Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Any Movement Is Still Movement

One of the biggest reasons, other than just overall health and well-being, that I've decided to finally have surgery is that I really want to be active. I no longer want to live in fear of movement, I want to embrace it. I want to wander and explore and try new things. I don't want to be stifled by my crippling size-related fears. I am sick of skipping things because I may not have the cardiovascular capacity to do them. I want to experience all of the things that interest me without fear!

With this goal in mind, I knew I'd need to start moving much more than I currently was. Granted - this wouldn't be a tough thing to do - I've basically been sitting for the last 4 years. Seriously. It's somewhat shocking and admittedly pathetic how much time I spent being absolutely still. I was caught in a motionless cycle. I weighed so much that movement hurt, or at a minimum was uncomfortable. Not moving just made my weight grow. As my weight grew, so did the hurt and level of discomfort...and so on...and so on. So years later, I was damn near immobile - not to mention I'd get winded from walking 6 steps. Surgery is hopefully going to remove one of those obstacles - - the excessive amount of extra weight I'm carrying around - - which should, in theory make it easier to move my ass around.

In a very un-Natalie-like move, I decided I didn't want to wait until I'd gotten the bulk of the weight off to get started. I wanted to start now. I've worked with personal trainers in the past, and have had great success while I've worked with them. The truth of the matter is - I require accountability. Left to my own devices, I'm not going to push myself. I'm not going to make myself do things that are uncomfortable, and I'm certainly not going to do things that hurt. I need someone to help motivate me to do such things. I don't need someone screaming in my face (the Biggest Loser trainers give me a headache). I simply need someone to tell me what to do, and make sure I do it. So the search for a personal trainer began. I have belonged to one of the larger gym chains here in the twin cities - but knew I could never afford the membership fee + personal training sessions. (seriously - their fees are outrageous) And since YC has refused to move to MN to train me, I had to find another option. Enter Scott Sutherlin and Scott Sutherlin Fitness.

My sister's sister-in-law has attended his boot camps for quite some time now - so I asked her is she liked him. She's a bit of a no nonsense type of gal, like myself - so I figured if she liked him, there was a very good chance I would as well. She had really great things to say about him, and even brokered an introduction for me. Scott and I communicated a bit over text message - I wanted to make sure he knew what he was getting into (morbidly obese, morbidly sedentary - my new term, at a negative cardiovascular level). He had dealt with people who weren't as overweight as I am, but had helped many people lose large amounts of weight - even dealt with post-surgery folks. It seemed like a fit on paper - so we met.

At our initial meeting he made me stand the entire time. I stood for 45 minutes just chatting. I was miserable. He admitted he was doing it on purpose. I started to sweat. My knees were killing me. My hips hurt. But I did it. I don't remember the last time I stood for that long. And we seemed to have compatible personalities. I liked him immediately. So we set another meeting - this one he allowed me to sit - and we went over my short-term goals. I told him I needed to lose weight pre-surgery in order to get my appointment with the surgeon. Told him about the liquid diet, etc. We decided to contact the doc and see how much I need to lose in order to do the minimum amount of days of a liquid diet. I spoke to the nurse and they seemed very on board with me losing 50 pounds and then I only have to do 10 days of liquid before the big day.

It was the week of Thanksgiving - so Scott requested I meet at 5am on Friday morning after the holiday. I work an odd schedule - I'm a bit of a night owl - so I don't remember the last time I saw 5am, but I agreed. If you're going to do something life-changing, you might as well go all the way, right? So I arrived in what felt like the middle of the night for my first session. Excited to get moving in the right direction, but also completely panic-stricken. He simply told me to start walking. His gym is not a room filled with treadmills and elliptical machines. His gym is a room filled with free weights and squat racks and weighted bags and tires and ropes. So I started walking around the room. There were a couple of other people there - but they just went about their business. Everyone visiting while working out. A very cool vibe. I walked...slowly.... He had me change directions a couple of times. I felt like my heart was going to explode, and my knees were screaming - - but I kept moving. I walked for 15 minutes. Consecutively. This is not anything the average person would even remotely call a victory, but for me it was a total win. I hadn't walked for 15 minutes in....I couldn't even tell you the last time I did. And that was it. He is easing me into activity. He's not going to try and throw a ton of crap at me to make me miserable - he's going to work with me, and my limitations. He's got a plan to push me out of my discomfort zone, and become a mobile person.

