30 January 2006

Ok, here they are!!

The pictures below and to the right were taken on October 22, 2005 and today. Thank you very much, Jenn, for harping on me, er, I mean asking me, to take and post these pictures! I am _shocked_ at the difference! Yes, I knew I'd lost more weight since the first pictures were taken, but did I think I'd changed _this_ much? No way!! I mean, check out my shoulders and abdomen! Now, the girls _really_ are where they should be! Mind you, I'm still not thrilled with my abdominal area, and while I definitely think my legs look longer (but that's probably just because today's pic has all of my legs in it), I don't think they look that much smaller. But, now I can understand why some people have reacted with incredulousness when I've told them that I want to lose more weight. There's really not much more on my upper body (other than skin!) that I could lose, and unless my lower half were really scrutinized, I can now understand what they've been thinking.

The below pictures (which I can't believe I'm sharing) were taken in October of 2003 and July of 2004. But, they help to show how far I've come, right? The top one was a few hours before my mother-in-law's wedding and the bottom one is of me and my husband with a friend from college. I just can't believe I lived this way for so long. While I do care about what others think of me, I'm ashamed for myself that I lived like this for so long. When I think of the things that I couldn't (or didn't want to) do, it almost makes me cry. I'll never be that way again, though. That I know for sure.

28 January 2006

Shocking reflection

My husband and I went to the winter opening of the art museum on campus last night, and after browsing a few of the new exhibits, we decided to make our way up to the 5th floor where a fantastic view of the city is afforded. Thankfully, most of the activities were going on downstairs, so the 5th floor was rather quiet. We found a couch directly in front of the largest picture window which overlooks the city, the lake and unfortunately Sprawl-Mart and took a seat. It had gotten dark outside, so what we were able to make out was mostly the lights (which is why Sprawl-Mart was so obvious). As we sat there taking in everything, I noticed something I hadn't at first, my reflection in the window. It literally almost knocked me over. I stared at my upper body with awe; I couldn't believe that was me! That skinny person staring back at me is ... me! No, freaking, way!! There's no longer a curve outward from my shoulders; my arms just drop straight down. I honestly think that was the biggest shock for me. I'm really not accurately describing how I felt, though. I'm not sure that I can.

From the museum we went to a restaurant neither of us had ever been to before. There we enjoyed good wine, a fantastic fondue and other things I shouldn't have eaten. None of it was too horrible though, and while I honestly never really had a problem with significant overeating before WLS, what I've found now is I'm able to manage what I eat (in terms of portion) so much more easily now. I know that if I push it, I'll end up feeling horribly, more horribly than I ever did after overeating before WLS. So, I just don't do it.

After dinner, we decided to go to a local cafe for their Friday night Jazz. We both had tea and soaked in the atmosphere. It was a fantastic night! I hope there are many more!

25 January 2006

Getting dressed 101?

I'm having difficulty getting dressed these days. My wardrobe has once again been reduced to small proportions by my weight loss. I guess I am complaining (and can't believe I'm doing it!), but I don't want to buy any more clothes right now! It's just that I can't really afford to go out and buy new stuff all that often, and on top of that, I really want the next pair of pants I buy to be a size 12! I honestly, truly can't remember the last time I wore a size 12 as I don't remember what I wore in high school, and it seems like I've been wearing a size 14 forever. So, that size will be a major milestone for me.

So, when I got to the point of needing to get dressed this morning, I first tried a pair of size 16 pants that I bought a few months ago, and they literally fell off. Then, the 2nd pair, size 14, didn't quite fall off, but I knew that they'd feel like they were all day long. So, I settled on a pair of size 14 cords from LB. I've been avoiding wearing them b/c I think they're too tight (they're a 14 too; what's up with that?!), but given that I'm now down to 5 pairs of pants and 2 pairs of jeans that fit (and 2 pairs of the pants are already dirty), I didn't have much of a choice. My co-worker told me she thought they looked great and didn't look too tight at all, but I didn't turn around to show her my butt. I can't stand the underwear lines!! Oh, and on top of that I'm wearing a size 18/20 top that is way too loose. And, even if I did want to go buy new stuff the Eddie Bauer in my local mall is closing down! So, that leaves me with just Old Navy, and their stuff still seems to fit too strangely over my butt/hips/stomach. Grrrr! I never thought I'd become frustrated with having lost weight! Don't get me wrong; I'm thrilled with having lost all this weight (103lbs as of yesterday!). But, it's just the clothes issue I could live without.

