Medical

Opting for the Gastric Sleeve… no, it’s not a cop out – it’s reality hitting the fan

gsleeveBefore I met my husband, I had successfully shed over 50 lbs. from good old fashioned diet and exercise. I am not poo-pooing that in the slightest. I felt better and I was disciplined. My whole routine went bonkerdoodles once we got married. I moved from my house in paved suburbia to our little cozy shack (or as I refer to it – our ‘estate’) in the woods where the roads are unpaved, uneven and the roads can have a variety of creatures ranging from wild boar to Jurassic-era coyotes, half-wild dogs to bobcats, and rattlesnakes to mountain lions. No, I am not kidding you. About 6 months after we got married, my then 12 year old terrier got bitten by a copperhead in our yard. I’m happy to say he survived and is nearly 15 now. I nearly had a stroke from the shock – but he was fine after a visit to the vet. Whew.

I started adding on the weight about 8 months into our courtship. We talked on the phone when he got off work – usually about the time I was leaving the gym… then his schedule got changed and he got off from work 2 hours earlier. I decided to stop going to the gym so we could keep talking on the phone – we lived 80+ miles apart and only visited with each other every other Sunday or so. Then we get hitched and there is no room (per the spousal unit) for my treadmill. I knew I had to ‘make time’ or lose it if I was going to try to get back into shape. Well, 3 years later, all the weight is back and it brought friends. I cannot walk down our road without twisting my ankle on the caliche rock, or without packing a gun to ward off wild beasts. We commute over 100 miles per day round trip, so by the time we get home, the last thing I want to do is hop back into the car and drive 30 minutes to a place I can work out – since I no longer live down the block from the cute little park & gym in my former suburbia.

Not only am I bigger, I’m older. I don’t have the muscle mass to carry this weight and in addition to looking in the mirror and being disgusted with the way my body is now shaped, it’s harder to sleep, walk and even wipe. Yes, I said it. If I gain 5 more lbs, I don’t think I’ll be able to get to everything – if you know what I’m sayin’.

So – with all the weight loss procedures, why did I pick the gastric sleeve? I’d heard mixed reviews about the lapband – and I didn’t like the notion of having a foreign body inside my body – especially since it needs to be fiddled with a lot. The gastric bypass seems a bit like voodoo to me. It’s been performed literally for over 100 years – but it seems to be more for people who lack discipline and a more complex surgery that reroutes your pipes in a way that God never intended to ‘cheat the system.’

So – here’s how I talked myself into this business:

  1. My insurance pays for most of it (woot woot!)
  2. The gastric sleeve removes a portion (albeit large) of your stomach, but does no re-routing. It actually should reduce my acid reflux and the part that gets removed contains the hormone ghrelin – and ghrelin is the stuff that tells your brain that you’re hungry. I can do this if I’m not hungry! YES!
  3. The part of the stomach that remains is akin to a tube – so you get full faster and you get the sensation of being full a lot sooner.
  4. I have one friend that had this done 6 years ago – and she’s kept it off – she looks great and she’s completely healthy and properly nourished
  5. I have gotten to the weight and age where I need the help. Seriously. I have zero pep and the one thing that works for me, walking, isn’t an option where I live.

Is this for everyone? No. I can’t believe I’m actually facing this the way I am. If you had asked me a year ago if I was interested in this, I would have said “heck no!” I had a pre-op EGD yesterday (fancy term for a camera down your throat) and it was the first time I’ve ever been under general anesthesia in my life. It was a non-event, but I was apprehensive a few minutes before it all went down (so to speak). There are risks with all surgery, but the risks are minor and easy to manage. The biggest risk is blood clots since the body completely relaxes when under anesthesia – including all the valves in the veins and arteries… so they’ll have me on blood thinner for a month just to be on the safe side.

So – my plan is that with minimal to zero hunger the first 6 months will be my peak time to get back into shape. I’ll need a few weeks to recover, but I’m hoping after shedding at least 20 lbs., I’ll have a bit more energy to get on the treadmill I finally made room for and help to shed the extra 80 lbs. I need to lose after that. I started my 2 week, pre-op diet yesterday. The goal for the pre-op diet is to lose 5% of my weight, but more importantly, to shrink the liver so that it’s ‘not in the way’ when they make their 4-5 small incisions to do my surgery in less than 2 weeks. This is really happening. I’m doing this thing. Yeah, baby! Let’s roll!

