Happy Canada Day...

Jul 01, 2011

I've managed to catch a chest cold/sinus infection from my fiance, which he in fact thinks he caught from his mom (we all live in the same house lol...) So instead of seeing the fireworks or being among the thousands celebrating in downtown Ottawa, I am currently curled up in my chair with a blanket, trying to survive, so I figured it was about time for an updated post.

So it has been quite some time since I visited the OH boards, but in passing through a crazy winter where I saw some regain and depression creep up on me, I felt I needed to find new ways to help myself get back on track. 

Since my highest weight of 430 lbs before my surgery, I have managed to lose a total of 142 lbs and am currently again hovering around 288 lbs. Unfortunately, as much as I try to celebrate how far I've come in my journey, I still get hung up on the fact that I am still obese and have so far to go.

In April, when I visited my doctor, I had a rude awakening in learning I had gained a lot more weight than I had wanted to admit because of lack of exercise and poor food choices. With a diagnosis of mild depression over the winter, I had managed to fall completely off the wagon. We did blood work and sure enough with my family history and my poor choices, I had become anemic too. I think I was very hard on myself after this appointment as I never had wanted to see 300 lbs on the scale again. I know there is regain but I had been so happy once I got down to 280 lbs and so realizing I had gained 30 lbs over the winter had me freaking out.

I don't think it was just the number on the scale that moved me into action but I have finally sucked it up and started exercising as in every visit I had with Dr. Graber's staff in the past, they made sure to emphasize that this was something I definitely needed to be doing. Before now I made excuses that because I had very sore joints with much movement at all, I told myself I couldn't exercise. In fact, I believe part of me was afraid to try since I had always failed before.  However, I knew things had to change, I did not want to continue on this journey of regain, I had to stop it right now.

Before surgery I was barely able to walk long enough to go shopping, now I could walk without complaining or sitting down every couple of yards, yet I was still sore every day from the weight I had put on my body for all those years so I had to figure out what would work for me. I was afraid to admit even to myself that I was more afraid of trying to exercise and someone making fun of me in the gym or at the pool than I wanted my healthier me.

I don't know if this is what brought around the change in my habits yet again, but I know that's what kickstarted me into action as I didn't want all the work I had previously done with my RNY tool to be for nothing. I did not want to admit defeat, I would not admit defeat.

So instead of moping, I finally got myself to the pool, something I knew I could do.

I started with some leisure swimming before aquafit, and then got into the routine of going to aquafit 3 times a week at least, and sometimes more... I was sore the first few work outs, but I was determined to do it. I have since then added about a half hour of swimming before my aquafit class on most days and have even given myself the pep talks to move from the leisure lane to the slow lap lane, something I would have never been comfortable with before as I was too busy worrying about holding up people behind me...

I also bought a pedometer and began counting the steps in my day, it's something I like to see, how many steps I've taken in a day and if I don't feel it's enough, I add a walk in at Andrew Haydon Park after work before going home as well. I feel so much better about myself when I feel I have at least continued to make an effort in my quest for a healthier me. My heart knows this, so why do I have to knock myself upside the head to get my brain to follow through ?

And in this accomplishment of exercise, I have felt pride, pride in myself for recognizing my failings and instead of beating myself up like in the past, I decided to do something about it.

I have also been trying to be more concious of tracking my food, of making good choices and increasing the foods in my diet that contain iron. I am not perfect, I still have days where I find it more difficult but I'm trying.

Another thing I did to try to help with this journey is to attend the first of support group meetings for me in a long time, I feilt in the past that I didn't get enough out of the larger groups that met in the Ottawa area. I felt I had to fight to get a word in edgewise and that is not the type of person I am. I am sensitive, quiet and shy until I let people get to know me better. I have never done well in large group settings, part of that is probably due to my weight and my aversion to wanting attention brought to myself because of it, part just because I have always been a very emotional person. So i stopped going to the support groups as I didn't feel I was getting anything out of them until a long time friend of mine suggested I come to one with her. That I should keep an open mind and just come as she had heard me complain to her that I was having some difficulty staying on track.

