Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What You Do When You Want Out? You Smile.

I wrote this about 10am on 4/23/13 and then the bottom the following day, after finding out the biopsy showed cells that appear to be cancer.  I've debated publishing it, because it's raw.  But it's also honest.  It's long.  Tread lightly with this one, ok?

I was 27 the year my Mom turned 48 and was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I remember it well because it was her actual birthday.  After she and my Dad told my sister and I, things get fuzzy about what happened and when.  But I do remember her telling me that since her Grandma was diagnosed by 48 and that her Mom was diagnosed at 48, she had been convinced that she would get it by the time she was 48.  I wondered how you live your life thinking that without it coloring your whole world.

In March of 2009, we found out that my Mom's BRCA genetic test was negative.  But I didn't feel relieved.  It's as though I felt like I too would have cancer and I just wanted to get it all over with.  Pete and I have had conversations about breast cancer several times.  It's not something that I think about daily, but I do think about it often.

In December 2011 my mammogram was abnormal.  I had never been called back and I'm not going to lie, I cried.  I was scared that I'd go to that appointment and some doctor would tell me I had cancer.  I went alone because Pete had to work.  After additional mammogram images, it was determined that I had little sacs that were nothing to worry about.  I was relieved.  But it brought up all the same feelings again.  The what its and the what is my plan thoughts.

I had my yearly mammogram 4/18/13.  I went, had the images done and was back to work in less than 30 minutes.  And then I promptly forgot about it when I didn't get a call the next day to come back in.

Monday morning I got to work, did some computer work and dropped some things off for coworkers.  One of them has a dog that is dying and I made a bunch of treats for him.  When I got back to my office I had a message from my doctor.  I called and again was told that there was abnormalities.  So I chose to go back in that afternoon for the additional mammogram images.  When I left work I closed my computer down and shut my door like I wasn't coming back, even though I should have had more than enough time to get back to work and continue my day. 

I texted Pete along the way and told him I was going back in for images.  He asked if I wanted him there and I told him that I didn't need him.  I was more worried about the fact that he was temporary and needed to be at work.  Besides, I had done this before and I assumed that I'd be getting a call back more often, the older I got.  In fact I asked the scheduler if I should be going to the local breast center instead of to the local clinic?  She didn't know, and told me to ask at the breast center.

Along the drive, I thought about the process I had been through before and how each step went.  I thought again about my Mom and how, unknowingly, we had planned a surprise birthday party for her on her birthday the year she found out.  I still regret that.  I knew there was something wrong that night, but she never let on.  I thought about how scared I had been the last time I got a call back, but that it turned into nothing.

When I got to the breast center, I changed.  And just like I had taken an Instagram photo the first mamo, I took one again.  I planned to share it and hope that I prompt someone else to get checked and prevent or catch cancer.  I sat, shirtless and braless in a short pink smock with other ladies waiting on a tech to come get me for the images.

My tech was named Kim.  Very friendly woman, about my age.  I always wonder how you decide that you want to fondle (for lack of a better word), other woman's breasts for a living.  I suppose that people always wonder why I'd want to work with criminals.  I went into the room and sat down while she verified information and we talked.  I asked about going there for initial mammograms and she told me if I was more comfortable there, to certainly do that.  I remember thinking that they were going to be checking the same sacs as last time and asked to verify that.

That's when my heart sank.  She told me that they were looking at another spot and it was irregular cells this time, not a sac.  It was in the same area as the sacs, but a different reason.  My breathing got shallower and I flushed with heat but took a deep breath and stood up.  She manipulated my breast in the machine and took the images.  Afterwards she sat me in another more private waiting area and took the images to the radiologist to view.  This was just like the last time and something inside me calmed down, thinking that the tech viewed something that made her think it was all ok.

About 10 minutes had past of me reading the various magazines and the tech came in to take me to a consultation room.  That's when I knew it had gotten more serious.  I wanted to cry, but knew if I started, I'd never stop.  I wondered if the people there thought I was unfeeling?  I put a smile on and waited.  I shook my leg, crossed and uncrossed them and bounced while waiting.  There was a phone and I wanted to call Pete, but by the time I made up my mind up to do so, the nurse and doctor were in with me.

There was a spot and they needed to do a biopsy.  My mind was spinning, spinning and I was frantic inside, but smiled on the outside.  I wanted to call my Mom so she could guide me thought this but didn't want to worry her.  I wanted Pete to hold my hand and tell me everything would be ok.  I didn't want to do this anymore.  I wanted to be at work or at home or anywhere else.  I wanted to cry out and let the tears fall, but just couldn't.  I wanted to leave, but knew I had to stay.

The radiologist and I talked about my Mom's BRCA results.  About how they believe that it's genetic, but haven't found the gene yet.  About how they told my sister and I to be aggressive should cancer show up.  She suggested that I see a geneticist myself to chart out my risk and have a letter sent to my insurance to get not only yearly mammograms, but yearly MRIs.  But all of this is in the event that my biopsy is negative.  If it's positive, I'll need to make other decisions.

I signed the consent forms and got the after instructions and who to send the results to.  And when they took me to the waiting area again, I ran into the locker room, locked the door and texted Pete something about having a biopsy mammo and being worried.  It was a combination of autocorrect bad and bad typing that lead him to not understand it.  I texted back "It might be cancer," irritated that he didn't understand and locked my phone back up.  I instantly regretted it and wished I could take it back.  It's not a fair thing to do to him and texting is not the way to learn that your wife might have cancer, when your Mom died of cancer.

