2 Months

It has been two whole months.  Two months since my husband and I tied the knot after being together for only 8 days.  And two months since I had my final weight loss related surgery.

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Jarrod and me

I couldn’t possibly ask for a better husband and example of a real man for my boys.  I knew immediately when we confessed our feelings to each other that he would be my forever, and that feeling has only gotten stronger every single day since then.  He’s the best friend I’ve ever had!  We lay awake at night and talk about everything.  We intend often to watch TV or a movie, get housework done together, or take care of other errands, and often it gets put on the back burner to our conversations, or the conversations continue through it all.  We are attached at the hip and prefer to do anything we need to do, together.  We even prefer to work the same shifts together at work, just to be in each other’s presence.  We understand and are comfortable with each other on the deepest level.  I’ve honestly never felt anything like this before, and it’s the best!  He is wonderful with my kids, and they become more and more open to him each day.  His kids are pretty awesome as well, and I love how our family is blending.  Jarrod is my heart, my soul, my life.  This is my forever, and I couldn’t be happier or more content.

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Left: 270 lbs, late 2015 — Right: 200 lbs, October 2017

As far as my surgical recovery and body image goes, I’m quite satisfied now!  I started my weight loss journey in January of 2016 at 270 pounds.  Around summer of 2016 I had already lost enough weight to disqualify myself from bariatric weight loss surgery by getting down to around 230 pounds.  I had changed my lifestyle enough to take off the weight myself, by eating less fat and carbs, more protein, and cutting out sugary soda.  Then once I reached about 225 pounds I qualified for skin removal surgery, and got approved for my Panniculectomy (tummy tuck) in March 2017, which is when it was done.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results as it healed because I still had quite a bit of sag, my bellybutton was off-center, and a couple other details I was dissatisfied with.  So when I had my breast reduction and lift on September 1st, I was able to get my tummy tuck revised.  Now it’s been two months since I had that last surgery, and though nothing is perfect, I am VERY satisfied with my results.  I am now hovering right around 200 pounds, and still want to lose about 15.  I haven’t had the willpower to just buckle down and take off that last 15 yet, but I know I will and am not too concerned with it anyway.  I’m happy with the way I look now, with the way my clothes fit, and with my appearance in the mirror, naked.  Really, I feel I just need to tone up now.  I’m very proud of myself for having come this far without bariatric surgery.  And I plan to continue this healthier lifestyle forever.  I NEVER want to gain that weight back.  I have so much less body ache and pain now, I am more flexible and don’t lose my breath going up and down stairs, I have more stamina and am all around a much happier person.  I love it!

Two months since my life made some permanent changes for the better.  I am so happy to have had these opportunities come to me, and to have been able to grab ahold of them.  I am so happy with my life!

 

My Breast Reduction Surgery

On Friday, September 1, I was admitted to Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Grinnell, Iowa for a breast reduction and lift, and a Panniculectomy scar revision performed by Dr. Coster.  Going in, I was pretty nervous.  My bra size was a 36G and I was concerned with the extreme reduction I would lose sensation or experience complications.  But I didn’t.  The surgery went well, lasting about 4 hours and under general anesthesia.  Jarrod and my mom were both there for me when I woke up.  Dr. Coster removed about 1 pound from my right breast, and about a pound and a half from my left breast.  Here are photos of the progression I’ve experienced so far.  The results will only get better from here on out.

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As you can see, my Panniculectomy did NOT create the results you’d expect from a plastic surgery to improve the appearance of my tummy.  I was so fortunate to be able to have it repaired.  Also, I’m still really puffy, bruised and swollen from my most recent surgery.  I’ll update with pics in a few months to show how everything heals.  At first I was really disappointed with the small breast size I’m left with now, but the surgeon said it would all heal into a nice D cup, so I’m okay with that.  Not to mention, over the last 3 days I’ve adjusted to having smaller breasts anyway and it is so much more comfortable!!

Already I am experiencing so much less pain and discomfort than I ever did with my previous surgery.  I’m on day 3 today, and I haven’t needed my prescription pain meds, only Tylenol.  I have however been extremely tired and have needed a lot of sleep as I’ve been healing.  Luckily my kids and job are giving me time to do just that.  This surgeon really knew what he was doing, and I will be forever thankful for the wonderful work he did to give me my new body!

