Monday, December 31, 2007
Hey there! Long time no see, huh?
Yes, I let a year elapse between posts. I toyed with the thought of not blogging again forever. However , my faithful friend Jef has been encouraging me to blog again because he believes I can write and he believes my story is both interesting and inspirational.
I think I've finally come around to believing him.
There are others out there of my family and friends that have also said the same things, so please don't think I've disregarded all the times that you have mentioned that to me, too. However Jef is rather persistent in in endeavors to get me to BLOG AGAIN, ALREADY! GEEZ!!!
This has been a helluva year filled with every shade of emotion! It started off with me having a wreck on New Year's Eve last year. It was a fender bender - nothing dramatic, but at that time I remember thinking to myself, "Umm....I'm not liking how this year is starting off!"
The first Quarter of the year was me getting the guts up to go back to the doctor. I don't know if any of you have experienced this, but when you are overweight, it's a pain in the ass to go to the doctor. However, my 40th birthday was looming and I really wanted to get a "State of Joan" and make some major decisions on how the rest of my life was going to be.
I found a great doctor and nurse practitioner. I got a full blown, no holds barred, top of my head to the tips of my toes physical. The good news was, I was one healthy girl for someone that was so overweight. The bad news was that if I didn't do something about my weight soon, I could kiss that good health good bye.
Being the "computer-y" type girl that I am, I got online and started doing some research. You don't spend the majority of your life overweight without trying every kind of diet under the sun. However I didn't want to do anything gimmicky. I wanted a SOLUTION to the problem. Not a band-aid.
Back in 2001, I toyed with the thought of having Gastric Bypass. I even started going to the doctor at Emory Hospital to see if I was a candidate. However, with my background in disability, I see A LOT of claims come across my desk about the really unpleasant side effects that can come from rearranging the furniture in your gut. I decided it was not for me, and quite frankly, in 2001, I was not ready to lose weight.
However, during my time at Emory, I briefly learned about another option to surgery they have called "Optifast." A lot of people know about Optifast because it's been around since the 70's. A lot of people also remember that Oprah did Optifast and when she was done, came out on stage looking really thin and pulling a wagon behind her with a representation of the weight she lost - and then she promptly gained it all back.
I decided that I would go to one of the free seminars about Optifast and see if it was for me. After the seminar, I was SO EXCITED, but at the same time, afraid to be excited. I was excited because my instincts were telling me that this is what I need in my life at this time. I was scared because what if this was just another weight loss scheme that I was going to fail at.
I went to my doctor and told her about it. She was so excited that I suggested it and was all on board for it. If my instincts are telling me this might work, and my doctor agrees, then maybe this is what I was looking for! I thought about it for a little while and decided that I was going for it!
Going for it was not a run down the hospital and sign up situation. Going for it was to begin to save the $1000.00 down payment, which I began to do.
Then I woke up Sunday, April 15 to my neighbor pounding on my door and screaming, "FIRE!!!" I had the presence of mind to grab my purse, cell phone, robe and Fred, my elder cat. Shelby, my younger cat was so scared that she went deep under the bed out of my reach and would not come out. Self preservation won out and I ran outside, moved my car and watched the smoke and flames billowing to the sky while sobbing for Shelby. To hell with my stuff - I wanted my baby! I frantically called Jef and told him I needed him.
When it looked like the firemen were not frantically working on the fire, I told them about Shelby and asked if they'd look for her. They did, and after 2 attempts, they found her and she was alive! Jef arrived about that time and we rushed the cats to the vet. I figured Fred was fine, but she's old. Shelby had been found on top of my bed under the covers and I didn't know how bad the air was in there when they found her.
Both cats were fine - Shelby needed some oxygen and re-hydration and they re-hydrated Fred just to be on the safe side. While the vets took care of them, Jef and I went back to my apartment. By the time we got there, the emergency vehicles were gone. I braced myself to see what my apartment looked like.
I walked in and saw that my stuff was, for the most part, OK. The fire mostly stayed contained in the upper apartments and my apartment was just majorly water damaged. The firemen had covered my computer equipment and TV with a tarp. Everything, with the exception of my bed and couches, was pretty much salvageable. I could hardly believe my good luck!
The next week was a whirlwind. I had to move out of the old apartment and into a new one. I had friends come to help with the packing and had movers move the stuff to the new place. I had to buy a new bed. It was a really rough and overwhelming week for me, but I made it through with a lot of help from friends and family near and far.