I got into the procedure room and found a table with a hole in the middle where my breast would hang through.  It was uncomfortably hard and almost funnel-like so your back was bent the whole time and your ribs rest on hard plastic.  I got up and laid down and realized that my head would be turned from them during the procedure.  I don't know if that is good or bad.  I like to see what is going on and choose to close my eyes if I want.  But there was no other way to do this.

I laid there while they positioned me and tears started forming in my eyes.  I quickly thought of something else, but I can't remember what.  If I started crying, I'd never stop.  The procedure lasted about 25 minutes.  One nurse rubbed my back while it was happening and told me that I was doing great.  One played classical music to relax me.  I think now that if I have to do this again, I need to schedule on a different day and have a valium. My anxiety skyrockets just thinking about it all. 

They compressed my breast and took some images to find a good path to the area.  Mine was on the outside of the breast, near the chest wall.  And when I heard that, my mind raced back to my Mom.  This is/was sounding exactly like her process.  Hers was on the chest wall and small.  Breathe.  Just breathe.  After finding a path, they washed the area and the radiologist came in.  She sent searing shots of litocaine into my breast to numb it up.  They took additional images to make sure that the injections hadn't moved the area.  Then they started.

A machine that sounded like a sewing machine started up.  The nurse came around so I could see her and started talking to me softly and reassuring me.  Reassuring a 43 year old like I was 5.  Telling me to breathe and relax as best I could.  But it hurt.  Even with the numbing agent I could feel intense pressure and it was painful to have a long tube inserted to grab out tissue.  That's when I noticed that I was shaking.  I was trying to hold so still so that it wouldn't have to be repeated, but all my muscles were starting to revolt, almost mockingly.  After they got the samples, they had to image those to make sure that they got the right cells.  Then they imaged my breast again and stick in a tiny marker to mark the area they collected from.

When they told me I could roll over to my back I was shaking and cold and couldn't stop.  One nurse was holding pressure on my breast to stop the bleeding.  The other got me juice so the sugar would help with the adrenaline.  After about 5 minutes of pressure, she dressed the area and put a compression bandage over it and I sat up.  I was still shaking and they got me drinking more juice.  I felt like a kid sitting there drinking from a juice box and it was strange given that I had just had a biopsy. 

After a few minutes they walked me to the waiting area and had me keep drinking the juice and try to relax.  Then Kim, the tech, had me go back into a a room to do some more images on my breast for comparison.  Do you know that a regular mammogram places about 15-20 pounds of pressure on your breast?  I do.  I also know that the pressure isn't a good thing on a sore breast.

When I was done I walked to the locker room and got partially dressed and sat down.  I was still cold and slightly shaky.  I walked out of the center and got in my suv to drive home.  I guess my instincts to close down my office before I left were right.  I called and had to leave a message for Pete because he was busy.  I don't remember much of the drive home, other than I was cold.  Pete called when I was almost there and asked if I was ok and silent tears ran down my face.  I told him I just wanted to get home.

I laid in bed, in the dark room with the dog cuddled to my midsection.  Stroking his hair calmed me down.  I watched mindless TV that I can't remember and kissed Pete when he crawled into bed with me.  I explained the procedure to him and he was silent.  I can't say for sure, but I think he felt like he had no control and like he was living his Mom's life all over again.  His Mom died at 42 of ovarian cancer after a 3 year battle.  He asked me what I wanted to do if it was positive, if it was cancer.  I told him that I wanted a double mastectomy with reconstruction, but was unsure that insurance would pay for that and I'd have to wait and see.  It was like reliving my Mom's experience all over again, only from the inside out this time.  We spent the evening in bed, tried to act like everything was normal and went to bed holding hands. 

This morning I got up while Pete was at the gym, determined to go to work.  Sitting at home would get me nowhere and I needed to keep my mind occupied.  I took off the compression bandage and got into the shower.  Halfway through the steri strips were coming off and I remember thinking that I didn't want to do this anymore.  Out of the shower I looked at the area and it was bleeding pretty badly.  I took tissues and placed my hand over it compress and stop the bleeding.  It was, is sore.  The ribs around it are sore. 

Compressing and looking at it I tried to imagine my chest without my breasts.  I tried to imagine would it would be like with a large lump out of my breast.  I tried to imagine if it would be painful after surgery and how I'd cope.  I tried to imagine everything about it, if the result was cancer.  It never entered my mind that it wasn't.  I think that's a self preservation thing, not imagining the best.  Prepare for the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it's not.

Pete looked at it after it stopped bleeding and told me I'd have a big bruise.  He asked me how I felt and I wanted to scream at him that I didn't want to do this anymore, that I wanted out of the situation.  But I didn't.  He told me all he wanted to do was hold me, but he was afraid of hurting me.  I realized that I wanted him to hold me too and that it was ok to lean on him.  So we laid in bed holding each other, quiet.  It calmed me.  Again, I wanted to cry, but knew that if I started I'd never stop.  After a while he kissed me and we got up to finish getting ready for work.

So I'm sitting here, at my desk, waiting for results.  My right breast hurts and typing makes it hurt worse.  I'd having issues with reoccurring shoulder pain because I'm again holding my shoulder differently because my breast hurts.  My head hurts with the anxiety of a headache and holding my jaw tense.  I keep looking at the clock, waiting to see if I'll get the news at 11am or 4pm when results are delivered to the breast center. 



It appears as though it's cancer.  Past of me keeps saying that I want off this path.  The other part is relieved that it's cancer so that I can go through it all and be done.  I called Pete yesterday after I got the news.  He was the one who pointed out that I was holding back from my Mom, just like she holds back from us.  He told me I should tell her so I told him I was leaving work to go see her.

