On being human, “being bad about,” and being a person who can cope without binge eating

So I came home from work feeling just really anxious and wired and down–all at once. My day ended badly and I know part of my anxiety has to do with that–even though I already talked to my principal about it–fronted myself out and apologized. And I know it’s not a huge deal and it’ll be okay. (So, you are wondering what happened, right? Well, I lost my patience, thus proving I’m human…although I have a hard time allowing myself to BE human in circumstances like that.)

And I keep thinking about something a therapist told me a LONG time ago–LONG before I worked with the therapist who helped me get through recovery–this was another guy, and he pointed out that every time I started a sentence, I said, “I’m bad about (x, y, z)… I’m bad about…” and he said I must have been indoctrinated with the message that I’m bad, and I needed to stop saying that about myself. He also pointed out that somewhere, sometime, somebody taught me that if I make a mistake, I have to feel REEEEEAAAAAAALLLLLLY awful about it and not give myself a chance to move on.

And I was remembering that on the way home, and since I got home, and it’s on my mind now, because, as noted, even though the mistake I made isn’t a catastrophe, it’s in my mind and just staying there. Matt, the therapist who helped me get through recovery when I stuck with therapy and walked through Hell, had another approach to this unforgiving, go-nowhere thinking of mine: he’d slap his desk or kick the underside of it to startle me–he called it “mental floss”–to break the pattern of thinking I was “spinning” in. All of this is to say, as much therapy as I had, one would think that I’d be better at letting things slide off my back.

The reason I’m even sharing the above stuff with you is that after I got home and I was able to relax just a little–while still feeling anxious and fearful–I realized that I was being overwhelmed with the kinds of feelings that, when I was in eating disorder relapse, sent me running for sweets and breads–the drugs of choice for me, back in the day. And back-in-the-day was NOT all that long ago. I was in relapse as late as early fall 2017.

I was telling my eldest daughter (who had gastric sleeve done 2 years ago and is like my go-to-person for information and support) about this, and she said, “Feeling all the feelings suuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.”

I agree. It does.

So what am I doing with this? Well, I realized I needed to write it out, which is what I’m doing here. I also realized I hadn’t logged my food & water & exercise on my Baritastic app–I’m usually pretty religious about doing it–I definitely make sure I post it all daily, to be accountable, sure, but also to make sure I’m hitting my protein and water intake requirements. So I did that. After I ate dinner, I got a shower & retired to the bedroom where I could have as much quiet as I want, AND have the added bonus of not having to fight a large dog (or 3) for space on the furniture in the living room. I made my grocery list for after work tomorrow, and I’m about to get back to novel writing.

I think that recognizing the emotions and giving myself permission to be human are positive moves, as well as recognizing that the depressed “wired” feeling was something that, when I was still in relapse, would have been dispatched immediately by eating unhealthy stuff–then feeling like shit about myself for doing that– then feeling bad about THAT. Ya know, the whole “I’m bad about…” stuff. Oh-oh, let’s not forget that even hours later–maybe even the next day?–I would wake with the belief that I reaaaaaaally effed up the day before, and it would also influence how I SEE myself in the mirror.
What is it Jack Nicholson says in As Good as It Gets?

Photo by Marc Sendra martorell on Unsplash

On a positive note, I received a message from a former student who read my book, Courage in Patience, and told me that she felt so much comfort from it because she was sexually abused as a child, and she only recently told another person about it. AND, today I had the opportunity to advocate for one of my students who is pretty emotionally fragile, and I did so in order to protect her. I have to point these things out to myself to remind myself that even if I lose my patience with a kid who is not being careful with his words or actions, I still did something good today. And that would be true even if I had come home and eaten my feelings.
I’m grateful for awareness and the gift of being able to recognize growth and that I don’t have to binge eat in order to cope with my feelings.

 

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The book I co-wrote that nudged me toward exiting relapse AND ch-ch-ch-changes goin’ on here…

How co-writing my latest book, Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, nudged me toward overcoming eating disorder relapse
Every significant change in my life since the early 2000s has been documented in published form through characters: I wrote Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience,  and Truth in Patiencea teen girl’s story of recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse, as I went through the same journey. I was able to be much more understanding and empathetic to the main character, Ashley Nicole Asher, than I was to myself at the time. Stepping outside of myself to see the process through her eyes allowed me to let go of a lot of shame.

