Tag Archives: Husband

Another Goal Met: My Half-Marathon and More!

Yes, I did it! I ran my first half-marathon on May 8, 2016! Sometimes I can’t believe I went from this woman in her first 5K race in 2012 to this woman who ran her first half-marathon!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

Here I am celebrating at my first half-marathon and my first 5K! Gastric sleeve surgery has changed me in so many ways!

What was it like to run 13.1 miles? I’ve thought a lot about it this past week and I finally decided the best way to describe it is to compare it to my weight loss journey. Let me share the ways…

First, committing to a half-marathon was like committing to my gastric sleeve surgery. I wanted to change-up my running routine and a half-marathon seemed like the right choice. In August I registered for the Disneyland Tinker Bell marathon and then I knew there was no turning back. It was like when I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery. I started in October 2012 researching this life-changing procedure and had to wait until June 2013 to have the surgery due to my insurance company’s rules.

Waiting for a major event is tough. It gives you time to worry if you’re making the right decision. You question if this really is the right thing to do. Now, running a half-marathon isn’t quite like reconfiguring your stomach, but committing to new things can be scary. And just like when I announced on my blog that I was having surgery, I proclaimed that I would run a half-marathon. For me, sharing my goals helps me be accountable for my actions. When your friends and family want to know how your prep work is going for a new goal, you can’t hide!

Just like I prepared for the half-marathon, I had prepared for my surgery. I did all the homework on how my life would change with the sleeve. Weight loss surgery is a physical change and of course, it means you change your eating habits and exercise routine. But it is also a very mental change and in some ways, it’s the more difficult change you must make to be successful. I went on websites and I talked to people who had the surgery. I took in as much information as I could.

For the race, I also read as much as I could about running from magazines and websites. I joined Facebook groups about Disney races so I could prepare as best I could. During my race training, I reminded myself of all the changes I made to lose weight, so I shouldn’t let a training schedule scare me. Well, it did when I started. I followed Jeff Galloway’s program for the Tinker Bell run in the beginning. I changed it up when I had other races. I started the training with my first 15K which was not in schedule! It was a difficult race, but my local running partner, R., kept me going. We had to finish for the hot chocolate! Finishing this race gave me the confidence that I could do longer races, but it was a good reminder that it would be tough.

And I’ve tackled tough things during my Down the Scale journey. Weight gains, boredom, lack of confidence, stress and depression are just a few problems I’ve met and admittedly, I still fight. So even when my training runs became longer, I knew I could do it. I would do it my way, which to most runners is really slow. I run. I walk. I run again. My training pace was under the Disneyland required pace of 16 minutes per mile, but I worried about it anyway. I even tackled hills, including my beloved Golden Gate Bridge, to build my stamina and to try to quiet my fears. If I can run 12 miles throughout hilly San Francisco, what was 13.1 miles of flat Disneyland and Anaheim?

“It’s scary, that’s what!” This is what I said to myself at 5 AM on a dark Sunday morning when race day arrived. Fortunately, it was only a moment of doubt as my amazing race partner, B., kept me focused and excited about what was to come. Let me take this moment, to share how much it meant to me to have my friend, B., with me for this special day. I have known her for over 20 years and not only was she an incredible friend and sorority sister during our college days, she’s been there, via long distance though my adult life and my weight loss journey. When I asked if anyone would like to join me on this race last year, she said yes and flew across country to do it. B. is someone who I admire for so many reasons and to have her running next to me was more than I could ask for.

B. is one of many people who have supported and encouraged me since I started my journey. Listening to B.’s pre-race pep talk reminded me of all the people who have made my success possible. I remembered my fear of hitting the publish button on my first blog post, hoping I would be supported and not ridiculed for choosing weight loss journey.  A whole new world opened up to me, full of cheerleaders near and far. People shared their stories with me all while encouraging me to go after my dreams of a healthy life. By sharing my story, I have strengthened relationships and made new friendships that keep me going.

The smiling faces and cheers from strangers along the course reminded me of all the “real life” cheerleaders I have in my life. They have cheered me on during my successes, big and small! Now random strangers were encouraging to keep running (or keep swimming as it was a Disney race after all). From high school marching bands to the Red Hat Society women to Tinker Bell, there was joy and well wishes throughout the miles!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you're doing to stop for photos!

