I spent several days last week out sick with a summer cold. You know the kind you tell yourself is allergies until you can no longer deny you’re miserable through and through. As I’ve just past the two-year anniversary of my bariatric surgery, this was another opportunity to really notice how much has changed.
For starters, yes I was sick enough to not go to Gilda’s club. People dealing with cancer are often immune suppressed. They didn’t need to be exposed to whatever I was carrying. The decision to “tough it out” or not was a no brainer. What that meant is that I was taking care of myself from the beginning of the cold, rather than waiting until it totally knocked me on my ass to acknowledge it.
Then there’s the odd thing that happens with bariatric surgery and stomach flu. My whole body felt like I should be laying on the bathroom floor. But I wasn’t. In fact I never got that kind of sick. The physiology just doesn’t work that way anymore. What an odd feeling, especially for someone whose history is that once I got started I didn’t stop. No sore abdominal muscles. No cramps. No dehydration. No shear exhaustion from all that effort. More energy to apply to feeling better.
And most importantly there are all the things I did manage to get done last week. Orion got dressed, bathed, on and off the bus and fed regularly. Time cards got delivered, groceries were bought. I had my allergy shots. Orion had injections as well, and a tune up of his wheelchair and AFO’s. We had lunch and a visit with friends. I found time to do dinner with a friend. I had coffee with another, along with a walk to and tour Gilda’s Club – several blocks down the hill, and back up again.
There was laundry that got done, including bedding from our camping trip. There was a night the power went out, and all the clocks are set back where they belong. There was no “recovering” from our road trip to South Dakota. There is no feeling that I need another week to “catch up”.
Two years ago, last week would have looked like a “super mom” week. It would have taken me almost week to recover from a schedule like that in my “best health”. I couldn’t have imagined doing all that right after returning from a road trip camping with Orion, even without the summer cold!
People still ask me if I have any regrets for making the decision to have by-pass surgery. It hasn’t been all roses, but if I look at what I can do now that I couldn’t dream of doing then all I can feel is grateful.
I don’t know what day it is. I’ve been running so fast trying to keep up, to catch up. With the holidays approaching I know it’s only going to go faster, so I am looking for balance.
I was sure that today was going to be one of those days when I didn’t have time for anything. I had too many appointments, too many commitments. I’d meant to make some calls and move things around, but never got around to it. Panic!
Then I looked at the calendar again this morning. There’s that button that says “today” and makes the cursor go to the current schedule. Seems like the crazy Monday is NEXT week. I still have time to make those phone calls. I have different things to do today, and no so many. I can do this.
This week my goal is to try and stop compartmentalizing my life. I get into trouble (too much to do) when those compartments start bumping into each other. Maybe if it was all one thing it would be easier to keep it all straight.
I’ve got a lot of projects in the works. I’m doing some more speaking. I’m planning an interfaith ritual as part of my post Parliament commitment. I’m finishing up a year’s book work for a non-profit and stepping up to head the board. I’ve still got students in my Wiccan tradition. I’ve still got Orion, his annual meeting is this month. I’ve still got Gilda’s club, and my women’s group and friends I need to check in with. I’ve got another book to write!
Sometimes when there’s a lot on the plate, something has to go. This time I’m still finding myself in the habit of conserving. I’m not really pushing my edges physically at all. I think maybe, what I need to finally let go of, is my fear of not being able.
I’ve spent so many years being physically cautious. I’ve had to have the energy when I needed it and so have always tucked away a little extra when I could. I’ve paced myself physically, insisting on lengthy breaks between tasks. It really was necessary. When I couldn’t do that I’d end up in bed for a day, or days. I’d do too much and then really hurt myself.
Now I can do so much more, and I’m excited and grateful that I can do so much more. But I still find myself being cautious, taking breaks I don’t really need. I avoid taking on large projects because I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish them. What has to give is this fear. It’s time to fly.
When I hit those edges I’ll know. When I need to take care of myself, I’ll know. When I need to just stop and come back another day, I’ll know. I may not be able to do it all, but I can do it. It will be fun.
Fear of success is very common, and I’m no exception. I’m one of those people who does well out of the gate, and then fades back into the pack. I get distracted, or bored, or overwhelmed. Sometimes it takes a bit, but if I care enough I’ll usually put on my “big girl panties” and buck up.
This is the time of year when that often happens. In the U.S. we are enculturated to start things in the fall, with the start of the school year. This also means temperatures are a little cooler, which I prefer. There is less humidity (and pollen) so breathing is easier. I also know in 8-10 weeks I’ll be running into the holidays and I’d like a head start!