The thing that sucked was that it ate up my savings. I had to start from scratch saving for the down payment for Optifast. However I did it and I'm really proud of myself for not throwing up my hands and saying, "Screw it!"
July 1 came around and I turned 40. I had never dreaded this birthday, so it was not traumatic at all. Jef and Ginia gave me a birthday party and Holli came in from Texas to spend my birthday with me for my birthday gift, she shoved me in the hair salon and said, "Go get your hair cut and colored - on me!" This marked the first of several major changes I would be making to myself!
Shortly before the fire, I had gone to the Optometrist. My Optometrist asked if I had considered having surgery to fix my strabismus. For those of you that don't know, strabismus is also known as "lazy eye." Since I was born, my right eye has had a mind of it's own. When I was younger, it wasn't terribly noticeable. However as I got older, it got worse. My friends and family got to where they didn't notice it, because it was just part of who I was. However, I always hated meeting new people and have them look over their shoulder because they thought I was looking at something beyond them.
The Optometrist referred me to a pediatric opthamologist. Strabismus is usually corrected in children. I was told that my Mom and Dad were given incorrect information when I was a kid when they were told I would grow out of it. I went to see the opthamologist and he told me he could help me with surgery. At first I was reluctant. I don't need to have the surgery. I've lived with this my whole life. However, a little voice in the back of my head whispered, "But why not get it fixed if you can?"
I had my surgery on 8/16/07. It was one of the best decisions of my life. My eyes now look almost "normal," and the recovery was not bad at all. I think Jef summed it up best when he looked at me after he took me home from the surgery and said, "It's weird having you look straight at me - it kinda creeps me out!"
Finally the day arrived when I had saved the $1000.00 down payment to start Optifast. I went and had my first weigh in and was absolutely appalled. I knew I was seriously overweight, but I didn't realize it was that bad. The only thing that kept me from crying was knowing that it was only down from there.
I started the program on 9/28/07. The program consist of this: 5 nutritionally complete shakes (and/or soups) a day for a total of 800 calories a day. I am seen in the clinic every week and I see the doctor every other week and have blood drawn every other week. For every 50lbs lost, I have an EKG. After I'm done in the clinic, I go to the group sessions which are led by the psychologist or nutritionist. Once I'm done with that, then I get my next week's allotment of shakes (and/or soups).
After being on the program for a few weeks and seeing how my body was going to adjust, I started going to Water Aerobics 3 times a week. I really like being in the pool and it really gets me a good workout without the strain on my joints.
It's now a little more than 3 months later and I have lost 80lbs. Once I lose another 10lbs, I will be the same weight I was in 1996 when my Mom was still with us. I still have weight to lose, but losing the weight I gained since my Mom died is going to be really huge milestone for me!
I am going to be on Optifast until late February/early March. At that time, I will be slowly introduced back to food over a 7 week period. During that time, the nutritionist will work with me and my lifestyle to make sure that I continue to lose once I'm back completely on food.
This has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so happy and proud of myself and I just love it when someone compliments me on how good I've been doing and how good I look. This has been SO life changing for me. I can't even adequately describe how awesome it is to see myself becoming what I know I can be - the me that I am in my mind's eye that the me that was in the mirror looked nothing like.
In October, I had my first mammogram and it came back abnormal. I was so scared that now that I had really begun to focus on my health, that I was going to have breast cancer. After about 3 weeks of stress, it turned out it was just a cyst! I was so excited about it being something that was SO benign! I was also so excited that I had just proved to myself that I could handle an extremely stressful situation without stuffing my face! Woo Hoo!
This evening I went to church with Merrideth. Our church does a really cool New Year's Eve service called "The Burning Bowl." Everyone is given a piece of flash paper and you are instructed to write on it everything you want to release as you go into the new year. We go to one of the bowls of fire at the front of the church and watch what we are releasing as a ball of flame and in an instant - gone. Then we are back to our seats to write a letter to God about what we'd like to see in the new year. Those are sealed in an envelope with your address on it and the church mails the letters in October or November. It's so cool to see what has happened over the year and compare to what you were hoping for. Often time what ends up happening was even better than what you imagined on 12/31 of the previous year.
The Old year is ticking away it's last minutes. I feel like I need to go and pass the time into the New Year being so thankful for this year of growth and change that I have experienced.
I will be back - and I promise that it won't be another year before I write again!
Peace, Love and Happiness!