After finishing therapy–I lost a great deal of weight while in recovery–I subsequently regained a chunk of that weight because I listened to The Biggest Liar–which is that voice in my head that insists I can eat like other people do, AND that food is the ticket to feeling emotionally better when I experience sadness or anger–so I wrote Big Fat Disaster. It’s the story of a girl who is Odd Girl Out in her family. Mom & sisters are Barbie look-alikes and Colby has her dad’s former UT linebacker body type as well as the Binge Eating Disorder he suffers from. They bond through baking cakes, making icing, and eating a lot, and in large part because of that, when her family splits up, cake icing is her go-to drug. She eats to soothe herself as her life is crumbling around her. I sought to tell what it’s REALLY LIKE to be in that mind-space of feeling electrically charged to numb out with food–it’s an impulse that is hard to describe, but I tried–while at the same time, she runs her hands over her stomach at night and prays that some miracle will occur and she’ll wake up and they’ll be gone. I know very much what that’s like as well. I have an advanced degree is self-loathing.

The spark for that story came from me being in a place of practically “popping” awake one day–as if I’d been in this years-long daze–and having the realization of, “Oh, shit, I’m fat again,” and those self-hating thoughts that I’d suffered with my entire life and done battle with in therapy and seemed to have conquered–were back with the same tsunami-force waves of shame that they’d had back in the dark days before therapy. And I realized that I had to question that–really challenge that–because I AM different than I was before I got well. I am fundamentally DIFFERENT, and I fought like hell to learn to love myself, so WHY IN THE HELL WAS IT OKAY FOR ME TO HATE MYSELF AGAIN, JUST BECAUSE I REGAINED SOME WEIGHT?
And I decided that it WASN’T okay to do that. I sought to explore that by writing Big Fat Disaster (the title is in reference to the main character, Colby, overhearing her mom telling her sister, “Colby’s a big fat disaster, eating everything in sight…”)
Spoiler alert: writing the book did not make me buckle down and deal with my shit. Not really. I was roller-coastery about it until this past fall when, as I wrote in When I Made Up My Mind, on the home page of this site, I found myself waddling through the airport, my hips grinding with every step and the realization that the reason bigger people waddle is from pain. That’s when I settled into my gate area, popped open my laptop, and googled “bariatric surgeons” associated with the hospital where my daughter is a nurse.
I’ve never looked back.

But before that momentous day last fall, I co-wrote a book for victims of PTSD (and the people who love them and those in the mental health professions), called Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt.
My co-author is Matt E. Jaremko, and he is also the person who led me through recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse and my eating disorder, as well as a litany of other issues.  The impact he had on my life is immeasurable. He taught me that behavior comes before feelings, and that I need to question my thinking, i.e. separate facts from crap. The thing is, I had allowed myself to become complacent. I was at the mercy of The Biggest Liar.

Many years after I completed therapy, Matt and I decided to write a book that would give insight into the recovery process from the therapist’s point of view through the character of Dr. Matt, who is also in my Patience books and Big Fat Disaster, and through the patients’ points of view, through the members of a therapy group who are all scarred by PTSD and seeking to rebuild their lives. Ashley from The Patience Books (AKA my alter-ego) is in the book, too, aged up to 19 and about to go off to college.

Colby from Big Fat Disaster is not in the book, but an adult named Felicia is, and it was in writing her story that I felt myself moving toward once again taking on The Biggest Liar instead of allowing it to keep running my life. The most consistent trait throughout my battle with an eating disorder is that how I feel about myself–and how I look to myself (I have body dysmorphia, too: it’s just another of my charming features) from my first thought as I rose out of bed in the morning–is how I ate the day before influences what The Biggest Liar says to me.  (Note: lest you think I hear this as an actual voice: NO I DO NOT. “The Biggest Liar” is a metaphor for eating-disordered-thinking. Glad we got that out of the way.)
So: will they be self-hating thoughts or will I kinda like myself today? This past October, when I seriously pursued eating disorder recovery from my long-ass relapse, I automatically had those thoughts and I had to remind myself that I didn’t binge the day before, so can it, TBL. 
I am grateful to tell you that when I speak of this morning ritual of will-she-or-won’t-she-hate-herself-this-morning that it is mostly “in remission” at this point.