The first one I went to was full of people at different stages, in fact, I laughed when I realized the moderator probably thought I was pre-surgery still with the few girls who showed up as early as I did all being presurgery. I listened to people share their thoughts, their questions, their fears and I felt moved by what some people said. I heard other people struggling, making me realize I was not the only one, that we're all human, and that I could again get back on track with the support of people who had been through similar struggles. Near the end of the meeting, I struggled to speak, my good friend who sat beside me rubbing my back because she knows how hard that was for me, yet I wanted to speak, to share with these people who had been so open in sharing their experiences.

For me, this first meeting was very overwhelming, although definitely something I had needed for awhile. It was a bigger group than I expected but still smaller than previous groups I'd gone to. I hadn't expected to speak, but I felt good about having someone take the time to help me share my thoughts as I still have problems asserting myself to be heard over the roar of a group.

So then when I saw my family doctor in June instead of waiting longer to follow up as he wanted to see how I was doing in our plan to help me get back on track, I was delighted to hear the good news that I had lost the weight I regained when I got back on his scale...

I am lucky to have a great family doctor, he took me on as a new patient as a favor to my mom, so I travel an hour to see him as when I came back from living in the Toronto area, I could not find a doctor who was "fat friendly", who didn't blame every ailment I had on my weight, but instead helped me jump through all the hoops to get to my surgeon. He has always tried to do his best and help try to guide me on my path to better health even when he didn't have all the answers.

So with the exercise, the better eating and striving to stay positive, I had managed to get back down to 288 lbs, which for me was worth millions, because it made me believe that I could get back on track, that I could exercise and see results if I maintained an effort. That I was not a failure in my quest for better health.

I've also since been to a 'Maintenance' support group meeting meant for people more than a year out from their weight loss surgeries. This group was a bit smaller, but in listening, I heard things that I might not have known or understood without this group. I learned a few ideas on how to live with the reality of the daily struggles I've been going through. I really felt this new group has helped me to strive to be more positive and to highlight when I do well, just as much as to learn from when I falter... 

I need to maintain that healthy attitude and keep up with the still new aquafit/swim routine I've managed to commit myself to. I'm working on figuring out how to get more iron in to my diet as in my latest blood work, I managed to fall below in my iron levels. I have to be more thorough on getting in all my vitamins and supplements at every point in the day as I know this is key in continuing my better health.

It's been a crazy few months, but I am very happy with my effort to stay positive and to think about each day one at a time as I make my way to better choices. I want to be present through this journey, so I continue to take baby steps and strive to remind myself that it is always a work in progress as I make my way through the day to day.

I've come a long way, I just have to remember to conitnue to celebrate the little things, and to get back up when I fall down...

Tomorrow Wendy...

Jan 15, 2009

So I wasn't able to make my 3 month follow up before Christmas, so I'm going to Utica, NY for my 3 month follow up at the 5 month mark tomorrow. I feel like I am doing really well, if my bathroom scale is correct - I'll know tomorrow at weigh in - I've lost 136 lbs since my journey initially began in April 2007. As of my first initial consult with Dr. Graber, I was 410, the day before my surgery I had managed to lose some weight and weighed in at 396 lbs and then Monday, 3 days after my RNY - I was at 393 lbs. This morning I weighed my self - I weighed in at 305.6 if it's the correct reading. Okay - the scale lied - in Dr. G's office I was 312 lbs - which is still great!

I can hardly believe it has only been 4 months, the weight loss has been amazing; I am no longer as out of breath walking; I can shop with my sister and have no complaints; I haven't had as hard a time sleeping; I feel so much better about my self, my mom is proud of me; my boyfriend is so supportive... I was worried this would be just another thing I would fail at in my weight loss journey, but this tool has given me the courage to believe I will succeed; I will be healthy and happy.

There are so many little moments along the way that have amazed me - and on Saturday I will be wearing a size 22 dress that is beautiful, a black dress with beading on the bodice; in a size I haven't worn since highschool; a beautiful dress that makes me feel more confident than I've ever been. I will be wearing it to a wedding on Saturday afternoon, and instead of passing the dress on the rack because I didn't want to know it wouldn't fit; I tried it on and was yet again amazed when it not only fit, but looked nice as well. I know it's just a dress, but wow... just another of those wow moments where I almost have to pinch myself to remember that yes, this is real; that yes, this is my life...

