Monday, April 16, 2012

No Rest for the Wicked

Part II

From far away I hear someone saying my name.  I'm groggy and can't get my eyes fully open.  Peering out from heavy hooded eyes, there's a nurse standing beside me.  She tells me surgery is over and I'm now in the recovery room.  All I know is my face is terribly itchy. Scratch..scratch...scratch...  I fall back to sleep only to be shocked awake by the nurses yelling at me to not  roll over.  I like to sleep on my side and seemingly I was trying to get into that position in the hospital bed.

She asks if I want to see my mom.  Of course I want to see my mom!  My mom comes in with Ramon and I can barely acknowledge their presence.  I'm so cracked out I have no recollection what we talked about other than Ramon took my cell phone home with him.  Still so itchy, it's now moved on to my chest.  Scratch..scratch..scratch.  The nurse tells me to stop before she puts gloves on my hands.  Back to sleep I go.

Many hours later I'm woken up by being rolled down the hallway.  After 12 uneventful hours in the recovery room I'm finally being brought upstairs to a room.  There is no rest in a hospital.  I can see why people hate it!  What seemed like every 5 minutes someone was turning on the lights and poking and prodding at me.  Finally, I fall into a good sleep only to hear them bringing in another patient.  All night long she moans and groans and at one point is screaming because the medical team is trying to give her a suppository.  Again, I doze off to be jarred awake time and again by her moaning.

Next morning I'm up and at them bright and early.  I'm exhausted after a night of cat naps.  My back is killing me from the hospital bed, my hand is so swollen from the IV I can't even flex my fingers. I ring the bell for the nurse and no one answers me.  I ring it again and again and there's not even an acknowledgement from the Nurses' Station.  I'm annoyed.

I feel lost, no one is at the hospital yet; I have no cell phone, no tv and no room phone.  I can't even reach the room phone to use the automated system to turn it and the tv on.  Where are all the nurses that poked at me all night??  A housekeeper comes into the room and very kindly moves the cart close to me.  Hallelujah!  TV and phone is turned on. 

My sister calls and we're discussing the night before and I'm telling her about the roommate carrying on.  Well, apparently roomie was awake and full of piss and vinegar and starts screaming. I got like a loonie and told my sister I'd have to call her back.

Roomie is screaming, "I had surgery last night!" over and over. I'm screaming back, "So did I and I'm not crying like a bitch keeping people awake all night!"  Back and forth we go for a few minutes then the male day nurse walks in and that shuts her up.  About 10 minutes later I hear a low voice say, "I'm not looking to fight with you." and I said nor was I and I was not actually complaining about her disrupting me.  I really wasn't.  Long story short, her name was Erin and she was actually a pretty nice girl.  We lapped the hallways together a few times.

During all this my sister calls my dad to tell him I'm fighting with the roommate.  My dad's answer?  "Donna must be feeling ok, then." And he was right. I barely felt like anything was done to me.  Good meds??

I pretty much hung out in bed all day with visitors and staff in and out.  Day One comes to a close and everything seems to be progressing smoothly.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Bench!

Today is 15 days since surgery.  It's gone very quickly and most gratefully, pretty much without a hitch.  I'll give you all a very long recap of the last two weeks, and I'll be as graphic as possible.  I'm going to space it out over a couple of posts to save your eyesight (and lunch).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012: Surgery Day

I had to report to Montefiore at 8:50AM for an 11:50AM surgery time.  I actually slept well the evening before, but woke up at 4:30 that morning.  I took it as an opportunity to lounge in the tub and just try to relax.  Smoked a few cigarettes (A big no-no, I know), read some of my new book, cuddled with the dogs.

When you arrive on the surgery floor, you're brought back to the "waiting area" where you change into your gown, the nurses take some pre-op vitals and basically you just sit around.  My mom, dad and Ramon took turns spending time back there since only one person at a time was allowed.  The nurse working with me, Kathy, was just a nice, calming presence- she cracked jokes and harassed the staff for talking to me about food. I hadn't eaten anything solid in 3 days at the point, and nothing at all since about 8PM the evening before. I was HAPPY to hear about someone's jerk chicken and rice dinner.