I'm a week and a half in at this point. I've walked all but one "free" day I was granted by Scott. I've done the ropes (which I lovingly refer to as the ropes of death) a couple of times. I've carried 3 pound weights around with me a couple of times. I've started increasing my walks from a flat time to a "step count" on my FitBit. Gradually increasing so it doesn't make me panic and run. And I'm doing it. I've had a couple of days - one in particular - where I seriously contemplated skipping, but I haven't. I'm held accountable now. And I think Scott and I are just getting started on what will be a long, sometimes love-hate, relationship.

I'm hopeful that by starting to move now, it will make recovery better/faster/easier. I'm hopeful that by proving to myself that I can still do things when I'm at my worst, it will instill in me the belief that I can certainly do anything I put my mind to when I get some of these lbs. off. As much as my internal dialogue during most of walks started out being me chastising myself for allowing my bod to get to this ridiculous state, it is gradually changing. Rather than dwelling on what I did (or didn't do) to get myself to the immobile mass that I was, I'm focusing on what I'm going to be able to do. And I'm starting to suspect I might be kicking ass before we know it. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

from the mouths of babes

Last weekend I was finally able to spend some much-needed time with the fam to celebrate my dad's birthday. My 4 year old nephew had a birthday party, so arrived a little later than I did. Here was our exchange shortly after his arrival.....

Looking at me very seriously

G: Natalie - when are you having surgery?

Me: I don't know yet, buddy. I have to wait for the doctor to give me the date.

G: Are you scared to have surgery?

Me: A little bit, but I'm mostly excited because I'll be way more fun .... I'll be able to run and frolic and play with you guys.

*** short break while we try to explain frolicking to a 4 year old and his 8 year old sister ***

G: I want you to have surgery.

I really do have the greatest, most supportive family...right down to the four year old.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Waiting Game

It has been brought to my attention that I've been slacking.... Not only at my pre-surgery responsibilities, but at posting updates. My apologies. I kind of felt like I wasn't really doing much, so didn't have much to write about - - but then I realized that's the point. If I want to share with you all what I'm going through, you should also understand what feels like a never-ending waiting game. Waiting for the next appointment. Waiting for everything to stop hurting so I can feel motivated to do the walking/arm-movements they've given me to do. Waiting for the PMS I've been experiencing the last few days to pass - - you know PMS - that bitch that causes you to only want to eat crap and sit on the couch watching "Jane the Virgin" on Netflix when you're supposed to be dropping 30 pounds so you can get that coveted appointment with the surgeon. Waiting for that last department to clear you for surgery, so you're one step closer to actually getting to take this giant leap that you've finally given yourself permission to get excited about. Waiting...and waiting... and waiting.

So during this time of waiting I've been trying to drop 30-40 pounds on my own so I can finally meet with the surgeon, get put on a liquid diet to drop an additional 30-ish pounds and hopefully get that surgery scheduled so we can get this show on the road! This has been going pretty well until the last couple of days when I have found it a bit more of a challenge to stay on task with my calorie intake. I'm still tracking everything on myfitnesspal (be my friend! User name: SlimmingDowntoSexy ) but definitely would have gotten sad faces when I closed out my diary...if they used that sort of ostracizing system. I also haven't felt like doing a thing. I've gotten some laundry done. Cleaned a bit. Went shopping for some of the 342 vitamins I need to take. But other than that I've been on a 3 day bender of laziness. Really going to need to nip that in the ass soon.

