Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes.

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.
– Arnold Bennett

It’s five months into my post-op life, and I have made a few observations. Not only am I finding out that I do, indeed, have a collarbone and cheekbones, I’m remembering what it feels like to fit into a booth at a restaurant, fit into a chair with arms, and fit into the seat belts in the back of my car.

I’ve noticed a few other things:

  • Sitting is not as comfortable with less natural padding on my backside. I actually have bones there – who knew?
  • I don’t miss the beef we’re not eating. Never thought I’d say that.
  • I am really enjoying honey in my tea – and I was never a big fan of honey before.
  • My skin, which is looser now, isn’t as saggy as I expected it to be. I still have more weight to lose, so that may change.
  • I’ve also noticed that my skin looks a little ‘doughy’ and not so firm.   I think toning exercises would help. And sunshine. On the scale of One to Tan, I am firmly at “Elmer’s Glue.”
  • Even though I now have the arms of a flying squirrel, I still cannot fly.
  • I had hoped that the weight loss would improve the swelling in my legs. It hasn’t.
  • My hair is thinner and I lose more every day. I’ve always had a thick mane, so this is a little troubling, and I’m keeping a close eye on it. I take Biotin supplements to help combat the hair loss.
  • I’m a big fan of layering and scarves. Losing all that natural insulation turned me into an ice cube. I may be cold, but I am stylishly cold!
  • I had forgotten what my ‘real’ body shape looked like. Now, I can see it again in the mirror, but it’s all closer to the floor.
  • A brisk walk doesn’t leave me winded, and my daily stretching exercises at work are easier every time I do them. That alone gives me a smile every day.
  • Along with my prescription medication, I’m taking vitamins and probiotics. I don’t have any problems with digestion, or reflux, or any of that.
  • My hands look like my mother’s. And my sister has told me repeatedly that I look so much more like my mother now. I take that as a compliment and always have.
  • People look at me more. Not my body – I don’t care about that – but my face. And by people, I mean just people in general. The people I walk past every day at work and at the store; people I don’t know. They make eye contact with me now, where before, they seemed to make it a point to avoid looking at me.
  • People treat me differently. This is a tough one – every time I’ve lost considerable weight in the past, I’ve been disappointed and hurt by that hypocrisy. I’m trying to meet it head on this time.
  • I never get tired of compliments. I appreciate it each and every time someone calls me “Skinny” or tells me I look great. It really does feel good, and I am truly grateful.

You know what else?
I fit into people’s hugs a lot better now, and I like that part the best.

 

photo credit Thomas Leth-Olsen

 

BeYouTiful.

Be-You-Tiful!       

I saw that on a sign in a store I was visiting for the first time, a craft store. 

I thought about buying the little sign to put near my bathroom mirror, but decided it was too expensive. Instead, I decided to write about it. 

Growing up with a house full of sisters, I witnessed a lot of primping in the name of beauty.  Even though we were all taught about ‘beauty on the inside’ – every unwanted task ‘built character,’ according to Mother – I think, like most girls, we all strove for outward beauty, too, to some point.  As the youngest, I wanted to emulate my older sisters, but I never liked dresses or pantyhose, and I was no good at the hair and makeup routine.  In spite of my sister Missy’s best efforts, I was still a tomboy at heart and was most comfortable bare-faced, wearing jeans and a ponytail. Missy would fix my hair and do my makeup for special occasions, but if left to my own devices, I would scrub it all off and tie my hair back. 

Besides — Mother didn’t have pierced ears, and she didn’t wear makeup save for a touch of lipstick on special occasions.  Was my mother beautiful?  Oh, yes.  She had lovely skin, thick, wavy hair, and shapely legs.  She had a twinkle in her blue eyes and a warm smile accented with her trademark gap. 

My sisters eschewed elaborate makeup and lengthy hair rituals.  It was just not important to them (or to me).  My sisters who did use makeup and did spend time with curlers and Aqua-Net looked lovely but never overly ‘done.’  Less is more, Mother would say.  And it didn’t matter what else you wore, as long as you were wearing a smile.  My sisters all wore lovely smiles, with clear eyes and kind words.  My sisters are all beautiful, makeup or no.

