Challenged Not Defeated

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In 2010 pre lap band

I’ve been very open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band over six years ago. With any type of weight loss surgery, there are risks and you cross your fingers that those complications won’t happen to you. Well, I learned a few months ago that I’m one of the 2-9% of patients who suffer from a band slip. This is when the band slips out of place. It can cause all sorts of complications. This slip probably occurred sometime last year and it is most likely that is what triggered my acid reflux (GERD). My symptoms had gotten worse over the past few months and sometimes eating could be really uncomfortable. I put on a few pounds because I couldn’t digest healthy foods like lettuce, lean protein, and etc. There were days where processed foods and high sugar items were all I could tolerate.

When a lap band slips the common course of action is to have another surgery to reposition it. I was hoping to do that as soon as I found out about the slip, but unfortunately,my current insurance has lots of restrictions around bariatric surgery and wouldn’t approve my surgeon because his hospital isn’t what they consider an “Institute of Quality” for this type of surgery.

So the past few months have been spent working with insurance to see who they would approve for this surgery, going through all the pre-op testing, and having to meet with specialists because of other complications. I’ve always been borderline anemic but my iron levels have been so low that I’ve had to have several transfusions.

Monday I finally went for this long postponed surgery. Unfortunately,when I woke up they had more bad news to break to me. It seems my lap band was totally obstructing my stomach and the only safe course of action was to remove it completely.  This has meant a slightly more painful post op experience than the original surgery, due to the incisions.

The real fear for me though is will I be able to maintain my weight loss without a band. My new surgeon said if I gain weight we can look into getting a gastric sleeve, but after this, I really don’t want to go under the knife again.

While curling into the fetal position and feeling sorry for myself seemed like a good idea at first, I knew I couldn’t do that. I would need to be proactive about this from day one. So in addition to following up with my surgeon post op, I’m also meeting with a nutritionist on a regular basis to come up with an eating and fitness plan that is healthy and doable. I’m also in the process of finding a therapist because I found therapy really helpful when I had my first surgery six years ago.

I pride myself on being a self-sufficient single woman but over the years I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Yes, I’m disappointed but in all honesty, I don’t regret my decision to get a lap band. I’m determined to take this challenge head on.

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Post weight loss
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Three Little Things: Part 3

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I’ve talked about getting out of a rut or a funk or whatever you want to call it over the past couple of months. For me, it was three small steps that made a huge difference. The first was to embrace and express gratitude.  The second was to get out of town. This last thing that I’ve done which was by far the most challenging was to show myself a little self-love.  I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women in particular

I don’t like to make generalizations, but I do think that women, in particular, tend to rationalize that self-love is selfish. I know I often make excuses not to do something nice for myself. These range from I don’t have enough time, that costs too much, and when I’m at my lowest I tell myself I don’t deserve something.

Over the past few months, I’ve been experiencing some health issues. I’ve been open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band six years ago. I’ve been experiencing acid reflux over the past year or so which has progressively got worse. My surgeon did some tests and realized that my band slipped. This can happen and can be repaired through surgery. This would be fine except my insurance company is very restrictive of what hospitals they’ll approve for bariatric surgery. Even though I have a top surgeon from one of the best hospitals in the country, I can’t have him perform this repair.

I’ve been going through the process of appointments and tests threw a surgeon and hospital that are approved. It’s a long and tedious process and my symptoms have gotten worse as a result of having to put this off. Most people associate acid reflux with simply being heartburn and it can be that in it’s mildest form. My symptoms are a bit different and include chronic nausea and a sour taste in my mouth and stomach. I have night cough which is an unpleasant condition where lying down causes the acid in your stomach to bubble up and…well to avoid being overly graphic let’s just say I spend a lot of time with my head over the toilet. My symptoms even produce other symptoms. As a result of regurgitating I’m often dehydrated, have insomnia, and in the mornings I frequently have migraines. You don’t need to throw me a pity party, I’m very good at doing that myself. I’m sharing this because this lack of control of my body makes me feel helpless at times and adds to this fear of not deserving good things.

The hardest part is food affects me. Foods that are typically thought of as being good for you can make my symptoms worse and some days overly processed and sugar laced products are my staples because they are they only things I can tolerate. This has resulted in some weight gain, not crazy weight gain but I’m about 10 pounds more than I’m comfortable with. That might night seem like a lot, but as someone who struggles with body image issues, I sometimes look in the mirror and think I weigh 1000 pounds or something.