Something else I can live without? The darn mouse that's decided to take up residence in my house! On Tuesday I discovered one of the andirons in the fireplace had been knocked over and wondered what might have caused my dog to do that. Then, last night as I sleepily made my way into the kitchen to get water and my meds, I saw it zip across the kitchen floor. So, Koba must have been chasing it. Dangit! And, me without a man to get rid of it! I don't want to kill it, but I don't want it living in my house either! Does anyone have any suggestions for humane removal that don't involve me touching it?

23 January 2006

A new chapter coming

This week marks another major change for me. I'm taking a Landscape Architecture class this semester, and my first class is on Wednesday. It's difficult for me to believe it's been 9 years since I last took a course as it doesn't seem like that long ago, but when I look at the students, I can really see how darn young they all are! Take for example my trip to the bookstore to pick up the required books for the course. Thankfully, I wasn't completely unfamiliar with the process of finding my books as I attended this university before, but things have certainly changed. What surprised me most, though, was seeing the girls dressed in their PJs and sweats but still managing to look like they hadn't just crawled out of bed ... not to mention how tiny they all were! I can't even imagine what it must be like for any obese women who are doing their best to make it amongst the sorority girls and their self-important attitudes. What I do know is that I wouldn't have had the confidence myself to go back to school (or even take just one class) the way that I was and I couldn't be more excited to get things going!

21 January 2006

Complete misconceptions of WLS

Yesterday, I ran into one of the custodians in one of our buildings that I typically see every day but have never really talked to with the exception of talking about issues with the classrooms. I asked her if she was ready for Monday (the first day of classes), and we talked about that for a little while. As that conversation wrapped up, she said, "you're really looking good, Jenn". I thanked her, and then she said, "I just don't know how you can only eat 3 tablespoons of food a day". What?! First, I'd never told this woman I had WLS. But, I know that people like to talk. So, it obviously means someone that I did tell told someone else who told someone else, etc. But, what really gets me is that this woman had the misconception that I only eat 3 tablespoons of food each day! What other things are people thinking about me and the surgery that are completely incorrect? And, if they think I'm only eating 3 tablespoons of food a day, it leads me to think they can't possibly respect what I have done in order to lose this weight. I haven't told everyone at work who's asked how I lost the weight that I'd had WLS; maybe I would have been better off if I had because at least I would have been disseminating correct information!

19 January 2006

I really can't believe I did it!

I wore a dress shirt that I bought from Eddie Bauer last weekend with a pair of dress pants from Lane Bryant, and while getting dressed, I realized the shirt would absolutely look best tucked into my pants. I hesitated because I always hated tucking things in; I was always so self conscious about it. But, I did it, and it looked good! One of my co-workers said, "you're looking so good, Jenn" when I walked in and took off my coat. So, it gave me a little confidence for the day. Yeah!

Oh, and Jenn, I'm not ignoring your request for before and after pictures. When my husband left so did the digital camera as that was my wedding present to him, and while there are 3 digital cameras at work that I could use, I don't feel comfortable asking someone from work to take pictures of me.

I have another fun memory ...

Although, this one isn't of the evil type just humiliating. Picture this, I'm an eighth-grader in Junior High eating my lunch in the lunchroom with everyone else in the entire school. I sit on the edge of the gym floor that sits a few feet above the lunchroom floor chatting away with my friends while eating. As I'm yacking and not really paying attention to what (or how) I'm eating, I begin to choke on a potato chip that I didn't fully chew. As my face begins to turn red and I signal to my friends that I can't breathe, they run and get the closest adult, our petite, demure Home Economics teacher. She gets me up from where I'm sitting and attempts to perform the Heimlich maneuver on me. Given her petite size, she's not really able to forcefully push up on me, but thankfully, someone else had run to get another adult, Mr. Chetock, our Guidance Counselor. He practically shoves the Home Ec teacher out of the way and promptly pulls me toward him placing me directly at the end of one of the long, picnic-style lunchroom tables filled with on looking students (never mind the rest of the students who are now enthralled with the excitement). What was going through my head while having his fists shoved up underneath my ribcage? Was it thoughts of the possibility of death? No, absolute horror at the thought that the procedure this man was performing on me (to save my life!) might cause me to hurl the lodged potato chip at one of my fellow students or even worse cause me to throw up my entire lunch!

Thankfully, his effort was rewarded with the potato chip making its way smoothly down my throat allowing me to resume breathing. A result which, of course, caused the students to erupt in applause. I was _so_ mortified! But, for the first time in my life, I was the center of attention in school, and it even lasted a few days. I just wish it had been for a different reason! Oh, and did it get me to stop eating potato chips? Of course not!!