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The proper bra makes all the difference

I know there are guys that follow my blog – so while a guy might be rolling his eyes right now – this might be valuable information for someone you love. I’ve been wearing bras since the 5th grade, and over 30 years later I still was wearing the wrong bra and it was AFFECTING MY HEALTH. Most women have heard that the majority of us gals are wearing the wrong bra for us – so what does that mean? While there are some who focus on accentuating their curves, I’ve always been utilitarian in my clothing choices. Yes, I care how something looks, but I care a lot more about comfort than appearance. I’ve never been a fan of lacy underthings because they always cut and tear – the only people that will see me in just a bra are my doctor, my husband and myself in a mirror – so it’s not like I’m trying to make some kind of major fashion statement… but I was still wearing the wrong size and wrong bra for me. I fell in love with the make & model bra I’ve stuck with over 20 years ago – have the model # memorized and recently ordered more online.

Since I buy all my bras at the same time, they all go off to be with the Lord (ie, the elastic dies) around the same time… the sides start to get sticky, etc. I had just ordered some new ones a few weeks ago and was throwing out the old, stretched out sticky ones. Well, when you gain weight, your new (and because it’s new – tighter!) bra is going to be too small for you. Even if it’s elastic everywhere – there are no such things as one-size-fits-all.

A few months ago, I was at the mall with my husband and went to get fitted. I knew my bras (even the old stretched out ones) were getting too snug and I had never been properly fitted for one. For those who are modest like me, this does not require nudity. Most lingerie shops will have one person who is a trained bra fitter and they do not charge to fit you. There are formulas online for figuring out the size yourself, but it’s much better to have another person measure you – especially if they’ve been trained and have done this many times.

The lady who measured me for a bra gave me a size 2 sizes larger (same cup size) than I was wearing. WHAT? That sounded huge. I tried on my favorite model of bra in that larger size and I felt like I was wearing a halter top. I should have trusted the fitter on the size, but tried a new model. I had been used to the same model bra cutting into me for over 20 years and a better fitting size didn’t feel right in that model and seemed to hit me wrong.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago – I got my new bras via mail order – ordering the same small size I had worn when I was 50 lbs lighter. Not smart. They were expectedly snugger as they were new, but I’d never say they were gouging me or particularly uncomfortable.

My entire life, I’ve had the occasional issue where I’ve had to sometimes yawn to feel like I got a good full breath. A few weeks ago I started noting that I was doing this a lot. Each day, it would be a little more and a little more. As I’d let out a sigh from the big breath, my husband would turn to me and ask if everything was ok – because it sounded like I was making a commentary on our life or something – and I was merely breathing. I was ok at night, but as the days would wane on, I’d get more and more where I’d have to lean forward in my chair or stand up to get in a productive yawn to breathe. I always had associated the yawn-to-breathe issue with my weight – but truth be told, I had the same issue when I was HWP – so it was a wrong mindset on my part that kept me from realizing what the issue was.

I finally got to the point where I went to the doctor because 9 times out of 10, my attempts at yawning were unsuccessful and I was using every muscle in my body trying to get in a good breath. The oxygen monitor showed my oxygen level was at 99%, so the doctor wrongly assumed that the issue was “anxiety.” The only anxiety issue I had was not being able to breathe. While I balked at the idea, I relented and agreed to take an anxiety med that night to see if my problem abated. It got worse. I called the next day to let the doc know it was even worse, and she sounded annoyed with me – that it was in my head and I simply would not accept that it was truly anxiety. I was so frustrated. I knew it wasn’t in my head – yet I was starting to doubt myself. Each day got more and more agonizing and I could not perform at work.

At the advice of friends, I went to one of those ‘doc in the box’ places and got wonderful care from a doctor that listened to me. I felt vindicated, as he said the ‘anxiety’ theory was “nutty” and said that people with breathing problems should never be put on a drug that makes it harder for them to breathe. He treated it as asthma and asked me to come back in a week. The inhaler really helped – but I was not getting the amazing relief I had heard others talk about when using inhalers. I started googling and put two and two together and realized my bra was the real culprit.

Some of you may now be saying, “wait, you moron! You didn’t notice relief when you took your bra off?!” And the answer is, “NO!” Even 2 hours after my bra was off, I was still laboring to breathe. Only after a full 8 hours of sleeping (although I could not get that much actual sleep due to muscle soreness in my obliques, etc.) did I feel like I could breathe in the morning. I thought the asthma meds were doing their job. I’d shower, get dressed, and by the time I got outside, the symptoms returned – and I assumed it was due to something outside. It wasn’t like I was laboring to breathe immediately after putting on my bra.