This experience has been a reminder to love myself no matter what the scale says. I won’t ever be 1000 pounds and hopefully, this surgery gets approved and results in my feeling better and being able to maintain a weight that I feel comfortable with, but I can’t forget me from seven years ago. That morbidly obese girl should have given herself more love and accepted her beauty because while the exterior may be different I’m still her.

I’ve been trying to give myself a bit more TLC. I carve out time to write, I let myself say no way more than I ever have in the past if I truly can’t take something on, and I put don’t let myself leave the house till I feel good about how I look. That varies every day sometimes it’s as simple as throwing on some lip gloss and other days I might need to change my outfit four times, but the point is I always eventually feel like that person in the mirror is lovely and worth being loved by me and others.

How do you so yourself a little extra love when you need it?

This was a hard week…

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This was a hard week for many people. I don’t tend to post about politics or my personal views on certain issues because I hope this site is a space for everyone to feel there is something they can relate to.

No matter what you thought of the election or who you voted for the thing I think that is disturbing to everyone is the increase in reports of racist remarks, bullying, and hate crimes around the country over the past couple days.  I’d like to share what I posted on my personal Facebook account on Wednesday. I keep telling myself this when I feel things are bleak.

“I have refrained from posting this morning because I really didn’t know what to say and was still in shock. Now that I’ve collected my thoughts I need to say this and I’m sorry for the length of this post.

I have a lot of fears and concerns about the outcome last night, but today I need to choose love because I believe that’s what can and well save us. Love is not a feeling…it’s a verb. Verbs are action words and love is an action.

As a woman the past few months have been hard because sexism is more prevalent than I’d like to believe it is in this country and in this century. As a woman I have an obligation to love, support, encourage, and fight for my sisters. There are glass ceilings that still need to be shattered and issues like sexual assault and misogyny that we can’t ignore.

I also realize that I am white, cisgender, straight, and born in this country. I have certain privileges that I know I’m guilty of taking for granted. I owe it to others who don’t benefit from these privileges to join them as an advocate…because BLACK LIVES MATTER, LGBTQI LIVES MATTER! Immigrants built this country and unless you are American Indian your family were immigrants at some point. I also owe it to American Indians to speak louder against the Dakota Pipeline and a multitude of other issues that don’t get as much press.

I grew up in an Interfaith family. Spirituality and religion are something that I continue to explore and struggle with. I’m not a fan of labels but if you really need to give me one I’d say I’m Agnostic with Jewish tendencies and Catholic guilt. Regardless of my personal spiritual beliefs, I was raised to believe that people of all faiths and walks of life should be treated with the same love and respect. I owe it to Muslims to speak out against the prejudice they are currently facing in this country.

As Lin-Manuel Miranda reminded us this June, “Love is love is love is love!” Today I chose love as an action that I need to take.”

Pinspiration: My Love of Pinterest

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Here is another post from the archives.

There are so many social media outlets today that it can be challenging to keep them all straight. While I do use most mainstream platforms I’m grateful that social media wasn’t a part of my life till after college. Although I have to admit there are some perks to being this connected. Facebook allows me to have a relationship with cousins and distant relatives I’ve yet to meet in person, Twitter keeps me up to date on great events and contests I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, and I do enjoy seeing photos others capture on Instagram.  I downloaded Snapchat when it first came out but quickly gave up on that. It was one platform too many for me. 

My favorite platform by far is Pinterest.  It has become as much a part of my weekend routine as coffee and the Sunday New York Times.  Pinterest is where I find inspiration for ensembles I want to add to my wardrobe, recipes I’m dying to try, and DIY projects for a rainy Saturday.

One of the fun things about this blog has been connecting with subscribers via Pinterest. I love seeing what gems others find and it’s interesting to see what pins of mine others are drawn to.  I mentioned that Pinterest is part of my weekend routine.  Throughout the week I “like” pins that seem interesting to me and on the weekend I organize those pins onto my different boards. I create boards for inspiration when I’m planning out parties. 

Are you an avid pinner? Please share the link to your Pinterest profile in the comments so we can all follow.

 

Three Little Things: Part 2

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Last week I mentioned how showing my gratitude to others has impacted me profoundly in recent weeks. The second thing that I recommend if like me you found yourself in a rut is to get out of town.

I love traveling and the past couple of years has been filled with trips that were centered around holidays and life events with various family members. It had been a while since I’d taken a trip purely for pleasure. I was going to take a solo trip to somewhere I had never been and decided to take a long weekend in Montreal. At the last minute I decided to invite my best friend from college and I’m glad I did. We got to reconnect and explore together.

Going someplace new changes your perspective and refreshes your batteries. Whether you go across the world or explore a city two towns over it’s worth making room for a little Wanderlust in your life.