The way over there I had to hold back tears a couple of times.  I kept breathing deep and trying to hold it in.  If I started crying, I'd never stop.  When I got there, she had been calling me and the phone happened to ring just as I parked in their driveway - it freaked me out.  It made my adrenaline flow hard, as though she sensed something.  But she was calling to see if Pete could help with something.  So I went in, sat down and started talking.  It's awkward to blurt out that you have cancer.  It's not gotten easier in the last 24 hours and I don't know that it ever would.

I think phrasing it in the guise of needing her help in choosing a surgeon put her into her former occupation of a medical scheduler and took some emotional pressure off her.  She immediately went into gear making calls and finding out who to go to.  We found a surgeon and I made an appointment. 

In the mean time my Dad came home and I was trying to find a way to move the conversation back to tell him and there is just no way to do this gracefully.  So I finally told him that I had a biopsy that showed cancerous cells.  He immediately teared up and tried to hide it.  He walked out of the room to compose himself.  There is something in you that accepts your parents or grandparents having cancer.  It's not easy, not at all what I'm saying.  But it's almost a natural progression of things.  To hear your child say cancer must be extremally hard. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

9 Things to Do In Your Kitchen

I found this article by Jenny Sugar (do you think that's really her name?) about how to make your kitchen work for you when trying to lose weight.

9 Things
  1. Make fruits as accessible as a bag of chips.  I'll add veggies to that.  When you get home from the grocery plan on spending an hour to clean fruits and veggies and package them up for grabbing easily out of the fridge.
  2. Prepare a big container of salad.  Salad is a good way to fill up on veggies and nutrients.  You can make a big bowl or individual containers of salad and then grab and go for lunch/dinner.  Try adding things like mushrooms, eggs, cheese and lean meats for some protein.
  3. Keep your measuring cups and spoons on your counter.  I challenge you to measure your food for just one day.  First put what you think is a portion out and then measure it.  You'll be surprised.
  4. Make your own snack packs.  My favorite lately is raw nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips.  I mix up a big bowl of them and measure out 1/4 or 1/2 cup in a snack baggie.  My other favorite is 2 slices of good hard salami, 1 slice of good cheese and 3-4 strips of bell pepper.  It's got protein, carbs and fiber.
  5. Stop buying the unhealthy things.  Really, just stop buying them.  We no longer keep chips or crackers or cookies or cake mixes on hand.  I don't miss the chips.  I miss the cookies and cake.  But if I want it, I force myself to make it at home, from scratch.  Usually by the time I mix it all up and bake it, I eat one or two and I'm done.  The process helps me realize that I don't always want it, I'm bored.  And when I make it at home I know what I'm putting into it.
  6. Use smaller plates.  Take you dinner plates out of the cabinet and use the salad plates.  Pete and I started this years ago.  We rarely use the dinner plates anymore.  In fact when I go to my sisters house and we use her dishes, I grab a salad plate there too.
  7. Freeze fruits and veggies when in season. Wash your berries and lay them out on a cookie sheet in the freezer until they're hard.  Then put them in baggies/containers.  Take them out on hot days and eat them frozen as a treat.  Blend them up for a shake.  Do the same with veggies and add to pastas, soups and other meals.
  8. Double the recipe and package up for lunches.  If cooking is a chore, do large batches and use the leftovers in new ways or for lunches. 
  9. Put all the food away before you eat.  Dish up your salad plate with your meal and package up the rest before you eat.  I will often times package up the extra and leave only enough for Pete and I to eat from, purposely so we don't over eat.
Your challenge is to use 1 or 2 of these in the next week and then keep adding new ones each week!

(PS.  I'm pretty nervous about my appointment with the surgeon tomorrow.  It's strange walking around calmly with something bad in your body.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Fives

1.  It's going to be in the 60s/70s here this weekend for the first time.  I plan on spending as much time outside as I can.  Possibly a motorcycle rides

2.  I've learned in the last week that I have some pretty great friends and co workers and family.  I am grateful.

3.  I'm still working on my one little word for 2013 - Grace.  This week Grace has meant letting others support me when I needed it.

4.  I still have yet to wear a dress this spring. 
Next Week's Weather
And next week doesn't look too promising for dresses either....

5.  I'm thankful.  That's important.  Thankful.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Absence: #Fear is Real, but #honest. #Praying

I Instagramed this photo Monday:
Me at The Breast Center
I had Instagramed my initial mammogram the week before and wanted to document this one too.  I've explained before about my family history and genetic testing for breast cancer.  It's kind of my thing.  If nothing else, I want to prompt other women to get themselves checked appropriately.

But this time of being called back ends differently.  It ends with me in a consultation room talking to a a radiologist about suspicious cells and needing a biopsy.  It ends with a painful biopsy and tears at having to wait 24 hours for the results.  It ends with my husband holding me in the morning because neither of us knows what to do.  It ends with a call saying that there are cancerous cells.  It ends with more tears.

#Fear is REAL, but #Honest.  #Praying.

When I didn't get the call last Friday to come back in for additional images I forgot about the mammogram.  I was shocked to get a call Monday to come back in.  And here I sit, one week from the original mammogram.  One week and so many changes. 

Can you all do me a favor?  Can you all pray for me or send your healing/positive thoughts?  And can you choose to be proactive with your health, rather than reactive?

My Mom understands this, but I don't think that Pete does.  A part of me is glad that this is happening, that there are cancer cells there.  Not that I wanted cancer at all...never.  But I've lived 15 years knowing that there is a real good possibility that I would have breast cancer.  There is some relief in having it, getting through it all and getting on with life. 