I’m telling you all this because I am committed to be honest, and, given what I’ve always heard from other people in reaction to the books I write, I am NOT alone in this kind of disordered thinking. And even though I wrote a book (Big Fat Disaster) intended to pull myself out of that shit, and in many ways I did, some stuff is/was just so fucking automatic that it takes/took daily challenging it to make it stop. And, changing the behavior (by not bingeing) that kept triggering the shameful thoughts was part of the way The Biggest Liar calmed the eff down and was less of my morning greeting. True story, though, y’all: I dreamed, and STILL dream sometimes, of eating massive quantities of sweets, and I wake up with those self-hating bullshit thoughts again, and I have to, once again, question my thinking and challenge its veracity.

Anyway, in Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, Felicia is 34 years old, and she experienced sexual trauma throughout her formative years. She began eating to soothe herself and became trapped in that cycle. When she begins to address the trauma she suffered, she decides she wants to also address the binge-shame-binge-shame cycle she’s stuck in. I know so well what it’s like to be stuck in that place that, even though I felt self-conscious sometimes about pulling back the curtain on an actual binge cycle, I committed to doing it so that others can know they are not alone, AND that there is HOPE. When Matt and I wrote the therapy sessions between Felicia and Dr. Matt, I was influenced by the therapy Felicia was getting, and it nudged me toward the same book Dr. Matt recommends to Felicia, Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating by Leora Fulvio.

Writing Felicia’s responses to Dr. Matt’s gentle guidance–her shame that if she told him everything, he would judge her; her absolute fear that this person she had come to trust with her secrets of being sexually abused would find what she was telling him about the way she eats in secret to be a bridge too far, and her fear that he’d stop being a reliable person for her; her doubt, her fear that this would be just another diet, and diets make her binge (like they make me binge), and so on–made me think about the fact that I KNOW there is power in changing my behavior–I’d done it before–I knew I could get to the place again where behavior, not feelings, were running the show. Did you notice how many times “fear” is mentioned in my description of Felicia’s feelings? Fear is a mind-fuck, y’all. It just is.

Even though not everyone who has PTSD has an eating disorder like Felicia has (and not everyone with an eating disorder has PTSD), when I wrote the Prologue for Trauma Recovery: Sessions With Dr. Matt, I was thinking both of how I felt before my first appointment with real-life-Matt, and it is how I think Felicia would have felt, too. If you want to read it, check it out here.  You can find out more about the book here: check out the drop-down menu under “About This Book.”

I always learn so much when I write the truth through characters. And, as I always tell people when they ask where I get my ideas, “If I ever get totally healthy, I won’t have anything to write about…” (ha ha attempt at humor ha ha.)

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Tomorrow, my surgery is a month old. In keeping with my approach to talking about this stuff, I’m not going to discuss specific weight or “poundage”–because, in keeping with the way it’s always been since infinity, the struggles I’ve had throughout my life with “The Biggest Liar” are not about the number on the scale. It’s about behavior. And this new phase of my journey is no different. For example, some new behaviors are:

Learning a different way of taking daily medications, being mindful of taking calcium/vitamin D supplements 3 times a day and multi-vitamins 2 times a day. I have to take the calcium and multivitamins (which include iron) at least 2 hours apart so that they are absorbed correctly. And, the multivitamins have to be taken with food. I also take a B12 supplement daily that melts on my tongue. It’s hardest to take all the meds I have to take in the morning, including this one medication I have to mix into 1/4 cup of applesauce. I’ve learned the order to take the meds and how to best get them down so I am not nauseated and/or get really, really hot. When I first started taking them, I had to get up super early for work so that I could lay back down for a while because I felt so yicky. But I was just taking them in the wrong order; too much was hitting my empty stomach. I also changed one of my anti-depressants (Welbutrin) from taking extended release to a non-extended release form, and when I stopped taking the ext-release, the nausea & getting hot subsided a lot. I knew I was supposed to change from Ext-Release, but my prescribing doctor told me I could try them to see if they are a problem, since that type of medication is supposed to dissolve in the small intestine, not the stomach.

Another change in behavior is paying attention to making sure I take in at least 64 ounces of liquid each day, and I’m not drinking with meals or 30 minutes before/after meals. Confession: I’m better at not-drinking-after-meals than not drinking before.

I quit caffeine and Diet Coke right before Christmas, so I’m not missing that, but avoiding caffeine like picking up an iced tea when I’m out is a new thing. I just take a Yeti with Crystal Light in it everywhere I go, and I drink it throughout the day at work.

