Sunday, November 21, 2010

Breaking the Double Century Mark...Again

It finally happened today. For the second time in my life I have crossed over from the 200's into the 100's on the scale, going in the preferred direction. I know what you're going to say...."But you don't LOOK like you weigh 200 pounds!" Well, thanks. I really do though, and the crazy thing is that I actually feel really skinny right now.

If you know me well, you know that in April of 2003 I weighed 326 pounds. I'm still not exactly sure how that happened. I made the choice to have gastric bypass surgery and over the course of the next year and a half I lost 395 pounds. That would be 145 pounds worth of me and 250 pouds worth of ex-husband. All for the best, next chapter. You can read about the first year or so of my weight loss surgery journey here: Scroll down to "My Story."

I never reached my goal of 170, but hung around at 185 for some time. (Nope, never made a goal to get to my ideal weight.) After having two children I found my weight climbing again. I wasn't sure if my small stomach had stretched or what, and sought the advice of a surgeon. Through endoscopy this past February, it was discovered that I had a hiatal hernia that was probably there at the time of my gastric bypass surgery. Therefore my stomach pouch was not made as small as my original surgeon thought. Then, as I lost weight (a whole person, mind you! you can clap if you want because 145 pounds is really, really awesome!) and then gained and lost with two pregnancies, the herniated portion of my stomach relaxed and fell back through the opening in the me more room to eat. And that's exactly what I did. Fan-stinkin-tastic.

It made a lot of sense, though, because I had been having some discomfort from eating for several months. I was also really happy to know why I was gaining weight. Making the decision to have the hiatal hernia repaired was easy. The tough part was deciding how to deal with the semi-ruined gastric bypass. There were a couple of options but the one I chose was to have a lapband  placed over my gastric bypass. How the lapand has worked for me is definitely a topic for another blog alltogether because less than a week after that surgery, I started to get extremely sick. I haven't really had a chance to use the lapband much yet. I ended up back in the hospital for another week with an abdominal hernia that caused a small bowel obstruction. That required emergency surgery.

Now I feel like my blogs have gone around in circles regarding my let's review! Ha!

April 2003 - Gastric Bypass
May 2010 - LapBand Placement with Hiatal Hernia Repair & Lysis of Adhesions (removal of scar tissue)
May 2010 - Small Bowel Obstruction and Abdominal Hernia Repair
November 2010 - Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) to the point of this blog. Since the second weight loss surgery, my intention was certainly to lose weight. But the real reason for my weight loss at this point is that I have been so sick. The first 20 pounds came off directly after the surgeries in May. During the first two weeks of recovery, I had nothing but water, ice, and IV fluids. The next 15 pounds have come off as a pretty direct result of the gallbladder/possible sphincter of oddi dysfunction this fall. The nurses at my surgeon's office were actually surprised that I haven't lost more. I can tell you my secret, though. If you want to maintain your weight (or gain) just EAT CARBS. Little food demons that they are, they have kept me from wasting away too quickly. That's pretty much all I can eat right now. Foods that are high in fat, including most proteins, are just not on the happy list. I keep telling myself I should be thankful that I can at least eat something and that I have food to eat at all. Plenty of people in the world are not so lucky. Some days I really stink at being thankful but I'm working on that.

This is so bitter-sweet. I'm ultimately happy to be on the underside of 200. It's like I breathed a sigh of relief when I stood on the scale and saw a one in front of the other two numbers. In fact, I'm sure that's exactly what I did. Obesity is a life-long battle and no matter what size I am - ever - I will always have to live with struggling with my weight. Losing and maintenance are both extremely difficult but dealing with your weight has to become as much a part of your life as showering and brushing your teeth. It's similar to someone with diabetes in a lot of ways. Your life style changes, but you accept it as part of you and adjust. But in the same vein, I'm not always perfect with this life style. I sometimes make poor choices with eating and exercising, sometimes for a few days or a week, sometimes for a year. But then I get back on track. The best news is, that in order to get off track, I had to have been on track at some point. That's encouraging to me. I've done this I know I can do it again.

This baffles me, but this blog has really not been about my adorably bright and cuddly children so far. With the health surprises I've had in the last few weeks, it's almost serving as a bit of creative (and free) therapy for me right now. They are, however, along with their daddy and my faith in God, what inspires me to keep going. I absolutely can get through all of this. And, being thinner, I can enjoy my time with them so much more....because neither of them is going to sit still for long and I refuse to be left behind!!

