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Surgeon TestimonialKuldeep Singh, M.D.My first impression of Dr. Singh was that he was a funny guy, a jokester. I went to one of his seminars and he was very personable, taking time to answer what I now know must be mundane questions. Over time, my appreciation for his good naturedness increased. He answered all of my questions (sometimes twice) and was available before and after my surgery for anything needed. His office staff is superb. He works with a nutritionist who has been of great help to me through my journey. His bariatric coordinator makes sure we keep our food diary and knows how to deliver tough love in a gentle way. Dr. Singh emphasizes after care. His office holds a support group meeting once a month and patients are told they are welcome to come into the office anytime they need. There have been times when I went in between appointments to get an accurate weight for myself and was always greeted warmly. I was told of the risks of my surgery beforehand and had the opportunity to talk to both my surgeon and my PCP about them to make sure I felt comfortable. Overall, I would say that Dr. Singh is a first class surgeon.
- Fitness & Exercise - I love doing treadmill and the elliptical machine!
- Music - I like a little bit of everything. Currently digging Katy Perry a lot.
- Fashion - OMG!!! I have the ULTIMATE passion for fashion
- Horror - I love a scary movie. Boo!
Cleopatra_Nik's JourneyClick Here To View
Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
In short, I've always been overweight. I was born 9 lbs., 3 oz. I was a big kid who grew into a big teenager who grew into a big woman. This wasn't so much of a problem for me until about 2001, after the birth of my second child, when my weight surpassed 300 lbs. This was the heaviest I'd ever been and following a breakup with the father of my two daughters, I began to descend into a cycle of negative feelings and unhealthy eating behaviors. I consider myself a food addict who has a tendency to medicate with food.
Read a good poem on June 15, 2012 7:39 am
It's called "The Five Stages of Grief" and is written by E. Ethelbert Miller, director of African American Resouce Center at Howard University.
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The Five Stages of Grief
This has nothing ot do with blackness
This has everything to do with blackness
I could break things
but everything is broken
Maybe I should have left
with the slave catchers
I will die in this same skin
that I'm living in
Cotton never left the plantation
only my mind did
I've been thinking on this poem, ever since I read it. I can relate to it in a lot of ways. Not just from a racial standpoint.
For Denial - many times we either give too little or too much credence to how outside influences affect our lifes. For the WLS patient it could be "This has nothing to do with food. This has everything to do with food." In reality, whatever the factor, the truth lies somewhere between those two points and it isn't always an easy delineation. With my grief, my mother's death, my emotional instability as of late isn't 100% about her death. But it isn't 100% about her life. She's gone. And sometimes I wish her back but why? So I could be the kind of person to her that I was? That's no good. Or so she could be in pain? That's especially no good. So that middle ground is hard to deal with. It's easier to deny how gray and muddy life can be and assign blame to something we can call concretely evil or wrong.
For Anger - How many times have I felt this way just in the last few months?? Being mad because there's nothing left to break. My life is, for all intents and purposes, a hot mess. I had to give up the home I own. I moved on...nothing. And I spent $10k burying my mother. There is no room for me to fuck up. There's nothing that I can easily "break" that won't severely affect my life in a very negative way. I feel unsafe and I have no way to lash out. I'm basically being forced to deal with all this constructively which makes me angry. I should be able to have the opportunity to zap out. To go crazy. To "lose my head" as my grandma would have said. I should have that right. But I don't. And that makes me angry.
Bargaining - take your mind off the literal sense of the word "slave catchers." There are slave catchers all around us. For me, it's those people who can give up neurotic thought and control and acquiesce themselves to a significant other or partner. I often look back on my life and think how much easier it would have been if I had submited to a man, became his wife. I may not be what I am today but I also would not be alone. I'd have a partner, someone with whom to face life's biggest challenges. But to me that seemed like enslavement. I am enlightened (or at least I tell myself that). I'm liberated. I am INDEPENDENT. But it's all so tiring. Let someone else worry about the bills. Let someone else worry about the day to day. Let someone else think about how the children will get to school or be fed or how the car will get maintained of the lawn will be cut. If I'd been willing to make that sacrifice...to live a simple life...to not go after my so-called dreams...I'd have that. I suppose the grass always looks greener.
Depression - This one seems pretty straight forward to me. For the slave it is the realization that you are black. You're born black, you've lived black, you'll die black and you'll never, ever be free. Well...we all have some form of blackness. For me it's food addiction. I am what I am and I'll die what I am. I don't know that I'll ever get the inner peace some of you find from WLS. I don't know if there'll ever be a day when I am free from those obsessive food thoughts. A day when my mind can rest from them. Some days I allow myself to be depressed about that. Some days I choose to ignore it. Somedays I practice denial.
Acceptance - related to the thoughts on depression, for me that could be re-worded to say "Food never left the equation, only my mind did." It's always going to be here. In our lives there's always going to be adversity. There's always going to be some unfair system over which we have little to no control. But notice that last line. "Only my mind did." That's the ONLY thing, friends, that we ever have control over. We don't have control over other people and things. Insofar as our actions are, in part, in reaction to other people and things (over which we have no control) we don't even have complete control over our own actions. But in the realm of our mind we do have control!