I’ve finally gotten better at eating–and I know that sounds weird, given that The Biggest Liar is a huge fan of out-of-control eating (LOL), but (on the recommendation of my daughter, a successful gastric sleeve patient), I bought some baby spoons for eating, and that helped me take smaller bites. I’m also learning to recognize when my body is telling me to wait before taking another bite–the discomfort when I eat too fast is sooooo unpleasant. Envisioning the food going down helps, too. I can feel now as the food proceeds into the sleeve.

I measure out everything I eat to make sure I’m able to track it efficiently, as well as be able to make sure my eyes are not bigger than my stomach. That was an issue at first; I thought I could make the same size protein shakes I was making before surgery, but I can’t.

I use this app called Baritastic to track everything, including exercise. I can download reports for when I go to the doctor or I’m just curious as to how I’m doing. It breaks down by meal and by day the nutrition I’m getting.

It took me about three weeks to get “regular” about exercise again–and I’ll admit, it’s a challenge right now. I tire easily and it’s very challenging to go as fast as I did before, even though I’m doing the same workout I have for a long time: 45 minutes on my recumbent bike, with varying resistances set by a program. I’m supposed to go at least 11 mph nearly all the time, and most of the time I’m pushing to get to 10 mph. When resistance goes up to 13–the highest this program goes–it’s hard for me to get past 9 mph. My daughter reminds me that I had major abdominal surgery and general anesthesia, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s because my average daily calorie intake at this point is about 800 calories a day. The program I went through does not set a daily calorie goal; they just emphasize 60-80 grams of protein a day (at least) and 64 oz of fluid a day. I’m still in the soft food stage: my stomach is still healing. From what I read on various forums and from doing a little research, it’s normal to not be able to consume much at this point.

I consciously am not putting “progress” pictures on here. There is a pic of me at my heaviest (this go-round, that is), on the “When I Made Up My Mind” page, but you won’t find images of me in a leotard taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror. I’m just not doing it. Not criticizing people who do, but I’m not one to do that. I kind of think it’s from having my body scrutinized and stared at so much when I was growing up. I have no interest in making my body’s appearance the focus of this website. Besides, I’m actually a pretty shy person, but nobody believes me when I say that. My focus is more on getting really healthy and achieving simple things, like hopefully getting to a point my hips no longer grind when I walk or hurt when I sleep on my side. Daily exercise really helps loosen ’em up-that’s for sure.

Oh, hey, one more thing–and this is exciting! I’ve lost enough weight that I no longer have sleep apnea! I put my CPAP machine in the closet today. I’ve stopped snoring and I also don’t stop breathing in my sleep anymore. Whoohoo! Very happy about this sign of progress and getting healthy.

And one no-so-great-thing…but I’m not freaking out, because I know it’s normal and expected and it’ll stop–but my hair is falling out faster than normal. It’s apparently from the shock to the system including hormones and calorie reduction and the surgery and anesthesia, etc. But, seriously, y’all: my bathroom counter looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family shook his head like a model doing a photo shoot. My hair is a few inches below my shoulders. My hairstylist told me I wouldn’t need to get it cut short when this inevitable falling-out happens: it’ll come back. It just may take 6 months. This hair loss thing usually starts at the 3-4 month mark post-surgery, but it can also start at the 1 month mark. At least my hair’s not coming out in chunks or anything…

That’s the latest & greatest, y’all. I began writing these posts just for myself, but I know people are reading this: I can see traffic on this site through my analytics program. So, welcome. I hope that, if you’re on the same journey I am, you have awesome support and people who have your back. I read stories on some Facebook groups I’m in where people are going through this change without the support of their family and friends, and I feel both sorry for them and angry on their behalf. I’m blessed beyond measure to have a rock-solid support system. They were with me on my journey through recovery from CSA, and they, in addition to my friends, are with me now.
You are welcome here.

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What a difference a week makes!!!

This is a celebratory post. I am celebrating blessings and putting some major gratitude into the Universe:

I am home. A week ago today at about this time, I was laying in a hospital bed with my left arm atop a pillow being worked on by a nurse to find a deep vein because my first 2 I.V.s failed. My daughter was on my right, and I was focused on not looking anywhere to the left because just the idea of all that deep needle stuff was more than I could handle. My husband was in the corner of the room, playing (I’m guessing Solitaire or Flow), because he is awesome and kept me company all day. Most of all, I wanted to go HOME. I had to prove I could drink enough fluid and keep it down.