Other than my epic collapse the last few days, things have been going pretty well. I was doing my walks - short, 5-6 minute walks, a few times a day. This doesn't sound like much, and it isn't. But compared to what I'd been doing, it's progress. I'm wearing my FitBit ( Be my friend! user email: ) which I know many don't trust because it isn't exactly the most accurate - but if you use it for consistency - - trying to reach similar numbers each day, and don't focus on the fact that you walked 14 million fictional steps, it serves its purpose.

Also working on eating better. Cooking more of my own food. Eating less over-processed crap from any of my favorite fast-food establishments. And it's working. I don't enjoy cooking at all - but I do feel so much better when I don't eat crap constantly. I'm working on some easy meals that are still healthy but don't dirty 8 pans and don't take forever to prep. I'm getting there.

The other milestone I've reached is that I had my CPAP follow-up appointment last week. It went very well, and I've been cleared for surgery by them as well. He did have some rather alarming info to share. There is a number that is measured by the sleep study, and my CPAP machine - - it's referred to as AHI (apnea-hypopnea index). Basically, the number of times in an hour that your breathing is interrupted in an hour. Anything under 5 is considered good. What did they measure mine to be at my sleep study? 163. One-hundred sixty three. SERIOUSLY!!! He basically said he didn't understand how I was functioning. How I was able to make it to work, etc. What he didn't know was that I would spend about 12 hours in bed trying to get enough rest to add up to an 8 hour night. I'd many times fall asleep on the couch shortly after waking up. I would frequently feel on the verge of falling asleep when driving long distances. My sleep, or lack thereof, was just another contributing factor me me allowing life to pass me by - I was too damn tired.

So after a month of using my CPAP machine - and I do use it every night, the entire time I'm sleeping - what is my AHI? 1.2. One point two. ONE POINT TWO!!! My educator couldn't believe the improvement. And I do feel totally different. Don't get me wrong - the first 2 weeks were rough. Whether it was machine-related, or just random life timing - I felt like I had a fever, and I couldn't seem to get my breath when I wasn't on the machine. But sticking with it - combined with eating better and moving a bit more - has resulted in a much more rested Natalie. I still like my sleep - don't get me wrong. I still get about 9 hours of sleep a night. I would sleep more if I let myself. But I've started setting an alarm for around 9 hours, and I feel great. No more chronic drowsiness. I can actually function.

So I'll say this to any of you who are maybe like me.... who sleep like crap - up every hour or two - but feel like you might feel claustrophobic with the mask on...give it a try. Do the sleep study. I still have to tell myself to relax for about 30 seconds every night when I put the mask on - but I sleep really well. Now I still wake up every few hours, because my body hurts if I lay in on position for too long - but I don't have to get up to use the loo. I don't check my phone to kill time until I fall back to sleep. I reposition myself and I'm right back out. I'm grateful this whole process insisted I get help with my sleep issues. My quality of life would have continued to disintegrate, or would have ended one one of my "breathing episodes" became a permanent episode.

So my goals for the next few days are to eat better and move my ass. I have an appointment with my dietitian November 2nd. I'm hoping I can be down close to 30 pounds by then. Keep the positive thoughts coming.... =)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Baby Steps to Surgery

Now that I'm about a month into this process, I figured I would give you guys an update on how this whole process is progressing. I will assure you - it is not speeding right along, but things are a snail's pace.