There is a saying I got on a fortune cookie that stands out to me. "In the realm of our minds, whatever we believe to be true either is true or becomes true." You can make the choice about what truth is in your life and you can believe it.
That's what I'm struggling with now. What is my truth? What is the story I'm wiling to tell myself for the rest of my life and can I really, really believe it?
Just feeling a little... on June 11, 2012 5:49 am
Life is settling down. The girls are about to set off on summer adventures. And I am scared to death.
Ordinarily I don't mind being alone (although I truly do hate it when my children go away for so long) but t his year I can already feel that this separation is going to be tough for me.
When someone major in your life dies, there is the weeping and gnashing of teeth that is requisite for the occasion but I'd like to posit that the REAL grieving doesn't quite begin then. It's sort of like getting a deep cut or injury. Your initial reaction is to the pain. You cry out for help and someone assists you, so that you don't perish. But in the days, weeks and months that follow you begin the process of recovery, which can be every bit as painful as that initial wound, just in a different way. And that's precisely what the quietness and emptyness of my house will elicit.
I suppose I should feel glad for that. I hear there is peace on the other side of that long, difficult road. The sooner I get on the road, the sooner I reach my destination, right? Except I am not yet fully convinced I WANT the peace of accepting that my mother is gone from me. Part of me doesn't believe I deserve that peace and the other part of me doesn't want to let go of any scrap of time and space where she actively exists. And yes I do know she still does exist. She was here. There is evidence. But you know what I mean. I have not, in my head, put her in the ground. I still use her phone number as my supermarket discount code. Her number is still programmed into my phone. Her bedroom remains in tact and for that matter I've not been to her house since the funeral. I've not let her go yet and I'm just not sure I am ready to.
Lately, particularly, I've been feeling what I'm sure someone must have deemed "motherless child syndrome." I would even go a step further and call it "SINGLE motherless child syndrome."
Do any of you watch Grey's Anatomy? Well if you did you know what I mean when I say my mother was my "person." She was who I belonged to. Who I came from. I don't know much of my other family well. I don't feel particularly connected to them. They don't feel particularly connected to me.
I am a member of many different kinds of family, plenty of which are not based on blood relations but there is something to be said for HAVING connections with blood relations. I have my brother and we'll build a new family consciousness. I have become the matriarch, a role that I don't accept yet but that everyone has bestowed on me. It's an honor, to be sure. I just don't know how to deal that or where to put the associated feelings.
So, that's a bit of why I am half dreading the summer. I can't fully dread it. It's always been my absolute favorite season. I'll try to post here throughout just to draw on your wisdom and experience and advice. Everyone has been so wonderful thus far.
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Damn, damn, damn on April 23, 2012 5:41 am
That's how I feel today. Poor little old me. Dammit. I hate that feeling!
I am not a big fan of what I consider whinyness and today I feel whiny.
I've been experiencing insomnia and I'm tired.
My car got hit by some idiot who wasn't looking when backing up.
I have less than two weeks until my move and the motivation to pack is just not there.
My kids argue with me.
It's cold and rainy.
And I miss my mommy.
So here I am...at work...trying. I really am trying. I work for a wonderful organization that brings hope and help to impoverished people around the world. It is my job to convey that message through my writing.
But today I don't feel very hopeful.
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All packed up and nowhere to go on April 11, 2012 10:27 am
Aside from my mom passing away, I've been dealing with the process of letting go of my home of the last 12 years.
This has been such an interesting process. In the past instead of making big decisions, I'd let them make me. I'd wait until I had few options left and then make an emergency decision (which USUALLY meant a bad decision). This time I was proactive.
It's also funny to me how sometimes in life you have to let yourself free fall into an inferno to avoid the worst kind of burns. This time last year I was trapped. Suffocated by a mortgage I couldn't afford. My house was in extreme disrepair. I had no money for anything but paying the damn mortgage. Some weeks I wondered where my grocery money would come from.
My mortgage company wouldn't help me. They said, "well you're paying on time every month so it can't be that bad, right?"
And when the idea first came along to stop paying them I was vehemently against it. I, after all, am a responsible person. I pay my taxes. I go to church. I keep my word. This is not something an honest person does, is it?
So I did what I do most of the time when I am conflicted. I sat on it and did nothing. But I could tell fast that that wasn't going to work. Then I prayed. And sought the counsel of...just about everybody. And after a lot of soul searching I finally felt ok about what I was doing. I am not justifying here. It was what I had to do to get out of this situation. And I needed out badly.
I laugh when I think about that first month I did not send in my payment. I thought I'd be kicked out the next month. Here it is a year later and I am still here. After a few months a funny thing happened. The company that did not want to help me before all of a sudden presented options! Exit options, mind you, but I didn't care. This house is sort of like a container of old self. Anthony (my ex) and I moved here together 12 years ago with our then only child. And our relationship died in this house. I had a nervous breakdown in this house. I had another child and I struggled and I triumphed. But this house very much represents who I WAS: a person who hadn't started her journey yet. I'm now well on my way.