My amazing friend, B., with me at Radiator Springs during the race! Disney races are the perfect ones for first time races since you know you’re doing to stop for photos!

Nothing is more exhilarating than to run through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and Radiator Springs when you’re a Disney fan like me. I’ve thought about all the times I’ve walked both Disneyland and Disney World and before last year, not once did I think that I would run in the parks. I have always enjoyed Disney parks even when I was obese, but when I lost weight, these trips became even better. To think I’ve gone from worrying if I would fit in a ride to running through the parks in a half-marathon was a bit surreal.

Just like the struggles I faced in my beginning of my gastric sleeve journey, I struggled during the race. 13.1 miles is long. Really long. Especially at Mile 8. Yeah, you’ve gone 8 miles! Oh, shit, you have 5 to go!! My walking intervals became longer than my running intervals. I was chewing on my Sports Beans like they were crack. I dug deep in my head and heart to remind myself I could do this. My longest run was 12 miles so I knew my body could do it, even though my thighs were trying to disagree. It was my head and my soul that were struggling the most.

And just like when I doubt myself in my abilities to keep healthy, I turned to my support group. In this case, it was B. who knew just what to do. She started timing our intervals. She pointed out the amazing scenery and the encouraging crowds surrounding us. She reminded me again and again, of this special race we were running and that we would could do it! I will be forever thankful for her determination to keep me going and for her reminders that I could succeed.

What also kept me going was seeing my ever-supportive hubby and kids near the finish line. They are 3 of the biggest reasons I had surgery and that I continue to work on my health. They support me in everything I do and this race was no exception. While I was pretty excited to see Captain Hook at the end of race, it was the smiling faces of my family that made me cry. I hope that my kids see that even though their Mommy is a bit crazy and stressed a times, that she’s also silly enough to dress like Tic Tock Croc and run 13.1 miles for fun! I’m not sure if they’ll ever know how much they help me to achieve my goals. I just hope that seeing me set up goals and then meet them, even with much difficulty, will encourage them to do the same.

Running over the finish line made me cry, too! B. turned to me and said, “You did it!” and that just made me cry more. It also made the woman next to me cry, too, after she hugged me. And that is also another amazing thing about sharing your joy…it affects everyone around you! The best running races are the ones where everyone encourages each other, and the Tinker Bell race was one of those! Even though I’m sure the woman giving out medals was exhausted, she took the time to let B. take a photo of me getting my medal.

I'm sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

I’m sweaty and exhausted, but excited and amazed that I finished my first half-marathon!

And while this isn’t the most flattering photo of me from the race, I think it’s an important one to share. Yes, I’m sweaty and exhausted from the run, but I was overwhelmed with emotion receiving my medal. For me, it’s like an Olympic medal! From stumbling through my first 5K as an obese woman to running a half-marathon as a healthy woman, here I was, a better version of myself that I never dreamed was possible. Pushing myself through the race was just like pushing myself throughout this weight loss journey for the past three years. I chose to set a goal and I followed through. This is my success.

The post-race day is a bit of a tired blur. I had time to shower, take family photos with B. and enjoy beignets with no guilt. We left that same day and the car ride home was long. My thighs complained for 2 days about the race, but the rest of me was actually in good shape. I did take a week off from running, but I’ve started back up. Somehow, it’s not as fun without the cheering crowds and views of Disneyland, but it always feels good to run.

Yes, I’m back to running and I haven’t picked my next race. No, it’s not going to be a marathon! Honestly, having run 13.1 miles, I can’t even fathom running twice that amount! Even with my B. as my coach, I think I half-marathons are my max! I have set some new running goals though. I want to work on my pace and endurance. Running will always be my first love when it comes to exercise and while I want to keep physically improving, I don’t want to lose the positive mental benefits I get from it. Goals are important, but making them reasonable is important too.

Thank you to everyone who supported me during my training and my race. From my first cheerleader, N., who started me running to R. who runs with me locally to A. who restructured my training schedule and took me out to celebrate my race, I am incredibly blessed to have so many people like them in my life. When I started on journey 3 years ago, I thought it was just about losing weight. It turned out to be so much more. I became heathy. I became a runner. I became a writer. I became the person I wanted to be, but never thought I could be. Once I started sharing my fears along with my goals, I was finally able to tackle my weight as well as my mental health. While I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning, the most important thing I’ve realized is that I can do what I want to do! It’s not always easy and failure is part of the process, but it’s a journey worth taking. I plan to keep running and keep setting goals as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Nothing is better than celebrating your half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

We did it!  Nothing is better than celebrating your first half-marathon with your running partner afterward! We stopped for photos before beignets!