I was amazed this week to find out that I have several readers. I think I blushed yesterday when my neighbor told me she'd been reading my blog. I think that's really neat though, and I feel pretty special to have a few, thanks!! And keep reading because good things are undoubtedly ahead! :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sphincter of WHAT?

The gallbladder surgery did not fix me. Yes, my gallbladder was inflamed and the HIDA scan showed that my gallbladder function was too low. It was part of the problem and it needed to come out. But, two weeks later, I'm still having the exact same pain as before the surgery. Excrutiating pain. Pain that feels like I'm in labor and a baby is going to come out of the middle of my back. And then I dry heave for hours. Nothing relieves the pain, not even pain medication.

So back to the doctor I went. Long story short, he thinks it is likely a fairly rare condition called sphincter of oddi disfunction.

Technically speaking, here is the definition:

Sphincter of Od·di Pronunciation: /-ˈäd-ē/
Function: n 
a complex sphincter closing the duodenal orifice of the common bile duct

The HUH? Pictured below, it's the valve, if you will, that allows bile and pancreatic fluid to flow into the uppermost part of the intestines. It helps digest your food. Sometimes the sphincter of oddi can become too tight and it doesn't release the digestive fluids properly. The duct gets blocked since the fluids don't drain out, hurts like heck.


My doctor is not 100% sure that this is the cause. It could be pancreatitis. The pancreas and bile duct work together so it can be hard to tell. I'm headed to a gastroenterologist soon to get his take on this. The treatment options vary for this condition. I can tell you one thing, though. After three surgeries in 2010, SuperMom is not ready for another one anytime soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holy Choley OR Choley 101

Cholecystectomy is the scientific name for gallbladder removal surgery. And when you have your gallbladder out, all the doctors and nurses call it a "choley" (pronounced Ko-lee). In fact, they even referred to me as a choley. As in, "Doctor E, your choley is prepped and ready for the OR." Ha.

Actually, there are a lot of funny things that are said in hospitals. When you're being prepped for surgery, several different people will ask you if you know what type of surgery you are having. I can only assume that's either to keep you from accidentally having the wrong surgery or maybe it's a quick psych consult. I really, really wanted to say that I was having a vasectomy or a boob job, just to see what kind of reaction I would get.

It seems that it's a requirement nowadays to explain what will be done during your procedure. I guess that's to give you one last chance to back out. Typically, it's a very dumbed-down version. One nurse even explained my choley to me this way, "We're gonna make a few poke-holes in your belly and take your gallbladder out that way." Clearly they don't know me...I'm one of those people who comes in with a list of questions written down just in case I'm given a sedative prior to having the opportunity to ask questions.

In all seriousness I cannot say enough nice things about the staff at Rex Hospital. Throughout all three of my hospital stays this year, I have had wonderful care from the nursing staff to the radiology department to the orderlies who wheeled me all over the place for testing.

Since my choley I'm doing pretty well and honestly, this has been nothing compared to the two surgeries I had back in May. I'm still a little sore but should be as good as new in a few more days.'s what nobody will tell you about having your gallbladder removed: You can actually continue to have some of the same symptoms after surgery. Well, isn't that just great.

There are actually a couple of promintent websites that are quite dedicated to trying to convice people not to have a choley. The reasoning is that you can manage your gallbladder attacks by not eating things that bring them on. Simple enough. Their recommendation is changing your eating habits in a major way...consuming mainly fresh, organic foods (we already know that's a healthy thing, right?), completely staying away from high fats and fried food (ok, that wouldn't be such a bad thing), and also removing any processed foods from your diet. What?! No protein bars? No teddy grams? No frozen pizzas? Ah-haha. Not happening. As much as I would love to say that I could make that kind of commitment, it's just not realistic.

So, how can you still have gallbladder attacks with no gallbladder? Let's back up. The gallbladder's job is to store bile that's been made in your liver. When you eat, the gallbladder releases the amount of bile you'll need in order to digest the type of food you've eaten. When you have your gallbladder removed, the bile duct is then attached directly to your intestines so that you still get the benefit of digestion. So, once your gallbladder is gone, they're no longer gallbladder attacks, but an issue with the right amount of bile being released for digestion. That means that the gallbladder itsself is not always 100% of the problem. The problem can lie in faulty bile ducts that supply the bile, thus resulting in poor digestion.

I'm totally not going to explain what I mean by "poor digestion." Use your imagination. The task at hand for me though, is to now figure out what I can eat and what I can't. From what I understand from other choley patients is that it's trial and error. Also, factor in the idea that the amount of bile production can vary, dependent on which way a butterfly flaps its wings on it's way to spend the winter in Mexico.