My first day of meetings was September 9th. My initial meetings with a nurse, a doctor and a psychologist went well. They all granted their initial support to my cause, and allowed me to move onto the next stage. I conducted my at home sleep study, failed miserably and had to go to the hospital for an overnight sleep test. (see last post for that whole fiasco)

My next round of appointments was a follow-up with the doctor to go over my blood tests. My body continued to astound everyone by continuing to avoid diabetes, even though it runs on both sides of my family. I continue to be the healthiest (internally, anyway) morbidly obese person I know. No major issues except a couple of lower levels that can be corrected with additional vitamins. I am currently taking 4 different types of vitamins, with more to come. I think this is payback for mocking my parents for the volume of vitamins they take. It's karma. =)

I also had my first appointment with my nutritionist. We went over my 3 day food diary and picked out just a couple of areas for improvement - and by a couple I mean a trillion. We went over a few goals for me to work on - basically cooking my own food, and not continuing to eat nothing but crap. I was told there was no reason to continue with my "bon voyage" tour to foods I like, as I'll be able to eat pretty much whatever I want after the surgery - just less, and not as frequently - but there is no "forbidden" list, which made me rest easy. Having a list of things I can't have - like when I was trying Slimgenics - just makes me rebel eventually. Although I know I'll have major changes to make, and will need to eat much more healthy than I have typically done over the last 20+ years - it's comforting to know I'll still be able to live a somewhat normal life. The only major limitation they've discuss so far is that they'd like me to go 1 year without drinking alcohol. That could prove to be a bit of an issue - - but I do imbibe much less frequently than I used to - so I think I can do it. Plus, I don't recover like I used to - - so it won't be so bad.

A few days later I had my follow-up with the sleep clinic where I received my CPAP machine. Somewhat terrifying - but now that I've been using it for almost 2 weeks, I can honestly say I don't mind it. I still have to tell myself to chill the hell out every night when I put it on. Even though my brain knows I'm going to be able to breathe just fine - I still take about 15-30 seconds of deep breathing to relax a bit and trust it. It is amazing how much better I sleep. I still have nights where I sleep over 8 hours - but they said that is pretty standard. But I don't need to spend extra time in bed trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep, because I'm up 7 times a night. It's definitely saving me some time, and I do feel so much more rested.

I had my 2nd psychologist appointment, and she still thinks I'm a good candidate. The good news is, they haven't put me in a straight jacket. =)

Around this time I was informed of the panels decision regarding weight loss prior to surgery. I need to lose between 50-70 pounds before surgery. I was advised I need to lose at least 30 pounds before getting my appointment with the surgeon, when I will be put on a liquid diet to lose the last 20-30 pounds before surgery. They have scheduled me an appointment with a doctor on staff who can help me lose weight with medication if necessary. The issue is that this isn't included in the prepay cost of the surgery - and my crap insurance won't cover any weight loss programs. I assured them someone that weighs what I do, being as motivated as I am, can lose 30 pounds on my own. I weighed in today and am currently down 14 pounds. I have another appointment with my nutritionist in a month. If I am not losing by then, I can still meet with the doctor a few days later - but I will do it myself. Then I can hopefully get an appointment with the surgeon to get a date set!

So that's where I am - trying to lose some pounds. Trying to move a little bit more. Trying to keep all these damn meetings straight. Slowly plugging along....

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Sleep(less) Study

For those of you that haven't been through the process of bariatric surgery, let me share with you something you might not know. You don't just decide that you want to have the surgery done, contact a surgeon and go for it. No, no, no. This whole process is a labyrinth of online courses and quizzes, paperwork, appointments and testing and studies and more appointments. No fewer than 4 people must decide you are stable enough for the surgery. Not just physically stable, but mentally as well. Shockingly, I have gotten the go-ahead from all four. That is not to say it wasn't without it's challenges.

One major hurdle for me was the sleep test. At my initial appointments I was given a home test to read my sleep pattern. I have known for quite some time that my sleep quality was abysmal. I'm up frequently throughout the night. But quite honestly the thought of wearing one of those masks made me feel like I was going to freak out like Maverick on his first flight after he lost Goose. (that's right - it was serious enough to compare it to Top Gun) But one of the many requirements, oddly enough, for them to perform surgery on you is to insure you can actually continue to breathe while you're sedated/sleeping. They sited some silly desire to actually have you wake up after the surgery.. weird. Anyway - so I took the home test. I woke up a few times and the cord to the reader on my finger had come unhooked. A couple of other times it had shut off all together. One time the sensors in my nose had come completely off my face. I suspected it wasn't going to be enough for me to pass. I was correctly.

