Sunday, July 18, 2010

A New Day

Sunday.  The first day of a new week.  A new week that has just GOT to be better than the past few!!  I'm not much about whining, and I really hate it when my glass-half-full attitude turns to glass-half-empty-of-sour-milk attitude.  Thankfully that doesn't happen too terribly often.  I inherited from my dad an optimism that, for me, often belies reality... but if I have to be a little unrealistic at times, I'd far rather it be in the half-full sense rather than the half-empty one.  Know what I mean?  But now that I'm ready to leave this past week behind me... far, far behind me, let me take just a moment to reflect on what I have learned. 
~Trust my instincts.  Nobody knows your body the way you know it.. and when you know that something is amiss, you must investigate it.  The dangerously frustrating thing is that some health care providers simply don't want to be bothered, and want to poo-poo it all away.  "Take an aspirin and call me in the morning" kind of thing.  Or "I'll call you back" and then the call never comes.
~Be proactive in my own care. During this entire ordeal, I have spent many hours waiting for return phone calls.  Having worked for many years on the other end of the phone, I've tried to be very patient, pleasant, and understanding.  I truly know how it works behind the scenes in physicians' offices.  However, the time comes when you must INSIST on getting answers, and DEMAND that someone pay attention to you.  I really don't like doing that (and it really should never be necessary), because I know what it's like dealing with a chronically whining patient who calls 20 times a day.  I never want to be that way.  It was either Whitney or DJ who kept reminding me that in a month these people won't remember me anyway, and to keep calling them.  Haha.
~Do the best you can do with what you have.  My entire week was focused on the fact that I had a postop problem.. and how best to address it.  I saw three different doctors within four days.. one in the ER, one at a walk-in clinic, and finally the surgeon on call for my out-of-town surgeon.  My sweet mama was playing taxi mom, carting me all over town, while often being the recipient of a snappy attitude. By this time I'm dealing with a big ol' case of frustration, and a little bit of self-pity, thinking that nobody (providers) really care, and do these people really know what they are talking about???  But, the best I could do is whatever they told me to do.  Late Friday night and yesterday morning I was feeling pretty low, and quite fearful that I was getting worse.  After a nap yesterday afternoon, I was delightfully surprised to see that the wound looked significantly better, and the soreness had ramped down a notch or two.  Finally!! 
~The saga is not over.  Once the band was removed, the esophageal spasm/swalowing/vomiting issues were gone.  However, over the past few days, I have had episodes (at least once daily) of the same spasmodic symptoms that lead to all kinds of unpleasantness.  This has me pretty bummed.  At the time of band removal, I threatened to "slit my wrists" if this symptom didn't go away.  Of course, I was joking, but.... I really need for this symptom to go away.  Perhaps it is meant to be the thorn in my side, but I am sure praying that with time it will leave never to return.  It is a horrible feeling!!
~I really do have more strength than I ever gave myself credit for.  Hopefully I am not a boastful person, but I am giving myself credit where credit is due this time.  Throughout the entire process, even immediately after the initial surgery, it has been a hard row to hoe, and I worked very diligently to do the right things, to keep the very best attitude, even in the hardest of times.  I look at other people who go through trials and challenges far greater and tragic than anything I've ever experienced, and I just say WOW.  People who suffer and survive, overcome, and flourish should be our true heroes in this world.  It is true.. God will never lead you where His grace will not keep you.  And though at times I tend to try to carry the world on my shoulders instead of letting God shower His mercy and grace on me and let HIM carry it, He is always there, ready to bear the load, and restore me.  Thank you God, for your blessings.
~Sometimes you just gotta let it go.  Blessings can sometimes be found in the most unusual places or circumstances.  My dear friend Danette called yesterday afternoon to discuss business, and during the conversation I pretty much lost my composure and bawled like a baby, trying to tell her what was going on.  Such a sweet, kind, and compassionate woman.  I'm sure my babbling between sobs didn't make much sense to her, but the details didn't matter at the moment, and she was such a blessing to me at the moment I needed it.  I must have continued bawling for another 10-15 minutes after we hung up.  My sweet daughter hugged on me, rubbed my shoulders for a bit, then went straight to my bathroom, got my bottle of Zoloft and said "Take it. NOW."  So I did.  It was a cathartic moment, though, and I felt better after the dam burst.  Sometimes you just gotta let it go.  There's no reward, except maybe a stomach full of ulcers, high blood pressure, etc., for keeping it all bottled up inside.  So, to my dear friend Danette, thank you for being in the right place at just the right moment.  Close enough to me to love me through it, distant enough not to advise me or try to "fix" it.  Just to listen.  Exactly what I needed. 
~Friends and family.  Absolutely the best blessing on earth.

