Why I Worry

Overall, my health is good – not my health from my physical activity – I separate that from the organs inside of my body that I have no control of. I can exercise til the cows come home and I can’t change what has happened or will happen in my abdomen.

I spent the day in the emergency room on 4/25, and before that, 3 days with tubes down my throat in March. I don’t panic when I don’t feel well (and for me not feeling well generally means something internal that’s weird) but today surprised me.

I worked out really well, and strong, yesterday. I got a great night sleep. But when I woke, the pain in my stomach was obvious and I had diarrhea for hours in the morning. I was also exceptionally tired (like bone tired). I had planned to meet my cousin to putter around the golf course and have lunch, so I got ready and dressed and went to meet her. I had a small half sandwich for lunch and some plain tea. We took the golf cart for a spin and the weather was stunning. Then we started to hit some balls at the driving range. All through this I was still tired with persistent discomfort, but not enough to stop me.

All of the sudden I lost all my energy and had to sit down. She continued to hit and we just chatted.

I was home by 5:30ish and went right to bed (with makeup on) and slept straight through to 8:30pm. I don’t know what’s sucking the life from me.

Except for the days inMarch where I was admitted to the hospital, I have not missed one day of my 90-100 day effort (today is day 87) but there is now way I can get on the bike or tread today.

My stomach sounds like aliens being birthed and I’m back in the bathroom in this evening. I wish I could record my tummy for you because I think you can hear it in the next house! The sounds don’t hurt, so it’s not exactly gas. There is a persistent high belly pain that is exacerbated when I push and release, and it’s totally different from the two pains in March and April. You can hear liquid moving through every part of my bowel like a leaky faucet! It makes my kids crazy.

In fact, my kids are entirely disturbed by how sick I “always” am because their father has them convinced this is all my fault. I brought this on myself and this is what happens. Suffice to say, he did this when we were married. He was never sick a day in his life so when I became ill (and I do get the craziest things) he didn’t know what to do or how to help me so he ignored me. That included pregnancy, labor and delivery as well as nursing. No support and almost blatant disregard for my well being. When my children do this to me I tell them it’s a trigger and I expect better behavior from them. I worry they get the gene that is selfish and doesn’t care about other people’s physical health because they don’t understand. I worry they won’t have empathy.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me or why this time. Maybe it will pass by tomorrow. I’m having some ginger tea which is good for digestion. I could not get on the bike so I meditated but that feels like an activity cop out for me. It kills me to break the streak. I wondered if some pedaling would help whatever is in there make its way out. My tummy is hard and distended so it may be yet another intestinal blockage (which would create the hyperactive bowel sounds – you can actually hear them in another room).

Ginger tea and hope for rest.

I haven’t had an opportunity to share all the excitement from my Homecoming weekend in the city with Peloton – what a fabulous event!

On Being Thin

Sorry this story meanders a bit…I felt like I had so many bits to piece together….

It’s strange to write this, because I have been thin before in my life. At the risk of offending someone I have this belief that people who grew up thin have a different mindset than those who grew up heavy. I have always seen myself as a thin girl who did damage to herself by allowing herself to become fat.

I was thin, active, muscular and healthy thought my childhood and into my teens. I developed around age 15, a late bloomer, but didn’t start putting on weight until 18 due to hormonal issues (I’ve always had problems!)

I do not have a fat girl screw the world mentality. I’m not angry at all the thin girls and models. I do not have a love me at any size mantra. I wanted to be thin again. I felt better in every aspect of my life and I remember that feeling. Sure, there were times in the 180-200 pound range over the last 7-8 years in which I felt great too, but most of my adult life was over 210 pounds and I never had the confidence from my physique I felt I needed.

Perhaps, as with everything in age, we savor things as we get older. I want to live out my life thin, healthy and strong. I wanted to live in the feeling of being comfortable in a thin body.

I do find it very strange to be thin once again after 20 years. I don’t recall feeling like this, except around my wedding (when I was too thin).

My body has lost all its shape. My rib cage and hips are much more narrow now than they were in my teens into 20s. My college years were plump with ugly hair 🤣. I found a bit of physical positivity by 22 and was married by 26, so there wasn’t much time in there to really enjoy my newfound body positivity. I don’t think I paid enough attention to myself back then. I just don’t remember much about my body other than mostly being unhappy with it my entire life for one reason or another and always struggling to “get back to thin” after I turned 30.