Anesthesiologist came in to discuss what he'll be doing.  Dr. Choi, the surgeon, stopped by to see how I was and go over any last minute questions or concerns.  Back to waiting... Dr. Choi's schedule was already behind so 11:50 was now closer to 1PM.  As time drew nearer, Kathy allowed everyone to the back with me.  She attempted to "hide" my father behind the curtain.  That worked well.

Out of nowhere appears the Nurse Anesthetist and it's time to hit the road.  Kathy, the nurse, gives me a big hug and wishes me well.  Hugs all around and away we go.

You actually walk unaided to the OR.  It's a surreal experience, the halls twist and turn through the hospital like a maze and you're surrounded by all kinds of medical equipment and staff rushing about.  During this long walk I keep saying to myself, "It's not too late to say F this".  I walked in the OR and it's just plain weird.  There's huge flat screens on all the walls, a nurse is laying out the surgery tools- some looked like utensils you'd use to barbeque.  Other people milling about doing their jobs. 

In the center of the room is the table.  It seriously looks like they're about to crucify you.  It's narrow with two arm rests jutting out at the top.  Up on the table I go and they begin strapping me down.  The NA inserts my IV and starts some calming meds.  Laying there, I again say to myself, "It's still not too late".

Someone realizes I still have my nose ring in, I had totally forgot about it!  Groggily I hear them discussing what to do about it.  I reach up and pop it out.  A voice asks if the hole will close quickly, I slowly nod my head yes.  This calming med is good stuff, I'm barely conscious!  The nurse drops the ring into a specimen bottle and places it on the cart next to me.

Suddenly, I just need to close my eyes, more of the good stuff was pumping through my veins.  And I'm out...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting My Freak On!

Ok folks, official freak out mode has begun.  Woke up at 2AM this morning, feeling wired and antsy.  *Let's do this!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mourning Food

Today is the 2nd day of the 2nd go round on the clear liquid diet.  This time seems so much harder mentally than the last.  I'm seriously mourning food the past few weeks, to the point that thinking about not being able to eat anything of substance for a few weeks has made me get weepy.  I've loaded up

I've "Last Supper- ed" myself into a near diabetic coma.  The last 6 weeks we've gone out for:

- Indian
- Chinese
- Pizza

All multiple times. Plus, I ate one dozen cupcakes between Thursday of last week and Saturday night.  Hey, they were good!  I did share with the dogs so I probably had 11.795823 cupcakes in 4 days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Eight days to surgery...

I've been thinking about little "rewards" for my smaller milestones in weight loss.  Buying clothes won't be much of a reward since I'll need new clothes (along with wanting them)... nothing like the idea of your pants falling down at work as an incentive to shop.

I've decided I will spoil myself a present for 10, 25, 50 pounds lost. At the 10 pound point, I will buy myself a small piece of REAL jewelry for under $50.  25 pounds will merit a $100 jewelry purchase and the 50 pound marker will be a $200 purchase.

I'm stopping purchases at 50 pounds because if that's all I lose after surgery I'm satisfied with that.  Now, if I ever hit the surgeon's goal weight, 100 pounds lost, I may have to buy myself something extreme- like a new car or maybe even another Bull Terrier.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I'm Your Biggest Fan

Sometimes I'm completely amazed by the sheet amount of support I have received since I "told" I'm having surgery.  Totally overwhelming.  I truly have the best friends and family a girl could ask for.

I also have the best mom a girl could ask for.  OK, I'm sure all of you think you have the best mom, so I'll revise that... I have the best mom for ME.  From the word "go" my mom jumped right on board with my plan to have WLS.

Those of you that know my mom know she's a spunky, dynamic, go-go-go little woman.  She has what seems like boundless energy and patience.  At times, her words may be gruff but her heart is always kind.

She may not like all the choices I make, but she is ALWAYS right there by my side.  I really could go on and on about my mom.  I just want her to know how much I love and appreciate her.