I have moments where I forget and then moments where it comes back and I tear up.  I'm having problems with the biopsy site and my first thought was that nothing was going to be easy for me.  I worry about Pete and how this is hitting him in the gut full force and making him not able to eat.  I think about not being able to work out and will I gain weight again?  I worry about my sister and her 2 beautiful kids and does she have it too?  I both want to talk about it and want to push it aside and pretend it's not there. 

I have a huge blog post about my feelings from Monday.  It's long, winding and brutally honest.  I don't know if I'll ever publish it, but it felt good getting it out.  I considered not posting this here; keeping it to myself.  But I'm pretty honest here and I know that this is going to have a big impact on my healthiness (ironic) journey.  In a way it's as though the universe was telling me to get healthy and strong because I'd need it all to fight this. 

So that's why I've been silent this week.

Monday, April 22, 2013

188: I'm Dating the Scale

Confession:  I haven't worked out in 3 weeks. 

Initially I had a migraine that knocked me down for the count.  Then I developed the bump/knot on my head and didn't feel like bobbing around to run.  Then it moved into my shoulders and arms and I certainly didn't want to be swinging them while running.

I was going to the gym to sit in the sauna and hot tub and having Pete massage my neck. 

So when I felt better by Friday Pete and I went out to finally get me my new running shoes.  I had plans on running this weekend, but never did.  This morning the alarm went off and I realized that I had not only not set it for the gym, but that I was freaking dead tired. 

This guy has allergies.

And an eye issue.  So per the vet's instructions, we are giving him Benedryl every 8 hours and eye goop every 8 hours.  I'm 188 pounds and a Benedryl makes me sleepy.  He's 23 pounds and it pretty much knocks him out.  And all he wanted to do was sleep on my lap.  So when we went to bed, he was curled into my tummy as I slept on my side.  He did not move all night.  So every time I wanted to move, I couldn't.  Therefore I didn't sleep well. 

I jumped on the scale this morning to check where I was at and I lost 4 pounds over the weekend.  Mainly because the weather was weird, we had snow and rain and the pressure was up.  So my band was tighter and I could eat very little each meal.  But I wasn't ever hungry after the meal.  I just ate slower and less, which is what the band is supposed to do.  So I guess this means that I'm not broken up with the scale, we're just dating.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You ARE Your Advocate

A bajillion years ago I got married.  Ok, fine, it was 4.5 years ago.  Anyway, I was part of a local message board for women (and I suppose men) who were looking for ideas and information about gettin'  hitched.  After I got married I kept going back to the board to see other ladies who had gotten married and just chat.  At the time I was trying to lose weight and needed motivation and support.  A suggestion was made to check out Prior Fat Girl.  Long story short, that was my first real blog inspiration for losing weight.  The site has since changed to less frequent posting by less people, but I still read it.

Last Monday while taking a break at work, I read Dawn's Post on being an advocate.  I've experienced my own issues with this and commented about agreeing with her.   I will forever have problems with my jaw because of medical choices that neither I, nor my parents questioned.  Then I headed off to the only open doctor in the clinic I go to, for a reoccurring issue that was not only painful, but causing problems with the pain management of my TMJ issues.  The office visit ended with the doctor patting my hand, telling me to get rid of my dog and journal about my stess and I'd be fine.

I didn't go back to work and I cried the whole way home.  Here I was just talking about being my own best advocate and I couldn't even advocate for myself to get some resolution to my issues.  I felt frustrated, powerless and angry.  I ended up back at my wonderful doctor later in the week, armed with a plan to figure out what was going on and an alteration in my pain management plan to address my issues.

My point?  I guess my point is that in this day, don't blindlessly accept what a doctor tells you.  My point is that you need to find a doctor who not only listens to you, but works WITH you to develop a treatment plan for you. 

I thought I had this.  I thought that I had developed a skin that would allow me to question what I am told when it doesn't feel right and ask for more explanation, until it does feel right.  I thought that I could advocate for myself in the moment to get treatment when I needed it.  I thought that I knew myself.  What I found was that I am a great advocate when it comes to those professionals that I've sought out as part of my care team.  I'm a great advocate when I'm not worn down by pain.  I'm a great advocate when I can sit and think on something and develop an answer. 

So I'm regrouping.  Because I must be my own advocate.  That is, unless I bring my Mom or Pete with me to every medical appointment.  I need to start really thinking about how I can get my point across and get what I need, without feeling like I am somehow offending that doctor by questioning them or being perceived as 'mean' but not agreeing with them.  I need to be forceful, but in my own  way.  I need to make sure that someone who treats me actually READS my file or listens to my story before passing judgement and leaving.  I need to be my own best advocate. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

192; The Scale/Weigh In Wednesday

I'm linking up again with Erin and Alex for Weigh In Wednesday.  And boy to I have a post for you...


Let's start off with a huge sigh. 


Ok, here goes....

For the last year and 5 months I've lived by the scale.  Kind of.  What I mean to say is that I weighed myself daily, at the same time each day with the same scale.  And I logged the numbers.  I did this partially because I hadn't done it before and partly because I needed some motivation daily to keep going.

Some days I step on it and I'm down a pound or two and I run into the bedroom to share the news with Pete.  Other days I am up a pound or two and I not only share it with Pete, but I make a mental note to change whatever I've been doing in the last few days.  And some days/weeks, I am the same and I again do a mental check to see if I need to change things.

See that tiny little chart?  I'm so freaking proud of where I started and where I am now.  Part of me wishes that I would have started logging my weight earlier so I could see the whole progression.

 See what else the little chart says?  I haven't logged my weight for a month.  Not that I haven't gotten on the scale, but I haven't thought to log it.  So it got me wondering why?  And then my next thought was much like other bloggers that I read - Do I need to break up with the scale?