I got a call from the sleep study people advising it was probable that I was rocking some pretty severe sleep apnea, and I would need to do an overnight study at the hospital. Great. The first appointment wasn't until the end of October, so in the meantime I would wait, and continue to sleep like crap. But alas, there was a cancellation - I could come in that day! And so I showed up for my 9pm check in like any 40 year old would - with my pillows in tow.

They put me in my room to do some paperwork, and advised my tech would be with me shortly. Having not been sufficiently warned about what I was getting myself into - I showed up with damp, freshly washed hair. Mistake. (Don't waste your time washing your hair - they're going to use paste - yes, paste - on your head) I was taken to a room to have the electrodes attached. You might think they would only need a few around my nose and throat to get accurate readings on my sleep issues/snoring/blocked airways. You would be so very wrong.

Sexy as hell!!
Two on each leg, with wires running down through my clothes. Two bands around my middle and chest. Electrodes on each temple. 3 on my chin, 2 on my chest and no fewer than 6 on my scalp. Each spot "cleaned" with citrus compound that was grainy, and then "paste" to keep the electrodes attached. Most were also then covered by tape. I was starting to feel like he was trying to "Weird Science" me. So I was advised I could head back to my room. He'd attach the rest of them there. "the rest"????!!?!?! Oh, yes. one more electrode on my throat, where my adam's apple would be if I were a dude, or if I was re-telling the Crying Game - attached with the largest piece of tape that still has my delicate flesh irritated. Then he put not one, but 2 sets of sensors up my nostrils, both with cords/tubes that went behind each ear and attached below my chin. Finally it was time to lay down, get comfy and rest. Oh! Did I forget to mention I couldn't lay on my left side or my stomach. Guess where I spend most of my time while sleeping. You guessed it. So we were off to a great start! At least I got to watch an episode of One Day at a Time while I waited for him to finish hooking me up.

He turned of the lights, turned on the camera and did the test call into the room to make sure everything was hooked up correctly - - flex each foot, breathe deep, hold your breath and push your stomach in and out, using only your eyes - look right, left, up down, clench your jaw. OK. Everything is working. Enjoy your sleep. Annnnnnddddd silence. I always listen to a show on my iPad while I fall asleep at home, and have my fan running. But I had to turn my phone off so it didn't "interfere" and it was freezing with my damp hair so the fan wasn't needed. And so I laid there. And laid there. And eventually must have dozed off. I woke up and had to call for the guy to let me use the restroom. Super-easy to do when hooked up to 23423423 wires. I had been told they needed 2 hours of sleep in the books before I could start trying the masks. I wasn't there, yet.

Shortly after I laid back down he came in to put the mask on me. And he was just in time. Between my damp hair, and those tubes running under my chin, my neck was all hot and damp and feeling like something was trying to choke me. Thankfully, he removed those tubes to my nose and replaced them with mask that just covered my nostrils and pumped oxygen down my throat. I quickly found out that if you opened your mouth - - like to try and talk - - the air would force it's way out your mouth, and make you feel like you were being choked. For someone already leaning toward panic, I sure didn't need that shit. And he kept asking me questions!! Eventually he must have decided I wasn't going to die and asked me to lay down. Enter the panic! I kind of started to freak a little bit. He told me to reeeeeellllllaaaaaaaax. Eventually I chilled out enough to just breathe in and out through my nose. OK. That's not so bad. I think I can work with this.

I was advised that if I opened my mouth when I slept that he'd be back to put a chin strap on me. And if that didn't do the trick, a full face mask. Eventually I allowed myself to stop thinking about a bigger mask, and I fell asleep. I woke up some time later - could have been 3 minutes, or 6 hours - - There are no clocks. and the windows are darkened - - and realized I barely even realized I had the mask on. And my mouth was closed. and I didn't have a chin strap, or a huge mask on. So far, so good with the minimum mask.