Lack of Anticipation….

Here we are in mid-January and I have to say I’m not doing as well getting back to my heathy lifestyle. Oh, it’s not like I’ve gone back to my pre-surgery habits, but I haven’t gone back to my pre-holiday habits either. The Christmas break lackadaisical way of eating is more in play than I’d like to admit. I’m back to nonfat lattes, but sugary snacks are finding their way into my pudgier than I would like belly. What to do, what to do….

For the past few weeks I’ve tried to think of how to get back on track. For some strange reason I thought of Helen Mirren in the movie Gosford Park. (Spoiler alert!) My heart broke when her character, Mrs. Wilson, explains how she knew her son was going to try to kill his father. It’s because she’s a good servant who can anticipate the needs of those she serves. She knows what they need before they do.

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

The Tinker Bell Half Marathon is keeping me motivated to maintain my post gastric sleeve lifestyle!

Now, I’m not putting on the martyr hat and declaring myself a servant. Although when my adorable children yell down the hall for a new roll of toilet paper that is within their reach, I feel like Cinderella, and I don’t mean the glass slippers version. What I relate to is Mrs. Wilson being able to anticipate other people’s needs when it’s clear she is subverting her own.

Again, I’m not being melodramatic and saying my needs aren’t important. If that was the case I would never have started my Down the Scale journey. What I’ve noticed is that I’m not anticipating my own needs. I always try (but admittedly don’t always succeed) to be there for my family and friends. I try to be as helpful and prepared for them as I can be. When I’m not prepared for my own needs, though, life is harder than it should be.

For example, I’m always a bit sad after the holidays. I love the break and spending time with my ever-supportive hubby and sweet kids, but I miss the East Coast and my family back there. January means back to demanding schedules and early, dark evenings and with El Niño it means lots and lots of rain.

I should be prepared for this and find ways to combat the post-holiday blues since this happens every year. Instead I let myself keep to my erratic eating and exercising habits. In December I should anticipate my upcoming funk and make a plan of action.

Even though I missed planning ahead, I still can change my mindset. Yes, I’m suffering from East Coast homesickness, but I’m working on summer plans to visit our families. Anticipating a trip always makes me feel better.

The biggest and most useful preparation I can make is to have better food choices, so when I get the January blues, I’m not using food to numb my feelings. All the holiday treats are now out of the house. While low-fat cherry Greek yogurt isn’t the same as peppermint bark, it’s a better choice. No more peppermint mochas, just nonfat lattes.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think about my two upcoming Disneyland trips to help combat my post holiday depression. First is a family trip which is one of the happiest trips my family makes each year. It’s one of the fun and silliest times with my Disney crazy family! And I want to be at my healthiest because there will be lots of walking and I want to look good for my annual photo with Thor. Or maybe Captain America this year.

Then there is my first half marathon in May. I am nervous but I’m excited to complete this big goal in my weight loss journey. Training is tough, but deep down I know I can do it. I am now following a training schedule which is easy to follow and fits into my schedule. I also bought new running shoes and a running raincoat is on order so I can run even in the rain.

While I can’t fix my rough start this year, I hope this revelation will stick in my mind as the year progresses. There is the winter slump, the sugar crash post-Easter, the first wearing of the bathing suit and the mid-summer “how do I keep my kids from fighting anymore blues”, just to name a few events.

My plan is to prepare my head, heart and pantry for these upcoming challenging times. Since I don’t have Helen Mirren anticipating my needs, it’s up to me. Being responsible for myself is the best thing I can do as I continue to go Down the Scale.

No to Resolutions. Yes to Re-Commitments

Yes, I’m saying no once again to New Year’s resolutions just as I did last year. As I shared last January, I feel like they set me up for failure. Why should the start of a new year require me to set goals? Of course I make goals all year long like running a half-marathon and decluttering my home. Instead of resolutions I decided to recommit myself to my weight loss/healthy living goals. It all started with resizing my rings.

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

Here I am with my properly fitting rings to start off the new year!