Summer Catch-Up

Well, here it is, 3 months after my previous blog post.  It’s been a pretty busy summer around here.  We didn’t have any exciting week-long vacations or anything like that.  Hell, the kids have barely gotten off electronics enough to notice its only a couple weeks away from school starting again.  But I’ve sure stayed busy.

Once I was released to go about my normal activities after my big surgery, I found plenty to do.  Most of it just little stuff, day to day.  Hanging out with friends, going swimming with the kids, going for rides with my man.  I got a job delivering pizzas for Pizza Hut, so I’ve been doing that for a few weeks now in the evenings.  My boss and co-workers are pretty cool about taking it easy on me so I can sit when I need to, to rest my back and my hips.  Its definitely a blessing.

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Andy and I in the front, right, riding the Monster at Adventureland.

We had all the my boys’ birthday parties here at our home.  Andy’s was in May, Evan’s was in July, and Cory’s was this month, in August.  All went well, and smoothly.  For all of them I invited friends and family and grilled burgers and hot dogs out on our deck.  Then we had cake and ice cream, and did the gift giving thing.  I think for the most-part the boys got what they wanted.  Andy’s big present this year was one of the new 3DSs.  Evan’s was a trip to Adventureland.  And Cory’s was a new tablet for gaming.  Photos for all of the birthdays, and everything else I’ve done all summer (and all future activities) can be found on my Instagram.  I update there quite frequently.

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Jake and I at the Freedom Rally, 2017

Jake and I went to the Freedom Rally in Algona, IA in June/July.  It was my first time at any big rally, and I must say it was not at all what I expected.  It was a really chill atmosphere.  Everyone was happy and easy-going for the most part.  We had a really good time.  Good food, good music, and a great weekend of camping.  I look forward to going with him again next year!

Still to come, I’m hoping still to take the whole family camping, maybe next week, if even for only one night.  I have a weekend planned for HearthsOPhyre in Conesville, IA during the last weekend in September.  Its similar to Burning Man, only on a smaller scale and local.  Also, I scored us some Hollywood Undead concert tickets for October, and I’m looking forward to seeing Highly Suspect again in November, as they have become my favorite band.

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Not exactly the results I had in mind from my Panniculectomy. (4 months post-op)

On the health and wellness front: I’ve applied for disability since the outlook on my hip dysplasia is chronic worsening pain for at least another 20 years until they are so arthritic they need surgically replaced.  In the meanwhile I’ve had physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around my hips to better cope with the deterioration process.  I’ve been told since my hips are bad in the way that they are, my other joints will likely have similar problems as I age, and I’ve already starting having shoulder and knee pain.  So I’ve had physical therapy twice a week for the hips starting just recently, and physical therapy for my upper back, shoulders and neck for 6 weeks prior.  That is for insurance purposes to get me qualified for the breast reduction.  Which has been officially scheduled for September 1st!!  3 weeks from tomorrow I will be having the breast reduction to a C-cup, and the surgeon will also be doing a “scar revision” to take off some of the loose skin that was missed when I had my Panniculectomy, and straighten out my belly button.  I’m not too nervous about the belly area because I know what to expect, but I’m extremely nervous about having the breast work done because it such a delicate area.  I want it to be perfect, symmetrical, and I want to keep sensation to the area.  I worry too much about things anyway, but I really want this to be done well.  I have a different and more experienced surgeon this time, so I have higher hopes for a much better outcome.  I would post pics, but that could get my blog in trouble for mature content.  I’ll try to post reasonable, censored before photos on my Instagram before the surgery.

So that’s the update and what’s to come!  I know some of you have been bugging me for an update, so there it is!  Sorry it’s taken me so long to get some time to sit down and type it out.  I know I will have plenty of time to type in September, as I have to take pretty much the entire month off for recovery.  So I’ll seeya then!

Finding What’s Lost

I’ve been feeling pretty lost lately.  I have no job and have had crappy luck finding one, though I’ve had several interviews.  My middle son has been having some pretty extreme behavior issues in school and at home again the last couple months after several months of doing better.  My finances are in ruin.  I haven’t been doing great with my diet and exercise, due to the stress, depression, and anxiety from everything else.  And a few other personal problems I am choosing not to discuss in my public blog.  I feel like I’ve been slowly losing myself over the course of the last few months… so what is a woman to do?

