One snail

One snail

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Wisdom of a Sloth

I was reading a blog post from Athena Banded Warrior (Blustery Sunday), and it got me thinking about sloths.  The animals, that is.  I think sloths get a bad rap.  Sometimes we use the word "sloth" to mean "lazy" or "slovenly."  "Lazy" means disinclined to activity, while "slovenly" means untidy or slipshod.  And yes, we use the word "sloth" for apathy and inactivity.

However, I don't think it's all bad to be like a sloth (the animal).  In my opinion, here is some of the wisdom of sloths:

  1. Sloths are in fact slow-moving.  They are apparently one of the slowest-moving animals in the world. They remind me of snails!  Sometimes we race ahead of ourselves.  Sloths remind us that the best way can be slow and deliberate. 
  2. Sloths live in a beautiful environment. They are found only in the rainforests of South and Central America.  I would love to visit there--barring that, I could do more to make my own space a beautiful environment.
  3. Sloths hang from trees.  Now, I don't want to sleep hanging from a tree for 18 hours at a time like a sloth can, but I remember climbing trees as a kid, and sitting under trees.  I want to take more time to appreciate the wisdom of trees.
  4. Sloths are for the most part vegetarian--they eat leaves, twigs, and fruit.  They eat very slowly.  I am vegetarian (by choice), but need to work on eating more slowly.  Eating like a sloth.
  5. Sloths, despite living in trees, are surprisingly good swimmers.  Wouldn't have thought that was a good combo, but I shouldn't judge a book by its cover (or a sloth by its body shape).  When do I make assumptions about someone because of their body shape?  When do others do the same to me?

I'm sure that is more than you wanted to hear about sloths (although I didn't tell you the female sloths give birth to their babies hanging upside down!), but I think I'm going to keep a picture of a sloth around for a while.  I hope it reminds me to slow down, consider my options, and live more planfully in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

50 - 50 = ?

What would you say if I told you I reached fifty going up, and fifty going down?  No, it's not a math problem, it's what happened to me yesterday!

It was my birthday, and I turned

 ...and I reached 50 pounds lost!

Yes, that's what I said, I am now
and I've lost

It was the strangest thing, but also a sweet way to enter my 50's.  Although I didn't specifically plan to have weight loss surgery before I turned 50, it was a nice goal to shoot for.  It didn't even occur to me that I could lose 50 pounds in that amount of time (since August 28)!

I'm so excited that I'm going to have to put in some more "50s" here, but feel free to scroll down if you want. :-)

Oh, and guess who else turned 50?

I remember Clifford the Big Red Dog from my childhood--he's probably part of why I wanted to be a dog when I grew up!

Enough excitement for today. :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My new friend, the blender

Here is my new buddy, my Vitamix blender.  (By the way, the blender itself is 5+ years old and not as new-looking as the one in the photo.) I am one week out from my surgery, and the first few days home my diet consisted of:  Siggi's yogurt (like Greek, but "Icelandic" style), applesauce, and chocolate pudding (in order to get down my incredibly bitter and horrible crushed medications).  Just barely bites of each, and sips of water between.  And a very small amount of Big Train Fit Frappe protein drink. Yikes!  This part is harder than I thought it would be...I really need to make a chart for water, food, protein shakes, vitamins, and medications.

After a phone consult with my nutritionist yesterday, I got brave enough to try blending up low-fat cottage cheese.  (As a vegetarian, that was one of my primary protein sources pre-surgery.)  She suggested putting some tomato soup in it, but I didn't have any--however I noticed a jar of portobello pasta sauce (low-fat, low-sugar) so put some of that in.  It was actually good!  After blending it, I heated it briefly in the microwave.  I could only eat about 1/8 of a cup, but it was yummy.  Today, I extended my blender experiments by blending up a can of Vegetarian 99% fat-free chili.  I took a careful bite (it was spicier than the cottage cheese mix), but it went down fine.  You have to not look at it too much, but having something hot to eat kinda cancelled that part out. :-)

I'm up to 392 calories and 35 grams of protein today.  Still a ways to go, but significantly better than my first few days back from the hospital.  I'm also down 8 pounds!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I woke up to flags at half-mast...

Things feel kinda surreal to me right now.  I checked in for my surgery here in Seattle at 6 am on Friday December 14. All went well (other than nausea from the anesthesia) and I was in my hospital room by late afternoon.  I looked out my window, and saw the flags at half-mast.  I was on some serious pain medication, so vaguely wondered what had happened--assuming someone might have lost their life in combat--but didn't ask anyone.  I wasn't interested in TV, so didn't hear any news reports.  I didn't have my laptop or iPad with me either, which is how I usually learn national and international news.

The next day, my family was visiting, and my dad said there was some bad news.  I thought he was going to tell me about a problem that had happened with my jeep.  My mom said, "She doesn't need to know about that right now," but I said, "No, tell me."  And he told me about the tragic shooting and death of the school children and teachers in Connecticut.

Although I am not a parent, I worked as a child & family therapist for many years before coming to teach at my community college.  This senseless loss of life, especially such young lives, was overwhelming.

But, despite what happened, my focus remained on healing.  On myself.  On my pain, on getting up to sit in a chair, on walking in the halls, on trying to eat and drink.  Was this wrong?  I don't think so.  But I still feel surreal.

There is no way I can do justice to this horrific event.  I would ask you to read some posts from my fellow bloggers, who describe what I would have said much better than me.  Fit and Free with Emily's post Standing in Light is one I suggest.  Another is Chubby McGee's An Update is in Order, in the highlighted part where she reminds us, "Focus on acceptance, love, and compassion every, single day for the rest of your life."

Thanks for listening.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Home from surgery!

I am home from the University of Washington hospital where I had my gastric bypass.  I stayed 2 nights, then stayed with my parents for a night (no stairs), and am finally back in my own bed with my partner and our dog and cat. :-)

I stayed pretty up-beat the whole time (I think) and wanted to get up and walk even before they let me!  My wonderful partner and my mom & dad visited a lot, and I had text messages from friends and co-workers, so I barely had time to be lonely.

The staff seemed impressed by how much I did for myself right away.  I think I was actually helped by the fact that I've had to accommodate my life for some time to the arthritis in my left hip--I was already used to getting up and down certain ways, and walking even with pain.  And since the worst surgery pain is on the left side, I didn't need much PT or OT to get ready to be functional while healing.

I will say the worst pain was actually the incredible gas pains in my lower abdomen. :-(  That and having to eat very bitter crushed pills (that I've been swallowing for years...who knew they were so yucky!) in something.  I went through yogurt, applesauce, cream of wheat, and finally had a winner with chocolate pudding.

I am not eating much yet, but trying hard on my water, and walking the halls whenever I can.

More later--just wanted everyone to know I am still here! :-)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

surgery is TOMORROW

Well, if I were a race car, I'd be sitting on the track, idling my motor, waiting for the green light to start the race.  I check in at the hospital at 6 am tomorrow, a little more than 12 hours from now.  As I've said, I will be having laparoscopic gastric bypass (RNY).  They plan for me to be in the hospital Friday & Saturday, going home on Sunday if all is well.

I picked my parents up from the airport today (they've been in Arizona, but have their house here in town, where they will stay--so no house guests here) and have done as much prep as I can.  I have had 2 days of showers with the "special soap," which is very weird.  It is clear liquid and doesn't lather, and has an odd odor, but, whatever will help me avoid infection, I'll do it.  I'm finishing up a load of laundry with my comfy sweats that I will wear to the hospital.

By the way, I've lost an even 40 pounds since I started pursuing this surgery on August 28th. :-)

I'll check back when I'm back home!

Monday, December 10, 2012

I won!

I am so excited, because I won a canister of Mocha Fit Frappe in the giveaway from Big Train!  The entry info is on their facebook page here:  Big Train facebook.  I just blogged about the new flavor (Spiced Chai) and am glad to have more choices for my protein drinking pleasure. :-)

On another note, I went out tonight for a planned "last meal."  Just this one--I haven't been doing it all month or anything.  Skip if you don't want to hear it, but I had portobello ravioli in a cream sauce, salad, breadstick, and a decadent chocolate-cheesecake-mousse slice.  I'm not going to look up the calories, but I enjoyed every bite.  These are things I don't expect to have more than a bite of in the future (especially the dessert).  Most other things I like I know I can eventually incorporate small amounts and/or WLS-friendly versions, so that was really all I wanted.

My surgery date is in sight--just 3 days until Friday.  My mind is full of things I need to do to be ready, to be sure my partner and "kids" (pets) have everything they need for a little while, to try to anticipate anything I might need to address at school during the winter break.  I know I'll never think of everything!  However I know everyone will cope without me for a little while (hard to believe, but it's true!).

I feel like I'm counting down to a rocket lift-off!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New Celebrate Vitamins give-a-way!

Just wanted to let you know (if you don't already) that Shelly at The World According to Eggface is having a terrific contest to win a basket of Celebrate vitamins!  Here's my favorite:  Celebrate multi-vitamin Pineapple-strawberry.  If you haven't tried these chewables, meant for us with bariatric surgery, you should.  It has made it so easy for me to get going on a vitamin regime that I can continue post-surgery and for the rest of my life.  Check it out!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ten Things Thursday

Here are my 10 things in no particular order...

1. Monday is payday.  We're going to squeeeeek by.  First on the list: healthy groceries and gas. (The kind that goes in my jeep...not the kind you get from the healthy groceries.)

2. I am sitting here NOT drinking water.  NOT drinking water.  NOT...well you get the idea.  I just finished eating and am practicing not drinking and eating together.  You know the one about the pink elephant in the living room?

3. There are 20 more minutes until I can drink.  That's why I'm writing this blog post.

4. I am on the 3rd week of my 1000 calorie diet pre-surgery.  I'm worried that I'm not losing much weight.  I think I am counting carefully, but maybe not?  I wonder if I should push it down to 900 calories for the last week?  Having my pre-anesthesia visit at the clinic tomorrow and will ask if I am doing something wrong.  Maybe I'm not dropping a ton because I already lost 37 pounds? Sigh.

5. Tomorrow is the last day of the regular quarter before final exams.  In addition to the stress of that, everyone is having end-of-the-term parties, and they drop off all their leftovers in the staff room.  Today:  doughnuts, cake, muffins (frosted), candy bars, soda, pizza, Hershey's kisses with macadamia nuts (from Hawaii), and a pretzel snack mix.

6. I did not eat anything from the staff room.  Only went in there to fill up my water bottle. :-)

7. I am so trying not to get sick!  I need to be healthy for surgery.  Luckily some staff know this, and one of my co-workers stood in the hall outside my office to talk to me because she was sick.  Very sweet!  However, my students don't know and are dragging themselves to class for the last week, some exuding germs wherever they go.  I have some of that alcohol-based hand cleanser in my office.  Not sure if it will help, but I am making good use of it.

8. The Walking Dead is over until February.  Boo!  However, American Horror Story is still on.  VERY creepy episode last night.

9. I want to get a couple strings of lights up on the deck.  However, the weather needs to cooperate--I refuse to put up electric light sets and extension cords when it is pouring down rain.  Silly of me, I know.

10. Last night was monumental in Washington State:  legalization of recreational marijuana, and marriage equality.  It was fun to see the pictures of couples being able to get their marriage licenses now...there were two older women who had been together for 35 years.  :-)

Well, that's it.  I am going off to drink some water now.  Thanks for distracting me!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Big Train Fit Frappe Spiced Chai ...yum!

I had already settled on Big Train's Fit Frappes as my protein drink of choice.  I'm not good about drinking gross's a failing of mine.  I would never be able to consume just veggies squished through a juicer.  Another positive for Big Train is it actually dissolves and doesn't leave any weird bits or strange textures.  I know a lot of people like Click, but somehow I always end up with some slightly chewy bits.

Unfortunately Big Train is expensive.  (I asked for it for Christmas. Hope I don't end up with a train set.)  But it's good.  My favorite to date is Vanilla is Espresso.  They do have plain vanilla and plain chocolate if you don't like coffee.  (Is that possible?  I live in Seattle.)

Just when I was happy, grooving along with my flavors, they put out another one:  Spiced Chai Latte.  Now, I'm not even a huge fan of chai tea, but this stuff is fantastic.  I brought two scoops in a baggie to work, and only ended up using half of it.  When I came back to work today, my whole office smelled deliciously spicy.  Wow!  I might just keep a dish of it around for aromatherapy.

It's quite possible I'm trying to distract myself from my surgery next week.  But if you have a chance try this stuff out.  Or at least sniff the canister. :-)

Oh, here's the link.  Big Train

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Two weeks to go...

In two weeks, I will be in the hospital recovering from gastric bypass.  It's coming too quickly and too slowly simultaneously.  I spent so much energy getting to this place--jumping through insurance hoops, losing the first 17 pounds to qualify, doing my required phone consults with the nutritionist, exercising, exercising, exercising (did I mention exercising?)--that to actually BE in this place is like suddenly putting on the brakes.  Everything seems to have slowed down to molasses.

On the other hand, it is finally hitting me about the ultimate seriousness of this step. I will actually be doing this very soon.  Is it normal to be a little trepidatious at this point?  Instead of using my energy to push for the date, my energy is now racing around in my head.  Then it seems like this is happening fast!  (And it is--I started getting ready for this on August 28, so that makes the process start-to-finish only three and a half months.)

Also I am thinking of more questions than I had before.  Such as, can I drink a protein drink, and drink water?  Makes sense that you could because it's MADE with water, but I am trying hard to practice not drinking water (or anything) with meals.  (WAY harder than I thought, by the way.)  So is a protein drink a meal or a snack?

How about this one:  Can I take my iron pill with a protein drink?  I've been taking it with a protein bar that I don't think will work after surgery (at least for a while), and being vegetarian, I depend on a lot of dairy protein.  I usually take the iron in the morning with breakfast, but obviously can't take it with dairy like yogurt or cottage cheese.  I am writing all these questions down.

Then there's finishing up the quarter at school.  The regular quarter ends next Friday (December 7), and final exams run the following week (ending on December 14).  Grades aren't due until December 18--but obviously I will need to turn them in well before that!  Luckily I only have one regular final to give on December 10 (the rest of my classes this term are online) and a few meetings on December 11.  My usual routine is to tell myself I'll get caught up, and be done with grading early, and then be rushing to submit them on the last day, and that is definitely not going to work.

All this being said, I have a lot of positive energy and plans for the next two weeks.  I am stocking up with broth, protein powder, yogurt, cream of wheat, etc. for the first weeks after surgery.  I am actually keeping up on grading, and when writing my syllabi this fall, set due dates for term papers December 6 & 7 instead of the following week.  (I did this well before I even knew if I could do this--positive thinking!)  I am reading blog posts and re-reading some of the books and materials I have.  I am planning out some of the logistics for the whole hospital thing.  Also I am hanging out with my support people (especially my amazing partner) and my "support pets" (recently had my face thoroughly washed by my dog after I got off the treadmill).

But still...AAAAAAAAH!  :-)