What a wild ride! on February 10, 2013 8:03 pm
I'm coming up on one year since my open RNY gastric bypass surgery (I had it on 2/28/2012). I had a followup with my primary-care physician today. I'm down from 257 to 143! 114 pounds lost in a little under one year. Every morning when I wake up, I say, Thank you, Lord, for this day. Quickly followed by, Thank you, Lord, that I'm SKINNY!
This is all new for me. I'd been heavy my whole life (since about the age of 6). I am SKINNY. I don't deny it. I'm proud of it. I am brave, I walked to the precipice & stepped off into the unknown. So none of this body dysmorphic disorder stuff for me. But I'm working at it, one day at a time.
If you're not familiar with the term body dysmorphic disorder or BDD, Wikipedia describes it as a disorder generally diagnosed in those who are excessively critical of their mirror image or body, although there may be no actual defect. Family, friends & others will typically disagree and may protest that there is no defect. In other words, someone like me who's had WLS (weight loss surgery) may look in the mirror & still see a fat person when, in fact, the person is now slim by anyone's standards.
I read about BDD years ago. I think I had it in reverse: I thought I was adorable! When I saw photos of myself, I cried inconsolably. I couldn't believe I looked like that (& yes, I have mirrors in my house). When I reacquainted myself with BDD just before I had my RNY, I realized I would have to work with myself, my doctors, & mental health professionals to get a grip on the reality that was to become the new me.
I do things like look - I mean really LOOK - at myself in the mirror. I never did that before I lost weight. Now my butt looks like two Sharpei puppies (& not in a good way) instead of two bowls of rising yeast bread dough, but dag it, I LOOK at the new me in the mirror. I do positive affirmations like, "Grrl... you look GREAT! You DID IT! You are adorable! I love you." Stop laughing! Seriously, I say this to my SKINNY, wrinkled, saggy, stretch-marked self. I look into my eyes when I say these things to myself. At first, I felt uncomfortable, & like I didn't really mean it. But, as we say in Overeater's Anonymous, fake it 'til you make it! A psychologist I once had said, "Behavior begets attitude." I believe it.
I also put my hands on my body. I realize I avoided this when I was heavy. I can remember being on an airplane in 2011 (before RNY). I had to sit with my arms crossed with my elbows resting on (one of) my spare tire(s) to avoid having my heavy upper arms infringe on my rowmates' seats. I had to try to stay this way on an 11-HOUR FLIGHT from Istanbul to Chicago! I didn't like feeling my own self in any way. How sad! This woman who raised 2 babies, loves 2 grandchildren, & opens my arms to anyone in need, & I couldn't allow myself to feel my own skin. My poor, dear, neglected self.
So now, I put my palms on my pelvic bones (yes! They're there! The last time I saw them was when I had a sonogram a month before my now-20-year-old son was born) & say, "Oh Lord, thank you Lord! I am SKINNY!" I wrap my hand (almost completely) around my upper forearm & see how my index finger & thumb almost touch. And I say, "I am SKINNY!" The first time I ever saw my knee bone I thought it was a bruise. True story! About a month after my surgery, I saw this bluish shadow on my knee & thought, "Heck! How'd I do THAT?" Then I realized: "HEY! That's my KNEE BONE!" I couldn't stop rolling the tips of my fingers on it. How cool! I can feel my bone! Like I said earlier, this is all new to me.
And I love it. I love ME!
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Addiction to food and/or alcohol: No simple answer... on July 7, 2012 1:06 pm
An OHer started a thread complaining about people not taking personal responsibility for their addictions. She complained that people too often blame that to which they are addicted (food, alcohol, drugs) or they blame the fact that they've had WLS for their transfer addiction.
I think this accusation leaves out one important thing: We are human beings, made of flesh & bone. We are fallible. We were born to make mistakes.
It also leaves out the fact that as humans, we need other humans to have a heart & reach out a hand in support in order to recover from our addictions.
In Alcoholics Anonymous we say alcohol is cunning, baffling & powerful.
Personal responsibility comes into play in so many facets of the human condition. It's part of the baffling part of alcohol (& other addictions, including food) that people from all walks of life - from the mail room clerk to the CEO - become addicts.
God willing, I'll celebrate my 26th year of sobriety next month. My father was an alcoholic & died of cirrhosis of the liver at 49. Within the last 5 years, scientists have discovered a gene in the DNA string that predisposes one to addiction. I knew in my gut - even when I was a teenager - that I shouldn't drink. But life happened, & in my weakness - & with an enemy that is cunning, baffling & powerful - I became an alcoholic in my early 20s.
Somehow, as I was drowning, I looked up (so far up) & saw the surface of the water with the sun shining on it. In my stupor I knew I wanted to be THERE, but I didn't know how to save myself. But I knew I wanted to be a good (single) mother to my young child, & I knew I couldn't stop drinking without help.
So that's what led me to the 12 steps in 1986.
There is so much about the workings of the body in relation to the brain & one's psyche that come into play when one speaks about addiction. Why does one become an addict? It's not just one thing - one's upbringing, one's genetic predisposition - that can provide the answer to this question.