Generally speaking, even when I was thin I still had abdominal scars from childhood surgeries as well as stretch marks as my breasts developed late and large

I read this is common for most woman, regardless of age, shape, weight or height. What a shame we waste so much time when we are young.

Anyway, I am thin now. People say too thin because I lost all my fullness. Nothing on me is round or shapely anymore. My bones come out in my neck and back. My shoulders are thin. I sort of see what they see, I look older. I don’t care much. I like being thin.

My closest friends as ask how I feel about myself and I tell them I feel fine. They think I can’t see how thin I’ve become. They ask me to stop losing weight.

I went for a full girls day of day shopping for the first time ever. My friend spent the time in each store with me to try on everything. She helped me pull an entire Spring into Summer wardrobe together on a pretty good budget. I was able to determine my size in various brands. I was much smaller than I had anticipated and a little shocked how my body had changed since December. My shape is settling in now.

It felt amazing to try clothes on. I could try on anything I saw that I liked. That’s never happened before. Things fit properly, even around my chest. Clothing looked good on me. Like, really good. I could wear my beautiful shoes with beautiful clothes now and make a striking figure.

I’ve been waiting to feel like this my whole life. I don’t think I had enough confidence in my 20s pre-marriage to feel powerful when dressed. I don’t even think I had identified my style. When I’m dressed I forget about the scars and hanging skin (other than that horrible chicken-skin under my arms, ah well, I’m working on that!) When I chose clothing I liked and saw things look good or not good on me – I was able to have choices. I was used to was to accepting whatever fit well enough and covered my flab which was limiting and expensive when I dressed well. This was actually enjoyable to see things flatter me and I loved trying on inexpensive clothing to compliment more expensive pieces to curate my style for the first time in my life.

Looking at myself every day in the mirror didn’t prepare me for the shopping experience. This was definitely a NSV (non scale victory) ranking up at the top. I truly enjoyed what many women have down their whole lives and I have shied away from.

Knowing I have the base to work with encourages me to keep working on my fitness and diet – I don’t feel defeated that I’m exercising and eating well with no results – I can see the results now. Yes, it started with surgery -but the last month or two have been my personal effort to hit my goals.

I’ve dropped a bit of weight quickly recently, most likely as my body was shocked from the exercise, lack of period, and the hospital visit and was holding onto water weight. I’m down to a solid 145 lbs now and would be happy to stay put here for good.

I don’t see what others might see – I don’t see “too thin” at least not yet. I don’t intend to drop more weight internationally. My goal was always 145-150 pounds and I believe it looks fine on my 5’8″ frame. I’m mostly a size M or 8. I believe as I continue to work with my weights and cardio I will develop muscle and look toned and that should help.

Surgery wasn’t a permanent fix. I still have my entire life ahead of me to maintain. I can’t allow myself to drop the new habits I’ve created, ever. Surgery gave me a tool, and a very powerful one, but it can still be mid-used. My goal is to always pay attention to myself now and create the body positivity I have been missing for so many years. Unfortunately, it was not a good trade-off getting thin at the expense of horrid scars and crippling sickness – but it’s done, I hit that reset button for better or worse – and I want to enjoy where I am without worrying about being “too” anything.

Once again in my life “I’m not right” for people. I know they are looking out for my best interest, but constantly hearing “you are disappearing” or “everyone thinks you’re too thin” just reinforces my old belief that I’m still not “good enough” for anyone.

PS: the photo is of the famous 1960s model Twiggy. She was 5’6″ (short for a Model) and weighed less than 100 pounds at times – so, no, I’m not that thin!

PPS: Here’s where I want to be (in my sexy dreams!). What’s scary is the poster writes “145 lbs sounds like a lot”. People really don’t understand women’s weight numbers as compared to appearance

Body Dysmorphia

Let’s just get this straight up front – I’m not griping. I’ve lost a ton of weight! But a couple things happened this week that pushed back on my ability to see the loss instead of the disfigurement.

We all have a little body dysmorphia, some are just worse than others. I have never been happy with my body. Scars from many years of surgery and most of my adult life spent obese, it’s a bit hard to see the rewards of major weight loss, but I have been focusing on the weight loss rather than the dysmorphia.