What do rings and recommitment have to do with a healthy life? For me, resizing my wedding and engagement rings were the final piece of my weight loss metamorphosis. My big, loose rings were the last physical reminder of my obese life. I admit it was nice to have a reminder of how far I’ve come over the past few years since my gastric sleeve surgery. The rings spinning around on my slim fingers said to me, “See, you did it!”

But there was a part of me that was scared to have them permanently resized. I’ve lost and gained more weight in my lifetime than I can count, so thinking of myself at this weight permanently was daunting. No, it was frightening.

So for the past few years I put off doing it, which is really silly considering if I need to adjust my rings I could do it. For full disclosure, these aren’t even my original rings. I had my engagement ring reset to a different shade of gold and the wedding ring is a new one I needed when I gained my pregnancy weight the first time around. So even with that in mind, I still thought of the act of resizing my rings as the final commitment to my new life as a healthy woman.

Finally, I took my rings to the jewelery store. It was fitting that my friend, N., who was instrumental in me starting my journey three years ago, came with me. I slipped off my rings and handed them to jeweler who looked a bit confused by the size of them. I went from a size 8 ½ to a 5. Yes, even fingers lose weight! As I proudly shared my story with him, I knew I was doing the right thing.

I did panic though when I picked the rings up a few weeks later. They felt tight and restrictive. My face must have given away my fear as the jeweler told me to come back if they felt too tight. It reminded me of the day after my surgery, when I struggled to sip water and felt panicked about my decision. No one likes to second guess themselves.

No, I didn’t take them back. I would say they’ve loosened up, but I think it’s me who’s loosened up. It’s great to have rings that fit properly. And that’s how I feel about my healthy life now. It’s the right fit. I can’t imagine not being the person I am today. Sure, I still want to lose a few more pounds, run faster and handle stress better. I think most people are always striving to improve a little, or a lot. I know that I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

2016 is not the start of new resolutions, but a recommitment to the positive and healthy changes I made years ago. My perfectly fitting rings symbolize not only my commitment to my ever-supportive husband and the family we created, but to myself. They are a good reminder of the best commitments I choose. I will continue my commitments this year as I keep going Down the Scale…

Are We There Yet?

This week I had my one year followup to my tummy tuck/hernia repair surgery. Dr. C. examined my fading scar and said it looked great and to let him know if I needed anything else in the future. Otherwise we were done.

I thanked him and left smiling as I am thrilled with my results, but the word “done” stuck in my head. I never feel done with anything, especially when it comes to my weight loss. Will I ever feel done with my weight loss journey?

I will keep running toward a healthy life as my gastric sleeve journey evolves!

I will keep running toward a healthy life as my gastric sleeve journey evolves!

To be honest, no, I never will be done. For one, I will always struggle with food. Am I a food addict? I don’t necessarily think so, but I definitely can overeat. The gastric sleeve surgery keeps me from overeating in one sitting, but I can eat through the day and night if I’m not conscious of it. Gastric sleeve surgery does not take the desire to “stress eat” away.

My surgery started my path to a healthy physical and mental life, but it was by no means a quick fix. Yes, it did help me lose weight very quickly and that gave me the motivation and instant gratification to change my lifestyle. To keep the weight off and stay healthy is up to me now. I’ve seen how mindless eating and stress lower my desire and confidence in my healthy lifestyle. No, my weight loss journey is not done.

When I think about it, though, it’s not truly a weight loss journey that I’m on now. Oh, I still have at least 10 pounds I’d like to lose, but my focus is on being healthy in body and mind. In many ways, a healthy mind and soul keeps my body in check. When I’m depressed or anxious, I want to be immediately comforted. In the past, food was my comfort. Food gave me pleasure and distracted me from my true feelings. Since I’m determined not to gain back the 100 pounds I lost, what do I do now?

I wish I had the complete answer to that question. Naturally I have some of the answers like exercising, eating properly and talking about my stress and depression. I am doing some of these things, but sometimes it isn’t enough. I need to learn to believe in myself and be comforted by my past successes and current achievements. Keeping off this much weight is a big deal! Exercising regularly and running races are successes!

But to be honest, sometimes it’s just not enough. It’s so easy to fall back on the failures of my journey. Those last 10 pounds taunt me from my scale. Some mornings my walk/run style of running feels pathetic as I watch “real” runners pass me by. Some days I feel utterly alone in my struggle to be positive and healthy.