Here, a week later, I’m doing great at getting enough fluid and I’m super-close to getting enough protein grams every day.

A week ago, walking the hall to the nurse’s station and trying super-hard to make two loops around it was exhausting. Today, I rode my recumbent bike for 30 minutes, and I’m not completely wiped out. I’ve been able to do housework and some shopping and driving since Wednesday when I had my post-op checkup, where I was deemed to be doing well.

I feel so much better. All my surgical glue has fallen off–I have 4 incisions–3 on my abdomen & 1 in my belly button–so those itch a lot less now.

I’m over my bladder infection, YAY, and I’ve made myself rest a lot this week, too, so I feel good about being able to go back to school on Monday.

I’m dropping weight but I’m not obsessing over it. My abdomen is still pretty puffy and swollen, but I can tell I’m losing weight from the top down.

I’ve managed to take all my vitamins the past couple of days. Still working on getting all the calcium in, but I think I will be able to do it today. My doctor started me on a medication that prevents the formation of gallstones, since that’s a common thing that happens when rapid weight loss occurs. It has something to do with dissolving cholesterol in the bile ducts. I’m also taking a medication that prevents the formation of ulcers. Both of these are meds I’ll take for a limited time.

So, overall, much improvement since last week. I’m amazed at how the human body bounces back.

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Soooo much better now. So. Much.

Just dropping in to update: I am doing so much better. The nausea is mostly gone and I am able to take in more liquid at one time than before. I’m still tired physically, even though my mind is telling me to get stuff done, i.e. light housecleaning, laundry, bedding…gardening…BUT I’M NOT DOING IT.  I’ve worked up to walking 2-3 times up and down my driveway at a time and I am taking naps a couple times a day. I’m about to head to lay down for a nap after I write this.

I didn’t note in my last post something really good: I never experienced much pain as far as the surgery itself. Even the gas pains are not awful. Unrelated to the surgery,
I did end up FOR SURE having a UTI, and taking a chopped up antibiotic pill is not the twice a day highlight of my life, but I’m so blessed that there is an antibiotic I can take that doesn’t make me sick or try to kill me by making my throat swell shut. It doesn’t even make me feel queasy. I’m so lucky to have a primary care doc who was willing to call me back on a Sunday & knows me & my allergies well. It’s really hard for me to trust doctors who don’t know me or take me seriously when I tell them how much stuff I’m allergic to. (Thanks, Dr. Mahmoud…)

By the end of the weekend, I’d like to try on some of my clothes to see if I can start boxing any stuff up that’s too big. I’ve lost about 8 pounds in the last several days. From the start of my journey in October 2017, I have now lost around 25 pounds…I think.

I have purposely never posted my exact weight on this site, because this whole thing is not about the weight. It is, as far as, carrying less excess weight will make me healthier, but it isn’t, as far as, it is not about a specific number and reaching a certain number or size is not my measure of success. I can see nothing positive coming from putting a bunch of before & after pics or numbers out into the universe. The scale made me crazy for so many years; it influenced how I felt about myself as a person, and it is not a healthy thing for me to get hung up on.

For now, the hardest thing for me is making myself be mindful of not overdoing/lifting heavy stuff and damaging my healing body.
So, I’m feeling a lot more sunshiney than I did last time I wrote. The hospitalization was yicky for the most part but it’s over and I’m home and able to function just fine. Knowing that I am NOT going to have another surgery in a few months OR in the foreseeable future is SO FREEING.

I go to the dr for my follow up tomorrow. I am pretty sure I will be driving myself, which is allowed as long as I’m not on narcotics.

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These be days of dreaming of eating, feeling “Meh,” and ironclad will. Other than that, things are great.

Eating my dreams. Or my dreams are eating. Whatever.
So, last night, I dreamed about eating. I don’t know what I ate in my dream & it doesn’t really matter because it involved chewing.
The other day, my daughter (and source of hope and inspiration that having sleeve surgery is going to help the pain in my hips and feet) asked me, “Do you miss chewing yet?” That was, mmmm, 5 days in to the liquid pre-op diet, and I said, “Not really.”