As it turns out, an improperly fitting bra can cut into your diaphragm just enough to cause spasms akin to the worst case of hiccups you can’t even want to imagine. If there was a form of hiccup-related dystrophy, this was it. I was completely incapacitated by this issue – a bra that was the wrong shape for me and the wrong size.

After my epiphany (and a full day at home sans bra), I found the loosest fitting bra I could find at home and ventured to Walmart to try on various models. I’ve been a fan of the Playtex 18 hour bra for decades – but my famous standby, #4693, wasn’t working for me anymore. I got 2 sizes up (like the woman who gave me the proper bra fitting said I needed!) in every model they had and tried them on. Only one model I tried was comfortable, so I bought the only 2 they had in the store and ordered more online.

I’m still sore and recovering. I’ve torn muscles under my arms and in my obliques from the crazy gyrations I was doing trying to breathe, but I’m on the mend. I spent $100 on the wrong size bras a few weeks ago, and then with copays to 2 different doctors plus meds from each – spent another $200. Now I’ve just ordered another $100 worth of bras that will actually fit. I could have spent 3/4 less if I had just spent more time trying on bras in the right size to begin with.

I don’t care how motivated you are to eat right and exercise – none of that is happening if you can’t even breathe!

I had the wrong notion about how bras worked – that if snug enough, those girls would never sag like the topless tribal ladies you’d see on National Geographic specials. A bra does not have to have a vice grip on your rib cage to accomplish this. You merely need to keep them from hanging down like pendulums. Something a bit snugger than a comfy tank top that can keep those girls slightly lifted in separated (more a sweat and comfort issue than support issue) is enough.

I’ve often waxed somewhat judgmental on gals that wear the crazy high heels – no matter how great they make you look, they shorten your achilles tendon, they misshape your feet and hurt your spinal alignment – yet I was doing nearly the same thing to my rib cage – and wasn’t even getting a flattering figure from it.

I’d always heard that women were often wearing the wrong bra – but never did I think this was a health issue until I could not breathe. Get properly sized. Do it. Go.

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Great experience with diuretic AND Discount Tire…

I’m still having pain in my right foot. It had gone away, then came back this morning. What is causing this? I thought it was the water retention! On that topic, the diuretic is doing its job. My wedding ring slid on easy as you please this morning and my arms ached a little when I woke up – but my ankles looked stellar. Bony ankle bones as they should be. Yeah! The only bony part of me!

Discount Tire - a great place for a tire fix or new tires.

I’ve had a low tire for a month – kept getting it refilled, and it is about the slowest slow leak in history – but still getting low each week. So – today after work, I headed to Discount Tire to get it looked at. Discount Tire was legendary for eons for fixing tires for free – even if you didn’t get them there. Then, a few years ago, they changed that policy. I paid something like $15 for a tire patch a few years ago and kept it in my mental file banks that they charge for tire changes… well apparently they only had that policy for the length of time it took me to pay them – because the policy was short lived. I went in assuming I would have to pay, when the guy at the counter said that everything I needed would be free. Everyone was so professional. Service with a smile. The technicians were friendly and did their work correctly. In 1994, I took automotive classes at a community college in the metroplex. One of those classes was Suspension & Steering and I also took the ASE certification test and passed it. I changed many a tire in that class and am very particular on getting my tires hand torqued. I watched everything they did from the lobby, which has observation windows for those who like to watch what’s going on. They did a lot of work, tested both front tires for leaks and found a nail in my real trouble-tire and patched it, then cleaned the tires. A top-notch job.

I was so pleased with their service, I looked online to see if they had an affiliate program – because I have no problem endorsing any product, company or service that I’ve used and have had a positive experience with. I won’t endorse a product I don’t believe in. Discount Tire has apparently signed up w/ a new affiliate company that I’ve never heard of before. I signed up and the site is so confusing, I cannot figure out how to use one of their links. When I click on their help section, none of the links do anything. Either the site is non-functional, or they have Windows-specific coding on there that won’t work for Mac users. Guess who is never switching to Windows? Me! Oh well… here’s a free word of mouth endorsement for them anyway. They earned it with me today. I had no agreement with them, and I did not buy my tires there – and they fixed them for free. You can’t beat that with a tire iron!

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