So for anyone who thinks that gastric sleeve surgery is a cure-all, I am here to share that it is not. Don’t we all wish for a magic pill to fix what ails us? My journey continually reminds me that to be the person I want to be, I have to work for it. No one else can do it for me. I can’t do it for my husband, kids or my friends. It will always be me who is in control of my behavior and attitude.

Now this doesn’t mean I am always alone. I am incredibly lucky to have a supportive network of family, friends and doctors to lean on. I am still learning to reach out. I hate feeling like a burden. I feel like I shouldn’t have to ask for help this far in my journey. Aren’t people tired of helping? Of course the answer is no. The people who love you want to support you. Fortunately I have people in my life who remind me that they’re there for me. I hope I am there for them, too.

So, basically, my answer is “No, I’m not there yet.” For me, my weight loss turned healthy life journey will need to evolve as I do. Sometimes it will be about losing weight. Sometimes it will be about motivating myself to eat right and exercise. Sometimes it will be about fighting depression. It will always be about being the healthiest woman I can be in this lifetime. And that will keep me going Down the Scale…

The End of Summer and New Fall Goals…

I did it!  I signed up for my first half marathon!  I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

I did it! I signed up for my first half marathon! I hope Disneyland and Tinker Bell will be ready for me next year!

Summer is ending and I, for one, am relieved. This summer has been more difficult on many levels than past ones. My usually adorable children have fought about everything and anything. My ever supportive husband works from home two days a week so in the summer he gets to experience the kids’ fights along with my nonexistent patience all day long. My long list of summer goals including decluttering the house, writing my Down the Scale book and losing more weight are still glaring at me from my to-do list. Sigh…

Now, I’m not saying the summer was completely bad. We managed to have some wonderful family time on vacation. We’re all still in one piece, but I think we’re all looking forward to heading back to a routine that includes time away from each other. I think the school year provides structure, time with our friends and an appreciation for the time we do have with each other.

For me, it is a time to refocus on my personal goals. I still haven’t been on the scale, but I know the weight that creeped up on me in the Spring is still there along with another pound or two. My clothes still fit, but not like they have in the past. I know what caused this: random snacking. Whether the kids and I were home or out and about, it was easy to grab a snack without thinking about it. Mindless eating has always been my downfall. Although I do have a smaller stomach from my gastric sleeve surgery, once my stomach empties out, I have room for more food. I really hate keeping a food journal, but I must admit, it might be time to start one again.

Managing my stress is always one of my personal goals and this Fall it will be no different. My children will have completely different schedules so life will be changing again. I know it always works out, but until we come up with a working schedule, I worry. Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I feel extra pressure to make their lives and our entire family’s schedule seamless. If this is my only job, I should do it really well, right? But then I remind myself that no one is perfect at any job, right? Right?

To help me manage my stress, I realized I need to increase my physical activity. As a former sedentary woman, it still seems strange to tell myself to go for a run to feel better. But it works every single time. Even if it’s more of a walk than a run, I never regret going out to exercise.

So to help me refocus on my exercising goals, I signed up for my first half-marathon. Umm, isn’t that adding more stress by setting up a huge goal like running 13.1 miles?! Well, in theory it should be, but I’ve decided that it is a positive goal for me in many, many ways. How so? Let me share:

*I’m a goal oriented person, so having a goal like this helps me focus on what is important to achieve success. And by success, I mean my own version of success. Just finishing the marathon is success to me. My finish time is not important; finishing is important.

*I’m the kind of woman who likes to have something to look forward to. Knowing that I will have a girls weekend in May at Disneyland will get me through the days when I’m overwhelmed. Thinking about that upcoming break from reality will get me through the stressful days.

*This goal is all about me! This isn’t about my role as a mother or wife or friend or family member. I can’t control everything about myself in these roles. I admit I’m not particularly good in these roles from time to time, but thankfully I have understanding people in my life. I can control, though, how I handle this goal. It’s up to me to train properly, eat right and pick out the perfect race day outfit.

Time to say goodbye to Summer and put my disappointment and unfulfilled goals aside. I have new goals to work on so there is no time for regret. My Fall goals will still include decluttering the house, working on my book and losing weight, but now I’ve added running a half-marathon to the list. I know that adding this running goal will help me with my other aspirations. Running helps me lose weight, but more importantly it clears my mind and lessens my stress. I look forward to running toward my half-marathon goal and running Down the Scale…

So this is Middle Age?