And then it was over. He came in and asked if I wanted to get up or continue sleeping. Since I had to head to work for 12 hours that day, I decided to head home and get a much-needed shower in. After disconnecting the trillion wires from me - much less gently than when they were applied, mind you - I was free. I couldn't get out of there soon enough.

So today I picked up my machine. The terror has been replaced with excitement about actually getting a good night of sleep. Wish me luck, kids....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Edited Life

One of the most liberating things about finally making the admission that I need permanent, medical help is that I can finally be honest. I can stop trying to come up with excuses that don't sound like excuses for all of the things I can't do, or am afraid to try and do, because of my size. Don't get me wrong - it is still completely embarrassing to admit these things - but at least there is an end in sight. It's finally given me the freedom to get real about the things I want to do, but haven't been able to do - - and the truth is very different. 

This edited life I've been leading has left me completely....demoralized. Sad. Embarrassed. Immobile. Left-out. Lonely. Just this summer I have skipped 2 family concert outings because of the limitations I have created by allowing my body to become as large as it is. While it was somewhat liberating to admit freely that I just couldn't join (walking even short distances is a challenge - and standing is just not an option) instead of creating some elaborate story about why I wouldn't be able to attend, it didn't make me any less disappointing to not be a part of them. Watching Facebook for pictures, or checking my texts to follow along on their adventures is not even remotely the same as being able to partake in these events myself. 

And that is just the last couple of months. The events/outings I haven't participated in over the last 20 years of my life due to my size are staggering. There are times that I'm sure my cover stories have been better than others. I've skipped outings with friends. Trips. Happy hours. Dinners. Concerts. Sporting Events. All because I was scared it would be too much of an inconvenience to get there, or I was afraid of the seating once I did. There are so many things I haven't done in this life because they might have been uncomfortable for me. So many things I've wanted to do, but wouldn't allow myself to admit to, because I wanted to put on a brave face. Don't worry about me everyone - I'm happy. And for the most part - - I'm lucky. I'm not a miserable person...most of the time, anyway. Most of the time I'm fairly content - whether that is just my brain allowing delusion to help keep me from wallowing, or the years and years and years of disappointing myself just beating my expectations into submission - I don't know. I realized a few years back that I would get very anxious when planning to go new places/try new things. I also learned that that anxiety released itself as me being a screeching bitch if things didn't go according to my plan. If I got uncomfortable, or embarrassed by my limitations, I'd turn into a complete hag. At least realizing this allowed me to no longer subject the people I like to it. This just resulted in me skipping more and more events.

I was getting a pedicure with a friend recently - and this is a person I have literally known my whole life. We were talking about the surgery, and I was sharing my plans for about a year down the road. I told her I wanted to move downtown - hopefully into one of the super-cute little studios I've found  online - so I'd be where the action is. I'd be closer to the lakes I want to go walk or bike around. I'd be closer to the sporting venues I want to go watch games at. I'd be closer to action. Closer to activities within walking distance. Be closer to life. Most people experience all of these things when they're younger - but for me life is really going to get going at age 41 =) I realized how much I'd been hiding what I really want when she looked at me and told me she had no idea that is something I'd even like. 

Wow. I've been lying to everyone. But don't feel bad, guys. I've been lying to myself most of all. Telling myself it didn't matter that I couldn't do all of the things I wanted to do. I could still do plenty. The truth is - I can't do shit. I get myself to work. I occasionally go out when I know exactly what I'm getting myself into, and can insure I won't have to walk or stand too much. Otherwise I sit my ass on my couch because everything else causes pain. My knees, hips and ankles just can't take it. My lower back rebels regularly. Hauling this body, and years of disappointment around, it just too much.

