However, my feet are still wide so they will forever look weird in flats. *cries until the end of time*
  • I’ve eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet (which we’ve already talked about in previous posts).
  • I’m more tired AND I have more energy. I know that doesn’t really make sense but let me explain! Firstly, I get tired very easily doing simple things, like standing too long while taking a shower, or standing on Bart to or from work. I think it’s the combination of dehydration plus heat that makes me very faint (I’m still struggling to get enough water in postop). However, I have more energy to do things like climb flights of stairs to my office or go on hour-long walks with Kourtney or work out at home. So I’m both more tired and I have more energy.

The Only Constant is Change

Things that have changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I eat less. My stomach can hold about 2, 3 ounces of food at a time. It makes eating out kind of awkward because I order a side or an appetizer and still end up leaving with a doggy bag.
  • The clothes I wore before I lost weight no longer fit– at least not very well. I have a pair of khaki capri pants I bought for my trip to Nola last year and they are now 3 or 4 sizes too big but the fabric is stiff enough that the pants still don’t fall down so I wear them as house pants. A light breeze would leave everyone with a view of my (way too big) underwear.
  • Speaking of clothes– I’m suddenly way into shopping now. I don’t know exactly why, because I shop at the same plus size stores just like before. But I think that the weight loss inspired me to buy new clothes (also, I made a commitment to a no pants lifestyle which meant I needed a new wardrobe).
  • I no longer chew gum. I no longer eat corn (popped, roasted, creamed, on the cob, whatever) or celery. I don’t drink caffeinated beverages or bubbly drinks. All I drink is water and it is depressing. I miss corn so damn much I can’t even really talk about it without getting really bummed out.
  • My digestive system seems so much louder. I can hear/feel my food moving around in my body, leaving my stomach and moving through my intestines. It’s really loud about it. Also gas. And I’m not very regular anymore. Another disappointment.
  • My hair is falling out. This is a side effect of the surgery and I KNEW it was going to happen so I’m not surprised but it’s a bit annoying. I think I’m going to start taking biotin to see if that will help with regrowth– hopefully this won’t be a side effect that lasts forever.
  • I pack all my foods in toddler sized tupperware to keep track of my portions. I get some weird looks at work about it, but no one asks about it which I appreciate.

 

Things that have NOT changed since I’ve lost weight:

  • I’m still depressed
  • I still deal with really bad self esteem and body image, and I have many days where I hate my body. I don’t see much change in how my body looks beyond more sagginess, more excess skin. I don’t find that to be terribly attractive, and I know it’s only going to get worse as I lose more weight.
  • I still have issues with food. I’m not going to diagnose myself with an eating disorder although I have been diagnosed in the past. However, I’m feeling the same feelings and using the same behaviors that I used when I was diagnosed, and I feel pretty out of control. I really wish this issue was simply part of my past but I’m beginning to realize that it’s part of my present and (most likely) my future.
  • I can still eat all the “bad” foods. I’ll feel physically ill, but not enough to learn my lesson. Just enough to make me feel like shit both physically and mentally. When I eat something with a regular amount of sugar I get a headache and feel like I’m going to throw up at any moment. I start to feel shaky and I have to lay down. It’s enough to make me feel regret, but not enough for me to never do it again.
  • I still don’t like people commenting on my body. I didn’t like it 80+ pounds ago, and I don’t like it now. I probably still won’t like it 80+ pounds from now. It’s not cool, stop doing it. There are probably a million cooler things about me than my weight or appearance. My body is not for your consumption. I’m not sure how many different ways I have to say it. JUST STOP.

 

Thoughts On Being Fat

I’m a member of a couple of wls groups on Facebook, I have an Instagram account that’s dedicated to my wls journey (I only follow wls accounts there, so it’s all weight loss pretty much all the time). I spend most of my screen time reading about weight loss stories, looking at before and “after” photos, bombarding my mind with images and narratives around losing weight. Most of the time (I would say probably 99% of the time) people talk about how happy they are being thinner than they were when they were fat. I understand that, I see why people want to put that message out there because there’s this idea that all fat people are (besides lazy and gross) totally miserable because they’re fat. If you’re depressed and fat, it’s not because you have a shitty job, or because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, or because you’re going  through a rough patch in a relationship. It’s not because you just lost a loved one, or because people treat you like shit (because of aforementioned fatness) or because you’ve suffered trauma of some kind.