And my dad... he's not too shabby, either.  Maybe one of these days there will be a post about him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back on the Horse. Pre Operative Dieting

Surgery is back on... Wednesday, March 28, 2012 which means the pre-operative diet is back on.  The joy!  Thankfully, I didn't fall off the wagon too hard after surgery was cancelled so jumping back in has been relatively easy.

Actually, it's not too tough of a diet. For the 3 weeks prior to surgery, you follow a high protein diet.  It calls for one 8 ounce protein shake for breakfast, another for lunch, a high protein snack at mid day- such as a Greek yogurt then a pretty substantial, protein focused dinner and finally another protein shake for an evening snack.

 Last night I had a 6 oz tenderloin steak, 1 cup of steamed broccoli, a 3 ounce baked potato, 2 slices of whole wheat bread, and 2 cups of salad. <--- That's a ton of food when put in front of you. Plus all the water, Crystal Light type drinks, decaf teas and decaf coffee one can drink throughout the day.  For the past 7 months I average a minimum of 100 ounces of fluid per day.  NO SODA! 

Honestly, that was the hardest part for me.  Regular soda, specifically, Wild Cherry Pepsi was my daily vice.  I drank it in the morning- hey, most of you drink coffee for your morning kick, I drank soda. I drank it all day long, I very easily put away a 2 liter plus every day.  I rarely drank water, maybe a glass a week.

Soda becomes a forever nay-nay for various reasons post op, the most important reason is your new little stomach, all 3-4 ounces of it, cannot tolerate carbonation of any sort. I never minded flat soda, but I can't let that become part of my thought process going forward.  Soda is the debbil, all that high fructose corn syrup killing you slowly.

Finding a protein that agrees with your taste buds is itself pretty difficult, 99% that I have tried either tasted disgusting or smelled wretched.  Factor in gastric bypass patients absorb whey protein isolate the best post-op, your choices actually drop significantly and the cost rises dramatically.  Protein powders are not cheap!

Week 4 I switch to just liquids plus 3 protein shakes.  The final two days is clear liquids- bouillon soup and some jello (as long as it's not red colored).  The whole process culminates with the ever loved "bowel cleanse".  Sadly, I was in the midst of said bowel cleanse when I was cancelled last time.  I have asked the surgeon, should she need to cancel me again, to please call before noon so I can save myself from the torture.

The purpose of the pre-op diet is to shrink your liver, making laproscopic access to the stomach/intestine area more easily accessible.  It's really important to follow the diet to the T as some pf the complications can include your liver literally cracking in half, going from a laproscopic procedure to an open one- meaning a 7 inch incision down the center of your stomach and a much longer surgery and recovery period, or even surgery cancelled while you lay on the table totally out.

On the way down side of the pre-op diet is it raises your sugar levels.  Being a diabetic, it's a bit scary.  This morning I tested 137 when first awake. Rarely, if ever, does my BG break the 80 range.  On the plus side, from the moment I awake from surgery, the odds are with me that my diabetes will CURED.  GBS has an 80% cure rate for type II.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


So, surgery was postponed. I received a call from my surgeon late Sunday afternoon telling me there was some issues with lab work from the previous Friday. We're back on target for mid to late March.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nearly there

Yeah, so that picture above perfectly describes the later half of this week. First half, not so much- stomach bug + liquid diet = pure happiness. 

 Today began the "clear liquids" phase, which for some reason sounds far more intimidating the a "regular" liquid diet.  People, I'm just f'ing HUNGRY!  Between not smoking and starving I'm, as always, an awesome person to be around.  Ramon is simply overjoyed at the prospect of a leisurely weekend with me.

I report to the hospital this Monday morning at 8:45AM.  I was so hoping for an earlier report time- get up, wash my ass and hit the road.  Alas, it's not to be.  Instead, I will be very politely awoke by one fat dog barking in my face and another donkey kicking me in my liver, spleen, kidney or all of the the above at the same time. 