I started at 214 pounds pre-Mexico. Since 2013 I have swung between 185 (lowest weight in 2015 with blood clots) and 225 (highest weight in 2013 before deciding to divorce) and normally stick right around a range of 195-205 pounds. At 5’8″ the higher range is too heavy for me. I don’t look good and I don’t feel good. My eyes get small from too full a face and I can’t bend over or cross my legs. I know how to diet and lose weight but the problem was maintaining a weight loss once I achieved it. Over a period of 4+ years (where I logged weight very consistently) I had a 20-30 pound swing up and down every year. It was uncontrollable and unhealthy.

I’ve always said my weight is like and elevator, always up and down and never stationary for long.

My target for personal weight loss was always to achieve a stable 170 pounds. Never got there for all the years of trying post my mother’s death. For surgical weight loss my target was a firm 150 pounds with a potential for 140 depending how I looked at 150.

One of my closest friends just told me my face was too skinny and I need to put weight back on in my face (can your even do that? Is that a thing?). My sister in law saw my scars and screamed out loud that I need to hide those away as they were scary and she was sorry I was gonna frighten anyone away with those when I start to have sex again. Those were not the only comments, just the worst ones.

At first I wanted to smack them both – after all I’ve been through and they know I’m an emotional wreck, they make negative body comments. I know they mean well. But, really?

Then another thing happened, as I was exercising I looked down the front of my shirt and couldn’t believe the ugliness of the excess skin hanging weirdly from my middle. This prompted me to get undressed and look at myself in the mirror – naked is very, very tough now. But I hadn’t been paying enough attention until right now. My skin hangs everywhere. I even got into some “positions” or angles a man would see my from if we were having sex, and I was horrified. I didn’t realize the way the skin was hanging in my midsection. Then my boobs and ass….they just lost all their luscious, round curves and hang flat. My poor ass has terrible cellulite. Compound some seriously ugly scars to this loose skin and it is, actually, frightening. Then I get upset and wonder who will take me as I am without grimacing?

I look really good in clothes. I feel better with more narrow hips and legs. I sit easily and cross my legs with no problem. I’m no longer out of breath for no reason. I went from an XXL to a Medium in most things. Overall, my confidence is raised because I look very close to the way I want to when I’m dressed. It’s the naked part that just hit me hard over the head.

I always weigh and measure on the 20th of the month, so today was a weigh in day. I weighed 152 today. A total of 62 pounds gone.

This month I dropped 1.5-2 pounds. My weight loss from surgery pretty much slowed in Jan/Feb so, while I was hoping to hit my goal in March, it doesn’t seem like I could drop those last 2 pounds this month. I will be damned I don’t get under 150 and stay there a bit. Not when I’m this close to my adult goal weight.

So I am *so close* to my goal I can taste it. I dropped to 149 pounds for my colonoscopy and it was a little thrill! Now that I’m on liquids again for a week, maybe I will drop it this week. I’m going to get there. BUT, now I’m looking at my wasted body and getting upset. I’m trying not to. I don’t know if the loose skin would bother me quite as much if I didn’t have such massive scars (partially which hold my stomach skin by adhesion to the muscle underneath so it’s a very weird look).

I am trying to remain body positive. Having to reveal myself during sex is going to be tough, much tougher than anticipated. I also realize that I’ve been actively disengaging from the dating scene because I’m getting in a funk over being sick (or even being down and out for a few days the last couple weeks) and not wanting to explain my medical marvel of a history to anyone.

Hello, Again? Back in Hospital

Well here I am again and not at all happy about it.

This week I started to have pain under my breastbone. It started Sunday night and may have been the cause of my poor sleeping more than the ring on Tony’s finger (which would be a good thing, right?). By Thursday evening the pain had intensified beyond what I could manage and I knew the ER was on the agenda for the evening.

I had been careful, watching what I eat, taking some gas x and seeing if anything was influencing the pain in any way. I couldn’t find anything.

By the time we got to the hospital Thursday night, I was bowled over in pain and out of breath. They took me in quickly administering fluids and morphine right away. Sent off for X-rays and cat scans pretty quickly.

Then the surgeon arrived and my hopes plummeted.

The ER doc (as well as myself) were thinking pancreatis or something along those lines. But the surgeon debunked the results by saying I had another bowel blockage.

I just.wanted.to.cry.

This meant we were going down a familiar path. I would be intubated with an NG tube, no food or liquids, no narcotics and a lot of patience. They did give me a strong opioid called Tramdol which worked for the time being and anti-inflammatory meds which helped.