We are set to close on the house on April 30th. So I know the next natural question. "Where are you moving?" I HAVE NO CLUE! I am all packed up and yet have not yet secured a new house yet. Last week was supposed to be about doing that but instead I spent the week fulfilling THE most important duty a child can do for their parent: I was burying my mother.
Am I scared? Ohhhhh yes. Excited? Definitely. I feel like I am entering a new chapter in my life. And I feel like my mom is in an even better position to see it now than she was before. She is watching over me and if she has anything to do with it, her baby will never go without.
So thank you, friends, for your advice, your wisdom, your experiences, your PMs explaining how you went through the same things. I appreciate that so much. I definitely do NOT feel like I am alone. And even though I am fricking bawling right now (my youngest calls it "having a moment") I am actually very comforted inside.
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In the still of the night on April 6, 2012 7:39 pm
Today was the first full day after my mother's death that I did not have somewhere I HAD to be: someone to pay, arrangements to make, someone to call or console. It was actually very nice to have some autonomy.
I suppose this is the first day of the rest of my life without my mother.
It's strange. I feel...unanchored. I have 2nd and 3rd cousins and whatnot in the area but my brother lives in Indiana and my mom was an only child so there are no aunts, uncles or first cousins. I sort of feel alone. I know I am not. I've built up quite the extended family. But there is something about that blood connection.
You know she and I had the same blood type, which happens to be THE rarest blood type of all of them: AB negative. That fact always sort of made me feel connected to her. We both went through having that God-awful shot during our pregnancies to keep our bodies from building up anti-bodies to the RH factors our babies may or may not have carried (as it turns out I had negative blood my brother is positive. Both my children are positive so that shot actually made it possible for #2 to be born. Left untreated, antibodies to RH factor will attack an RH positive fetus in utero). She often joked that she was glad we had the same blood type because who else was there to give US blood?
Isn't it strange the thoughts you think about a person when they are gone?
I named this post in the still of the night because that's been the hardest time for me. Last night I had a dream that I saw her. She was in her wedding dress and a beautiful head wrap. Her "butt-length" dread locks (she'd admonish me for using the word "dread") were flowing beautifully down her back. her face was full and she was standing upright with her Afro-centric jewelry on. I ran to her and embraced her tightly. She took my head in her hands and caressed my cheek. She took both my hands in hers and squeezed them, but then let them go. She took a step backward and she was as she was in her early 40's, before the locks, with shoulder-length brown permed hair. Another step back and she was as she was in her 30's. And another step back and she was in her 20's wit her big Afro and tiny body. One more step back and she was the little girl I'd seen a million times in my grandfather's photo album and she was flanked on either side by my grandfather, as his younger self and my grandmother, as her younger self. They each took one hand and led her away. As she left she looked back at me over her shoulder and smiled.
It was a nice dream. I woke up crying happy tears. But then as fast as the happiness came, there came the vacant space. The selfish part of me that just wants my mommy back. I just want her to nag me to chop veggies for dinner or to vacuum the carpet correctly like when I was little. I long for her to call and bug me about something one more time or tell a story she's told me two million times. If only she could "hold me hostage" on the phone one last time.
These are the thoughts I have at night. When it is quiet, after the children have gone to sleep.
I don't think she wanted to die. I think she wanted to live but did not want to live the way she was living: in pain, in turmoil, disconnected from the people, places and things she loved. I can feel the feelings that are down below the surface bubbling. I found a grief support group and I intend to go because I know what these feelings can do. And for the life of me I will NOT regress over this. She was so proud of what I'd accomplished. And I am too. I feel like it would be the utmost dishonor to go back to who I was before, what I was before. So I need to figure out how to deal with this place in my life that used to belong to her. I need to figure out how to get through the night and back into the light of day.
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Typical story. I was born fat (9 lbs. 3.5 oz), was a fat kid, fat teenager, fat woman. Thing was that I never minded that. I thought I was the sexiest thing alive. UNTIL about five years ago when the scale stumbled over that 300 lb. mark. I couldn't believe it. I was ashamed and depressed. I didn't think I was sexy anymore and so I fell into a depression. I ate and I ate and I ate. And I got bigger and bigger until I weighed 330 lbs.
One day a co-worker asked me to go with her to a weight loss surgery seminar because she wanted to get the Lap-Band. I went with her initially to support her, but by the end of the thing I was ready to make a consult appointment. I met with the surgeon shortly thereafter and about six months later I had my surgery. Since then life has been a bit interesting. I can't eat as much as I used to, I have more energy than I used to have, and I'm starting to think of myself as that sexy mama again! So it is totally worth it.
I hope you enjoy my page. I will try to keep it updated with lots of pictures, progress reports, reflections, rants, raves, recipes, whatever.