It’s because you’re fat, and you know it, and you hate it and hate yourself. So, the solution to that is to be thin. When you get thin, the depression will go away. And sure, some people (probably a small percentage) are depressed specifically about being fat and losing weight helps them feel better. But it’s not a cure all for all your woes. Also, not all fat people are depressed in general or depressed about being fat specifically, and that idea totally oversimplifies depression. I don’t know if you can tell, but the whole thing really grinds my gears. Continue reading

WLS Update

My appointment with the surgeon went well. He was impressed with my progress and told me that I was healthy overall and could pick either surgery. He also gave me a weight goal (which was the weight I was at already) and told me that he would like to see me lose more but to at least stay at or under that weight. I’m really excited about that last part because that means I don’t have to lose 50lbs like I was previously told, and it also validated me a bit because although I’m trying to stick to this pre-op diet I’m still trying to learn new behaviors and it’s fucking HARD. I wouldn’t need this surgery if eating 1200 calories a day were easy for me. So when the surgeon told me he was impressed, it felt good to hear and it took a bit of the overwhelming pressure off of me to be the perfect patient who sticks to this diet 100% of the time. That doesn’t mean I can be lax, it just means I can give myself relief when I mess up.

Anyway, he told me that as far as he was concerned I was ready to go, but I still needed the psychologist to clear me. So he scheduled me for the 19th of January with Dr. Z (and I’ve talked about my experience with him before). Instead of going to that appointment, I freaked out and rescheduled it the day before I was supposed to show up. I was just too scared. My previous experience was just super negative and traumatic, and I personally don’t think he’s a very good psychologist. I think he was actually quite cruel, and it makes me wonder how he got a job working with such a vulnerable population. Anyway, I was so nervous and afraid of seeing him again that I bailed. I rescheduled the appointment for the 4th, which is on Thursday. My anxiety is through the roof now– heart palpitations, restlessness, chronic fatigue. My weight has been up and down in the past month (see my grief in the previous post) and so I’m feeling very vulnerable and afraid that he’s not going to clear me even though I’m at the goal set by the surgeon. I have no idea what happens if he doesn’t clear me. Do I have to go through the program again? Will they let me? Or am I like banned for life? What does that mean?!

My insurance is through Kaiser, and they have two facilities that offer bariatric programs. I’m currently in the Richmond program because that’s the one my doctor assigned me to (probably because it’s closer than the Fremont program, although it still takes me 30 minutes to get  there). If I want to do the other program, I would have to start from the beginning, meaning I’ll have to do the orientation again, meet with a new surgeon and psychologist, and that would also mean my timeline shifts– I might not get the surgery done this year. But part of me thinks it’s worth it to switch if I have such a negative interaction with someone who is supposed to be in charge of my health care.

I’m truly afraid that this appointment is going to be a total shit show. And I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do if that happens.

 

 

Bad Body Day

Some days I look in the mirror and I think WOW. I’m one beautiful boss lady.

 

Seriously, there are days where I’m honestly a little surprised about how good I look. Those are my good “body days” where I’m just totally feeling myself, where I’m not nitpicking about each little flaw. Where I think I’m beautiful WITH my flaws. Where I can eat without all the accompanying emotions (frustration, boredom, sadness, embarrassment, shame, whatever), and just be totally in love with myself. That’s what I imagine self actualized people feel like on the regular.

Today is not one of those days. I’m really starting to struggle with weight loss on this preop diet (I keep fluctuating instead of consistently losing, I feel like I’m losing the same damn five pounds AAAARRGHHHH), and every time I put something in my mouth to eat I am constantly second-guessing: will this facilitate weight loss? Does this have too many carbs? BLAH BLAH BLAH ALL THE TIME. Or I will eat a piece of candy and feel totally mad for hours. My body FEELS large, like I’m super conscious of the amount of space my body takes up today. I feel like I’m too big for everything. Days like today suck. I’m so over it.

