Saturday, August 31, 2013

On Weight Loss

It’s no secret.  I am overweight. I need to lose some serious poundage.  I am 5’8” and 236 pounds.  That means that I am not just “overweight” but I fall into the obese category.  I’d like to see a 60-70 pound drop. That would not make me “skinny” by any means, but I would be at a HEALTHY weight.  And with my height and my propensity to be more muscular when I work out, I think that would be a weight range where I would feel wonderful and look good, dare I say, sexy even. But above all I would BE HEALTHIER.

2 years ago I lost 40 pounds and had started feeling great.  Then through a series of unfortunate events (is that phrase under copyright now?) and a serious onset of stress, leading to depression…I allowed food to be my medication and my friend and I gained back 35 pounds.  And of course as each pound crept back on, the depression and self-loathing got worse. 
Not my lowest in recent years, but was finally starting to feel good in my own skin. That's me in the pink.

So, here I am, a year after the weight started coming back.  It came on slowly at first, then in a matter of about 3 months, January thru March, 25 pounds piled on.  I’ve been sitting on this 236 since early spring.   
With my boy a few weeks ago before he left for school. 236 pounds.

Now, I am ready to work at it again.  My surgery is done. The bulk of my recovery is finished.  I’ve been cleared to run.  It’s time to focus on this. It’s time to feel good.

I am finding inspiration from people all around me. Friends who have recently started or finished Couch to 5K and are excited about their improved levels of fitness. Friends who are training for marathons and triathlons.  Friends who have dealt with wonky thyroids, finding the right levels of medications and pushing through setbacks to come out on top 80 pounds lighter and a hell of a lot healthier.  Friends who have my back and who are cheering me on.

I’m also finding inspiration online.  I’ve been very inspired by The Riding Librarian's blog.  And through her I found another blog.  Can You Stay for Dinner?  The author is a 28 year old woman (I had to fight not to write “young woman”.  You know your middle aged when…) who has lost over 100 pounds. She LOVES food.  Her blog discusses ways of eating healthy while eating well.  Beautiful pictures of yummy foods AND she adds the recipes.  Currently, I am following her entries about helping her mom lose weight.  Putting My Mom on a Diet has weekly updates with pictures and recipes for almost every meal she and her mom have prepared. Did I mention the pictures were great?  They could have come out of any foodie mag.  Her mom is in her 10th week of following The Plan and she has lost 23 pounds so far and looks fabulous.  (The woman is 57 years old and MAYBE looks 45)  I am finding this incredibly inspirational. 

My current plan is to spend today dissecting a couple weeks’ worth of her recipes, and then hit the store bright and early tomorrow morning for the needed food.  Her recipes are simple.  Each meal consisting of things the average person would have in their fridge or could easily pick up at the local grocery store.   Of course THAT will be the easy part.  The hard part will be actually MAKING the meals during the week.  Breakfast and lunches will not be difficult, but dinner…dinner will be the challenge.  IF I can manage the dinners, then I feel very confident I will see results.  Dinner is where I fall apart. This is where I am more likely to eat crappy food and say “screw healthy.”  IF I can find my groove, get in the habit I know I will rock it!

Although the primary purpose of my blog is not about weight loss, weight is a HUGE factor in my life.  It affects how I move, how I feel, what I do.  236 pounds is enough weight to hold me back from things I WANT to do.  Do you know the maximum weight for most horseback riding stables?  200-210 pounds.   This amount of weight makes long distance car rides and flying more uncomfortable. It makes sitting in the high school auditorium seats VERY uncomfortable.  And of course there is the emotional discomfort of not feeling good in my own body.  Which was something I had FINALLY started feeling 2 years ago when I lost those 40 pounds. So this means that I will be posting about this on a semi-regular basis.  Updates on my successes and failures, joys and frustrations.  I know there will be a lot of each. Just hoping for more of the successes and joys.

Wish me luck!

Friday, August 30, 2013

I Am Pretty Sure I Need to Make This Woman My Friend

That sounds terribly stalkerish, doesn't it?

I found The Riding Librarian's blog via the hystersisters' site.  I was having minor issues coming to terms with the idea of my uterus being yanked out of my body. My brain started to ask the “Will this make me less of a woman?” question.  THANKFULLY, she made a post that talked about her blog, which lead me to the entry "On supposedly being less of a woman." This really helped me drop the "your uterus is what makes you a complete woman" bull shit. (I did not REALLY believe this. But there were some nagging doubts tickling the back of my brain) 

When I started exploring her blog further, I discovered that she and her boy went to a mother/son danced as The Doctor and Rose. How cool is that??