18 January 2006

The things people say

I'm sitting in a classroom waiting to see if anyone's going to show up for Audio/Visual training. (We have 10 classrooms each of which have their own cabinet with computer, digital projector, VCR/DVD combo, speakers, etc., and in order to get a key to a cabinet, you must go through training. I've been referred to as the Key Nazi! Nice, huh?!) Thus far, I've been sitting here for an hour with no signs of life. Only 2 more hours to go. :P But, hey, it's given me a chance to catch up on everyone's blogs and post to my own!

Anyway, as I've been sitting here, my mind has wandered back to the times in my childhood/teens when someone made a comment to me about my weight. I was always a little chubby as a kid (I remember having to wear "Husky" size jeans/pants from Sears), but it wasn't until middle school when it really sunk in and became a conscious problem for me. The first incident involves my grandmother (my mom's mom) while my brother and I were on a trip to Gettysburg and Washington DC with my grandparents in their camper. (Somehow, my sister got out of that trip; I was so mad at her!) We were staying the night at a campground somewhere near Gettysburg, and my brother and I had been swimming. When I came back to the camper from the pool in my bathing suit with my towel wrapped around me, my grandmother sat me down and proceeded to tell me I was getting too fat and needed to be more diligent about watching my weight. I was _so_ mortified! I remember doing my best to get out of there as soon as possible and then crying myself to sleep that night. I was about 10, I think, and no where near being obese for my age.

Incident 2 took place in Jr. High. Imagine a line of 7th grade girls and boys all lined up in the gym waiting (or dreading in my case) to get on a scale so as to complete an exercise in health class. When it was my turn, I made my way up to the scale with fear given that the teacher had been making a point to practically shout out everyone else's weight so that another (inept) teacher could write them down. All of my friends were behind me, so I hadn't yet heard their weights when I stepped on the scale. The teacher shouted 108 lbs to the other teacher writing everything down, and I didn't feel too badly. Then, one by one the rest of my friends were weighed, and they were all under 100 lbs. Much of a weight difference, no, but I couldn't believe I weighed _so much_ more than everyone else!

Then came the 3rd incident. I was in High School now, and because of playing tennis, my constant diet efforts and other activities, I thought I looked pretty good and for the most part felt ok about myself. Being the good preacher's daughter that I was, I went to church every Sunday morning and night. There was this one man in the church with a rather subservient (and overweight) wife and domineering MIL. One Sunday when I was sporting my favorite mini skirt and U of Florida sweatshirt, he decided to stop me in the sanctuary to tell me I was getting a little fat and needed to watch my weight. Whhaaaaatt???!!! Who was this man that I barely knew to tell me anything about my weight?! But did that matter? Nope, not at all; the damage was done. And, to this day, I remember it clearly.

Why do I tell you about all these things? Well, they were incidents that have stuck with me most of my life and affected how I have felt about myself. Do I think they had a hand in making me obese, probably not. But, I know I'd think about them when I was feeling particularly badly about myself, and I'm sure they had their unconscious effects too.

Did you have any incidents like these? How did they affect you?

16 January 2006

A Bevy of Compliments

I went to my parents' church yesterday for the first time in over a month. My guess is that most people there don't know I had gastric bypass ... some do but I think most don't. I went by myself which is a little out of the norm, but thankfully, my parents haven't told anyone what's going on with me and my husband. So, I didn't have to face that topic as well.

As everyone was exiting the sanctuary, I was stopped on my way out by a couple whom I've known for years. The husband asked if I'd lost weight. I told him, yes, I'd actually lost 100 lbs as of the day before, so he proceeded to ask how I did it. I didn't outright lie, but I didn't tell him about my surgery either. I'm not ashamed of it anymore (I was both before and early after surgery), but sometimes I just don't feel like explaining everything, you know? As we were talking, a few other people came up and were just hovering around listening in on our conversation. And, then when I finished up with the first couple, they proceeded to tell me how great I looked. And, while I was speaking with them, I noticed 2 other women (one of whom knows about the surgery) talking, looking at me and smiling. As I was making my way out of the church, someone else stopped me to tell me how great I looked. She asked if I wanted to lose much more, and I told her that I did want to lose more. And, she said that I looked like there couldn't be much more for me to lose. A very nice compliment, but if she could only see my lower half! With the exception of my bat wings, I am pleased with my upper body, but ugh, my stomach and legs. Every time I get on the elliptical or do my strength training I try to concentrate on my lower body, but it just doesn't seem to be doing any good. I know I'm losing weight (and gaining more hanging skin), but it just doesn't seem to be proportional. Hopefully, once I reach my goal weight, I'll be a little more even.