The arrival of the Meh.
The arrival of the weekend (READ: lack of structure, which is always a dangerous place for me to be when it comes to food and not feeling 100%) and “keto flu” (A.K.A. the “carb flu”) I now have a different answer to her question: “HELL, YES, I MISS CHEWING.”  Here’s a note on the purpose of the pre-op liquid diet, which is supposedly the worst of the entire experience–and that includes having 85% of one’s stomach removed. I just had a thought: I forgot I can have thinned out Cream of Wheat! And it made me go, “YESSSSS!”
Whoa.
Cream. Of. Wheat. Makes. Me. Happy…And that’s knowing that I have hated that stuff since I was a child.

Aside from dizziness, fatigue, headache, and dry mouth, I would add the side effect of, “I don’t give a shit.” As in, unlike my usual energetic drive to complete all the items on my “to-do” list, I have to give myself a real pep talk to, um, “Give a shit.” I did a lot of my weekend chores in the evening this past week (it helped break my pattern of coming home and dealing with food, since I’m on protein shakes, broth, and yogurt…) which helped a lot since the changes my body is going through really hit me hard this weekend, but I would be mostly content to sit in a chair and do nothing but watch TV the rest of today. I’ve even watched 2 movies this weekend–from start to finish–which is unheard of for me, because I have a hard time sitting still that long, and I will probably watch another. My washing machine just did its little “bleep dee dee doo” song it does to tell me the load is ready for the dryer. Even though I was dumb enough to start another load knowing I don’t want to fold it, I did, so now I get to have an internal conflict about dealing with it.
This is real, by the way. Check out these physical manifestations, from this website:

  • Sugar cravings
  • Dizziness
  • Brain fog
  • Irritability
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Cramping
  • Confusion
  • Muscle soreness
  • Difficulty falling asleep

I will tell you now that I have no problem falling asleep… anyway. I’m not bitching here, in case you are one of the people who read my posts and want to deem me a whiner for getting to this point and complaining. I’m just telling ya what’s up–this blog is about the journey from “When I Made Up My Mind”–that fateful day last October when I realized I was waddling through the airport because my hips hurt so badly from carrying so much extra weight–to this point: it’s March 4, and my surgery is March 8, which is also my 52nd birthday.

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I keep forgetting tomorrow…
Tomorrow, March 5, I am leaving work mid-day, going to the bank to get a money order to pay the surgeon the ungodly amount of money that my (sucky) teaching job insurance, Aetna, requires that I pay IN ADDITION TO my deductible. I wrote about that in the blog where I referred to myself as an ass for not either realizing it or knowing it. Finding out nearly a month ago that I had to come up with the money has aged me significantly. Anyway, I’m leaving work early, going to the bank to get the money order (the surgeon’s requirement as opposed to a check, and who can blame her?), then heading to the hospital to pay the surgeon & report to Outpatient Services for bloodwork, an EKG, and a chest xray. Then there’s other errands I have to run, too, related to making my & Daniel’s lives as easy as possible the next two weeks so that I am not having to ask him to run here & there. Lucky for me, I’ve been through my mind melting before–for a totally different reason, not because my body chemistry is freaking out–so I have lots of coping mechanisms for it. My biggest is LIST making, and I’m talking item by item, in the order I need to do it. And printing stuff out like the Outpatient Services info page in the event I have a brain fart when I reach the hospital…

Plans for THE DAY, “The Day,” of course, being Thursday, March 8…
Originally, my arrival time was defined as 5:15 A.M., but it’s been shifted to 7:15 A.M. I think Daniel is going to go with me rather than me staying over at my daughter’s the night before. Staying at home will help decrease my stress, I think. My surgery time is 10:15 A.M.

Nerves
I’m getting a little nervous.

Plain Post
I would love to add pics and videos and other pretties to this post; however, and say it with me, people: “I don’t give a shit.”

Oh, yeah: the Ironclad Will part.
It’s the ONLY thing I’ve got going for me at this point.

 

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Happy (Early) Birthday to Me: I’ve Been Approved for Surgery.

Seems like only yesterday that I wrote “When I Made Up My Mind.” :
October 18, 2017: “The moment I made [the decision to have sleeve surgery,] which I’ve been mulling for a long time, was when my hips hurt so badly just walking through the airport that I am limping. And limping. And limping. They hurt when I walk down the hall at school, and they hurt when I lay in bed at night, and I’m tired of my hips hurting, and I know why they hurt, and I need to do something to take care of myself so I can live the life I want to live. I am inspired by the success my eldest daughter has had with gastric sleeve surgery: her transformation and improvement in her health is nothing short of miraculous…this decisive moment also has to do with months of my husband shoving me awake—multiple times—when I stop breathing in my sleep. The sleep apnea that I had years ago—then no longer had, once I lost weight—until I hit some sort of weight threshold—is back.
I want to do something for myself to radically support my determination to break this cycle.”