Last week was a week of “getting ready”. I don’t feel as though I actually accomplished much, but I did set up some important appointments. I had some networking opportunities and I’m preparing a presentation for later this week. I started sending off my dry-cleaning (I have a lot as I’m still cleaning out closets of oversized clothing). I even took a gander at flylady.net!
I made an appointment with a tailor to talk about wardrobe and alterations. I made an appointment with a professional web developer. (Getting free help from friends hasn’t been a rousing success so it’s time to bite the bullet!) I signed a contract to have a piece included in a new anthology (Burying the lead? More on this when there’s a publishing date.)
Rather than being grumpy, I’m looking forward to this week filled with possibilities. I still will be “getting ready”, but I seem to have energy for moving forward again. It’s a good change in the weather.
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I was just starting out as a volunteer at the newly opened Gilda’s Club Twin Cities. I was blogging about my to-do list as I prepared for surgery.
Gilda’s Club, dedicated to the memory of Gilda Radner, is a welcoming community of support for anyone living with cancer, along with their families and friends. It’s a place where everyone is welcome, where no one faces cancer alone.
This year when we went to the Gilda’s Club Friends and Family Birthday celebration I participated in most of the events. Orion and I met some new friends, visited with old friends and enjoyed the Clubhouse atmosphere. I spent much of the day on my feet, and didn’t think anything of it.
The Clubhouse is really settling into itself. The gardens continue to expand, making lovely healing and meditative spots to just sit and enjoy the sunshine. There is the fairy garden, the new waterfall and picnic area (the first photo was taken there) and the healing fountain and gardens.
Last year the healing fountain was dedicated and Orion and I made stones for people we knew who had dealt with cancer. He made one for my Mom and I made some for friends I’ve lost to this pervasive disease. This year, unfortunately, there were more stones. Orion made one for me!
Inside the kitchen is often in use for classes or just the staff throwing something together for anyone who drops in. I decorated cupcakes and made Orion eat one, poor thing. I’ve attended several events in the kitchen this past year. (What can I say, if there’s food I’m more likely to show up – even now!)
The Expressive Arts Studio often displays projects members have created. That’s where we colored our stones for this year. It’s a great place to work out feelings through art. I’ve taken the Homemade Card Making class and had a lot of fun.
There was a lot of vibrational healing going on. We got to do a gong meditation in the Mind Body Studio. Orion and I also did some drumming in the Community Room. He’s pretty excited to show off his new rhythms the next time he gets to a drumming circle.
We participated in some short improvisation workshops put on by the folks from Brave New Workshop. Jenni Lilledahl, one of the owners of Brave New Workshop is also one of the founders of Gilda’s Club Twin Cities. It’s great to have their support. The workshops were a lot of fun.
The biggest change though is when I compare the family portrait Orion and I took last year to the one we took this year. My daughter was talking to old friends, catching up. When they asked about me she told them I was genuinely happy. Maybe I am. I’m certainly grateful that so much has changed.
Last weekend my daughter and I went to New York City. We both needed a vacation. You might recall I had surgery rather than going on my last one. I could do a travel-log blog. I could carry on about all the amazing food we ate. But the best part of this trip for me was celebration how different things are from the last time Karina and I went to NYC – 4 years ago.
I had my 9 month visit with the bariatric surgeon before we left for the airport. I am essentially at my post surgery goal weight! All the more reason for me to notice how much is different in my life. I had a goal (from February) to sit in a plane seat and buckle the seatbelt without an extender. Not only did I do that, but I was capable of sitting in an exit row!
The last time we were in NYC it was pretty early to bed. I wasn’t sleeping well and I tired easily. This time we got settled into the hotel by 10 and Karina was ready to go out on the town. She opted for salsa dancing and I was game to tag along. I even managed a dance or two.
One of the things that amazed me from this trip was not just how much I walked, but how willing I was to walk. Last time even walking to the subways was often too much, and we’d flag a cab. This time I wouldn’t bother to get on the subway if where I was heading was just the next station. I’d walk. Last time I couldn’t even go through the turnstiles. I was too big. This time I only struggled when I had to climb up 3 flights of stairs.
One of our “must do’s” on this trip was to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We did it before, stopping to rest several times along the way and flagging a cab as soon as we stepped into Brooklyn to take us to Grimaldi’s Pizza (just under the bridge). This time we started at Grimaldi’s and then walked.