Yes, I'm a middle-aged woman!  At 46, I'm in the best shape of my life!  My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Yes, I’m a middle-aged woman! At 46, I’m in the best shape of my life! My weight loss journey keeps getting better and better.

Happy birthday to me! Last week I celebrated my 46th birthday. Yes, I did say celebrate. I’m proud to be 46 which I guess would be considered to be middle-aged. What does it mean to be middle-aged? For me it means:

*Being in the best shape of my life! Losing 100+ pounds means I am in great health. I don’t have high blood pressure any longer and I’m not pre-diabetic. I am rarely sick and my last doctor visits have all been check-ups with good results.

*Being physically active! If you told me two years ago that I would be a middle-aged runner, I would have asked what you were smoking. Never in a million years would I have imagined myself running and entering races.

*Being able to keep up with my kids! I had my children at what the medical profession calls “an advanced maternal age”, so I originally had the mindset that I would be on the sidelines watching my kids. Wrong! I love walking and hiking with my family. I am thrilled and proud that I now model healthy living for my children.

*Being a priority is OK! I used to think that my needs and desires needed to be last in order to be a good person. I felt I should say yes to all requests and maintain relationships even if they weren’t healthy. Finally, I realized that to be the healthiest and happiest person, I need to make myself a priority. Taking care of myself, makes me a better mother, wife, friend and person.

*Being unsure is OK, too! When I was in college, I was terrified of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. That fear was pointless as I now proudly say that my life is turning out pretty well! Even in my younger years when I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, I managed to figure it out. Now that I’m middle-aged I’ve realized life is always changing and that it actually is a good thing. I’ve realized that I’m the type of person who actually thrives on changes and new goals. It makes me stronger and that is actually a positive and not a negative!

So, for me, middle-age is a gift. It doesn’t mean being old or being settled or being stagnant. It’s given me an incredible gift of looking back at the first half of my life and realizing it’s been pretty good! Sure I’ve had heartbreak, challenges and pain, but I’ve learned from all that. I’m sure I’ll repeat some of it again, too. And that’s just fine with me. I see how I can face challenges and continue to grow into the person I want to be…for now at least. I know that Jen, the middle-aged woman, will continue to change as the years go by. I look forward to seeing where I go in the next 46 years!

Going Down in Size and the Scale…

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I'm up and going!

Two weeks after my incisional hernia repair and tummy tuck, and I’m up and going!

It’s been two weeks since I made another “investment” in myself. I’m recovering from my abdominal hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries relatively well. I’m sore, tired and emotional, but I’m slowly getting back to normal. I thought this recovery would be easier than my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’m not sure that it is. The physical pain is worse and the emotional aftermath is more than I anticipated, but just as I knew my sleeve surgery was worth it, I feel the same way about this surgery. The past two weeks are just another part of my journey to a healthier me.

So, let’s go back two weeks ago. The ever-supportive hubby and I arrived at the same hospital in the morning. I was excited, nervous and dying for a cup of coffee. Not eating before surgery is easy, but no coffee is torture. I forgot my coffee desires once I went back to pre-op. This experience was easier than last year’s experience. Losing 100+ pounds makes an IV go in a lot easier and quicker!

The strangest part of pre-op was having my plastic surgeon, Dr. C., take a Sharpie pen to my body to mark the incisions and areas where he would remove the skin. The reality of my future body hit me. I would have a “normal” stomach. The reality of the future pain also dawned on me as I saw how much he skin he would be taking. To distract myself from that thought, I asked Dr. C if they would weigh the skin they removed. OK, I know it sounds gross, but wouldn’t you want to know? He promised me he would let me know.

Finally, I went in the operating room and I was out before I knew it. I’m not sure what my surfer-dude anesthesiologist gave me, but I went under quickly and I woke up in the recovery room feeling great. My nurse kept the good feelings going with a cup of delicious ice chips. My mood continued with Dr. C walking in. My hernia surgeon, Dr. J, finished his part first, so Dr. C was there to check on me and call my husband with the results.

Everything went well according to Dr. C. I was thrilled to have my hernia repaired, my intestines put back into place and the skin removed. Dr. C. gave me the number I asked for…three and a half pounds of skin and fat removed! Yikes! No matter how much exercise I did, I would have never worked that off my stomach.