After thinking about this for the last few weeks, I've come to some conclusions.  I'm more comfortable with the weight I'm at so weighing every day isn't such a priority.  My weight isn't consistently going down and I'm (dare I say it?) okay with that.  I'm not as dependent upon the scale to tell me my weight as I am dependent on how I feel in my skin.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I had a whole other post planned for today, but somehow it seems meaningless.

Sometimes the world is a cruel place.  I'm fortunate enough to be insulated from most of the cruelty.  The stuff I deal with on a daily basis as a probation/parole agent, I've come to be somewhat immune to.  Not that I don't feel emotions when I read police reports/complaints and court reports, because I do.  But things like the Boston Marathon Bombings hit hard.

I'm not ashamed to say that I experienced depression and some issues after 9/11.  I wasn't in New York, Pennsylvania or Washington DC.  But I had a Grandmother out of the county who couldn't get back in and the innocence lost was devastating.  I had a hard time afterwards with sleeping and developed insomnia and some anxiety.  But I learned to address it and deal with it in my own way.

So when things like the Sandy Hook School Shooting and Boston Marathon Bombing occur, I'm shaken.  Again I'm not there, but it brings back some of the same feelings as 9/11 almost in a PTSD fashion.  Again I deal with it the best that I can, mostly by verbally processing with my husband and writing about it.  Getting the feelings out and having them validated.

In my mind I imagine the spectators and runners innocently participating and being injured or killed.  I imagine the fear and pain and horror that they may have felt.  I imagine the first responders who thought they'd be dealing with exhaustion, heart attacks and other running injuries suddenly having to deal with life or death shrapnel injuries.  It's not what anyone in Boston expected.

My mind imagines all the people who ran other races, trained for years and finally got into the Boston Marathon.  How they either finished and the finish is marred by the bombing or how they didn't finish because just prior to the line the bomb went off or how they were miles behind and didn't see the bombs but again never got to finish.  How these people were training and running to be healthy and in shape and euphoric in completing and none of that happened for them.

I'm sad today.  But I'm also proud of the US.  9/11 crippled us.  We were caught off guard and having never experienced anything, had no idea what the next steps were.  But as horrible as it was. and as horrible as the things that have occurred since, they have taught us lessons.  I heard one reporter say yesterday that it was important for this not to cripple us, that we needed t be resilient.  I think we've done that so far.  There will be long reaching effects of the bombs, but we are aware enough and resilient enough to keep going.

Praying for Boston

Monday, April 15, 2013

192; One Thing

When I talk about my journey I talk about it in pieces.  Sometimes in days and what worked for me on that day.  Sometimes in what plan for eating that I stuck to; calorie limiting, fresh veggie eating, low carb.  Sometimes in workouts; cardio, cardio and weights, personal training.  Some time in my ah-ha moments; realizing I can lose weight, joining a gym, tracking calories.

When I sit back and look at that I realize that there isn't one thing that lead me to where I am today.  (another ah-ha moment).  Realize that for you, there is likely not ONE THING either.  Don't count on one thing, don't rely on one thing and certainly don't borrow someone else's one thing.

Just as not one thing made my success at work or school, not one thing lead to me becoming an adult and not one thing keeps my marriage intact.  There is not one thing that defines anyone.

I read a lot of blogs.  Chances are that if you see me with down time I'm likely reading a blog on some platform - my phone, my netbook, my PC.  And chances are that it's got something to do with living healthy.  And there are bloggers that I just want to reach out to and sit down with and chat, one to one about my struggle and where I've ended up so far.  I'm not saying that I have all the answers by any means.  Not at all.  In fact give it  a year and I could have gained 50 pounds.

What I am saying is that I see such a prejudice for any intervention that's not a person working out and eating differently.  And I'm not saying that everyone needs weight loss surgery either.  But there are so many things in between.  So many other interventions that professionals can help with.  Structured nutritionist, eating disorder therapy, support groups other than Weight Watchers, structured fitness through a doctor....  Some times just an honest conversation with your general practitioner/doctor about your efforts so far and what they suggest.

And I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that people should look at weight loss surgery also.  Go to the presentation that your local Bariatric Surgeon does.  Meet with a surgeon or nurse in the practice and find out more about it.  It doesn't mean you're locked into a program for surgery.  My center has a program for structured weight loss that is covered by insurance when BMI doesn't meet the criteria.

I guess I look at it this way:  you only get one life, live it the best you can.  Since obesity is such an epidemic in our nation, seek help with it once you've tried it on your own.

If you were diagnosed as a diabetic, would you refuse all intervention other than to change your eating, even if it was killing you slowly? 

So why refuse intervention if your obesity is killing you slowly?  It's ok to ask for help.  It's ok to use other tools that people close to you or that you know of aren't using.  It's your journey.  Your life.

Friday, April 12, 2013

109; Friday Fives

This post is brought to you by muscle relaxers and pain medicine.

1. Be your own advocate.  I have a post about this next week.  If you can't advocate for yourself, make sure someone can.

2.  We are headed to PF Changs for dinner tonight with family.  Yum.

3. These photos were taken 24 hours apart, in that order...

...in April.  It's wrong.  Just wrong.  Even the dog things it's wrong, and he likes snow.

4.  I had some bump on my neck that caused issues with my shoulder and neck.  2 doctor visits and I'm on muscle relaxers and pain meds.  I haven't worked out in almost two weeks.  It's KILLING me not to work out.  The muscle relaxer is kicking in right about.......now.  Don't judge me for any additional typos, ok?

5.  I can't think of a fifth one.I think it's the muscle relaxer and the pain meds.  See you Monday. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New goals

That's for listening to my story.  It's likely boring to some, but I hope it inspires others.  If anyone has any one ever has any questions about my journey that they don't feel comfortable asking here, please email me.  I'll answer or give a resource or whatever you need!