So, here we are, after roughly 4 months and many doctor appointments and hard work on getting a handle on my eating disorder, I have been approved! March 5, I have my presurgical labwork, and March 8, my 52nd birthday, I have to be at the hospital no later than 5:15 A.M. I am going to spend the night at my daughter’s house in Dallas, the night before.
I’m still processing the instructions for the coming days as far as liquid diet starting, getting stuff together for the liquid diet then soft diet after the surgery, and I wanted–no, I needed–to write this update here.
I’ll write more later…
But first, this:

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Seasons. Hope.

Tomorrow is my 4th (& last required) nutritionist appointment/weigh in, and the appointment with the doctor for me to give consent for surgery.

Seems like just last week I was writing “When I Made Up My Mind,” about the decision to pursue gastric sleeve surgery and to document the journey here as a way of having accountability since I experienced an eating disorder relapse and lied to myself about it not having gotten as bad as it had. I never went full-in the way I used to eat prior to treatment starting 2004–and I’m talkin’ eating a whole package 9 big iced sugar cookies on my way home from work then stashing the package in the trash outside my house—or eating a whole loaf of French bread while making dinner–or a plethora of other eating behaviors I won’t go into here not because I’m ashamed but because I don’t think it’s necessary to recount all my indiscretions here. I mean…I pulled decorator bags of icing out of my kitchen trash at one time, buuuuuuuuut…

With very few slips, I’m firmly on the right path again. It’s not possible to be perfect, because it’s not possible. I have this sign on my fridge that says “Losing Weight is Mental, Not Physical…” and that’s true. But what’s even more true is, “Managing an Eating Disorder is Mental, Not Physical,” and like my former therapist used to say, “It’s not about the weight. It’s about the behavior.”

The hardest thing for me in terms of managing my disordered behaviors is finding ways to cope that do not involve self-destructive choices. In addition to an eating disorder, I have an impulse disorder–but it’s really, really, REALLY improved compared to where it was when I first entered therapy. I’m trying to think of the last time I went off and did something stupid because I was upset, unless the few slips I’ve had are counted in there.

I’m like everybody else with addiction issues–and food is my drug of choice: unpleasant feelings are a trigger to “use”–to numb out and get the pain to stop. In my last blog post, I wrote about how I didn’t handle my feelings well when I was  hurt because a person I’m close to was verbally unkind, and I felt helpless in the face of it. But “eating over it” didn’t do a thing to make the pain stop–it never does–it just made me feel anxious and upset with myself about that, and honestly, really stupid for listening to The Biggest Liar, my eating disorder, which “tells me” that food is the fix. So in the past week when I encountered disappointments at work that were angering and disappointing, I made a point to stay mindful about how I was going to handle those feelings without food. And today, when I learned that one of my students passed away, once I was on my way home, trying to process the news and thinking about what I would do when I got home–I wanted to search for some poems the student had shared with me so his parents could have them, as I envisioned what I’d do when I get home, I experienced a nudge in my thinking–The Biggest Liar again–but I didn’t entertain it beyond noticing it: “Oh, yes: there’s that automatic thinking again. Bye, now.”

I came home from work and sat in a chair and allowed the sadness to wash over me. I love my students. Every year, it’s like a parent appreciating her children for how amazing and smart and funny they are–I spend more concentrated time with my students throughout a week than their parents may even get to–so it’s devastating to have one of “my kids”–my students–pass away. It’s the peril of working in a profession where relationships are so important: my heart gets broken in some way on a yearly basis, although, thank God, student deaths are a rare thing.

Mostly, I’ve learned to wait, and I count these past months in that waiting. I’ve worked at re-learning eating disorder management, emphasizing “protein and produce” in my food choices, and I’ve begun taking my bariatric vitamins so that I’m in the habit.