In my personal experience in practicing the 12th step in AA & Overeaters Anonymous, I know for a fact that compassion & patience with the addict is the only way to help someone get sober.
One day at a time.
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Overeaters Anonymous & the TOOLS of recovery! on June 14, 2012 10:52 am
I started attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings on 4/2/12, about a month after my open RNY surgery. I love this group. The 12 steps WORK if you work them. OA meetings have helped me so much!
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OA has a pamphlet: The TOOLS of Recovery. The tools are
A Plan of Eating
I see my WLS as one of the tools of my recovery from compulsive overeating.
I didn't enter my first meeting with a willingness to share the fact that I'd had RNY a month previous. I told one other member (privately) that I'd had WLS.
We talk a lot on OH about "head hunger." Whatever you want to call it, I have struggled with the removal of food as my numbing drug of choice from my life since my RNY 2/28/12. I researched & read everything I could about RNY for years before I had my surgery, but nothing prepared me for the yanking of my "safety net" or "magic carpet" - food food food - out from under me overnight.
I see a counselor (social worker) every Wednesday. I go to AT LEAST one OA meeting a week (so far this week, 3). I honestly don't know where I'd be today if I hadn't walked into that first meeting on 4/2/12.
The thing about 12-step meetings is that they're run & attended by HUMANS. lol! We have our shortcomings. But we're all in this journey together.
You'll find that the meetings offer you a feeling of peace & serenity when you walk into the room (before anyone says a word). Remember, we are all "sick," so don't paint the whole program as unworthy if one person says something without thinking it through.
I look at it this way: I am there at the Overeaters Anonymous meetings to help myself one day at a time, but ALSO to help OTHERS recover from compulsive overeating. I'm on the leading edge at my local OA meetings. As WLS becomes more common, OA groups will open their doors & minds up to helping post-ops utilize this miraculous tool to overcome compulsive eating, just like we use the other tools of recovery.
I'm a PIONEER!
As we say in OA: "Keep coming back! It works if you WORK IT!"
"Head hunger:" Cravings, but only a distant... on June 9, 2012 2:00 pm
When I was in the hospital after my open RNY surgery (2/28/12), I would see the person from the cafeteria come into my doorway with "food" (a tiny bowl of broth, a bottle of Crystal Light, & a teenier cup of Jell-O) & I would be wishing I had enough strength to pick up my IV pole & throw it right at their HEAD.
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Just the smell of food made me feel like I was going to throw up (& I had absolutely nothing on my stomach, not even water). I was in the hospital almost 4 days (they kept me an extra day because I was in pain & I couldn't keep the meds down). The 4th day, just before I left, they brought me in pureed food (turkey, peas). I ate it. I was a tiny bit hungry. I didn't feel like throwing anything at the cafeteria person.
When I got home, I was exceedingly sensitive to smells & even just the suggestion of certain things (chocolate, anything with artificial sweetener in it) made me have to sit completely still until the wave of nausea passed. As I was coming up the stairs to my bedroom (just home from the hospital) I could smell my body wash (raspberry something) in my bathroom like my whole house was soaking in it. I ripped that bottle of stuff outta my shower stall & buried it in the back of my husband's bathroom's undersink cabinet like it was an evil voodoo doll.
Okay so that was ONE side of it.
The night I was home from the hospital, my son (college) got home & all his homies came over the house. My son came upstairs to say hi to me. I said, "Whatcha been doing?" He said, "We just got back from RED ROBIN. It was so great! OH, SORRY!" I about cried! RED ROBIN?! How did I forget to hit that place before my surgery? It was the end of the WORLD! RED ROBIN!
So yes, head hunger: I now knew what it was.
A bit over 3 months out, I still have head hunger. But It's kind of abstract, like the memory of an old boyfriend from when I was a teenager...
Carbs: They're made for you to crave on June 5, 2012 9:52 pm
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The way processed carbs are manufactured nowadays, much of what's in there is not digestible by the body. (Any body.) The flour is treated chemically to make it fluffier so the companies can use less but make the same amount of product. This "flour" is indigestible by the human gastrointestinal tract. Also, high-fructose corn syrup is NOT, as the HFCS ad campaign says, "just sugar." Again, it's a non-food that has been processed so as to make it killer on the human body.
Panera Bread was in the forefront of using these non-food products to make their baked goods (pastries, cakes, danish). Did you ever feel unwell after eating there? Did you have tummy troubles for a day or two afterwards?
Another place that uses these chemically altered non-foods is Starbucks. Many restaurants (franchises, chains) are starting to use them exclusively because the companies save so much money. Their usage has "bled" over into supermarket products.
What I'm trying to say is, don't knock yourself; don't be so tough on yourself. These highly-processed non-foods are highly addictive to the palate & pleasure center of one's brain. When you get these out of your system, you don't crave them nearly as much.
For all of us - WLS post-ops or not - eating food as close to its natural state is what we should strive for.