I did cry once the tube was placed because I couldn’t believe I was back here again, in this horrible situation. I knew now they would admit me as well.

I was terrified that having the surgeon involved meant I was looking at being cut open again.

Going back to the 9th floor in the room directly across where I spent my 4 weeks in Sept/Oct was like a horrible horror story. But all the nurses remembered me and were so kind. They couldn’t believe how much better I looked as compared to my first stay. I suppose there’s some compensation there – that even with the damn tube coming out of my nose that they thought I looked good! 😂

I didn’t get to the room until 6am or so, and then rounds start soon after, so I was feeling really crappy after a night full of pain and testing with no sleep.

As it turned out, the pain began to disappear once I was settled and I didn’t need any further pain killers. They had me on simple fluids to see if my body could recover on its own.

Another cat scan and X-ray followed during the day and they could see that the initial contrast was making its way through the bowel. I told them all they needed to do was give me a cup of coffee and I would be pooping in no time! No one bought that.

By evening I pooped on my own. I did a little poop dance of joy 💩 because I knew that meant my body was doing its job.

Early the next morning the surgeon agreed and the tube came out. The doctor arrived some time later and said if I stick to liquids and soft foods for a week they would allow me to go home that day. He knew I knew the bariatric surgery ropes so he was willing to be lenient. I wasn’t too happy to have to go back to a liquid diet, but it’s better than being in the hospital and monitored here.

Ultimately they believe it was a bowel blockage that I caught super early. The NG tube allowed my bowels to rest for 36 hours without doing any work. The diet allows for further rest from whatever the blockage or inflammation was from. There is no real “reason” it happened or any way to prevent it from happening again. It’s just because I have had so many abdominal surgeries and bowel resections.

I’m waiting now for my son to pick me up so I can rest at home.

I’m bummed this happened in the middle of my exercise streak, but I will exercise lightly for the next week so the habit continues to form. I already felt myself falling into a hole lying on the hospital room for 2 nights. I couldn’t even focus enough to watch TV or even read.

Let’s hope, like the surgeon hopes, that this doesn’t happen again and I continue on my merry way.

Health ?

I’ve been very lucky or very blessed. I’m still unsure which but I tend to lean towards a higher power continues to step in to save me.

I wouldn’t say I have been a healthy person for the latter half of my life.

I’ve almost met my maker at least 3 times in 50 years. There’s got to be a reason for that?

Maybe?

I’ve had the worst health run of most people I know because I’m always in that 1% that weird things happen to. But I survived. I chose the VSG surgery so I could take better care of myself, so with the other complications in the rear view, it’s time I take control.

Keto isn’t easy but it’s doable. Retraining your brain to eliminate obvious carbs is tough. Sometimes I just want a damn Triscuit.

I usually cave to my favorite Grandma pizza on Friday nights and a sesame bagel on Sunday.

I bought a Ketosis tracking machine. A small device where you prick your finger and it takes a reading. I am starting to learn that I can actually have my favorite cheats as long as I continue with exercise and taking my MCT oil. It’s not ideal, and it’s not a true Keto plan but like any other way of eating I’ve tried, I need to build in things that don’t make me feel deprived. I feel full, I’m eating better (hugely reduces sugar) and I have a built in portion control mechanism now.

My belly and guts make noises like I’ve never heard before. People say this is common after VSG. I also hiccup with one bite too many or too fast. It’s a great automatic lever because I still don’t “feel” full but have this amazing auto-reaction that says “stop now or it’s going to hurt.” I notice I still have to focus on eating more slowly. Having smaller portions helps as I don’t want to finish hours before everyone else, but my brain is trained to eat quickly and I have to reprogram it.

I use smaller plates and can easily tell how much food in a serving is too much for me. If I eat the right things, my hunger is curbed appropriately. I probably still don’t drink enough water so that’s something I have to work on. I tend to wake up throughout the night to drink which definitely signals I need more water throughout the day.

When I’m on a date, they don’t usually notice how little I eat or drink. I’m such a cheap date now! My friends notice though. They notice I barely eat and that I don’t drink even half of what I used to – they liked me when I enjoyed more! I tell them I enjoy eating and drinking as much as I always did, I just do less of it and it’s fine!

I chose the surgery because portion control was always my biggest issue. Now it’s controlled whether I like it or not! It’s interesting how the mind works – knowing I “can” eat anything I want makes it much easier not to eat it. I can’t over eat anymore. But if I am dying for a peanut butter cup, I can have one and not feel the guilt.