So wish me luck tomorrow, I know I still need help along the way; my journey is far from over, in fact this is still just the beginning, but I know I'll succeed as I want to be healthy, and what better way can I thank Dr. Graber for the chance to enjoy a better life than by embracing and moving forward on this journey.

I feel blessed, and it's taken me so long to get to this point and I'm just so excited to see where the future takes me.

Almost at the finish line...

Aug 11, 2008

So yesterday afternoon I was released from Faxton St. Lukes Hospital after Dr. Fitzer checked on my recovery. I had surgery on Friday with Dr. Graber, I remember being wheeled into the surgery room; seeing the team cleaning or placing the really long metal pieces back on the table across from my bed. I remember Tim Caines telling me I needed a bigger IV needle for the anesthia in my right hand after I had already been given an IV in my left hand. And then the last thing I really remember was being better angled on the hovercraft type of mattress they use to move your body from the pre-surgery bed to the surgeon's table and then back to your bed to be moved to the recovery room.

After surgery, I remember bits and pieces, mostly coming to but not being able to stay awake, at one point I could hear Dr. Graber and the staff trying to keep me awake so I could move from the recovery room up to my bed where I could see my family again. And then, once I woke up, I had to pee... so they got me to my room that I shared with Daisy, who I will never forget; and I must have been very tired after getting out of bed to go to the washroom and get back in bed... because the next thing I remember was waking up again and my mom and partner, Sean, were at my bedside. I was still quite groggy and my breathing and blood pressure were concerns, but otherwise I came through the surgery really well. It took quite a while for me to become less groggy, but I remember walking as soon as I felt able to stand up long enough and my first walk on Friday evening was around the square of hospital rooms, I remember doing this a few more times between Friday and Saturday afternoon, working on breathing exercises, having my vitals taken all the time and having a few interactions with student nurses and Claire - their supervisor.

Sunday morning, I thought I would be kept an extra night because my oxygen saturation levels were low and they were concerned about my breathing. Thankfully by the afternoon, they had gone up and as well, Dr Fitzer agreed I could leave. I had such an excellent experience with the staff at the Faxton-St. Luke's Hospital, they care so much about their patients and do their best to make you feel at home away from home.

Today I had my follow up appointment with Dr. Graber and his staff. It went well, I am following his post-gastric bypass diet and feeling pretty good; and I will keep up the walking as well as drinking the water and liquids; and then tomorrow we will begin the drive home to Ottawa. I cannot believe how good I am feeling, I thought I would be in more pain but have not taken anything for pain since 4am Sunday morning, and I am not uncomfortable at all. The burping seems to leave something to be desired, but necessary to help get rid of the gas; however, I thought somehow that even the incisions would look more scary then they do.

I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me, I am already feeling so thankful, I can hardly believe what more weight loss will show me, as my health will get better every step along the way.

So this is it...

Aug 07, 2008

Today I went to Faxton St Luke's Hospital for my pre-op screening where I felt comfortable with the results and a lot less nervous then the previous appointment with Dr. Graber. I met Janina and her husband, that was great! Hope to see her when we're all recouperating tomorrow night. Good news, I had lost 14 lbs, so although I did not lose as much as I would have liked, I did not gain and was able to lose a few so hopefully that will help with the next leg of this fantastic opportunity I have been blessed with.

Tomorrow morning I am having surgery with Dr. G... I have to be at the hospital at 6:15am, so the gracious staff at the Holiday Inn where we staying will give us a 5am wake up call... My surgery time is 10:15am. I feel good about my decisions, I am not as nervous as I thought I would be, and I know I am in good hands; so bring it on :)

I look forward to writing more soon, but for now I am off to bed to catch some zzzz's before the big day! Thanks to everyone for their well wishes, the support is wonderful!


Busy bee...