I have been distant from my spirituality for quite some time.  I have been overly skeptical and leaning away from anything spiritual, focusing more on the logical and scientific ways of thinking.  But I’ve gotta say, in tough times like these, science doesn’t bring me any peace of mind.  So I’ve decided to start back in with my spiritual studies.  A couple nights ago I asked my faithful tarot cards for guidance, and some wonderful wisdom came from them on all accounts of my current challenges.  Then last night I picked up a couple of my Laurie Cabot books and started reading her philosophies on Wicca/Paganism, and how she applies it to other faiths and walks of life.  I’ve gotta say, she is the person I left off with when I walked away from my spirituality, and she is the person reeling me back in and making me feel at home.

1016521_146840648841411_1015105813_nBasically the philosophy is, no matter what you believe in, or what terms you use for the Divine, it’s all the same.  You can put a name to it, you can call it God or Goddess, you can worship, meditate, pray to yourself or with others, but no matter what, you’re still calling on the energies of the earth and the Universe to aid in your needs, and the needs of others.  Even science confirms that directing energy with thought works.  So not only do I have the analytical part of my brain appeased, but I can get back into the spiritual side of me, where I find companionship with like-minded people, and comfort knowing the Universe has got my back.

I plan to start going to a women’s group I’ve been considering joining for about 2 years now.  I will start meditating when I can, and seeing my therapist again. And I’m going to take back control of my body for my own health and well-being as well.  I’ve been slacking in many ways of self-care, and it’s time I start taking care of me again, so I can be the best I can be for not only myself, but my family as well.

I believe once I get back on track, everything else will start to fall into place, just as it should.

Continued Healing

This will likely be my last Panniculectomy surgery update for quite some time because there’s not much left to say.  As of yesterday, Thursday April 27th, I am 5 weeks post-op.  I saw my surgeon for a check up on Tuesday, and everything is well.  The splitting in the middle is almost all the way healed, and the splitting on my side/hip is still open and rather deep, but healing at a fairly quick rate.  The doc said it looked good, and to just keep it clean and dry.  I am officially off of all antibiotics and doing well.  Very little pain, if any.  Just the occasional zing of nerve pain from having a big portion of skin removed which is totally bearable, some muscle aches and pains if I sit still for too long at a time, and phantom itching for the part of my skin that is gone.  But besides that I feel mostly normal again.  I have to continue to wear my compression garments for a few more months, which I am comfortable with since I have some swelling and a lot of scarring at this time.

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On the left: Summer 2015, 270ish lbs. On the right: Spring 2017, 210ish lbs. and post-panniculectomy.

The garments I have are probly about as comfortable as they can get, so I don’t mind wearing them most of the time.  I don’t have to see the doctor again for another 4 months, and that’s just for another routine checkup.  Plus my belly looks slightly lop-sided, and we just want to make sure that’s going away and looking great by that time in my recovery.  If not, I may discuss a repair, but I’m hoping we won’t need to go down that road.

 

I am going to continue to see my nutritionist so that I can continue down my healthy path and proceed with documentation in support of a breast reduction.  I will be eligible as soon as October for that surgery, but I think I will likely wait until at least January just to give myself a break from all the surgery recovery pains, to make sure I’ve lost the weight I want to lose and firm things up a bit, and to make sure I’m not going to miss half of next summer in recovery.

Once that surgery is complete, I will be done with surgeries in regards to loose skin.  For one, I don’t have insurance that will cover anything more.  And for another, I do believe I can firm things up from here with some vigorous exercise and willpower to keep at it.  Since the Panniculectomy I have been slowly losing more weight, even being sedentary.  I think it changed my metabolism a bit, and I look forward to taking advantage of that soon.  At my 6 week mark, which is next Thursday, my activity restriction is lifted and I will be riding my bike and hitting the gym at least a couple times per week.  I’m really looking forward to it.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually looked forward to exercising.  But without that embarrassing belly flap, I have nothing to fear.  I am currently at 209 pounds, and my overall goal is 175 (though government BMI standards say I should be around 135, I think I would look anorexic if I got down to that weight…. I still want some curves!). I know I can accomplish 175 with more hard work.

Thanks for reading along with my surgery journey.  I hope I have helped those of you who were trying to decide if this surgery was right for them.  I hope I have given you what you need for information if you were going through struggles with the recovery.  I hope I have provided support or encouragement for those of you also on a weight loss journey.  Good luck to you all, and thanks again!