14 January 2006

Today Is The Day!!

The scale read 174.0 lbs this morning giving me a total of 100 lbs lost!!!! I honestly can't believe I've lost 100 lbs. My sister weighs about 103 lbs, so I've lost about one of her. I've lost a whole person. Man, is that hard to believe.

My husband came over last night. It was our doggie's 13th birthday, and I volunteered to make dinner. (For us not the doggie; although, believe me, he got so many extra treats yesterday he was farting up a storm all night!) I made roasted new potatoes and fresh green beans, and he got some salmon from Wegmans. For an extra $1 per pound they'll cook it for you, so that's what he had them do. It was all very good! After dinner, we watched the Wedding Crashers and then ended up talking for a while. I found out one thing in particular that really hurt me ... really made me feel betrayed. But, we were able to talk it through (something we were never able to do successfully before), so I feel better about it now. I'm still hurt, but not in the same way. And, I really, really, really wanted him to stay over last night, but I knew he wouldn't. I don't think I came out and asked because I didn't want to hear him say no, but he knew it's what I wanted. We're making progress, though; two weeks ago he wouldn't have even come over.

13 January 2006

99 Pounds Gone!!!

I don't normally weigh myself during the week, but given my closeness to the 100lbs down mark, I did today. I'm almost there!!!! I did the elliptical again last night (even though I really didn't want to), 33 minutes and 303.4 calories, so I figured there was a possibility I'd be at 100 lbs down. Not quite yet. My scale read 175.0. Grrr ... so close!

12 January 2006

It's Amazing How Perception Changes

I've come to realize lately that there are things (like my size 14 winter coat, my size L pajama bottoms and my size 14 pants) I used to look at and think, oh my gosh, they're so small! But, when I've looked at them lately, I've been thinking, man is that so big! I also catch myself thinking that I look bigger in clothes that fit and smaller in things that are way too big (and quite frankly look rather dumpy). Oh, the dementia!

10 January 2006

I Got Knocked Off the Exercise Wagon!

Seriously, I've just been completely unable to motivate myself to exercise since I've come back home. There have been a number of nights where I've been out a little late spending time with my husband and other nights where I've told myself I'm going to do it and then find one excuse or another not to do it. I'm going to do the elliptical tonight, though! Really, I am!! And, I know there are other times when I could exercise, and morning would probably be better in terms of how it would make me feel throughout the day. But, because of my hirsutism, I'm already getting up at 5am each day; I just don't think I can drag my butt out of bed any earlier. I have been eating a lot better than I did while I was at my sister's, so I did manage to lose 2 lbs for the week bringing my total loss to 98lbs! I remember a time when I thought I might reach a 100lb total loss by Thanksgiving. Pooohhshhhaaa! What was I thinking?! So, given my lack of exercise for the week, I was happy with the 2lb loss, and I look forward to reaching the 100lb milestone ... ever closer to my goal. I've just got to keep plugging away!

08 January 2006

A good time was had by all ...

at least I had a good time. I've (happily) managed to see my husband every day over the past 3 days. On Friday, we went out to dinner at my asking. We went to Chilis as I felt it would be noisy enough that we wouldn't feel uncomfortable actually talking but not so noisy that we wouldn't be able to talk. After dinner, we decided to go back to his office to look up online what movies were playing (as neither of us wanted the night to end). We couldn't find anything playing that either of us was really interested in, so we ended up hanging out in his office for a while until we both decided we were too tired and needed to go home. We agreed to get together again on Sunday for coffee/tea.

Then, yesterday, I got an email from him because he'd seen that I had logged into our mail server, and he wanted to tell me that he'd picked up a new cable modem and that I could have the one that we used at our house. (I've been w/out internet access at home since he left; somewhat of a luxury, I know but tough to live w/out when you've had it for so long!) Thankfully, I've convinced work to pay for it, so I'm not adding any other monthly expenses to my list. Anyways, during the 2 hour drive home from where I was when he emailed me, I decided to ask him if he wanted to go to a local sports bar to watch the football game he'd been watching, get dinner and give me an opportunity to pick up the cable modem. He happily agreed, and again, we both had a good time. We talked a lot (with me doing most of the talking) as I'd come to the realization while driving earlier in the day that I'd been living my life as though I wasn't allowed to control it. I just took things as they came and thought that I was a strong person because of it. But, what I've realized is that I wasn't being strong at all; I was just taking the easy way out (for me at least). So, now, what I have to do is take control of my life and do what _I_ want. (Although, I do have a hope that I'll be able to do what I want beside him.)