Still not nervous outwardly, but I'm assuming SOMETHING is a bit off subconsciously.  I've had a recurring dream the past few weeks- I'm out in public in a towel that barely fits.  I struggle to adjust it to keep the boobage hidden and just randomly stroll down the street among throngs of stranger.  Different location every time too but I'm always on my way to someone's house.  I also woke up this morning to a pretty serious facial breakout.  Since I must pick, my face is pretty scary at this point.

Anyway, thank you again to everyone reading, for all your kind words and amazing support.  If you believe in it, say a little prayer for me this weekend. 

See you all on the other side...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Noting to fear but fear itself

I had two mildly interesting conversations this weekend and both people asked if I was afraid.  The answer that quickly spills from me is, "No".  Sure I have some fear, I am having surgery and one with possible severe complications.

However, I am confident in my decision; I have spent many months researching medical facts, reading message boards with first hand accounts- everything from people that have sailed smoothly post operative to those that have literally faced death.  There are some who, if they could rewind the clock, that would choose the same path again knowing what they have faced down and those who are actively seeking to reverse the procedure- which in and of itself is quite risky.

Anyway, it's eight days til surgery and I leave you with this quote.  I've decided this will be my next tattoo when I reach whatever weight my body settles at.

"Quod me nutrit me destruit."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tilting at Windmills

In previous posts I’ve talked about getting/being healthy and taking back my life.  That brings us to today’s topic, “Goals”.  I’m only going to talk about immediate goals, those achievable in the next 6 months. 

Ø  To be under 180 pounds for the first time in my adult life. 

Doesn’t sound like a biggie for most people, but I haven’t been that light since 7th grade.  As if 180 pounds is “light” in comparison to my height.  And yes, you read that correctly, I was 174 pounds at my annual physical back in 1990. 

Moving past that, I don’t have a specific goal weight in mind.  If I lose 100% of my excess weight that would be amazing.  If don’t, it’s not going to ruin my day. 

Ø  To start going back to the gym- EVERY DAY.  Ok, ok maybe every other day. 

There was a time that I played outside every day; swimming, roller skating, softball, sleigh riding.  Then I grew up.  And my belly grew, and my butt grew, and my legs grew.  You get the picture.

Ø  To jog a 5k with my mother and sister.

Back in grammar school, yeah when I weighed in less than 180 pounds, I ran track on the school team. I can actually run pretty well in short bursts still.  I enjoyed running, be it on the track team, for softball or even just playing Manhunt on summer nights.

Oh, and I'm going to share some pics of me through the years.  I wasn't always fat, but man I was ALWAYS built like a brick shit house.

Me and Lynn ages 2 & 4 maybe.  Shocker, look I'm eating a hot dog!

Me and my most favorite Aunt Cookie.  Age about 3.  Oh, look I'm EATING!

Me and Lynn at my cousin Willie's Christening, age 8.  Everyone ignore my freakishly long fingers.  For once, I look to be similar in weight to my sister. And hey, no food!

 And finally, Confirmation with my cousins Barbara and Jeanine.  This is me at around 180 pounds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Forever a Phat Girl

"I am pulling for you to "trap" that phat girl on the inside and let the "skinny bitch" out". - anonymous Face Book friend message

I know that the above comment was made with love and support despite this person disagreeing with my decision to have surgery.  I appreciate it for what it is, it's meant to be supportive and encouraging and I take it as such.  I love this person immensely and I know it’s reciprocated.

I know not everyone will agree with my choice, not everyone will offer support.  You know what, that's fine because I don't need your approval or your acceptance.  The choice is mine and mine alone.   

Sorry if that sounds rude as it's not my intention to be so.  My motivation to have surgery is not rooted in my desire to be a "skinny bitch".  I want to be healthy, I want to live, I want to run and I want to enjoy whatever time on this Earth that is given to me.  

 I don’t have the expectation that I’ll be “skinny”, “thin” or even average weight.  Am I stoked by the idea that I could potentially lose 100% of my excess body weight?  Of course, but more importantly, my diabetes will probably be cured, my aching knees and back will feel so much better.  My overworked heart will pump stronger and more efficiently.  In short, I will have my body back and a relatively healthy one at that.