Just like everyone, I evaluate my goals every so often to both check my progress and see where I need to focus my journey. 

My goal weight is still 175.  Am I all up in arms about it, no.  But it's my goal and I'm still working towards it.

My goal for eating is to eat healthy 80% of the time.  No fad diets, no cutting all carbs, limiting treats or low fat everything.  Eat healthy, cleaner meals.  Lower in fat, but still natural fats.  High in lean protein and fresh veggies and fruit.  The 20%?  Well, I know myself.  And I know that I'm going to have a piece of cake if it's presented to me.  I know that I'm going to have a cookie if it's around.  I know that I'm going to grab a handful of dark chocolate each day.

My goal for working out is still much the same.  Body Pump (weightlifting class) twice a week and cardio 3-4 times a week.  My preferred cardio is still the treadmill, but I'd like to transition to getting one day of cardio outside this summer.  I think that's a good goal and it still allows some flexibility.

Other goals:
I want to get the guts to run theWomen Who Rock 10K.  I don't know what it is, but I want to run a race.  I can do a 10K on the treadmill in about 80 minutes so it's not that long of a race.  But something inside me usually stops me from signing up.  I guess I don't want to look like a fool. 

I want to run a couple of 5Ks during the summer so I can feel what it's like to run in a race and be part of it all.  I have a couple in mind.

What are your goals? 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

189; My Journey Almost Didn't Happen (WIW)

If you've never joined the Weigh In Wednesday link up - DO IT!  (And by do it, I mean click on the graphic box there and read some wonderful stories!)

I stopped working out between the group meeting and the appointment.  I knew that I was close to going under the BMI and didn't want to have issues qualifying. In fact, I drove home from the group session and ate Culvers in the car as I was driving.  I think instinctively I knew I was in trouble.  Pete and I drove to my appointment because he had one that day too.  But I came out of the office in tears.  I was 37.1 BMI and insurance wouldn't pay for it if I didn't qualify with one of the co-morbidity's.

I was crushed.  All the hard work for the last few years and losing 20-30 pounds made me ineligible, but yet I couldn't keep losing?  It didn't seem fair.  It still doesn't seem fair.  So I had some success, but couldn't continue it.  So what, I was supposed to eat my way back to 40+ BMI so I could get the help I needed?  That doesn't seem right either.  And basing it all on the BMI?  It's not an equal measure, it's supposed to be a starting place.  I cried like a baby that night with my puppy licking my tears.

But in the end it turns out that I have sleep apnea and my cholesterol was high so I qualified anyway.  I passed the nutritionist and the psychological evaluation and suddenly I had my appointment for surgery.  I just needed to lose 5% of my losing goal.  11 pounds.  It seemed that the motivation I needed to lose came from that deadline.  If only someone could deadline me all the time like this!  My ultimate goal was and still is, to get to 175 and see what my body looked like.  At 175 I'm still overweight according to the BMI, but I stopped relying on that to tell me about my body and started using my eyes and the eyes of those around me.  At 175 I want to see my body and see what it looks like.  I want to see my body through the eyes of those around me and get their opinion.  I want to be healthy first and awesomely hot second.

My surgery date turned out to be 3/21/12, the day before my 42nd birthday.  Usually my family goes out to eat for birthdays and Pete and I have cake on my birthday.  This year I was drinking broth and jello 2 days before and the day of my birthday I was having the same.  No cake for me.  At surgery I weighed 219, which was my goal.  The surgery wasn't bad.  I had seen Pete go through it so I knew what to expect.  And I went home with my diet to work my way back up to eating real food.

Along the way I haven't had many issues.  I did try to go back to work to early and almost ended up on the floor.  I learned my lesson and took a couple more days off.  They filled my band slowly and I really didn't start to feel restriction until about October of 2012.  I'd been steadily losing 3-5 pounds each month and was happy with my progression.  I told Pete that when I reached my goal of 175 I wanted a make over with a facial, massage, nails, hair and make up. I also wanted a tattoo that I've been thinking about.  As 200 got closer I decided that I'd reward myself with a small ring tattoo when I was at 200 or lower for a month.

I got that first tattoo in October.  But I also started experiencing sticking and issues with my gastric band.  And let me tell you, they're not fun.  They hurt.  And they're scary when you don't know what's happening or how to fix it.  I've detailed some of those in posts like this, and this one.  I've sense figured out that if I want to use the band, I need to use the band.  I need to listen to it and eat how I'm supposed to.  Things like dry meat, squishy bread, fibrous fruits...all will stick if I'm not chewing correctly.  A burger in a bun?  The textures are too different for me so I eat the burger and fixings and forget the bun.  It's changes to my diet, but I'm no where from deprived.

Would I do it again?  The whole journey so far?  Yes.  You learn things along the way through the battles that you would never learn otherwise.  You struggle and want to give up, but smile when you're on the other side of the hill going forward.  I'm excited to keep going and see where this healthiness journey will get me.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

190; Our Separate Journeys

I started getting up before work to head to the gym and walk on the treadmill.  At times I'd do 30 minutes on the treadmill and 30 minutes on the weight machines.  My own circuits.  Pete would sometimes go, but more often than not, he'd stay sleeping. 

That's the thing about Pete and I.  Our journeys both include the gastric band, but the road taken for each of us is different.  It seems that when Pete is super motivated and going to the gym a lot, I lose my momentum.  But he always encourages and asks.  When I am super motivated, he lacks motivation and I always ask.  It's not judging or putting the other down at all.  It's simply asking if he wants to join me.