The positives of me making the decision to pursue surgery just keep compounding. For the longest all I could focus on was the physical. How thoroughly excited I am to be able to exercise and get in shape! But then I realized it was also going to give me the gift of time. If I don't have to spend so much time being anxious about every distance I need to travel, every chair I need to sit in, how long my knees are going to ache after running errands - - I am going to have so much more time to take care of myself. I'll be able to cook - instead of claiming I hate cooking because I can't stand long enough to chop/dice/mix/etc everything that is needed for the dish. It just dawned on me that that might be another thing I don't actually hate, but have told myself I do because it was uncomfortable. Holy shit! I really am going to have this whole new life!

And I'm going to call on a lot of you. For ideas about cooking. Gym and walking dates - - for real this time, because I'll actually be able to do it!!! Bike rides. Concerts in the park. Taking in a baseball game. Basically doing anything other than sitting on my couch. I've been doing that for 20 years. I'm looking forward to spending the next 20 doing just about anything else.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Under the Knife

Hello, old friends. It has been so long since I have checked in, and for that I apologize. With the exception of a 5 month stretch last summer, I have continued to fail at my battle against the bulge. It is very hard to want to share ones constant, and repeated failures - so I went silent. Occasionally using my Facebook page, but otherwise keeping my struggle to myself. Well, not really to myself - anyone that was looking at me could see it - - but you know what I mean.

It was only after dodging my annual doctor's appointment for 6 months that I was willing to admit that it was time. Time to stop being so damn stubborn. Time to not necessarily admit I was incapable of getting healthy, but adjusting my expectations. Time to admit that for a person as overweight as myself, there is one beaming, bring beacon of hope that has time and again shown to be the best opportunity for future health. It was time for me to listen to my doctor's repeated suggestion. Time to look around at the number of people I have known who have opted for surgery and had it be a huge success. It was time to stop fooling myself and admit I need major help. It was time to seriously consider bariatric surgery.

I told my youngest sister first. Excitement and positivity were sent my way. Then sent a text to my immediate family - who continue to be so supportive, even after my less-than-successful past attempts. When I admitted to being a complete pain in the ass about everything, and said I should have just done this 5 years ago, I was met with "Yes, but don't look back. Lets look forward to many good years to come!!!". I've got the coolest damn family.

I met with a friend who has had the surgery recently. I asked if there was anything he wished he'd known - or anything that was less than what he'd anticipated - and was told absolutely not. No regrets. The best decision he'd ever made. I had another friend contact her coworker for information on her surgery - same response. Best decision she'd ever made.

I finally booked my appointment with my doctor, and thought she was going to hug me she was so excited. She reiterated again that is by far the best possibility of success for a person in my current condition. I told one side of my extended family at our vacation in June and received nothing but encouragement, and options, and excitement. I put it up on Facebook and Twitter - and everyone was so supportive and encouraging.

I'm surrounded by outstanding people.

So there I was - - finally allowing myself to admit that I wasn't going to do this on my own. That I needed something major, something permanent, something painful, something completely life-altering to help me. So excited about all of the doors this would open, or re-open for me. And then the bottom fell out. My company has "excluded" this type of surgery from our plan. I am not covered by insurance. (I have so much more to say about this, but it will require it's own post later) The issue became - how much did I want my life back? I am so lucky to have a financing option, so I could choose whether it was important enough for me to go into debt, but have a life. Whether it was worth it be that active person I've wanted to be for so long, but my body just will not allow it. And there was no hesitation in me deciding that yes - it's totally worth it. It will be completely worth having to pay this surgery off like a car payment because I'll be able to live life while I do it. I will no longer have to spectate this really sad excuse for an existence I've been rocking for the last 10ish years.

So I've decided. It's surgery for me. Now I just need to hope that the bariatric department at the hospital I've chosen will feel the same. I had my first round of appointments September 9th, the next round September 21st. At this time, I've gotten the go ahead from the 3 people I've met with. Now it's just fingers crossed for the next few. This whole process is going to test me - especially my non-existent patience. But I know it will be worth it. I know I'm worth it.