Which brings me to a really exciting development: since I began taking the B12 supplement, my migraines, which are triggered, among other things, by exertion, have all but disappeared. I’m on the lowest dose of Gabapentin that I’ve been on since I began taking it: 300 mg, 3 times a day, and I’m going to continue to wean off of it until I’m hopefully completely free of it. I am hopeful that the Botox shots I get every 12 weeks, coupled with the B12, will keep me migraine free. I’ve even been able to work out in 45 minute periods without triggering a migraine. THIS. IS. HUGE.

2018 has so far included a breast cancer scare, the flu and strep, followed immediately by the cold I have right now (I work in what is essentially a petri dish of cooties: a school), Ye Annual Heartbreak from Kids Being Kids, and now the loss of a student. But it’s also included NOT having breast cancer, receiving quick treatment for the flu and strep, the promise of a new start every day, and the ability to be a reliable part of their routine for my students, most of whom have likely never dealt with the loss of a young person. I wish I was going to be there for them tomorrow.

I’m hopeful that the clearance with the nutritionist and surgeon will go smoothly. If it doesn’t–and I think all patients in my position experience the “what if?”–what if the insurance won’t cover it even though I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do? What if the surgeon is concerned about something? What if they can’t or won’t do it over Spring Break?

If that happens, I will do what I always do.
I will Steady On.

 

 

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Still moving forward~AND~no news to anyone: barium milkshakes are gross.

Wednesday, I felt myself catching the strep & flu my husband has had, and I had just put in a request for a sub for Thursday, returned to my classroom, and my phone rang. My bariatric surgeon’s office was calling to tell me that they still didn’t have my GI results. I thought that the endoscopy was the same as the GI (hint: it’s NOT, which is probably news to no one but me), and they said I needed it done STAT. Turned out STAT mean Thursday at 10 AM, so I dragged my ailing self down to the hospital.
When the registration person came to get me she said, “How are you?”
I blinked a couple of times–my vision was blurred and I felt unsteady on my feet–I was already taking Tamiflu and an antibiotic by then–and mumbled, “Okay.”
She looked at me dubiously and said, “Your face doesn’t look like you’re okay.”
I said, “I’m…hungry, and…I have a headache…”
At which point she told me about her migraines, and, honey, I can relate.

So, I had an upper GI series as required by my surgeon. This involved standing in front of an xray machine while drinking (gulping) a thick warm barium milkshake. Then they tilted the table back and filmed the path of the barium through my innards…I was so glad it was over quick. My favorite part was the advice given to me by the tech, in a deeeeeep East Texas twang, whereby she advised me that if I did not want that stuff to “set up like concrete,” drink lots of water.

Then I came home from swallowing liquid chalk sludge and sat very still in my chair all day as I tried to predict whether the feeling of being on the verge of throwing up was going to move from thought to solid evidence of nausea. Since I’m otherwise sick, I’m not even sure the nausea was totally the barium.

So now all I have left is the 2/6 nutritionist appointment, and I will have completed ALL THE REQUIREMENTS I had to have done.

I’ve done okay, eating-wise, the past few weeks. I have not been as “perfect” as I was up until then. The cancer scare I had undid me a little, but thankfully, the habits I’ve worked to develop the past few months are stronger now than the Binge Eating Disorder I had fallen back into. In other words, NOT pigging out feels more natural than pigging out. NOT to say I don’t have thoughts about digging into the ice cream, but I tell myself that it’s mental hunger not physical hunger, and I make something like what I’ve got on the table next to me now: hot herbal tea. I’m still not working out daily, BUT, I will say that the past couple of times I worked out, I did NOT get a migraine, and I’m pretty excited about that. Go, Botox!

Oh, and I’m now taking Bariatric vitamins, to get in the habit of taking various vitamins throughout the day each day.

I’ll update again soon! My goal remains to have the surgery on my 52nd birthday, March 8th. Dunno if it’s possible with the dr’s schedule, but I have my fingers crossed…

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Quick Post! Things are going great!

I had my pre-op bloodwork done today. 12 vials, y’all. T-W-E-L-V-E. And, not to brag, but I bled like a champ!

Saw the nutritionist for my 3rd appt. Still working on the 30/30 rule (nothing to drink 30 minutes before & 30 minutes after eating), but I’m going to start my vitamin regimen soon. I have been off Diet Coke since Dec. 23rd! I have one more appt. on 2/6, then I’ll meet with the surgeon the same day to get cleared & start the insurance approval process.

AND, I was able to get the Botox treatment for my migraines today, after all. Yay!

 

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