 

Three Little Things: Part 1


So I’d been in a kind of a funk for the past few months. I felt like I was in a good place with my career, but was having a hard time seeing what possibilities lay ahead in the near and distant future. I was also feeling in a bit of a rut when it came to my life outside of work. It was a busy summer of family events so I wasn’t carving out a ton of me time which always throws me off balance. I felt writer’s block and demotivated when it came to this blog and to my freelance work. Healthwise I was feeling a bit lethargic. I found out I need to have surgery (not a big deal) but my insurance company is throwing a lot of hurdles in my way so I’m having to spend a lot more time and money on some preliminary things before I can get it approved. I wasn’t in a great place.

I decided to take a step back and try to focus on me and connecting to the activities and people that I love and find inspiring. I made three little changes and while it’s early it seems to be making a ton of difference. Today I’d like to talk about gratitude which is one of my focuses at the moment.

I just listed off a litany of woes in my life. While I would love to have a little pity party for myself I know that wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t see improvements in my health, writing life, or career. Instead I decided to try to bring back some things I love. I started rereading The Artist’s Way  because I remembered that the chapters were broken into weeks with assignments. Maybe it’s my background in academia, but I am a born student so setting up homework assignments is a great way for me to stay on track with something. One such task in this book is to write down three people who have been your creative champions. These are the people who encourage your passion and make you feel like your art is worth something. Art here is whatever your creative outlet is. For me that’s writing.

I decided to take this exercise a little further and write a thank you note to my three champions. I wrote to a friend I’ve known since college who is among other things a brilliant visual artist. Beyond that, Sarah is also an amazing cheerleader to all of her friends.  She is everyone’s biggest fan and her encouragement is sincere. I also wrote to my former undergraduate Creative Writing professor who is a beautiful poet and my former writing instructor and mentor who is a bestselling author and journalist.

I received a sweet text from my friend Sarah, a postcard from my undergraduate professor, and an email from my mentor inviting me to a reading she was doing later that week. That night was amazing for me.

Sue (my mentor) introduced me to her current students and they were so nice. Instead of a textbook on the art of writing, Sue gives her students a packet with clippings of published work and accepted pitch letters from her former proteges. Her students said they saw me in the packet. I was flattered…I made the book! I also ran into another author whom I had once written a profile about for a local NYC paper. I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. Not only did he remember me, but invited me to an event at the MFA program he is running.

Listening to Sue share her work was inspiring as I always find her work to be. What really got to me though was her responses to some of the Q&As after the reading. She was asked what advice she would give to people struggling to become writers. She said that you should have a job that you love that pays the bills and carve out time you’re not at work to write. This way you’re not dependent on making a living off of your art and you can write what you want.

That’s when it hit me that I’m in a great place. I love my day job and should be focusing my evenings and weekends on the writing projects I want to be working on. I got this much needed boost from writing some thank you notes. Who do you need to write a thank you note to?

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Thank You Fat Pants

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I’ve talked in the past about organizing and redecorating my apartment. I’ve been following the methods of Marie Kondo. She encourages people to get rid of things that don’t really bring you joy even if you think you’re holding onto it for sentimental or practical reasons.

I’ve talked in the past about my struggles with weight and my decision to get lap band surgery six years ago. As I experienced rapid weight loss in the beginning it wouldn’t be unusual for me to take most of my wardrobe to a consignment shop every few months to swap out for smaller clothes. I did hang on to one pair of jeans I owned pre-surgery. This is common practice for people who loose a lot of weight. A couple of years after surgery I could fit into one leg of those pants.

As I was doing my most recent closet purge I decided it was time to part with these jeans. They didn’t serve a purpose in my life anymore. One of Ms. Kondo’s suggestions when it comes to parting with things is to thank them before donating or discarding them. So I sat down on my bedroom floor and said a special thank you to these jeans before donating them to my local Housing Works Thrift Store.

“Thank you for fitting me during a time when I didn’t feel I fit into my own body. Thank you for not judging me as you sat on the shelf for six years unworn as I started wearing smaller pants. Thank you for not thinking of me as weak when I got to a certain weight that I felt was too thin for me and I allowed myself to put back on some weight because I felt healthier, happier, and prettier with a few more pounds than I had at that time. Thank you through seeing me through all of this. I know that body image, weight, and self-esteem are things I’m going to have to struggle and deal with for the rest of my life, but that isn’t your problem anymore. I want you to go out and find someone who you fit and hopefully she will be grateful to you too.”

*Some may be offended that I use the word fat and I get it. I became comfortable using the word when I began reading more about body acceptance. A great book if you want to read more about that topic is Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere.