Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Living A Bad Dream

Ever since my mum got sick I really haven't had much to say on this blog. Well actually I have plenty to say, but I just can't handle how sad and depressing my own thoughts are right now. I am trying to think of the best way to describe how I am feeling, but every time I let myself think about it my eyes well up with tears and I am at work so I better keep a lid on things!

I do want to give an update on how things are for those of you who have been so kind as to enquire. My mum finished up her chemo and radiotherapy in the middle of August. Unfortunately she was too sick to complete the full course they had planned, she did the absolute best she could, but her body was too weak.

Over the past few months she has gained some strength back and is able to do a few things around the house and even occasionally accompany me to the supermarket or the gift shop she likes to look in. Unfortunately she is in a lot of pain and has breathing difficulties so even her best days are not exactly great. I am very grateful that we have had these last few months though because she was so sick after her treatment that we didn't think she would make it.

The doctors have not given us any hope that she could beat the cancer, but of course I keep hoping for a miracle. We have no indication of how long she has left but I hope she will be one of those people who can brag one day that "doctors told me I was going to die 6 years ago and now I am healthier than ever".

Dealing with my mum's illness and mortality has been such a devastating experience. It feels like I have been hit by a grenade and the world is just going on as usual all around me and no one understands what is happening.

It just feels surreal that everyone else's lives are going on as normal. It feels even more surreal when my own life goes on as normal and I am sitting at work doing boring paperwork or going to the races all the while the worst thing ever is happening and I can't stop it. It's like being in a living nightmare.

I really want to say more but just letting the thoughts enter my head is a bit much right now.

 
 

***
ps Writing this made me almost cry a lot and every time I was about to lose it I looked at this because it makes me laugh a lot!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Race Day Dress


We had planned to head to the races again this year because we had soooo much fun last year, but due to a rather massive weight gain I ended up dreading it because I had no idea what to wear. None of my clothes in my wardrobe fit me. So I ordered a dress online from ezibuy exactly to my measurements but it ended up being too big around my bottom half and I had to return it. I knew a shopping trip would be a torturous and unsuccessful venture due to my wonky body shape right now. So I just tried to ignore the whole thing... good plan!
 
Then while reading blogs I saw a cute dress on a plus size Australian fashion blogger's post on race day fashion. Perfect! I strode into City Chic, tried the dress on and took it home. I didn't look at anything else because I was in no shopping mood. It stung a little that I was back shopping in the plus size shops. It stung even more that the dress was $179.95. Oh well, suck it up, we all have much bigger problems than the size tag on our clothes!
 
Then, the day before the races, I was in Target looking at bras and I saw a cute dress that proposed to sculpt your shape. I had major doubts that a white skin tight dress could work for me, but I tried it on and it really did work miracles. Even better, it was only $39 (obviously I will return the other dress). Jackpot!
 
It was such a relief to find something flattering and comfortable to wear. I was able to relax and just enjoy myself and I had a fantastic day. Now, if only all my clothes came with in-built body sculpt material I could have my cake and eat it too! 
 
Me and AJ before we left home

Our group in front of the track


Me and the girls (my two sister-in-laws and my high school best friend)

 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Body Lift Surgery- 1 Year Anniversary

The massive lead up to Spring Racing Carnival here in Melbourne has done nothing but remind me of the 1 year anniversary of my body lift surgery which I had on Melbourne Cup Day last year. I have had a lot of mixed emotions about this anniversary, both how I was feeling a year ago and how I feel now. I really wish it was easier to push aside these thoughts, but when I live a 15 minute walk from the racecourse there is no chance of forgetting my surgery anniversary!

First and foremost, I have to say that my body lift surgery was a 100% positive experience and it is honestly the best thing I have ever done for myself. I have written in great detail about my experience here, so if you are looking to learn more about body lift surgery hopefully I have answered all your questions (if not, feel free to ask). This time last year I was just so excited and hopeful for my life post-surgery and it is hard to reconcile those happy memories with how I feel now-- not just about my body, but my entire life.

The reason I am struggling with my feelings about the 1 year anniversary of my surgery is because I am disappointed in how much weight I have gained. I wanted this surgery so badly and I really did not think I would gain 20-25 kilos (44-55 lbs) in the year after surgery. Sigh. Everyone has been very generous and cut me some slack due to the horrible situation with my mum's illness and the stress surrounding it, but I am still massively disappointed in myself.

The weight I have re-gained has distributed itself all over my body, except for on my stomach, which remains quite flat. The bulk of the weight has gone onto my back and chest, with my thighs and arms also getting their fair share. I have never gained weight in these places before so at first it didn't bother me, it was actually a bit of a novelty, but 20 kilos later it is not so funny!

It has been a whole new experience getting used to being fat in totally different areas. I am not enjoying the cellulite on my thighs and I am quite self conscious of my rather large chest. There is just no hiding my size 20 E boobs! I feel like a complete stranger in my skin because nothing is the same anymore.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that I still feel quite numb around my scar. I can tell if something is touching me, but I can't really feel it properly. This doesn't bother me at all, but it does feel a little strange. I also feel a weird mix of numbness and dull pain on my hips/upper (outside) thighs when I am exercising. Once again, this doesn't bother me, but if I was a runner it would make life difficult because just running for the tram occasionally is painful enough.

I have tried to be as honest and open about this body lift process as possible, so that means some photos at 1 year out from surgery.

This photo shows the overhang I still have under my boobs that my surgeon wants to do another surgery to remove.

A close up of my scar on my hip, which I think has healed awesomely.

The back view of my scar and bum crack!

It gets worse, sorry for TMI... here is the front view!

I have finally managed to get myself back in the right head space to work on losing the weight again. I realise it took me about 6-12 months to gain the weight, so I have to accept it will take the same time to lose the weight again. As much as I would love to wake up and weigh around 75 kilos (165 lbs) tomorrow... no amount of wishing is going to help, just hard work.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Nothing Compares

One of the biggest barriers I had to face while trying to lose weight was comparing myself to others. I was constantly left feeling confused, frustrated or like a failure because I compared myself with other weight loss bloggers. There was always someone who seemed to have a better method of losing weight or was able to do it much faster than me. Of course I get a great deal of inspiration from other bloggers, so it not all bad, but I just couldn't help listening to the devil on my shoulder telling me that I just didn't measure up.

Now the tables have turned and I find myself constantly comparing myself with 'skinnier me'. I have gained at least 20 kilos (44 lbs) this year and I can't stop comparing the way I feel now, with how I felt when I was thinner.

It has been over 3 years since I weighed over 90 kilos (198 lbs) and so it has been a huge shock to the system. I honestly forgot how much harder life is for me when I am bigger. I find everyday tasks more difficult, I don't like to take up room on public transport, getting up the stairs at home is harder, my thighs chaff, my feet and back hurt and I just feel like an obese person again.

Obviously one of the main ways I feel inadequate to my former self is in my appearance. I hate to be shallow, but well, I am going to be! I have not received a single compliment since I gained weight. Now don't get me wrong, I don't need compliments to feel good about myself, but they are an indication of what others are thinking of your appearance. In fact the closest I came to a compliment was when a friend said 'you have a pretty face' to me the other day. We all know what a slap in the face that statement is to a fat girl.

I found the first photo of myself taken in January and the second photo taken in July (I actually got bigger than this). How on earth did I let myself gain so much weight in such a short period of time? I can't even imagine what sort of denial I must have been in to gain 20 kilos and pretend it wasn't happening.

January 2013
July 2013
The silver lining is that I now look back on the girl in the first photo and think she looks great and that was an awesome weight to be. Of course at the time I still thought I needed to lose a heap more weight and could not be happy with myself. So this weight gain has bought with it a new perspective that I obviously needed and I really hope I remember this if (and when) I get back to being the girl in the first picture.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meet My Elliptical

True to form, I have come up with my latest 'get fit' plan and, as usual, it involves spending way too much money. I have purchased (well AJ did) a fancy new elliptical machine for my apartment.

This is not the first time I have tried to buy an elliptical for the home, the last time I bought a cheap model online and it was such a piece of crap that I could never actually use it and I got rid of it in hard rubbish collection two months later. So this time I knew I had to go to the shop and actually try before I buy. AJ and I went to a couple of different fitness shops and both fell in love with this one. We had set a budget before we went shopping and this was twice our budget... but we couldn't go back after we tried this one. We are such suckers!

This is my lovely new torturer:

 
It was delivered last Friday and it took AJ about 3 hours to put together, but he had a ball doing it, he loves doing things that involve tools! We put it in the spare room, which is now 'the gym' and have it all pimped out with our weights, fitball, yoga mat, TV, music and even a water filter. I did have photos, but blogger is being a shit and just refusing to upload photos right now.
 
I was away all weekend looking after my mum so I didn't get to have my first session with the elliptical until Monday night. I got myself dressed for a big work out, put on my music, got on the elliptical and started going for it... and then 3 minutes later I was done. Holy crap I was absolutely stuffed!
 
I am just shocked and appalled by how unfit I am right now. I managed to get back on after I had a break and do another 3 minutes, but it almost killed me. So much for striding away on the elliptical while I watch an episode of Mad Men... I'll be lucky if I can make it through an ad break!
 
This is the most unfit I can remember being since I was at my largest weight. I really feel like I am back at square one again. It is quite discouraging, but I figure I can either sook about it and eventually weigh 130 kilos again or work hard and eventually weigh 75 kilos again. Obviously I am aiming for the 75 kilo option! 
 
So I will keep exercising in my little 3 minute (and even 2 minute) increments until my fitness builds. I certainly won't be smashing out any 500 calorie workout sessions, but I am doing this for fitness and toning, not for weight loss. I find it best to separate exercise and weight loss in my head because otherwise I play mind games with myself like:
  • Lazy brain: This work out will burn 300 calories, so I could just skip lunch and then also skip the workout and it evens out
  • Obsessive brain: This workout is only going to burn 300 calories, I need to do it twice a day, 7 days a week to achieve anything
Instead I am trying to find the balance and work out for reasons other than to lose weight. Don't get me wrong, I REALLY want to lose weight, but I will do that (hopefully) with the food choices I make.
 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Working the Lap Band

I went back to my doctor to get another fill in my lap band on Monday. I have decided that I am really going to try and work this lap band... before it inevitably needs to be removed!

Fill details
Pre fill level: 6.1 mls
Fill given: 0.3 mls
Current fill level: 6.4 mls
Band capacity:10 mls

I was reading the Australian lap band forum recently, Banding Together, and got inspiration from everyone talking about how little they can eat and how long they stay full. I realised I have never really pushed myself to get the lap band full enough to have that satiety. I was always too scared of the limitations it would put on me socially and also fearing embarrassing stuck moments at work. So maybe if I keep getting fill put in my lap band I will get to that sweet spot that lap banders always talk about.

There is just no point having a lap band if I am never going to feel full so I just have to accept that eating out is going to be difficult and embarrassing situations may happen. Even when I have my lap band quite empty I still have trouble eating out because I get nervous and the band closes up.

I know there are plenty of people out there who have the lap band and have been able to reach the 'green zone' where they can eat healthy foods and feel satisfied and rarely get stuck. Those of us that have not ever reached that point end up feeling like a failure. I have had the lap band for 4 and half years and during thate time I have fallen into one of two categories:

1. The band does not have enough fill in it to help me feel full. I can eat chicken, salad, red meat, rice and bread and McDonalds...
 
2. The band is too tight and the only foods that will go down comfortably are chips and ice cream and there is no chance of eating a normal healthy meal

Apparently there is a magic third category:
 
3. The band has the right amount of fill so that I can eat half a cup of normal food and feel satisfied for at least 3-4 hours

I am determined to try and get myself into this elusive category!

This is now the most fill I have ever had in my lap band. Right now the band still feels very tight and eating is quite difficult, but I find that fills can take a couple of weeks to settle into place, so I will wait and see how it goes. I am mourning food a little bit, thinking of all the restaurants I want to eat at and all the fun summer time adventures that are sucky with the band. I guess I just need to learn how to have fun without it revolving around food. Ha ha!!!



Thursday, October 03, 2013

Very Sticky Situation

I have had a lap band for about 4 and a half years now and yet I can still surprise myself by how poorly I can manage it. After getting a fill last week it has been a bit tighter than I am used to, but I haven’t had any issues yet… that is until yesterday when I managed to have the grossest moment I have ever had with the band. I don’t blame you if you want to stop reading now.

I have read on a few blogs that people keep little bags with them in the car in case they have a bad ‘stuck’ moment while driving. I didn’t think this applied to me because I am an anxious driver and don’t normally eat and drive anyway. I really should have been more prepared!!!

Yesterday afternoon I was leaving my mum’s to drive the 90 minutes back to Melbourne to go home. I decided to eat a slice of cheese to tide me over because I hadn’t eaten all day. I could feel that it was sitting a little funny, but it felt like it was going to slide down ok so I got in the car and took off. As I was driving it got worse and worse and then it started hurting more than I have ever experienced with the band.

I was growing increasingly panicked because I just didn’t know what to do. I was driving in extremely strong winds (Melbourne and Geelong readers will know what I am talking about!) and it was pouring rain so I was already total white knuckled on the steering wheel and freaking out about the driving conditions. I knew I needed to pull over, but I just didn’t feel confident in pulling off the freeway and then trying to get back on in heavy traffic with poor visibility. So I just kept driving and hoping that the cheese would go down the band.

I was out of luck. Over the course of the next  45 minutes I PB’ed* on myself in the car 5 times. People that have a lap band will understand just how revolting that is. My only saving grace was that the day before I had accidentally smashed a glass jar of salad dressing all over the floor and while I was cleaning it up I used all of the paper towel. So when I had gone to the supermarket for my mum I picked up more paper towel to take home with me and it was in the backseat of my car. Thank the lord!

It was one of the worst (in terms of volume and pain) PB experiences I have ever had. I know you probably don’t want to hear about it, but it was so outrageously bad that I just have to talk about it. After I got home I had to clean the car and then strip off and have a shower… I was a slimy mess. I will never get into the driver’s seat again if anything is even remotely sitting in my band!


* PB: Productive Burp- When something you eat can't go down the lap band and it comes back up (with slime and foam). It’s gross.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Lap Band Fill Time

I am still trying to lose weight after my massive gain this year. I can't say that I am having much success... but I am trying! I know that I will never give up so I have full some confidence I will get back to where I feel comfortable. The problem is that I am not feeling very patient at the moment. I want to go to sleep and wake up 20 kilos lighter in the morning. I feel too overwhelmed by life right now to worry about what I eat... but it is now or never. I certainly don't want to step on the scales in 6 months time and have gained another 20 kilos!

One of the main reasons I am struggling right now is because of the back pain I am having. When you gain 20 kilos in a few months and most of it goes on your chest and back, you are lumped with quite severe back pain. Ah, I am so frustrated at myself for getting into this position. There are only so many neurofens I can take every day... ultimately the only thing that is going to help is losing some weight.

So last week I made an appointment to see a lap band doctor at a local clinic (not my surgeon's office because they are too hard to get to during business hours). The doctor was lovely and didn't make me feel like shit, so that was nice. He gave me 0.3 mls, which takes me to 6.1 mls in my 10 ml band-- which is the most I have ever had in my lap band (I think).

Prior to getting this fill I was able to eat anything and everything. I could eat a whole pizza, a Big Mac, a Whopper burger... and not feel satisfied at all! I had been reluctant to get a fill though because I struggled to ever get food down when I eat out. Then I realised that I have got stuck on food almost every single time I have eaten out in the past 12 months... so why bother worrying about that anyway. I just have to accept that I can't eat out for now. Losing weight is more important than my social life (which is pretty non-existent right now anyway).

I really hope this latest fill in my lap band helps me get some of this weight gain off. So far I have found that I am pretty tight, but it still takes a lot of food for me to feel satisfied. So I guess I need to keep trying and see if I can get my lap band to a place where it can give me a bit of a helping hand help when I need it most.

While I am talking lap bands, I found out today that a good friend of mine's lap band has eroded. I find it scary how many people I know who have had their lap bands flip, erode, or leak. Aside from the difficulties in using the band correctly, the complications with the band mean that if I was choosing weight loss surgery today, I would not choose the lap band. I guess I should try and get mine to work while it still can!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sticky Situation 3

One of the worst things about having a lap band is that fact that food (and even drinks sometimes) can get stuck. Once the food is stuck in the band and won't go down, it only has one way to get out-- it needs to come back up. Depending on how tight your lap band is, this can happen daily... or not at all. My band is not very tight and pretty much the only time this happens to me is when I am out because I get anxious and the band tightens up and food just will not go down. 

So I am normally very careful when I eat in public, but occasionally I am not careful enough and mistakes happen. I recently made one of those mistakes... with very embarrassing consequences.

I went to the footy on Sunday because AJ is a massive Tigers supporter and we were excited to see them play in their first final in 12 years. So were the other 95,000 other people at the stadium. The game didn't start until 3.20 pm and I hadn't had a chance to eat anything all day because I had rushed from my mum's house back to Melbourne and then caught a train to the MCG in time for the game. I was starving and there were not a lot of band-friendly food choices to make.

I am obviously an idiot and I decided to get myself a meat pie and a cider because it's the footy and that is what you do! Then disaster struck and I felt the pie get stuck in my band. I let it sit for a while and hoped it would go down. Then I stood up at the back of the seats bay for a while trying to jiggle it down. Then I took a tinsy tiny sip of cider because sometimes that can lubricate it down the band. Nope, nothing would work.

Next thing I get a familiar feeling that means that food is coming out of the band RIGHT NOW. I raced to the toilets and was faced with a large queue (did I mention there were 95,000 people there?). It was too late... it already came up. I didn't even have time to get to the sinks or the bin and so I vomited in my own mouth. Everyone in the queue saw me do it and they all collectively jumped away from me. I just stood there, completely panic stricken for what felt like 5 minutes, but was probably 5 seconds. Then a lovely girl grabbed me and pushed me to the front and shoved me in the next available cubical.

I tried to stay in the cubical for as long as possible so that by the time I came out no one from the queue would still be in there. Of course I timed it perfectly so that the lovely girl who helped me was standing at the sinks when I came out. I thanked her, she told me I toilet paper stuck to my shoe, and I just wanted the world to swallow me up.


After that incident... and the performance by the Tigers, I was in need of many more ciders to ease the pain. Luckily I managed to find the vomiting incident more and more funny by the end of the night... but not any less disgusting!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Sugar Detox

This week I have tentatively moved back to my apartment and gone back to work full time because my mum has got some strength back now that she has finished chemo. Unfortunately her health could go downhill any day so I am trying to make the most of her good days and get some work done and enjoy being home. The routine of normal life will be a huge help in regaining my health and fitness. I am just a mess when I am out of routine. Who knew that grocery shopping, cooking meals, going to work and being at home could feel so amazing!

It seems that the rude shock I got from the scales last week has given me the push I needed to try and get my health back on track. I am no longer in denial that my weight 'isn't that bad' and ready to do the work to lose the weight. I am really trying not to be too hard on myself for the massive gain over the past 6 months year... but that is much easier said than done!

While I was looking after my mum for the past few months I managed to get myself seriously addicted to sugar again. My mum had no appetite at all during chemo so I had the house full of high calorie treats to try and entice her to eat something... instead she lost 20 kilos and I gained 20 kilos!Almost ever single evening I would binge eat on sugars because I felt like I deserved it or even needed it because I was so stressed out or had a bad day or I was lonely or whatever excuse I came up with that day.

I knew I needed to have a bit of a sugar detox so I have completely eliminated sugar from my diet so my body can stop the intense cravings. My body is in serious hurt from this withdrawal and just wants to sleep and my legs feel like concrete. Does this exhaustion wear off eventually? I feel like a zombie right now... a very bitchy zombie who wants to eat chocolate!

I can't type anymore... too tired from lack of suagr...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Owning Up

Yesterday I decided that it was time I faced up to the scales and the damage I have done to my body over the past few months. I am not a big fan of the scales and I would prefer to live without them, but I realised that I was actually just hiding from them right now. I needed to see the number so I could do something about it before I weighed 130 kilos again.

It was worse than I could even imagine... I have gained about 20 kilos this year.

94.5 kilos (208 lbs).*

I actually don't have the words to say much more about that. All I can say is that I am ashamed and devastated that I let this happen after losing the weight and having body lift surgery.

The only other thing I have to say about this is that I will lose this weight, starting this minute, today.

Here are some photos I just took in case anyone is interested in seeing how weight gain after a body lift looks. You can see that most of the weight is on my thighs, arms, back and chest... I still have a nice flat tummy... for whatever it's worth.



 
* Edited to say 208 lbs, not 298 lbs... that for alerting me to my typo!!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Get Fit Attempt #1079

I have been a bit of a misery guts lately, luckily my latest get fit attempt has given me a good laugh.

A bit over a month ago I saw a flyer posted advertising a cheap 6 week membership for C*rves gym in the little town I am currently living in while I look after my mum. I have never had a desire to join C*rves, but I thought it might be a good way for me to get some exercise in while I am here. I normally find that when I am exercising it helps keep me positive and have a better focus on eating healthy.

So I made an appointment to go in for a consultation to get started. From the second I walked inside the 'gym' I felt like I had been transported back in time. I almost turned around and walked out the door when I saw the equipment. It was so old that I wasn't even sure it was safe. Generally I find that one of the only fun things about the gym is the cool space age equipment. So that was strike one.

I met the extremely enthusiastic and sweet owner who was going to get me started. I let her know that I had a long and troubled history with dieting and exercise and I didn't want to diet or be weighed. I could see she was immediately thrown when I said I didn't want to be weighed because I don't think she knew where else to focus our consultation. I also said I wasn't there to focus on losing weight and I just wanted to exercise for health and fitness. Unfortunately the consultant seemed to have a set spiel and didn't seem to be able deviate from her script.

So I sat through all her helpful tips on walking 10,000 steps per day, drinking 8 glasses of water, eating less than 1200 calories and keeping a food diary. Then she made me choose a size I would like to be and measured me to tell me how many centimetres I needed to lose to achieve this size. Of course she also tried to sell me their diet plan that would really help me lose weight. I am not sure what part of 'I am not here to lose weight' that she did not understand. Strike two.

So I got past all of that and just wanted to get on with working out. For those that don't know, the concept is that you work out at a high intensity for 30 seconds at each station and the workout is complete in 30 minutes. I actually don't mind the idea of this because it takes away the pressure to do a crazy long workout. Also, I hate exercise, so getting it done in half an hour is awesome for me.

The workout space is very small and cosy and the staff like to get right up in your business to encourage you while you are working out. They are asking you if you have had your 8 glasses of water today, standing beside you at every machine encouraging you to 'push out' and the final straw for me was when they introduced me to the other girls so we could chat while we worked out. This whole scenario is my worst nightmare. I can't handle anything more than a smile and a 'hello' as I am walking in the door of a gym. Call me unsocial, but I do not want people hovering over me while I workout and I especially don't want to chit chat with strangers. Strike three.

I lasted 4 sessions before I just couldn't bring myself to go back. So it's back to the drawing board...

Monday, August 05, 2013

One Step Forward...

Warning:



It's been a month exactly since I last wrote on this blog. Right now I can't say that anything much to do with weight loss has been going on in my life. My whole life has pretty much revolved around taking care of my mum while she battles lung cancer. It has been a lot more difficult than we anticipated because when she started chemo and radiotherapy a few weeks back it pretty much almost killed her. Less than a week after she started she had a heart attack and also got an infection and stopped breathing because the treatment was just too much for her. Luckily the ambulance arrived in time to get her breathing and she has been released from hospital and is doing a bit better now. There is not much more to say about that right now except that it is heartbreaking to watch a loved one be so sick, scared and in pain.

Everyday is scheduled with chemo, radiotherapy, blood tests,  psychologists, cardiology etc etc etc... this carer stuff is literally a full time job. Then I am still also working my full time job at night after mum goes to bed. I am working from home and basically just trying to keep my head above water so I don't get fired. I feel massively guilty all the time because I really don't think I am doing anything terribly well right now.

I made a very big mistake about 6 weeks ago when I decided I should go off my anti-anxiety pills (cymbalta). I have had a very tough time with them since I started them about 12 months ago, but it just never seemed like the right time to go off them. I was either busy at work, or had surgery or Christmas or holidays or a lot happening... there was always an excuse. Then when I found out about my mum's illness and that I had to look after her I knew I had to get off the pills so I could focus.

The side effects I had from the cymbalta meant that I could barely look after myself, let alone another person. I had terrible night terrors and sweats every night that haunted me through out the day. I had such bad insomnia that I literally fell asleep at work every single day for the last 12 months. I am not joking at all. Anyone who knows me in real life has had me fall asleep on them at some point over the last 12 months.

Me asleep at work, as taken by a colleague

It is awful to feel so out of control, but also so scared to stop taking the medication because they had given me peace of mind from my anxiety. For once in my life I didn't feel like the world was going to end, that everyone I love was going to die in a car accident, that my flat was going to burn down, that I was going to be fired because I am bad at my job, that everyone hated me and wished I was dead, that I was a horrible person and made people miserable. It was a hard choice to make, but I needed control of my life back, even if that meant going back to living with so much fear and anxiety.

It turns out that getting off the tablets was even worse than I had read about. I went through a horrible withdrawal and I am only now starting to feel like my old self. There is no doubt that getting off those tablets was harder than having weight loss surgery and a body life surgery combined. Firstly, the physical side effects: brain zaps, light/noise/pain sensitivity and the fact that withdrawal is mostly likely the cause of my falling down the stairs and spraining my ankle and getting the flu. I was also slammed with emotional side effects that really knocked my socks off. I became paranoid, angry, impatient, angry, mean... and even more angry.

I am normally a ridiculously patient and calm person. I can honestly say I have never raised my voice at anyone. I am definitely not a saint, but being angry and impatient are not in the (very long) list of flaws that I have. Unfortunately over the last month I have behaved extremely badly and I have felt powerless to stop myself...

I punched a traffic light when I missed my tram, I picked up my lovely laptop and smashed it on the table when it wouldn't connect to the internet, I gave a kid the evil eye twice for kicking the back of my seat, I snapped at the lady serving me in Myer, I hung up on a Citibank call centre person on two separate occasions, I made a rude gesture at someone who pushed in front of me on the train. Plus I have been generally short-tempered, mean, snippy and awful to be around.

I think I am 75% better now, all the physical side effects stopped after about 3 weeks, but some of the emotional side effects are lingering. This may be because my body has to learn to cope and be happy without the help of anti-anxiety/depression tablets. It might also be because I am under a lot of stress while I am caring for my mum, missing home and trying to keep up with work.

I am really glad I am off the medication now. I just wish I had done it 6 months ago when it became clear that they were not good for me. I am sleeping through the night without nightmares, the revolting sweats have stopped and the fogginess is gone. I love feeling back in control of my mind again and like I can get through the day without letting anyone down. I am more than a little ashamed that I have been so focussed on myself at a time when all my focus should be on helping my mum.

Things can only get better from here.
xxoo


Friday, July 05, 2013

Take Me Back

I am pretty sure I have not been whingey and depressing enough lately, so I thought I better check in to let you all know that the day after I fell down my stairs and painfully tore ligaments in my ankle, I came down with bronchitis and the flu. This will happen when you brag to your friends and colleagues that you haven't had so much as a cold in over 3 years. I deserved that.

So I am supposed to be working hard before I take 6 weeks off work to look after my mum, but instead I have been confined to bed all week because every single inch of my body hurts. Even my hair hurts... who knew that was possible. Also my communication has to be done via a whiteboard because I can't get enough oxygen in my lungs to speak. Which is lucky for anyone around me because my extreme grumpiness is less likely to transmit via whiteboard.

I used to be jealous of my colleagues who would take a week off work every year for the flu... turns out it isn't as much fun as I imagined. There is no laying on the couch watching movies in my flannelette pyjamas and eating a box of chocolates... instead I am just sitting here trying to breath and dripping in sweat from a fever while I try and swallow tablets almost as big as my finger. I normally gag on anything bigger than a tic tac....


On the bright side, there may be some much needed weight loss side effects, seeing as I have barely eaten all week. Unfortunately the 4 litres of juice I am drinking each day probably has about 17,000 calories in it. Oh well, let's face it, I have never been one of those people who lose weight when they are sick. I must be the only person who gained 5 kilos the week I had all 4 wisdom teeth out. I have a strong commitment to ice cream!

So right now, all I want in the entire world is to be drinking cocktails from buckets and shotting alcohol that burns as it goes down my chest on a hot night in crazy Bangkok. Transport me now please? I definitely have to start planning another holiday soon!











Monday, July 01, 2013

Be Kind Rewind

Last week I was waiting for a tram after work and holding onto my phone in my hand, not doing anything with it, just holding it so I would hear it if it rang (because I obviously seem to believe I am super important and can't miss a single call). It suddenly dawned on me how amazing it was that with the push of a button I could hear my mum's voice on the end of the phone line within seconds. I then realised that it may not be long before I won't be able to do that ever again. I won't ever be able to pick up the phone and hear my mum's voice and it was a realisation that left me breathless with sadness.

I am trying so hard to appreciate every moment I have left with my mum. I know that I am very lucky to get the chance to do this because so many people have their loved ones torn away suddenly. I am trying to be present and take everything in, but I have to say that sometimes it is just so emotionally overwhelming to have to think this way. I wish I could just have one day where I could relax and be happy with my mum without having to constantly play "this could be the last time ......" in my head over and over again.

What is even worse than that is when I start to think about all the things that we will never do together again. My mum is not well enough to do a lot of things anymore and so I know it means we won't ever go shopping together again or decide to try the latest fad diet and then laugh at how awful it was. She won't be able to whip me up a dress on her sewing machine or spend hours making a special recipe she thought I would enjoy.

Don't get me started on the things that we never got to do together because that is more than I can bear to think about.

I just want to rewind time, or at least pause, I don't want to go forward anymore.




Friday, June 28, 2013

Road Ahead

It has been a crazy month for me, ever since mum was diagnosed with lung cancer on 31st May it has been non-stop doctors appointments. I've had to take a fair bit of time off work to take mum to her appointments and help out at home. So then the days I am at work it has been long hours trying to catch up on all the work I have neglected.

I am actually doing really well with everything. After the initial shock wore off I have just kept myself busy getting the house set up for mum, doing the garden and sorting out things like mum's will and power of attorney. Plus we have only been in the new house for 2 months so there has been a lot to set up and get organised with internet, pay TV, fencing, lighting... and about a billion other small things.

We found out yesterday that mum is going to start 6 weeks of radiotherapy in 2 weeks. They hope that the radiotherapy will shrink some of the tumors on her lungs and make it easier for her to breath and talk. They are concerned that she may not be strong enough to get through the treatment, but it is worth the risk. Mum is only 51 years old, but she has lost a lot of weight and has been very fatigued over the past couple of months. She has been through a lot in her life, so I feel like she has a good chance of making it through.

I'll be staying with mum for the duration of the treatment and taking her to the radiotherapy appointments. The treatment only goes for about 30 minutes every day so I will try and work from home as much as I can in between looking after mum. Thank goodness for working for flexible and kind hearted bosses!!!

I am so lucky that I have had so much support during this time. The doctors and nurses have been beyond amazing, everyone at work has been generous with their support and with picking up my slack, not to mention my lovely friends (including online friends, most whom I have never met) who are just so sweet and have reached out to let me know that I am not alone.

Oh, one little problem... I stupidly fell down the stairs in my apartment yesterday morning and tore some ligaments in my ankle. I managed to crawl to the car and drive the 90 minutes to my mum's house so I could take her to her appointment (thankfully it is my left ankle and I can still drive) and then it was straight to the ER for me to get X-rayed. I am still in a lot of pain today and have about 6 weeks of rehab ahead of me, but at least I can hobble around on crutches to look after mum. I honestly couldn't be more frustrated at myself for being so clumsy and doing this to myself right when mum needs me more than ever. What a freaking idiot.

I obviously tempted fate by letting myself go a month without a pedicure... of course this would happen when my feet look gross!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's Not Good News

Things don't look great for my mum and her lung cancer diagnosis. Her surgeon found that the cancer isn't treatable in surgery, but they can hope to extend her time by giving her chemo and radiotherapy. They estimate she has between 6 months to a year of life left. She is only 51 years old. So unfair.

It has taken me a while to write this, I tend to find denial works best for me, so having to say that was really hard. Anytime that I do think about it I feel a bit lightheaded and like I could pass out. So I guess that is why I am trying to ignore it for now.

Instead, I have completely thrown myself into getting my mum's new house comfortable for her. She didn't have much furniture so I went shopping and burned a hole in my credit card getting all new furniture to try and fill up the house. I also bought a new bed for me because I am getting too old and fat to sleep on the couch and I will be there quite a bit over the next little while. The most time and money was spent planting a front and back garden because it was basically a mud pit.

As you can see, I have a bad habit of trying fix problems by throwing money at them. It's especially bad because I don't have any money and I just get myself into all sorts of debt. I guess I just don't really care right now. I just want my mum to be happy and comfortable now she finally has a place to live. I am so thankful that I have been able to give her a home, it means the world to me that she can feel secure at a time like this.

I mostly wanted to write this post so I could thank those of you who left me lovely comments. I haven't really told anyone about my mum's illness yet, so your messages have been a great source of comfort to me. People can be so amazingly kind and I am so grateful for my blog friends.

Mum and I at my brother's wedding last year





Monday, June 03, 2013

Sad Sad Sad

I had some awful news on Friday that has left me shell shocked. I took my mum to a follow up appointment at the hospital for her pneumonia and we were told that she doesn't have pneumonia, she has lung cancer.

I am taking her back to this hospital tomorrow morning for surgery and we will hopefully know more then. The only thing the surgeon told us is that he believes it is 'advanced'. That word makes me feel sick to my stomach.

The thing about this is that I feel like I have brought this on somehow. When I started building mum a house to live in a year ago I started to get anxious that something bad was going to happen. My mum has had a very tough life and she hasn't had a stable home for the past 17 years. She has battled a lot of illnesses and all she has ever wanted is her own home where she can feel safe and comfortable. Where she can cook dinner for us kids and build a home we can all enjoy as a family. She moved in a month ago and now this happens. This just feels so unfair.

I don't know what else to say about this except I am devastated and when I think about it my eyes well with tears and I can't breathe. The thought of my mum going through this pain hurts me so much. I just can't believe this is happening.

My two sister-in-laws and me (green antlers) and mum (red antlers) at Christmas last year




Friday, May 24, 2013

Upper Body Lift Quote

About 2 months ago my body lift surgeon dropped the bombshell that I needed further surgery. So in addition to the (lower) body lift I had last November, I will need an upper body lift now too. I completely agree with him now I have seen my results, but I guess I was just not expecting to have to have more surgery and try and find more money...

You can see in my 'after' photo below that I have two big rolls of fat on my sides and that I also still have a lot of fat sitting above my bottom where you are supposed to curve in. Now if you look at the second photo below, my 'before' shot, you can see my surgeon did a great job to fix what he could, but it just requires further surgery.

After (lower) body lift)

Before (lower) body lift
It is not just my back and sides that require the upper body lift, it is also my torso. Unfortunately, it looks like I must have been cheeky when I took these pictures and cut off the photo below where it starts to show my upper torso overhang (I'll have to take another picture to show you). My tummy is perfectly flat, but the surgeon needs to do an incision from below my breasts so he can pull my upper torso tight to smoothen that out. Once again, looking at my before photos demonstrate my surgeon did a great job, but I had a lot of loose skin on my upper torso (the flab in my hands) which is unusual and due to me having particularly poor skin elasticity- yay me!

After (lower) body lift)

Before (lower) body lift

My surgeon emailed me the quote a couple of months ago and I glanced at it, realised that I couldn't afford it and filed it away so I didn't have to be disappointed about it. Well I still have no money, but I thought I would share the cost her on this blog in case anyone else is interested.

UPPER BODY SUSPENSION AND BREAST REDUCTION

Surgeon's Fee: $9,200
- Medicare/Insurance rebate: $1,523.65
Total Surgeon's Fee out of pocket expenses: $7,676.35

Hospital Fee: $1,183.60

Anaesthetic Fee: $3,000 (approx)
- Medicare/Insurance rebate: $1,500 (approx)
Total Anaesthetic Fee out of pocket expenses: $1,500 (approx)

Insurance Excess: $500

TOTAL: $10,859.95

So it is about $4,000 less than my (lower) body lift, which I believe was a more complex and extensive procedure. My surgeon also said he included a discount due to it being a second surgery.

Now, I also asked about the cost of having a thigh lift and arm lift... just to torment myself with more surgeries that I can't afford and this is the quote I received.

BRACHIOPLASTY AND THIGH REDUCTION

Surgeon's Fee: $8,175
- Medicare/Insurance rebate: $691.75
Total Suregon's Fee out of pocket expenses: $7,483.25

Hospital Fee: $1,183.60

Anaesthetic Fee: $3,000 (approx)
- Medicare/Insurance rebate: $1,500 (approx)
Total Anaesthetic Fee out of pocket expenses: $1,500 (approx)

Insurance Excess: $500

TOTAL: $10,666.85

Phew, that is a lot of money that I don't have unless I take yet another loan. At this stage my first priority is to just have the upper body lift done because I can live with my arms and thighs as they are now. I would like to have my upper body lift done before the end of the next financial year in Australia (June 30 2014) due to some tax rebate changes that have been proposed that will mean I can't claim my surgery on tax. So now I just need to get some money... I don't know how yet, but I know I will find a way.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

4 Years banded

Today marks 4 years since I had lap band surgery.

After 4 years I can't say that I think much about it anymore. Well, I guess I do subconsciously think about it a lot throughout the day, but more in the way you might think about your commute to work. It's just a normal part of your day, you know you got there, but you can't really remember the details of it...
'that sandwich will never get through the band'
'better not get the beef because that will stick in the band'
'wait a minute for your next bite, the last bite is still sitting on top of your band' 
A lot of people ask me if I would recommend lap band surgery-- which is an impossible question for me to answer. What I have learnt over the past 4 years is that the lap band is a different experience for every single person. The success of it depends on a lot of factors and is not just about calories in / calories out or whether you are 'motivated' enough to eat healthy and go to the gym.

I am truly happy for the people that have the lap band inserted and are able to stop dieting, feel full, eat less, start to move more and lose weight. That is the ideal situation, the dream that was sold to many of us by our surgeons, but not the reality for everyone. So many of us that have got to the point of needing weight loss surgery have such complicated relationships with food and exercise that the little band of silicone they insert around the top of your stomach just isn't enough to deal with severe and long-term disordered eating issues.

Since having my lap band I have lost and kept off about 50 kilos. I can't tell you exactly how much because I don't weigh myself anymore, but the main point is that I lost a significant amount of weight and kept it off. So that must mean I am a success right? Well, maybe you could say I am a success on paper. In reality I still deal with a lot of the same disordered eating problems I had before I had the lap band. I would even say that some of my eating issues are worse due to how hard I pushed myself to lose weight with the lap band.

I was desperate when I had the lap band and I felt like it was my last chance to lose weight. I thought that if the lap band didn't work, nothing would work and I would be obese forever. The pressure I put on myself led me to engage in some extreme diet and exercise habits that just added to my already screwy weight loss mentality. Once I had the lap band I was determined to lose weight, no matter what...

Despite what might seem like some negative reflections on my 4 years with the lap band, I am happy that I got it, and I wouldn't want to be without it. I have lost weight, I am healthier, I am happier, I have better relationships with my loved ones, I am more confident and I am a stronger person. Most importantly, I am continuing to push myself to improve my health, my relationships with food and my body. It is a bloody hard path to take!

April 2009
March 2013

If you want to read more about my 4 years with the lap band start here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Oops!... I Did It Again


Yes, I know Britney, I am frustrated with myself too...

Yet again, I am coming into winter with a jacket that is too small for me. I really did not intend for this to happen, this wasn't one of those motivational purchases to help me shed weight. When it started getting cold I spent hours shopping in the city trying to find a jacket that I liked, that fit me and that didn't cost $700. Unfortunately I was not successful so I turned to online shopping for help. I ended up finding two jackets that were on sale from Boohoo.com, the first one being only $54 and perfect for wearing to work and the second one only $30 and great for casual weekend wear. Awesome!

Well, not so awesome as it turns out. When I got my new purchases in the mail and tried them on I discovered that they did not fit me at all. Once again, I will be freezing my arse off until I can manage to slim down enough to squeeze into my jackets. I guess being tortured by freezing conditions is one way to motivate myself...

I just hope that I am just as successful as I was last year at getting into my winter jacket. Until then, I will need to buy thermals!





Thursday, May 09, 2013

Rollercoaster

Arghhh. Ever since I went to Thailand at the start of March I have stuck my head in the sand and ignored my increasing weight. First I was on holidays, then it was Easter, then I had a new house to organise, so the last thing I had time to worry about was healthy eating and exercise. So I kept telling myself anyway...
 
 
 
 
I have finally emerged from my denial and realised that I have stacked on the weight and none of my clothes fit me and I feel terrible. In the past this realisation would mean that I would go on a diet and lose some weight and eventually start to feel good about my body. Then inevitably my mind would say 'wow, you're so hot now, you don't need to diet, you should eat 17,000 calories a day. Then I would just keep eating until I could take no more and I started hating myself again.
 
Up and down on the rollercoaster over and over and over again. It is so bloody exhausting.
 
I do think that I am very slowly learning from my mistakes. It was only 5 years ago that I was eating drive-thru food almost every night. I thought healthy eating was only chicken breast, broccoli and starvation. I thought exercise was 2 hours at the gym every day or it wasn't worth doing. I thought if I ate one jelly bean that I had to eat 4 packets of jelly beans.

Over the past 5 years I have gradually introduced a healthier lifestyle that involves being more active, eating foods that fuel my body and some sense of balance when it comes to eating 'good' and 'bad' foods. I am by no means perfect, or even close to it, but I do know what I have to work on.

What I do right

Eat a healthy and balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner
Ever since I got the lap band, savoury food has lost some of its appeal to me. I am happy to eat good healthy foods most of the time, it's just the sweets I have trouble with!

Drink 1-2 litres of water per day
This is easy for me, I drink lots of water at work, and if I don't, I get very thirsty.

Drink alcohol only once per week
I am not the type of person to have a glass of wine or two on a week night, instead I'll normally have one big night with friends or family and drink 2 3 bottles of wine on a Friday night. I know that is not any better, but I'll still count it as a plus!

Keep my lap band at a level that stops me binging on fast food
My band could be tighter, but it is tight enough that it stops me contemplating getting pizza or any other takeaway because it would just be too annoying to eat.

What needs work

Exercise 30 minutes per day
Yeah, this is a tough one. I get motivated some days, but it is never going to be easy. I am not sure if I will ever consistently do this (without being miserable).

Stick to my goals on weekends
I used to always allow myself one cheat meal on a weekend and could get right back on track after that. Lately, my treat meal has been turning into a treat weekend because there has been so much going on. I think I'll be able to get this working again, I just need to focus.

Keep my body functioning so that I can exercise
My stupid plantar fasciitis has made this extremely difficult. I have had two cortisone injections in my heel, but I need another one and I have ignored it because it scares me so much. I did get brave and try and book an appointment with my doctor earlier this week, but she is on holidays for 3 weeks, so I will do it when she gets back.

Don’t eat in the middle of the night
I have had pretty severe insomnia for the past 12 months and during that time I have started eating in the middle of the night. I would lay awake for hours and the only thing that would soothe me is food. I am trying really hard to break this habit, but when you are exhausted it is very difficult to remain strong. The insomnia is due to my anxiety/depression medication so I will make an appointment to see my doctor to see if I can chnge it because it can't continue.

Don’t use my emotions as an excuse to eat
Hmmm, I saved the worst until last. I don't have the answers for this one just yet. I'll just have to keep working on it.

Monday, May 06, 2013

6 Months Post Body Lift

Today is 6 months since the best day of my entire life-- my body lift surgery. It is, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever done for myself. While the physical benefits of the surgery have been immense, it is the mental benefits that I appreciate even more.

The two overwhelming emotions that I had about my excess skin was shame and fear. I was ashamed of my body and lived in constant fear that my 'secret' would be found out. I went to elaborate (and often painful and expensive) lengths to hide my skin. Now that is has been removed I just feel so free and like a massive weight has been lifted (pun intended!).

I don't have to constantly worry about my top coming up and exposing the bulge of skin tucked into my pants or if it is a windy day and my dress clings to my stomach and shows the outline of the hanging skin. I can get changed in a store change room without holding the door closed in case someone comes in and happily have spa treatments with my girlfriends without the stress of keeping my stomach hidden. I can dance and exercise without the skin flopping around and I can even feel sexy and beautiful on the odd occassion!

I just feel normal for the first time in my life and I am thankful for my surgery every single day.

Before
 
After

On holidays in Thailand in March