I will ALWAYS be a “Phat Girl”.   Being a Phat Girl is not the state of your body, it’s in your soul.  Only a true Phat Girl will understand that.

12 days to surgery. Time to get my proverbial shit together and get right.

Monday, February 13, 2012

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Many people have this notion that any type of weight loss surgery is taking the "easy" way out.  There is no such thing.  It's not a cure, it's not forever and it certainly isn't the easy way out.  I encourage you all to do a little reading on what exactly a surgery like Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass entails and the restrictions someone having the procedure faces. I won't bore you with details or graphic descriptions.  I'll say this, life is forever changed.

Of course WLS is an elective surgery, a choice and personally, it wasn't an one that I made lightly and without a lot of research into all 3 main types.  Seven years ago I started looking into it and always found myself at a dead end.  "Am I that fat that I need to do this?", "I can lose this on my own, I just need to try harder".  "WLS is for really, really fat people."

Having spent nearly 25 of my 35 years on a diet, I have lost and regained in excess 125 pounds over the years.  Losing weight has never really been my issue, it's the ability and motivation to keep those pounds off.  Even small losses of 2-3 pounds have always come back bringing along an extra pound or two with them.  I'd go from jubilation to feeling like a failure.  Time and again I failed.  Time and again I'd berate myself, hate myself but some how get myself back on that horse.

Through the years my health and overall well being began to deteriorate... arthritic knees and spine, shortness of breath climbing stairs/walking fast, no longer able to run or jog just because I wanted to. 

Hell, I don't think I could run or jog even if there was some crazed ax murder chasing me.  I'd be the horror movie chick that falls down and gets slaughtered in spectacular fashion. My final straw was having to start injecting medication for my Type II diabetes.  Has my life spiraled that out of control that I could no longer keep up with this life threatening disease?  The answer was simply, "Yes".

To make what is a long and tedious story short... I have not given up, I am not taking the easy way out and this isn't my cure to being fat.  It's the start of a new me, a new way of living and hopefully, a new lease on life. 

I don't want to be that "fat mom" at the park that sits watching while her children play.  I don't want to be the "fat lady" in the grocery store whose cart everyone looks in and passes judgement on her food choices.  In short, I DON'T WANT TO DIE YOUNG!

Oh, and surgery should have been 16 days away is now 44.  Another rant for another day.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lazy summer days

Welcome to my first ever post on my first ever blog, “Swimming for the Lighthouse”. 

Many of you reading this probably recognize the lighthouse in the picture above.  For those that don’t, it’s Stepping Stones Lighthouse in the middle of the Long Island Sound here in the Bronx, NY.  (Technically, the lighthouse belongs to Nassau County, Long Island )  It was built way back in 1875 and is still in use today guiding ships safely through. 

Growing up, the shining green light of Steeping Stones was a constant in my life.  From my parents’ home, and the home of my bestest friend and Phat Girl Melissa, Stepping Stones is always clearly in view.  Through rain, snow, fog, and clear evenings the green light shines.  As a little girl the milky green light on a foggy night always brought to mind haunted houses, witches, deranged madmen and the like.  I’d race through the alleys of Pennyfield Camp, from Melissa or Marlena’s houses, swearing some crazed murder was *right* behind me.  Closer and closer the streetlights on Miles would appear and finally I'm free and ALIVE!

I’ve always been a water baby; my mom always says I swam before I walked.  Melissa and I would spend endless summer days floating around her “backyard” of the LI sound, and out there directly in front of us was Stepping Stones.  Sometimes, Marlena (my other bestest friend and Phat Girl) would join us off her sea wall, two houses down from Melissa.   Randomly, we would decide to “swim to the lighthouse”.  Stepping Stones appears deceivingly close, and so we’d begin.  Stroke by stroke, and laugh by laugh we’d go, stopping so Lass could rub out my toe cramps.  Toe cramps are my genetic destiny apparently, thanks mom for my weird ass toes. 

We’d get out past the buoys, the houses behind us shrinking, shrinking until Melissa’s dad Eddie was a speck on the deck watching us go.  We never once reached that damn light house.  

Surgery is exactly 19 days away…