We crossed the bridge in less than ½ the time we’d taken before – in spite of the crowds. Not only did we walk across the bridge, but we continued to walk down to Battery Park and the 9/11 Memorial. Exhausted with sore feet by the time I got on the train, but exceptionally proud of the accomplishment.
We did plenty of other things as well. We went to some Broadway shows. We spent an evening at Comic Strip Live. We had a fabulous dinner at Felidia. Karina spent a day at Coney Island while I shopped and took in a matinée of It’s Only A Play.
We snuck in another show together, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. We even went on a walking tour!
It was a grand trip and a great way to celebrate hitting that post surgery goal. I’ve got a way to go in terms of the new life-style. There was a lot of leftover food in the hotel room when we departed! My eyes are still bigger than my stomach, and exercise isn’t going to come as naturally at home. Even so, this trip may serve as a kick-start. If nothing else it will help me remember what I am capable of doing.
It’s occurred to me in this past week that I’m spending a lot of time going “been there, done that” with this current health set-back. I knew, as soon as my leg swelled up, that I was dealing with a blood clot (a DVT) because I’ve “been there, done that”.
I’m finding the same thing to be true with the weight-loss journey. I’ve lost a large amount of weight several times in my life. I lost 70 lbs with medical complications before they found and identified that I had cancer. Several years later, when I actually GOT the cancer diagnosis, after surgery and chemotherapy I realized I had to do something about my weight and again lost about 70 lbs.
The experience of planning to start an exercise program and being sidelined with medical complications is not new to me at all. The two steps forward one step back process of building a lifestyle, or a career, or a new routine is the story of my life. There is a reason I have the magical name Spiral.
This weight is where I was in my mid 20’s, when I got married for the first time. As I go digging through old clothes desperately seeking something that will fit I am reminded of where I was in my life each time I crossed “this number”. I may be the same weight, but my body is not the same shape. I’m no longer in my 20’s, or in my 30’s, but I still catch myself falling back on old patterns.
Most people have “life lessons” that come around again and again. The hope is that each time we confront these issues we have a different perspective on the problem. Each time we are tested we learn new skills and have new (better?) ways to tackle our problems.
I am better at accepting the compliments when people tell me I’m looking good. I’m better at recognizing the traps in the back-handed compliments (“You’re wasting away!”). I’m much more willing to accept ownership of my journey and not depend on others for confirmation of how I am doing. I’m much more willing to seek help and advice from others who have had similar experiences.
I’m less flexible – change at this age is harder than it was when my kids were little. I don’t have as much resilience, especially physically. It takes longer to take those two steps forward after a set-back. As a single woman, I don’t have the same kind of support. (This is as much a plus as a minus, depending on the day!)
My goals are different. My motivation is different. My perspective is different. I may have “been there, done that”. I just hope that this time I don’t do it quite the same way.
I don’t know why the numbers make such a difference. Ever since my bariatric surgery the question I get asked most often is “How much have you lost?” Since the answer to that question depends a lot on where I start counting from even the numbers are ambiguous. Do I start with my “top weight”? Do I start with the weight on my bariatric surgeon’s chart from my first visit? Do I start with the weight I had on the day of surgery?
It doesn’t help that I can be very casual about numbers. I’m good with math, but I don’t really remember numbers well. Every time I’ve moved (and it’s not that many times) I get my checks changed immediately, so I can LOOK whenever someone asks my address. It takes me months! The best thing about cell phones is that I get to keep my phone number. I didn’t change plans until I could.
I can’t even remember how old I am. My kids remember. I could do the math, but if someone is asking I figure if they really want to know THEY can do the math. I was 23 for 3 years, it was a number I could remember. I’m bad with my kids ages too. I don’t believe Orion just turned 26, but I’m sure he’s right.
I didn’t go into the bariatric surgery with my eyes on the numbers. I cared about energy and mobility and health. All of those things are noticeably improved. I can stand longer, do more and am more comfortable. I no longer shuffle when I walk. I even put on a pair of heels. I can curl up in my favorite chair. I don’t need as many pillows in my bed. I don’t get winded coming up the stairs. These are the things that matter.
Still, there’s that number. 100. It makes a difference. It shouldn’t, but it really does. Hitting the 100 lb weight loss mark is a milestone, like it or not. It doesn’t matter what percentage of my weight I’ve lost, or how much I have left to go. It’s just that number.
I’ll hit it several times, depending on where I count from. But I suspect the impact of the milestone will only hit me this once. So, I’ll claim it. Let’s hear it for 100!