I think that helped me feel confident in my choices.  I could throw on some blusher and lip gloss when I had to, but I wasn’t about to get up at 5 a.m. and spend the next two hours putting on my face and wielding a curling iron. 

In the awkward years of adolescence, I tried to find myself in the magazines and department stores.  I borrowed my sister’s clothes to try to look more stylish and more like her.  I tried to talk my mom into buying me a pair of Sperry Topsiders, the loafers I saw in Seventeen magazine.  I was convinced that if I had those, I could surely pull off that Phoebe Cates back-to-school look.  No go.  At various times I tried to update my look to the Farrah Fawcett feathered ‘do, the poodle perm and the Dorothy Hamill wedge cut.  Um, no.  None of them worked for me.  I figured I was doomed to be utterly plain and style-free.

In my twenties, with a little more confidence, I dressed up a little more and wore makeup more often, under my sister’s tutelage, of course.  Mostly it was because Missy wouldn’t go out with me unless I did.  It was a fun time, and I always marveled at how she could look so put together, even in a pair of jeans.  It never rubbed off on me, though – she was Missy, and I was not.  I couldn’t borrow someone else’s look.  I had to find my own.

Let’s be clear – I don’t consider myself beautiful.  As far as looks go, I think I’m pretty solidly in the middle between ‘Eek!’ and ‘Wowza!’  I never had much of a figure; I’m built more like a tree trunk than an hourglass.  I’m content to hide my legs and cankles under jeans most of the time.  My butt is flat, which led me to live in nothing but Levi’s 501 jeans for a while.  They fit me better than girls’ jeans ever did.  I don’t have an eye for fashion, so I stick with what I know, which is jeans and sweatshirts.  As Mother would say, “All my taste is in my mouth.”

My best feature is probably my eyes, but they’ve been behind glasses since I was 7.  (Of course, that is what all fat chicks get complimented on, anyway.)  I like my hair, too. It has always been thick and full (less so now as I age), but it does have a mind of its own.  A wave here, a cowlick there, and it was just too stubborn to do what I wanted it to.  So short hair or ponytails have been my go-to styles. 

I have rarely worn makeup.  I rationalized that if you didn’t like my face the way God made it, you didn’t have to look at me.  (I still feel that way.)   I married a man who has never been crazy about makeup on women.  ‘What are they trying to hide?’ he says.  He says makeup is best when you can’t see it.  So if I don’t wear it, he can’t see it – perfect, eh?  And he still thinks I’m beautiful. Confession: I recently replaced the 20-something year old makeup in my bag with a few new, fresh items.  I don’t need much, but a touch of lip tint is nice. 

So – honestly – I love the BeYouTiful sentiment. 

I came to terms with my face a long time ago.  (Still working on the body part.)  I am no beauty queen, but I am me, and I can still be a strong, beautiful me.  I want to smile with confidence, hold my head up, and look the world in the eye.  I want to wear bold colors and stand up straight instead of shrinking back and trying to hide.  I want to stop holding back and hesitating.  I want to speak my mind.  I want to love my life and who I am and where I’m going.

And I want you to do the same.  BeYOUTiful.

 

 

 photo credit: GabrielaP93

You’ll See.

Like so many other things – parenting, for instance – weight loss surgery is one of those situations where people tell you, “You’ll see,” in an ominous, knowing tone. 

“I would NEVER let my kid throw a fit like that in the store!  MY children will behave when we go out.”
Yeah, well, you’ll see…”

“There’s no way my kid would say that to me!  No way!”
That’s what I thought, too.  You’ll see…”

“Seriously, I’m supposed to chew this bite of chicken, like, 25 times?  That’s just gross!”
Well, yeah, it’s a lot, but you need to.  You’ll see…”

“You don’t miss coffee?  Oh, I would DIE if I had to stop drinking coffee!”
No, I don’t miss it that much.  It’s different now.  You’ll see…”

And indeed, I did.  I found out that eating (I’m still on soft solids, progressing prudently) is different from what I remember.  Eating or drinking too quickly, or failing to chew adequately, has its consequences – and they’re immediate.  One – you’ll wonder how that quick drink of water solidified into a chunk with sharp edges as it fights its way down your esophagus.  Ow!  Two – being full used to feel like, ‘yeah, I’m full, but I can eat those last couple bites of lasagna — bring on the cheesecake!’   Now, when I am getting full, my tummy feels like it’s already stuffed up to here (points at Adam’s apple), and I’m swallowing like mad to keep it from rising further.  Full means ‘up to my neck.’  And there isn’t any more room.