So when you notice that I'm not enjoying a doughnut with everyone else, be proud of me for having good self control. But if you notice me running for the bathroom after eating that doughnut, please remember that I'm only human!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Image Addiction

I absolutely cannot wait until Friday, November 26, 2010. Nope, not for the Black Friday deals. This is a day my sister, sister-in-law, and I plan for starting around September 1st of every year. We fervently email back and forth, visit multiple websites to get ideas, text our final selections and then breathe a sigh of relief when it's all set. It's the annual Anderson cousins Christmas photo shoot!

It started in 2006 when the cousins consisted of my brother's twin two-year-old boys and my sister's one-year-old son. I was pregnant with my son at the time and instantly fell in love with the idea. In the first photo the boys are wearing matching reindeer sweaters and have a few cookie crumbs on thier faces. (Cookies help keep toddlers still in case you're wondering.)

By 2007 There were four cousins and two more on the way. In 2008 and 2009 we weighed in with six, including the first girl. This year, for 2010, the tally has bumped up to a lucky total of seven, at which we feel fairly certain it will stay for good. That brings the score to five boys and two girls, now ages five months to six years.

Over these five years we have developed a pretty savvy game plan. There are two main positions. We have the stagers and we have the papparazzi. The stagers position the children as best as possible. They're also on hand to catch run-aways and return them as quickly as they can. The paparazzi do exactly what you think. They shoot as many pictures as they can, as fast as they can, before someone starts crying. Because, beleive me, when it comes to taking posed pictures of small children, someone always cries. And sometimes it's not one of the kids...

So this year we've decided to take this to another level. We're hiring a professional photographer to capture this family event and we're even going on location! Depending on the weather, we'll either be descending on a local park or a fancy schmancy hotel which will be all dolled up for Christmas. I'm especially excited about our photographer, who has done shoots for numerous friends and family back home this year. Check her out here:

Now you can't wait, either, right?? I'll be sure to share!

Anderson Cousins 2009

Friday, November 5, 2010

Love is patient, love is kind. Love can drive you out of your mind.

Today has been one of those days. I am home on sick leave, four days after having gallbladder surgery. My household consists of 1. Me 2. A two-year-old little girl who will not let me out of her sight 3. A three-year-old little boy who has, for some reason, regressed to pooping in his pull-up 4. A husband who had a dental procedure yesterday and, directly afterward, was headbutted in the very spot the dental work was done by number 3.

At the present, I (#1) am in my bedroom typing as quietly as can be because #2 is sleeping in her crib and #3 is in his bed, on the edge of sleep, but still singing a chorus of "mommy-mommy-mommy-mommy-mommy." #4 has escaped to the grocery store - an unlikely place for him - but apparently worth it to escape the madness that is alive and well in our home today.

It seems I've forgotten #5 and #6. I would've forgotten them completely because #5, my clingy siamese mix, is sitting at my knees, as per usual. However, #6, our elderly, very overweight and diabetic feline just barfed a load on my bedroom carpet. Maybe he was feeling left out. #4 is going to be thrilled about that. Maybe I'll get up and put some paper towels on it or something to at least give him a heads-up. Or maybe not.

#3 has mashed up the mommy-mommy-mommy with Old MacDonald. #2 is stirring and looking for a passy.

What makes no sense whatsoever is that I would rather be doing this, right here, right now, more than anything else I can think of. Why? Because I am in LOVE! Yes, love. I'm in love with all of them. My grumpy husband, my overtired children, my high need cats. Maybe not with the actual puke in the floor, but you get the picture.

Uh-oh...garage door. #2 is awake.

Anyway, this love thing is pretty heavy. It helps me do things I never thought I could. It's like this volcano of JOY that spurts up everytime I doubt that I can take one more step further. It hugs me tight when there are no human arms around. It picks me up and swings me around by my hands and plops me down gently with my head still spinning. It's pretty powerful stuff.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mom, wife, teacher, sister, daughter, wanna-be decorator and fashionista...

Let me go ahead and start by apologizing...I'M SORRY. As if you don't have enough to read in this world of endless cyberclutter. But for some reason I've decided it's time for me to start a blog. Be warned: I anticipate pages of cuddly stories about my extremely gifted, adorable, toddler and preschooler. You know, because there aren't enough blogs like that out there. And I'll probably add a little something about my life as a 3rd grade teacher, since that seems to take up 80% of my waking hours. 
Couple this with my quest to find some sort of balance between work and family and I should have a unique spin on life, right? Ok, well probably not, but maybe I'll think of something funny to say.