After a couple of months the Y had  Personal Training Blitz where you got some free sessions for buying a package.  So I bought one.  Then I got scared.  I was at the gym every Monday when it opened at 5am with my trainer Tanya.  I didn't know what a trainer was supposed to do, but she fit my schedule so it worked.  At the time I thought that she wasn't a very good trainer, but I was wrong.

Tanya and I would spend 60 minutes doing a different routine and then I'd repeat it later in the week.  She gave me cardio goals and helped track my eating.  At that time I was using SparkPeople to track my food on my iPhone.  But I was a slave to that phone and even that I lied to.  I'd eat 2 of something and call it 1 or I'd eat part of something and call it one serving when it was really 3 or 4.

By the end of the summer I'd had 2 rounds of training with Tanya and I felt stronger, but hadn't lost much more than 20 pounds.  Pete and I left in October and went on an anniversary trip to the Southeast US to see his family and see a bunch of cities.  I'm not going to lie, I planned where we stayed by the food I could find in restaurants on TripAdvisor and other websites.  Pete and I had our anniversary dinner at High Cotton in Charleston, SC.  It was the best meal I've every had.  I still dream of it.  At the end, we had staff take our photo.
Pete at 325 pounds and me at 260 pounds.
Pete says that he knew that this trip was his rock bottom.  He looks at this photo now and can't believe how big he was.  At that time, I thought I was cute.  I thought I wasn't 'that' big.  I thought I was doing ok and I wasn't ready for what Pete was.  Pete was ready to seek out the help of the gastric band.  And when we got back home he made an appointment to see a surgeon.

I have lots of older posts about Pete's journey. In fact, if you search the label: Mid Week With Pete, the posts I did about his journey should come up. My journey takes a back seat here, and that's ok. It's not to say that I wasn't working, it's just that Pete's journey is part of my journey.

Pete went to see a bariatric surgeon. Actually he had to go to a group meeting thing that explained the surgeries and then he could make an appointment. So I went with him. I remember sitting in the room in the over sized chairs and thinking that this really wasn't for me, because I didn't fill up the chair. Pete decided that he wanted to have a gastric band and made his appointment.

Part of the process for the center that we both went to is that you have to meet criteria for your insurance and their program. This means a BMI of over 40 and if under that, co-morbidity's to qualify you. Pete had a sleep study done to rule out apnea, he had a psychological evaluation, appointments with a nutritionist, had to show that he had tried to lose weight on his own...there are other things, but that's most of them.

In March of 2011 he had his surgery. At the time, he had already lost 60 pounds. Like I said before, when he makes his mind up to lose, he's a pro at it. But he wasn't working at the time and could spend 2 hours a day in the gym doing cardio and still be the house husband. And to be totally honest, this is when I started getting jealous of him and started wondering if it wasn't my path to do this too.

By June 2011 he was down almost 90 pounds. I was jealous as HELL. And I made myself a deal to work out and watch what I ate until 9/1/11. If I wasn't getting anywhere by then I'd seek out gastric banding myself. I spent that summer working out 4 days a week, running on weekends when we were at motorcycle camping events and sharing meals with Pete because he was restricted. I lost some, but not a whole lot.

In September I made my own appointment for the group meeting. I decided I wasn't going to do it on my own. I was tired of the continual struggle and didn't want to live like that for the rest of my life. I couldn't seem to get all the pieces together myself and I realized that I needed some help.

I remember sitting in that meeting and noticing that I was the smallest one there. Everyone stared at me. But I made my appointment with Pete's surgeon and got kind of excited to start a new chapter.

Monday, April 08, 2013

190; Getting Serious

Pete and I survived over the summer of 2008.  I was planning the wedding on my own and doing everything.  Pete was mourning his father and dealing with all the stuff that happens after a parent is gone.

In September Pete and I said our I Do's.

Look how happy we were! I remember going in for my last fitting and the seamstress telling me that I had lost weight because she had to take it in a bit again and I had to go back right before the wedding to pick it up.  But in all honesty, I hadn't lost anything.  Because I wasn't doing anything.  Neither was Pete.

After the wedding stuff settled down I talked Pete into joining a different no frills gym.  I figured that this was the way we started before so let's do it again.  Only he did it because I asked him to, not because he wanted to.  And I had no motivation or conviction to go either.  I think we paid for about 6 months of late 2008 and early 2009 and went a total of 6 times. 

I remember that I bought this beautiful flowy blue shirt to wear at Christmas 2009.  I remember that I had to buy a larger size jean.  I was back up to size 24 jeans and 2X shirts.  But I felt more in fashion and better about myself.  Christmas Eve came and I could hardly walk on my right knee.  A slave to fashion I wore my high heeled boots and limped the entire day.

When it wasn't better after New Years I made an appointment with my doctor.  She took an xray and found nothing.  She suggested that I see an orthopaedic surgeon.  I remember that they showed me to the exam room and gave me a pair of paper shorts to put on while he examined me.  Only the shorts didn't fit.  They were the largest size and they didn't fit.  I was ashamed.

After the MRI I went back to see the surgeon, only this time I wore my own shorts.  He told me that I had worn a divot out of my knee cap and had arthritis pretty badly in the knee.  I wasn't a candidate for surgery yet, but he guessed that I'd have a knee replacement by the time I was 45-50.  I was 39 at the time.  39.

I went to physical therapy and did the exercises and my knee improved.  And by the end of January 2010 I joined the YMCA.  I pulled Pete along with me, begrudgingly. 

(Thank you for following my story!)

Friday, April 05, 2013

189.2: Friday Fives

I have more of my story on Monday.  But for now, these are the five things on my mind today.  Have a great weekend - make it healthy and fun.