I’ve found that the best remedy for that full feeling is to sit back and give that little tummy some room; usually, the discomfort is gone after about 15 minutes.  Other sensations I’m becoming familiar with?  Hiccups.  Bloating.  Burps.  Seriously.  Unwelcome and uncomfortable.  I realize this is due to my body adjusting to the foods I eat, the air I swallow as I eat, and the medications I take, which now include a fiber supplement.  I hope that these things settle down as time goes on.  (Nobody told me that I’d be able to compete with my sons in a belching contest.  At this point, I might even win!)

I’ve noticed that I’ve been having a lot of painful leg cramping lately, more than usual, so I’m probably low on potassium.  Didn’t expect that.  Time for a banana.  Which reminds me — nobody told me I’d have monster breath, either.  I can’t chew gum (I bite my cheek every time), so I have to keep some mints handy so I don’t scare people away.  (If I’ve scared you, I apologize.)

Crushing my pills and taking them with water is still working out pretty well, except for my @#$&*^$#@ vitamins.  Mr. Stuck reminded me that if I don’t take my supplements, my hair will fall out.  He’s right, of course, and I rather like my hair, so I once again tried to figure out a good way to take these powder-filled capsules.  (The Omeprazole caps are filled with granules, which present their own challenges, but I digress.) 

The first (and last) time I tried, I opened the capsules, poured the powder into a 1-oz medicine cup and added water, much like I do for the rest of my meds.  Big mistake.  The powder and water repelled each other, in some sort of strange electrostatic dance, and the powder would not mix.  Instead, it adhered to the sides of the little plastic cup, and floated mockingly on the surface of the water.  When I swished it, it stuck to the cup.  When I stirred it, it stuck to my finger.  When I tried to drink it, it stuck to my tongue and the inside of my mouth.  I don’t know how much water I had to drink to wash it down, but it was a lot, and it turned into chunks with sharp edges as it went. 

Mr. Stuck’s next idea was to put the powder into my daily protein shake.  Sounded like a plan, so today I gave it a whirl.  Um, no.  Again, the powder sticks stubbornly to the side of the Blender Bottle ® and no amount of monkey gyrations will shake it down (yeah, I tried).  So now I’m drinking a chunky, funky-flavored protein shake (oh, yum) with bits of dry, bitter powder suspended in it.   What do these people expect me to do?  I guess I need to try the powder in a spoon of applesauce or something, even though I don’t want to.  Sure looking forward to the 3-month mark, where I can finally swallow my pills whole again.

My tastes are changing, too.  I drink cocoa or tea as much or more than coffee now; when I do have a cup of coffee, I rarely finish more than half.  Even the 12-oz mocha I ordered this weekend sat untouched after I drank less than a quarter of it.  The broccoli-cheese soup that Mr. Stuck thoughtfully bought for me was horrid when I tried it.  The clam chowder I had for lunch last Friday must have been too rich for my baby tummy, because I had to throw most of it away.  I suppose some of it will come back as time goes on, but for now, things taste different.

Since surgery, I’m down over 20 lbs.  It’s coming off fast.  I’m sure it will slow down now that I am actually eating food I can chew.  It’s easy to lose weight on a liquid or almost-liquid diet.  I’m glad to be eating food again, even though I’m not quite to the raw vegetables stage, which will be the final part of the post-surgical diet.  I am sooo ready to eat food that doesn’t have to be soft, pureed, or pre-chewed.  I am ready for some stir-fry chicken and veggies, or a fresh, crisp salad, or even an apple.  It can be tough to get through these first few weeks of restricted eating, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

You’ll see.

 

 

photo credit striatic