Aug 05, 2008

Well I'm having  surgery... I am a  little nervous, a lot excited... I'm not sure how I will be able to sleep the next few days. It's been bumpy getting to this point, as last week I was told none of my tests had reached Dr. Graber's office yet, great way to have a mini anxiety attack! So I quickly rounded up the tests, finished last minute blood work, and made sure everything would be faxed to the office as I am scheduled for my pre-operative appointment on Thursday, August 7th at 12:30pm in Utica, New York at Faxton-St. Luke's... It seems like just yesterday I began this journey, and I can hardly believe it is coming to surgery day - Friday, August 8th, 2008... 8-8-08 pretty cool surgery date if you ask me...

So what am I thinking, how do I feel... I'm excited to begin this new chapter of my life, I feel very confident in my choices, and my surgeon and his team. I cannot wait to get started on the other side of this journey, so I believe this is where I am supposed to be, and that everything happens the way it is meant to happen. I am thinking positive, optimistic thoughts about the healthier me I am on my way to and that I will be successful, that I can do this and will do this for me, no matter what obstacles I have to overcome.

I am so thankful I have my family's support, that I am fortunate to have people around me that support my decisions and rally to help me be successful. I feel loved and am so glad that my family and friends are behind me, pulling for me to do well at something that is so very important to me. So thank you dear ones, for always being there for me.

I am packed, but I always think I don't have everything... although I am sure I will have what I need, if not more... I'm taking my laptop, my camera, as I don't really know how to be disconnected from my gadgets, and I want to document my journey as I am sure there will be things I will want to remember that I might not if I don't.

Here's hoping to a smooth surgery, a speedy recovery and the beginning of a healthier, happier me :)

Oh Sunshiney Day!!!

Jun 09, 2008

I'm exhausted, I had been travelling since 7:15am this morning, and just returned home after a very busy day, but I am estactic! I have a tentative surgery date with Dr. Graber for August 8th! That is 2 months away, 2 months!!!! I was a nervous wreck today, Lisa even waited to take my blood pressure as she agreed that it might be through the roof because of my anxiety about the appointment, after spending about an hour and a half with her, I was calmer and had so much information. She's an angel, a beautiful angel and I feel so confident in Dr. Graber's staff after today, that I am very happy he was willing to take me on and help me grab at my chance at getting to a healthier point in life.

And as an added bonus, when I got to the appointment, another lady, who I met at the OH support group I went to March 31st, Pkemp who was so kind to me then and had encouraging words about Dr. Graber then... 

Well she was right, he's so amazing... easy to talk to and his staff is so kind and friendly, and the chairs!!! wow.... my mom thought they were so beautiful, and so did I...  Anyways, she was there for a follow up, and it made it so less scary to see a familiar face, to see someone who had succesfully gone through the surgery a few weeks before... And man, does she look great too :)

It just seems that things are going so right and that I am meant to finally walk the road to my new beginning... and then I also received my OHIP out of country approval this Monday that just passed, June 2nd, so I had everything I needed to get the process started with Dr. Graber.

I cannot wait to be on the winner's bench, and I am going to start working on losing some pre-surgery weight to help lower the risk of my liver being too large for surgery.

I cannot believe this good news, I am so happy... so happy :) 

Travelling down the Road

Apr 23, 2008

So on Sunday April 20th, Sean and I started out at 7:15 am to meet at my mom's house to be on our way to Toronto by 8:00 am. I am lucky enough to have family that lives in Burlington, Ontario - so we were going to stay with them overnight to go to my first consultation with Dr. Hagen of the MIS Clinic to decide if I want to pursue wls surgery.

We had beautiful weather to travel down with, we had a pit stop to make in Vaughn to meet up with my other uncle and then made our way to Burlington to arrive at about 3pm after all our pit stops and avoiding the 401 as much as possible as my mother does not like to drive through Toronto.

I enjoyed spending a lovely day with family I hadn't seen in awhile. My aunt and uncle invited my cousin and her family over too to see us, my mom hadn't seen any of them in 11 years and it had been 6 years since I had seen them since it is quite a drive and we all have busy lives; but it was almost as no time had passed in catching up and enjoying the day together. We sat out on the patio, and talked about all sorts of things; they asked lots of questions about the surgery - and I was happy to explain and discuss my research and thoughts with them as they are nothing but supportive and understanding that I want to be healthier and take steps to lengthen my life.