Unfortunately my good mood faltered once I got to my hospital room. My poor roommate was in pain after whatever surgery she had and she didn’t speak English. She and the great nurses managed to communicate when her family wasn’t there, but it made for a chaotic setting. It did distract me somewhat from my own issues. The nausea set in as soon as I settled in my room. I do not handle the IV pain medication well. I must have had my own language issues because I couldn’t get the nurses to take me off it They would give me anti-nausea medication thankfully, but it made for a long night.

The next morning the hubby joined me at the hospital. Once Dr. C and J., Dr. J’s physician assistant come by and told me I needed to stay another night, I sent Dave home. I learned from my sleeve surgery that I needed to sleep as much as I could so Dave didn’t need to keep me company. Also, I felt better having him home with the kids. Much of my surgical anxiety comes from my children’s emotional well-being. Knowing Dave was with them helped me.

So, I was stuck another night at the hospital. I was not a happy camper. Just when I was resigning myself to another night of nausea and noise, an angel appeared. I didn’t think it would be in the form of a tall, slightly German accented man. This nurse happily took me off the IV pain medication. Nurse A was my hero! He switched me to a liquid painkiller, which even with its rock candy dipped in Kool-Aid flavor, was 100 times better. The nausea went away and the neon green lime jello was finally appealing.

When Dr. J and J, the physician assistant, arrived the next morning, I was sitting in a chair chatting with Dave. They smiled and said I looked like I was ready to go home. Yes, I was! Of course, it’s never that simple. I kept hearing that line from the song “Hotel California”, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” Nurse E needed discharge papers from Dr. C and he was in surgery. Can I tell you how wonderfully persistent Nurse E was for me? She called, she texted and she kept calling until she received the discharge information. She and the hubby helped me get ready to go home which included finding an easy way to get dressed with my drains.

Yes, I was sent home with two drains, one near each hip. From what I understand, they are there to help with recovery, but I found them to be a huge pain and gross. I now have more sympathy for men and their external genitalia. These bulbous shaped drains were pinned to my shirt, but they bounced around and I was always worried about sitting on them.

Finally, I was home to see my babies! My ten-year old’s smile was beautiful and soothing. My six-year-old managed not to squeeze me like she normally does and it was her glowing smile that made me feel warm and fuzzy. And all the “pretty things,” like her butterfly nightlight and flowered shaped trinket box, she insisted on giving me from her room, kept the mood light.

So I was home with my spectacular family when the reinforcements arrived! My always thoughtful friend, N, organized a group of friends to help pick up my kids from school and bring dinner. We were spoiled by all the generosity and help. It was just another reminder of how lucky I am to have such a special group of friends.

Six days after surgery, my drains and many of my bandages were removed. I could finally see some of the results of my surgery. I think “Holy Sh*t” were my exact words the first time I looked in the mirror. I was shocked by my new stomach, in a good way. Although my incisions are Frankenstein-like and my abdomen is swollen, I can see that I am considerably smaller. Let the photos show you:

Here is abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after.  What a difference!  I can't wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn't swollen and is completely healed!

Here is my abdomen on the day of surgery and two weeks after. What a difference! I can’t wait to see what it looks like when my tummy isn’t swollen and is completely healed!

Impressive, if I may so myself. I cannot wait to see what it will look like when I heal completely. I know I will never have the abs of a supermodel, but I don’t care! I just want to have a “normal” body.

So here I am healing and finally getting out and about. I am nowhere near 100%. I tire easily. I am very sore. My incisions itch now and then and they’re still gross to look at. I didn’t expect to be so emotional, but some days I am weepy. I think it’s because I feel a bit helpless and unproductive. In theory, it sounds great to lay around and rest, but after a while it is surprisingly depressing. I never thought I would have strong urges to get up and clean and organize my house. Who knew I would have laundry withdrawal?

Hopefully, these cleaning and organizing urges will be around when I’m allowed to resume normal activities. I’m listening to my surgeons and my personal doctor, Dr. Hubby. My ever-supportive husband is incredible. He is handling his normal responsibilities plus mine while taking care of me. Once again, I realize how lucky I am to have him as my partner in my journey.

Just as I took charge of my health in June 2013 by having gastric sleeve surgery, I am happy that I took charge once again and had the hernia repair and tummy tuck surgeries. Every choice I make that improves my health is worth any pain, depression and nausea if it gets to me to my final goal: being the healthiest and happiest person I can be.