Today, I decided to ask him if he'd like to go to a local bird conservatory that neither of us had ever been to before. We didn't spend a lot of time there, and it wasn't very conducive to talking. But, I think that the time we spent together was valuable. After doing a little bird watching from inside, reading the few exhibits and watching a short program, we decided to take a short walk on one of the trails. Despite being a little bit of a warmer day, the trails were still snowy with a nice layer of ice underneath. So, there were a number of occasions where he slipped b/c he wasn't wearing the best shoes for the snow/ice. (Usually, I'm the less sure-footed one slipping all over the place.) At some point on the trail, I decided to take his hand (not for extra walking support but so as to be closer to him) but had visions of letting go of it as soon as I felt him falling (if that happened). But, when the time came, instead of letting go, I instinctually held on tighter even though I knew if he fell I would have gone with him. I guess it sort of sums up how I feel about our marriage now; while I've accepted his need to be apart from me for now, I'm just not ready to let go yet. I know we've got it in us to work this out.

05 January 2006

Skin Issues and Other Sundry

Warning: the following paragraph contains detailed descriptions of issues with my skin. If you're squirmish, skip this paragraph.

So, the skin between my upper thighs and behind my knees has changed a lot lately. It's turned a very dark brown (when compared with the color of the rest of my skin) and looks almost like I have a very dark tan. So far, it's not irritating me, but I've also noticed a number of ingrown hairs in the same areas. What's up w/ that? In addition, I've also found that if I sit on the edge of a chair with my thighs parallel to the ground the fat and skin on the back side of my upper thighs seems to really come together and just hang there. Is there anything I can do to help this skin tone up/fat disappear? Or, save surgery, am I going to be stuck with it (in some form) for the rest of my life? I sure hope not!

Ok, yuckie stuff over. In spite of my lack of willpower while at my sister's, I managed to lose 5 lbs over the two weeks. While 5 lbs over 2 weeks isn't that hot, I truly thought I was going to find I'd gained weight, so I was downright pleased! This loss brings my total weight loss to 96 lbs. I honestly can't believe I'm almost at a total of 100 lbs lost. For crying out loud, my sister only weighs a few pounds over 100 lbs!! I mean, when I think about it from that perspective, it's truly unbelievable to me! I'm still struggling with my body dysmorphia issues, but it's becoming easier to accept that I'm not the same person I used to be. And, for that I'm truly grateful.

I'm also incredibly grateful for all of you out there who have been thinking of me, praying for me and sending me your good wishes. It's amazing what a little support can do for a person. I just really wish all of you ... or at least some of you were in closer proximity so that we could truly be friends. Overall, I feel the counseling session Tuesday went well. It took me a little time to come to this conclusion as there were some things said that upset me, but after reflection, I've decided that it is a very positive first step (even if it's only a baby step) toward reconciliation and a much better marriage. One of the most positive outcomes of the session is that we've both agreed to commit to working on our relationship for the next 2 months without giving up on it in that time. I truly feel we're already talking with each other more effectively, and we haven't really been given any direction on how to best improve our communication skills. And, while being apart from him is the last thing I want, I've come to realize that this whole experience has already had at least one very positive outcome. I'm much clearer in my own mind about what I need to do to achieve one major thing that I need for myself, to become a landscape architect. I know that achieving that goal will be one of the best things I can do for myself regardless of what happens with my husband.

01 January 2006

Heading back to reality

I'm flying back home tomorrow ... to an impending snow/rain/sleet storm. So, I may be lucky to get home. I don't look forward to saying goodbye to my nieces and my sister; they've been a fantastic distraction. Speaking of distractions, my sister and I saw Memoirs of a Geisha today. I _loved_ it! It's been a while since I read the book, so I didn't remember everything exactly. But, from what I remembered, it followed the book rather closely. The score, as I expected, was fantastic, and the scenery was incredible. It just solidified my desire to someday visit Japan.

When I last spoke with my husband on Christmas day, he asked if it would be ok if he called me sometime later in the week. Well, he hasn't called. This fact disappoints me greatly. I know I'm going to see him on Tuesday at our counseling session, but I'd hoped to talk with him before it. And, just the fact that he didn't do as he said he would is disheartening. I realize there may be a very good, legitimate reason for him not calling, but right now, I don't understand. It's going to make for a very long trip home; at least I'm in the middle of a very good book.