1.  I have been awake since 2:41am.  Really.  Pete couldn't sleep and for some reason I woke up and his moving around and the light form his phone woke me up and woke me up GOOD.  I am so going to crash tonight about 8pm.  'Cuz that's how old people roll on Friday nights.

2.  I said to Pete last night "You know what would be fun this weekend?"  He smiled and got excited and said "What?"  And I said "Spring Cleaning!!!"  And he said he'd rather play in traffic.  I did get him to agree to help me take the bed apart and reposition and clean it (Sleep Number).

3.  I did not make my own coffee this morning or bring a lunch.  So I'm drinking Starbucks and I have plans to hit up the local grocery store salad bar.

Soy Hazelnut - yum!
4.  A friend's dog has cancer.  I know that to some people, dogs are just dogs.  But to me (and my friend) my dog is my family.  He's the baby that I didn't have.  I'm instantly happy when I walk through the door because he is ALWAYS happy to see me.  I could leave to bring the garbage to the garage and he would still greet me as though I've been gone for days.  I'm saying prayers for her family, her children and her. 

5.  The motorcycles are home!  That must mean riding season is coming, right?  I was too wussy to riding mine home so Pete had to get them both.  The pup and I followed him back and forth in the car.

He looks damn good on my Harley!
Um, I don't ride in snow.  Hell, I don't like riding in rain, but sure am not riding in snow!

Thursday, April 04, 2013

189; Don't Give Up

I found this on Pinterest.  I know that it's a shift in thinking, but really think about this.  It's simple, yes.  But it's powerful.  It's not to say that you aren't going to have off days, weeks and even months.  But stop telling yourself that you're giving up/you've given up.  Start realizing that those off days are simply part of your journey and are recoverable.  You aren't giving up, you're continuing on your journey.

As summer was fading in 2007 Pete and I joined a gym.  Can I tell you how excited I was to join?  Silly, really.  I had never been part of a gym and it seemed so glamorous and yet intimidating.  The one that we joined was was a 24 hour, come when you want, but not always someone there gym.  It was in a local strip mall and had about 5 treadmills, a few elliptical and some weights.  No classes or showers or frills. 

Pete and I started going as soon as we got home.  We'd work out for an hour or so, him on the treadmill and me on the elliptical.  Then we'd go next door and do it up Jered-style and have Subway for dinner.  Lots of veggies, no sauce and only half the bread.  We continued this way well into the holiday season.  I remember being so pleased with myself that I actually went to the gym Thanksgiving morning and worked out before heading to the family celebration. 

By this time, Pete had lost about 70 pounds.  He was looking awesome.  Just awesome.  I had lost about 30 pounds and I was feeling great.  We were really active going places on the weekend and hiking around and seeing places around the state.  The feeling was powerful. 

But somehow I lost that powerful feeling in February, 2008.  It was a hard time for me.  Pete and I were engaged and my parents weren't as excited as I thought they'd be.  I was depressed about life in general and quickly turned to what I know best:  sitting in bed, watching TV and indulging in crap food.  I lost the feeling and couldn't seem to figure out how to get back there.

Pete was encouraging, asking me if I wanted to go with him to the gym.  But I just couldn't seem to put it together to get there.  It was all I could do to make it to work and home again.  Then the unthinkable.  Pete's Dad started getting really ill from his COPD.  The doctors started telling the family that it was nearing the end.  And suddenly, Pete was in just as deep a depression as I and the gym was the last thing that either of us wanted.  The membership slipped away and we did nothing.  Nothing except exist.

(Thanks for coming back to hear my story!)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

189; The Start

Firstly, I have to thank Hubby Jack for the awesome new blog design.  Check out his site.  He made it very easy for me to have an updated look that fits my personality.

Secondly, it's weigh in Wednesday.  If you haven't checked out Erin or Alex's blogs, please do so now.  They've both got very different stories, but both are compelling.  And join the link up!  Visit those links and find inspiration and motivation and possibly new friends in the bloggers!

I am still at 189.  But given that I've been on my back all doped up and eating what felt good for the last 3 days AND not working out, I'll take it. 


In 2007 Pete moved into my little townhouse.  (We were living in sin.)  When he moved in, he brought his treadmill.  He had been working out and losing weight and doing a great job.  He never said a word to me about my weight.  Ever.  He called me Babydoll, Beautiful One, Gorgeous One...but never said a word about my weight.  To him I was perfect.  I think that's why I love him so much.  He loves me for who I am in the moment.  Not who I was or who I could become.

I watched him that summer, losing weight and running his ass off for 6-10 miles every afternoon while I sat up in the kitchen and cooked high fat, high cholesterol, high everything dinners.  One day I got home from work before he did and I decided to jump on the treadmill.  I walked a mile in about 23 minutes and was pretty proud of myself for working out.  Really.  I sweated my ass off in that hot garage and huffed and puffed my way to a mile.  The first time I seriously tried to work out at all. 

The summer continued and I started going to work early and leaving early so that I could walk my mile before Pete got home.  He would run his miles and I would cook what I thought were healthy dinners. 

When I look back to that summer it was the start of something inside me.  It was the feeling that I could lose weight.  I could look and feel better.  I think it came from Pete's example.  It came from seeing how he worked and got results.  It came from the gentle motivation from him every time I proclaimed that my mile got faster.  It came from the feeling that I got after walking that mile and knowing that I burned calories.  Somehow, I was determined to really look at how I was living and make some changes. 

(I'll continue my journey tomorrow!)

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

190.8; Migraine + Pulled Back

Equal Michelle flat on her back in bed, all doped up.

Excuse the lack of posts for a couple of days.  I promise I'll be back.  Less doped up and more able tp post a coherent thought.