She is also familiar with Nathon Fillon, Will Wheaton, Simon Pegg and of course David Tennant. I'm Scared

She writes about weight loss, exercise, food.  If you are sensitive to people using the word “fat” or describing themselves as “fat”, then you probably will not appreciate her.  I, on the other hand, do NOT have a problem with the word and love how she keeps it real:  On being a fat skinny person.

She rides horses and motorcycles, processes her own chickens, climbs mountains, does adventure races, blogs about the Paleo diet (something I am researching at the recommendation of a friend) and in general seems like an seriously kick ass sort of gal.  And oh yeah...she's a librarian! :)

J.C. I see you started to follow her. I'm glad. I think this is right up your ally.  And there is lots of nerd talk and steampunk and cosplay...

Now, I just hope she does not file a restraining order if she reads this post.

C25K Week 1 Day 1

Let me be incredibly crass here for a moment.  This morning’s run sucked donkey balls.  I finished the damn thing.  But it was NOT FUN.

The Bad: 

It was so incredibly THICK outside. Pea soup. Molassas. Mud.

I had a hard time catching my breath during the running sessions. 

My walking intervals were SLOW.  I decided to use these to breath, because breathing was not happening during the running. (well, not happening easily)

During my 7th running interval, I thought I was going to throw up. 

Irritated that my 2 miles of walking on Tuesday was FASTER than my 2 miles of intervals today.

What we ran in this morning.

The Good:

I FINISHED THE DAMN THING! Plus an additional 15 minutes of recovery walking. For a total of 40 minutes on the trail.

There was no pain from the surgery incision OR the incision for the pellets.  I did twinge a bit where my appendix USED to be. 

My husband was a great running buddy, despite the fact that we got into an argument over whose timing system was correct.  (that would be mine, of course)

I love my little Gymboss.  Much nicer than trying to keep track of my intervals on my watch.  (I don’t like using my C25K app for a variety of reasons. Might need to look into trying another one at some point) 

My cardio recovered a lot faster than I expected.

My legs are not hurting. 

My flexibility isn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. The stretches felt good. 

I did NOT throw up!!

I cannot wait for cooler weather to get here.  It is SO MUCH EASIER to do this when it is 40 degrees outside!  Hell, even 60 would be really nice.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

But Mine "Goes to 14!"

Today was my 6 week follow up appointment with Dr. Mac.  And I must say…I am feeling very much like a bad ass.  Pretty damn beastly in fact…which has nothing to do with the facial hair. 

First thing Cori (surgical nurse) did when we got there was to give me two shots of lidocaine. These were given on the left side of my lower abdomen. Here I wasn’t as much of a bad ass as I was a big wimp.  Jim came over and let me squeeze his hand while she gave the injections. They didn’t hurt, but the anticipation was AWFUL.  The shots were to numb me for the insertion of the bHRT pellets.  It took about 15 minutes for them to work.  

Dr. Mac then came in and did a vaginal exam. That was all clear, which we expected.  After that, we discussed my surgery and lab results.  I had no idea there needed to be labs. I forgot that everything that comes out of the body has to be examined. Makes sense.   First off, the cysts that were on my ovary and the ovary itself were all normal other than the endo.  That was not a surprise.  The appendix was apparently covered with implants and adhesions, but nothing else. The thing that surprised me was that they had to take out lymph nodes that had been compromised with implants.  I had not realized this had happened.  Doc said that those lymph nodes are so close to the ureter that it would be nearly impossible to remove them without some sort of damage and this is when he nicked mine.  Thankfully, the lymph nodes were clear as well. 

After that I asked him to explain the various stages of endometriosis and asked where I fell on that scale.

Very simple run down: 

Stage I:  Minimal.  Only a few endometrial implants within the pelvic area. (yet, this can still cause excruciating pain for women)

Stage II: Mild.  Implants in the pelvic cavity and involvement with ovaries. 

Stage III: Moderate.  A moderate amount of implants with adhesions throughout the pelvic area.

Stage IV:  Severe.   Implants throughout the abdomen…not just the pelvic area. A lot more adhesions.  Involvement of bowels, bladder, etc. (he said he just finished working with a woman who has implants on her diaphragm!) 

OK. So I was definitely a Stage IV. We suspected that, just nice to know for certain.  Then he said “Let’s put it this way, on a scale of 1-10…you were between a 14 and 15.”  This was most likely inappropriate, but I looked at the husband, laughed, we high fived. I said “YES! I WIN!” Thankfully, Dr. Mac is understanding of my sense of humor. 

