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....