I have no clue what this week will hold.  I'm sure there are more frustrating moments ahead with phone calls (or maybe lack thereof), more sitting in waiting rooms and missing work. Aaargh.  Hopefully, though, the uphill portion of the battle is behind me and soon this will all be just a blip on the radar of a life fully blessed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Long And Winding Road

Or rather I should say bumpy road.  Waiting for brighter days ahead.  Now I have a seroma the circumference of a grapefruit.  With an infected incision.  After a trip to the ER, multiple phone calls to physician offices, I finally wound up in the Regional FirstCare office in Winder today, where it was determined I have cellulitis in the area, most likely a staph infection.  So now I'm eating antibiotics, hoping to find the area has receded by morning.  I'm certainly looking forward to noneventful days ahead!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Revision Of The Blog

(Also seen on the sidebar)

It's official. I'm an ex-bandit now, which necessitates revision of my blog - again.

Though I have lost the band, the journey continues. Perhaps the road will be easier, since the challenges and complications have been alleviated. The downside, though, puts me right back at square one. Controlling my eating. With the band, there is absolutely no hunger. Though most of my eating has nothing to do with hunger, with the band there is not even the desire to eat, hungry or not.

I have been to such a difficult place throughout this journey, that I believe I have found within myself, and within the grace and help of God, the strength to continue, and the resolve to go the distance, to reach the ultimate goal of health and fitness.

I can't say I regret having the surgery. Though a long, hard-fought battle, it got me this far. I am personifying the complications as The Enemy, and I'm just angry enough at it to want to FIGHT to maintain the weight already lost, and DEFEAT it by completing my goal.

Join me if you will, and keep me in your thoughts and prayers. It will be an uphill battle, but for the first time in... well, ever... I finally have faith and confidence enough in myself that, with God's help, I can do it.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment to let me know you were here, but if you don't have a Google ID and must post anonymously, please type your name within your comment, so I'll know who you are. Thanks again!

Banded No More

Frequent esophageal spasms and vomiting even water, escalated my band removal to a rather urgent status, and it was removed on Wednesday, July 7th.  I'm home now, recovering nicely, patiently waiting for the incisional pain to go away.  Soon I'll be re-vamping my blog to reflect the changes.  Thanks for reading, please don't give up on me!  I still have 41 lbs to go!!!  Let's see what the future holds for the next leg of my journey!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Surgery Scheduled For Removal

Looks like I'll be saying goodbye to the band on 7-20-10.  Gotta say that, while I'm terribly upset that the process didn't work for me, I can't get this thing outta me soon enough.  I've been in terrible discomfort for days now, and have problems keeping anything down. The spasms are sometimes excruciating.  For the past three nights, I have been awakened by choking on the reflux, resulting in little mini-vomit sessions, and last night finally fell asleep sitting up in my recliner.  I spoke with the nurse yesterday morning and asked her to see if the doc would take it out today (his regular surgery day), but alas, that was not to be.  He's out of town next week, and the first available surgery appointment is the 20th.  My instructions in the interim?  Just take sips of water.  Okay.  For two weeks.  I'll just take sips of water.  Can't wait to see how that plays out.     

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gone Too Soon (My Band, That Is)

Well, it seems that my stone of choice to slay my Goliath is going to be in the form of  a scalpel.  I spoke to Janet on Friday, and we have scheduled band removal for the last week in July. Though I can honestly say that right now in this moment I would gladly climb on that operating table and get it done right this minute.  She was going to talk to Dr. M. and see what his thoughts were.  I'm thinking I'll call her in the morning and ask him if he can add me on for Tuesday.  Yes, my friends, it really is THAT BAD.   The past two nights have been unbearable, as during sleep I'll reflux and wake up choking, leading to frequent trips to the bathroom for little mini-vomit sessions.  It was after 5 am the last time I looked at the clock before dozing off this morning.  After losing everything I tried to eat yesterday, how strange that I was ultimately able to keep down a chicken strip... and then a second one a bit later.  Not the best food choice, but... I'm getting desperate here.  The day before, I had tried a small bite of chicken and it was a no-go.  I realize I'm supposed to be on liquids and soft food... but even that isn't working for me.  At any rate, I am ready for it to come out.  I've lost 47.8 lbs, with another 45 to go... but I'm just going to have to learn how to do it on my own.  I'm wanting to lose pounds... not starve to death (literally).  Crazy thing is, even with virtually nothing in my stomach for days now, I'm still not hungry.  I'm really going to miss that once the band comes off.  The not-being-hungry thing is amazing. 