I have my preop consultation with one of the surgeons at Kaiser on December 8th. I’m freaking out a little because it feels like a deadline. When I first met with Dr. Z, the psychologist (who made me cry) he told me that I could “easily” lose 50 pounds by our next appointment in January– 20 pounds in the first month, and 15 pounds for the second and 3rd month. Well, I lost 20lbs the first month, and Dr. Z called me saying he was really impressed with my progress so he made me the appointment with the surgeon. Now I’ve got to lose another 15lbs by the next appointment and I don’t know if I can. Keep in mind, he didn’t actually say, “Lose 50 pounds by January or you don’t get the surgery”, he just said I could easily lose that much weight. So…. I don’t know if that’s an actual requirement, or if he was just trying to be encouraging. Either way, it’s causing MAJOR amounts of anxiety. And as I get closer and closer to the 8th, the more freaked out I am because I’m NOT losing weight. I’m gaining and losing, back and forth like ALL THE TIME.

I’m just saying, in this moment right now, I’m totally discouraged. I’m so worried that I’m going to fuck this all up and then I won’t be able to get the surgery. And I have no one to talk to about this.

Suddenly I See

I’m still pretty shook up by the psych evaluation. And I’m really scared that I won’t be able to get the surgery. That being said, I do feel like I’m ready to step up and do this. I took a day to be upset (chocolate may or may not have been involved). But the very next morning I restarted the preop meal plan. I am fucking COMMITTED. I went to the grocery store, bought compliant proteins (roasted chicken, beef, deli meats, low fat cheese), and a bunch of veggies that I can cook in batches really quickly. All of my meals are planned in advance and are scheduled evenly throughout my day (no snacks). I bought a kitchen scale so I can accurately measure my proteins (because really, can I trust myself to eyeball 3oz of chicken?), a tape measure so I can keep track of my body’s changes, a food journal so I can track my meals. I’m so fucking ready. I even bought myself a fitbit, which I’m super excited about. I can’t wait for it to get here!!!

I still have some stuff to work on, and it’s only been a week and some change since I gave myself the restart. I am having a really hard time getting my starches and fats in. I’m supposed to have a serving of each at every meal, but so far I’ve only had starches with lunch and dinner, sporadically I’ll add the fats serving (and by fats I mean like butter, oil, avocado, mayo, salad dressing– not the naturally occurring fat in cheese or meat). Also, eating is now totally boring and kind of a chore. I have to chew at least 30 times for each bite (more if it’s meat), and so for each bite I’m counting to 30 in my head and it takes forever to finish a meal. And I have to eat the protein first, which is my favorite part. I used to save my favorite parts for last. Now I have to eat them first, which means I have nothing to look forward to at the end of the meal. AND, I can’t drink anything during the meal! Not even water! I can’t drink anything for 30 minutes after (this is to prepare yourself for post-op life, where your pouch is too small to hold food AND water). It just seems very tedious. Maybe that will change once I get used to it, once I’ve solidified these new habits.

I’m on day nine, and yes, I do feel hungry most of the day. However, it’s not really because my body needs more fuel, it’s because I enjoy eating and I miss doing it more often and with more gusto. I’m finding it hard to not concentrate on my next meal, the head hunger is so real. However, I don’t feel dizzy, overly tired or like I’m starving. So, even though it’s hard, I think I can get through it. But I’m only in my second week– get back to me on day 30 and I might tell you a different story.

I’m literally trying to take this one meal at a time. Every compliant meal is an accomplishment. I’m focusing on that so I don’t obsess over how hungry I feel.

Sometimes it’s hard being human

So.

I went on my honeymoon to Disneyland last week, just came back on Monday night. It was tons of fun, Kourtney and I had a blast. I started Tuesday morning totally happy because I was coming back from an amazing vacation.

I also had a doctor’s appointment Tuesday morning. It was my psychological evaluation for the Kaiser bariatric program. By then end of the appointment, I was holding back tears.

I don’t want to go into all of the details of what happened. Dr. said at the beginning of the appointment that it was going to feel like an interrogation and he was absolutely right–  I felt like I was on trial. Everything bad I’ve ever done seemed to come up. My vacation weight gain (two pounds. I wasn’t surprised.), my stint in the eating disorder treatment program, my past binge eating, my food restriction, my alcohol intake (which I thought was pretty tame, but from the way he reacted you would think I was an alcoholic). We have a huge list of behaviors we’re supposed to abide by and things we’re supposed to eliminate from our life, and I have been trying to work on them a few at a time: taking small bites, chewing 30 times before swallowing, eliminating carbonated beverages, eliminating snacks, only eating three meals a day, eating my protein first. I’ve obviously not done everything all at once, but I thought I was going at a pretty good pace, changing so many behaviors. I was so so wrong.  Continue reading