My mom knew I was nervous, both her and Sean had to keep telling me not to worry too much. We had time to get up early and again enjoy the sunshine on the patio before getting ready to head towards North York and my appointment which was at 2:30pm. I had some breakfast, but was really a bundle of nerves - what if I didn't feel comfortable with Dr. Hagen when I finally met him after waiting since October, what if he didn't think I was a good candidate, what if the wait was too long, what if I forgot all the questions I had, oh my...

We arrived way too early, as we were unsure where we were going, did not want to get stuck in Toronto traffic and so we had time to grab some coffee and then do some shopping. We parked at about 1:20pm where my mom finally put it this way - that I am interviewing Dr. Hagen to see if I felt confident in his ability and manner to work with him to be my surgeon as I also still had my consultation scheduled in Utica in case I decide I want to do the surgery sooner. We went upstairs to the clinic at about 1:40 pm... I registered with Dr. Hagen's office assistant and we waited on the seats in the hallway because the waiting room was completely full. I was sort of glad too as all the seats were small leather armchairs and I was not sure I'd ever be able to get out of them if I actually made my way down into one...

There were a few patients before me, and I kept getting more queasy and could hardly sit still... when some seats opened up closer to my appointment, Sean sat in the clinic to be able to hear Dr. Hagen call my name when it was my turn. About 2:25pm, I heard that the Dr. was running behind, so I didn't get called until about 3:00pm... He shook our hands, I was glad he seemed okay that I brought both my mom and partner, as I wanted their moral support and I really wanted them to have any questions answered that they might have in worrying about my decision to have surgery.

He was very professional, very open and informed me of my options, the risks, and explained surgery to all of us. I had made notes in my agenda of questions and tried to take more notes, but my hand was shaking, I was still so nervous... He asked of my co-morbidities, then asked to weigh me... I knew this would happen and had worried that although I had made some changes since I had last been weighed that I gained weight and had not lost any... well to my surprise the scale did not hate me and I had lost 14 lbs since August. This may not be a lot to some, but for me, it was the news I needed for my nerves to settle down a bit. I still have to lose weight before surgery to make my liver shrink and make surgery easier. He took my height to figure out my bmi, it was a little lower because of the weight loss - but still very high.

My mom asked questions about the death rate among his patients and how many surgeries so I would know as they were my questions but I had already asked sooo many myself, she asked them. He said he had one patient who had passed away of infection within 30 days and one who passed away later, but he was very open and seemed honest in discussing why and how many surgeries they had performed and how many more they would perform by the time I would be scheduled within the next 6 to 8 months.

He answered all my questions, made me feel comfortable and I decided to go ahead and take the next step which is being put on their wait list for surgery and to complete the appointments with the nutritionist/dietician and social worker at the hospital, then blood work and the pre-op diet before surgery.

He gave me the information to book the appointments and I felt although the appointment was not too long, probably about a half hour at most, that I came away feeling much better about my choices then before I arrived. I had heard through the website and in speaking to a few others that he was abrupt, that the appointment was short and that their surgery wait time would be much longer, so I was glad to get all of the information to make my informed decision.

We left Toronto about 4pm, and after dropping my mom off - Sean and I got home here to Ottawa at 10pm. I was exhausted, partly from how wound up I let my anxieties get me, partly as I am very fair and the sunshine might have been a bit much, and it was a long trip... I still have my consult in Utica and I know I will be less nervous as I know a bit more and I have an option already, I just am not sure I want to wait 6-8 months when I could possibly start the journey within a shorter timeframe...

I do feel so blessed to have the support of my family and people who are willing to help me in my journey.

About Me
Ottawa, ON
Surgery Date
Jan 06, 2008
Member Since

Friends 15

Latest Blog 7
Almost at the finish line...
So this is it...
Busy bee...
Oh Sunshiney Day!!!
Travelling down the Road