Happy 4th of July, everyone!  Remember that freedom was not, and never will be free!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Goliath - The Ultimate Roller Coaster

My daughter Whitney and her friend Whitney went to Six Flags last Saturday.  Yep, Whitney and Whitney.  They've known each other since second grade.  There were only two Whitneys in the entire school, and they were both in the second grade.  And they had the same teacher.  Whitney B and Whitney P.   I always thought they should have been in separate classes, to make it easier for the teachers and the girls, but if memory serves me, they were in the same class all the way through fifth grade, and they were friends all through high school.  We love Whitney P!!!

That reminds me of another story.  Kate, Whitney, and Brittany were inseperable in high school, and every weekend found them spending the night with each other.  Kate's dad Bill, gave up on trying to keep tabs on Whitney and Brittany, so he called them both "Itney".  Funny thing is, they both answered him.

That reminds me of another story.  Kate's dad, Bill, isn't really named Bill. Whitney met Kate in middle school, and it was probably sometime late in their high school years that I discovered I had been calling him by the wrong name for years.  I even had to call him at work one time for something or another, asked for Bill R., and he said "this is he".  Long after that, Kate's mom and I were talking, and she kept saying "Jim" this and "Jim" that.  Finally I said "Who is Jim?"  She said "Jim is my husband" and I said, "No, your husband's name is Bill!"  We all had a good laugh, and I still call him Bill. 

Okay, so back to the two Whitneys.  They had a blast at Six Flags, and even took a video of the Goliath ride.  The kind like you see on tv where it feels like you're riding along too.  It was pretty cool.  I love roller coasters!!  I'm looking forward to the day when I won't have to worry whether or not I'll fit in the seat!

I haven't always loved them.  I was probably 10 or so when Six Flags opened here in Georgia.  All my aunts, uncles, cousins, Mama Nay and Daddy Bill went to the park one day.  We rode the Runaway Mine Train... a humongous monster of a roller coaster in its time.  I had never ridden such a thing before, and I almost killed my poor cousin Sharon, who was sitting beside me.  I all but clawed her eyes out and would have crawled right over her and got myself off of that runaway train, had the restraints not worked so well.  But I was ever so brave once I got off and swore I loved it and would ride it again and again.  (Of course after being sure that the line was so long there was no way we'd stand in it again!)

I guess it's a good thing I love roller coasters, because my little band is sure taking me on a ride.  I'm really trying to be positive, and think good thoughts, praying for guidance and perseverence.  Yesterday was fairly good most of the day.  About the usual amount of pain.  I worked out at the Wellness Center two days this week, and only threw up once yesterday.  Our work load was low this morning, so I took a few hours off and went back to bed.  Around noon I had my "morning" coffee, water, and feeling a little sassy for my ownself, I decided to try a bowl of instant cheese grits.  Not very nutritional, but I mainly wanted to see if I could tolerate it.  Everything went fine... only one minor painful swallow, and I kept it down quite nicely.  I had taken my medicine when I got up earlier this morning, and then took another dose  a few hours later.  Late afternoon, I was feeling confident and decided to try a spinach souffle that had been lurking for a few weeks in my freezer.  (Note to self:  Spinach on pizza - yummy!  Spinach dip - yummy!  Spinach souffle?  mmm not so much.  Blech.  Corey loved it though, so all those fabulous protein grams didn't go to waste!)  So when the spinach was a bust, I tried some single-serving cheesy cauliflower.  Mmmm got about half that down before the pain was so bad I couldn't take it.  Lost it in the john.  For dinner, I tried a tiny bit of one Chic-Filet nugget... tossed my cookies on that. (Cookies?  I haven't had a cookie in so long I can't remember what it would taste like!)  So, I'm about to lose faith in the medication.  Andy said it should kick in right away, not one of those kinds that have to be on board for several days before you see a difference.

I'm not enjoying this roller coaster ride at all.  I never know which bite or which sip is going to send my esophagus into painful spasms that are all-too-frequently now leading to puking.  And it's not just solid food or mushies, sometimes water, coffee, or my protein drink will bring it on.   I've looked at the calendar trying to find a time that will work to schedule removal.  There's only a couple of possible dates between now and October that would work.  I'm going to give the medicine one week to work.  It's bad enough to be in terrible pain when I eat, but the throwing up thing is the final straw.   No matter how much I fear gaining back what I have lost, I can't continue on in this manner.  I'm almost to the point of just going ahead and scheduling band removal, but I also know there are people praying for me and my band buddy, and provided things don't continue to deteriorate, I'm committed to giving the medication a week to see if it helps.  In the meantime, I'll just keep collecting my stones in my little leather pouch, and I'll be ready to slay my own personal Goliath in the very near future.  I'll either get better, or I'll have it removed.  It's pretty much as simple as that.