Now, the reason I feel like a bad ass; Doc said that from the day I came out of surgery, I have been doing better than most patients he has dealt with who have had this sort of procedure.  Sure, I’ve been whiny and have felt sorry for myself on and off, but my overall healing has been damn fast.  Not Wolverine fast. But still impressive. 
Picture grabbed from:

 This REALLY made me feel good because there have been a few times where I doubted myself when friends have said they were worried that I wasn’t bouncing back faster.  I am NOT upset with them at all! They were all women who had either had a hysterectomy themselves or C-sections. They only had their own experiences to compare it to. They did not realize the extent of mine, which included a horizontal AND vertical incision. (yes, I am emphasizing that, because the doctor did)  So getting confirmation/validation from my doctor that I am actually healing MUCH FASTER THAN EXPECTED is a WONDERFUL feeling!

Then it was time to insert the hormones.  He made an incision that was less than an inch long. He then inserted the pellet introducer into the incision, dropped the pellets in and used the plunger to insert them under the skin. (4 estradiol pellets and 1 testosterone)The pellets are a bit larger than a grain of rice.

The site is covered with a bandage and steri strips.  It is still tender, but not painful. 
Picture from:

A bit of an explanation of the pellets and my hormone levels:

My doctor would like my levels to be over 200 for my estradiol (E2) and 100-300 for my testosterone (T). (I will TRY to explain both of these hormones in another post)

My initial tests back in May had my E2 at 41 and my T at 66.

My 2nd test June 27th showed my E2 at 283 (due to the birth control pills I had to take pre-surgery) and my T at 57. 

Surgery was July 17th.  Doc inserted 1 T pellet and 4 E2 pellets while I was in OR.

My 3rd test was Aug 16th.  My E2 was 162.91   and my T 125.

Now we wait to see how things progress.  I did great with the initial insertion of the pellets. Hoping things continue to improve. 

The husband said that part of him will be very sad if it turns out that my depression, anxiety and very low libido were all due to a major hormone imbalance that could have been fixed if we had only known.  I don’t really feel that way at all. I know it has been a number of things that have contributed to those issues. But right now I am just thrilled with the thought that maybe we have options and WooHoo! I can start feeling BETTER! 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot!! I am cleared to start running!  He just recommended that I wear compression shorts or use the binder.  For now, I will use the binder.  And hope that in the next couple weeks I can find some compression shorts that fit me properly. He told me to listen to my body. If it hurts, then STOP. If I am tired, then REST.  He also said that I should not expect to really start feeling "normal" until about 3 months. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Post-hysterectomy intimacy

Warning:  As the title suggest, there will be talk of intimate issues!

One thing the testosterone has done for me is increased my libido. A LOT.  To the point that LAST Thursday, (5 weeks 1 day post op) I called my doctor’s office and talked to the surgical nurse to see if  we could get the all clear to have sex. I really didn’t want to wait for another week.  She told me to “Go for it!” Since my surgery was abdominal and there was no vaginal cuff to worry about, there was no physical reason for me to wait if I wanted to try now.  And she was thrilled that *I* was the one initiating this.  In fact, the husband had no idea that I had called and asked.  We hadn’t even discussed it.  But I have been thinking about it SO MUCH I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. I decided not to tell him until I got the answer because I didn’t want to get his ummm… hopes up. 

When I told him, the look on his face alone made the call worth it.  You’d have thought he’d found a Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree. 

So, Friday morning, after the girls all left the house, we went for a test drive.  Obviously we took everything VERY slowly. I did notice some discomfort. Not quite sure what it was from. Something we will be bringing up with the doctor. It wasn’t a deal breaker. And for the most part…all systems were go! And quite frankly, the body is almost hyper sensitive. 

Something we have noticed that REALLY shocked us, after years of almost always needing KY…dryness is no longer an issue! WTH??  NOT what we expected!  Not what I had been told to expect!

UNFORTUNATELY, even though we were being VERY careful and gentle, the minor variation of a relatively vanilla position caused serious pain afterwards. This was from the stent trauma. All my pain was on the left side of my abdomen, where the stent had been located. I had not even take that into consideration. Never occurred to me this would be a problem. 

Sadly, it left me in a fair amount of pain for the rest of the day. I had to take multiple pain pills throughout, just to bring it down to a tolerable level.  The pain FINALLY stopped after 1:00am when I took 2 ibuprofen.  I needed the anti-inflammatory more than I needed the Rx pills. Felt really stupid for not realizing that sooner.

I am doing much better now.  And quite frankly, anxious to get back at it.  However, we decided to wait until after the 6 week follow up before we tried again.  Luckily, I guess, the husband has been out of town on travel, so I haven’t had to deal with the temptation.  And thankfully, tomorrow is the doctor’s appointment, the husband will be home and the house will be empty.  I am predicting better results this time.  At least I sure hope so. 

**Update: Doctor's visit went great.  Round two when we got home. Made sure to be cautious not to aggravate ureter site. Everything went great. Feeling so very positive about this.