My heaviest weight back in 2012 was around 256 pounds. My weight prior to surgery was 214 pounds and today was 154 pounds. I can’t believe I’ve lost 100 pounds from my frame overall. I made a photo compilation of the 3 faces of Madeline over the past 7 years and I look healthier and younger.

As for how the weight falls off me, I notice a pretty consistent 3 week stall, then 4th week drop. My initial goal was 150 pounds but I am pretty sure I am going to drop it to 140-145 pounds. The surgeon feels, since I am now a normal BMI, I won’t lose anymore.

I did have to have my wound cauterized again which was super painful this time as he had to open up the edges and make fresh skin that would heal again. It’s a bloody mess and hurts now, but bloody means healthy.

I don’t know if I can ever be happy I made the decision to have the surgery, or have it in Mexico. But, in typical Mads fashion, I am beginning to forget about the horror I endured and starting to focus on the tool I now have in my body. I need to put this weight loss to good use.

I don’t know if I’m in peri-menopause or if my body is still in shock (totally possible according to the doctors) but I just had another 75 day stretch with no period. I don’t miss not getting a period but I prefer to keep the hormones around! I still have to get back to the doctor to discuss what we are going to do about the polyps.

I’ve been steadily ensuring I am working out every day, no matter what. A 30-45 minute commitment is more daunting before I do it so I just have to stop thinking about it and force myself into automation. It honestly feels good to be a little sore and I’m sure, soon enough, I will start sleeping better as well. I have totally lost my ass from the weight loss and feel excess skin hanging everywhere. I don’t like it so I need to change that. I don’t think I have “so much” excess skin that a steady exercise routine won’t fix.

Sorry my posts are so mundane but I think boring might be good for me for a while as I begin to take my life back into control.

Blogging has always helped me maintain focus when I commit to it.

Small forward steps are happening. I am still obsessing over Tony, but I’m taking control of myself again.

Exhaustion (originally published 1/14/19)

*Originally Published 1/14 and disappeared (sorry for the repost)

I had my first period since around Dec 5th. I should have predicted the outcome post menses: total and utter exhaustion. It is exactly the time my iron has naturally depleted (5 month mark) post the blood clot episode in 2015. It’s been 3 years now that I am dealing with this anemia and I hate it.

I made the appointment for the blood test and sure enough my iron is dropping, but not yet low enough for insurance to cover and expensive infusion. I hate this part. I have to wait through another period and about a month before my iron drops low enough to cover the infusion. This basically means I am sick and tired for the next 6-8 weeks.

I have begged the doctors in the past to be more aggressive in treating it, but they say they can’t approve the treatment until a certain point. After 3 years of examples, being pretty much like clockwork….I don’t see why they can’t be proactive with the infusion instead of waiting until I literally cannot get out of bed for days on end.

So most of December into January found me lying in bed, sleeping days away.  I can find energy to get my son up and off to school, and occasionally do required errands. Maybe even one night out with family or friends.  But then, sleep again for days.

Finally went  for a second blood test and, as predicted, I am now anemic.  Waiting for the doctor to get the approval for the iron transfusion.  It irks me they can’t get back to me more quickly.  I called and the nurses empathize but say the doctor is jam packed.

In addition, prior to my surgeries my gynecological options were hysterectomy, ablation or IUD – none of which I wanted.  I should have gotten the IUD when I had the chance!  I was too afraid of the estrogen because the hormone is what caused blood lots in 2015, the ablation seemed like a better choice until I did research that said it could put you into early menopause, and I just didn’t want surgery for a hysterectomy (to explain that: I didn’t want surgery that was going to decrease my libido and increase my depression, less so about the actual surgery itself – though in hindsight the chances are over 75% I would have ended up with similar internal bowel issue that I have now due to all my adhesions).  Now, I have zero gynecological options because of all the issues I just experienced.

This means, I live with chronic anemia and iron infusions until my period stops.  The, hopefully, the anemia disappears naturally.  But it’s still a shot in the dark.

I now feel like my life is passing me by and I can’t seem to grasp hold of it.  I am getting very, very worried about money because I have none.  We have depleted all of our excess the past 4 months and credit card debt.  I was really hoping to not have to tap into my savings, but that will have to be the next step.

I’m hoping my mental and physical states pick up soon, because I feel pretty useless at the moment.