Toss the salad, gimme the scrambled eggs

Twelve days. Nearly two weeks. Still taking baby steps, but teetering oh-so-close to that edge of just leaping off into a pile of scrambled eggs…..

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This has been my fantasy for the last four weeks. I know. Weird….

Thanks for all the comments and concerns about my health. This adventure comes with some aches and pains, but with more growth (well, mentally. Physically, it’s shrinkage) and changes that will be lifelong.

You’ve asked how I’m feeling. OK. My stomach looks like a drive-by shooting happened in the OR, with four bullet holes in a line just above my belly button. (For the laparoscopic surgery, they put four trocars into your belly, blow your abdomen up with gas and then go to work with a camera and stapler and a hose to get rid of that pesky stomach tissue. You come out of the anesthesia with a drain and three big bandages. I prefer to think of it a crime scene. The “bullet holes” are healing, but underneath, apparently I’m developing scar tissue, because I get a really sharp pain to the left of the navel when I stand up, or when I curl up in the fetal position while I sleep.

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That flapping sound you hear is just my Batman impression. Do not be alarmed.

They told me there would be loose skin. I’m already starting to see that on my tummy, and now, I noticed my upper arms, formerly referred to as my “flying squirrel” arms, have now shriveled a bit and are beginning to resemble bat wings. While I believe in the dictum “Always be Batman,” I don’t think this is what they meant.

The muscle aches I used to get are going away, even though my weight loss is just beginning (although from my heaviest weight to today, I’m down 44 pounds). This is good because I have to walk or exercise (Aquatic Center lifeguards be warned: I’m coming back for that aerobics class!) and it’s a little easier. That was the point.

My knees, however, have not completely bought in to the program and we may have to have a talk soon. Of all the things that this surgery is supposed to eliminate or soothe, arthritis is not on the list.

Early last week, I thought I’d look on YouTube for a video of my surgery. I watched it and was fascinated! It made so much sense to do the liquid diet before (to shrink the liver) and watching the technique, I was in awe. I got a great mental picture of what I look like inside and it made the baby steps I’m taking now much more clear. If you’re thinking of having the surgery, or if you’ve had it already, I recommend watching the video. I learned so much!

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Iron Horse Trailhead. An old railroad bridge from the 1880s. Perfect place to change my own history.

I wear my Fitbit every day and was thrilled to see it logged nearly a mile on my walk today at the Iron Horse Trailhead. For 20 years, I have covered ribbon cuttings at these things, but never set foot on any path. Santa Clarita deserves kudos for the massive amount of trails criss-crossing the city and the scenery along today’s walk was amazing.

I had my follow-up appointment with my surgeon this week and had to wait nearly 45 minutes in the exam room for what I knew was going to be a five-minute visit. When he walked into the room, I told him I didn’t appreciate the waiting, only to have my concerns blown off. He looked at the drive-by site, said the bullet holes were healing and that the stitch of pain on my side was probably scar tissue, and if I moved more, it wouldn’t hurt. I explained to him that I was having trouble with walking by myself – I am much more comfortable sitting at my desk, writing and keeping in touch with the outside world from a keyboard, and am loathe to haul my lazy butt out of the chair to walk around the block. Plus it’s boring. So I have set up walking dates with friends who will make the steps melt away with their companionship. I shared this with the surgeon, and his remark was that I was going to fail if I didn’t exercise. I know this. I was explaining my coping mechanism and he was dismissing me. Again.

It was everything I could do to not use some colorful language and tell him that a good doctor would encourage my “date making” efforts at exercise and tell me to continue. Instead, he made it a negative experience. Really negative. When I began this process, I was warned that he had no bedside manner. I think it’s more than that. He thinks he’s a god. I think he’s a plumber (with apologies to my real plumber, who I love). But this guy goes in, fixes the pipes, then kicks the dog on the way out of the house.

One tip for people considering the surgery who are married or have a partner living with them. Revert back to your college days of marking, hiding or locking up your food. I drove home the other night thinking about the cup of tomato soup I had in the fridge, dreaming about warming it up and dropping in a scant spoonful of cheese and spices, only to open the refrigerator door and see a blank spot where the soup used to be. Apparently my sweetheart had a grilled cheese sandwich that needed company.

Ninety percent of the food in the fridge is out of my league and he takes my favorite part of the 10 percent! He was apologetic, but take this as a warning: Be prepared to defend your soup, yogurt, pudding and juices against predators.

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Sip-sip-sipping away. All damn day…

Having this surgery didn’t take me out of the social circles. Last week, I went to a reunion with a friend from Florida, where delicious and desirable plates were passed before me. I sipped…and when I say sipped, I mean slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-owly…an iced tea. Took me all night. Needless to say, I’ll be the cheapest date in town from here on out, since I will only be able to consume a few bites. I promise to tip generously, even if I order the child’s plate. And my newest constant companion is my water bottle. Sip-sip-sipping is my new habit.

And the mental games continue. Sometimes I wake up thinking I can walk into the kitchen and make a platter of bacon and cheesy eggs with toast. Then I really wake up and realize that I will be able to have one egg, scrambled (can’t WAIT, that happens Saturday), hold the toast and bacon, and substitute a little fruit and thinly sliced ham. It’s the next step in the new me. In the meantime, it’s time for a new ’do. This redhead is picking up speed and it’s time to sass again.

 

Special thanks to the people on the Facebook Bariatric Sleeve support page. The questions and answers are invaluable. I’ve never felt so much support from a group before and I appreciate each and every one of you.

 

Questions? Comments? Leave me a note, I love to hear from my readers!

When you invite the world to your door, expect traffic

Amgen 2015, courtesy of up and coming media star Austin Dave of Signal Multimedia
Amgen 2015, courtesy of up and coming media star Austin Dave of Signal Multimedia

I live in a pretty cool place in California. I have everything I need, a constantly-changing variety of new things to experience and opportunities to expand my horizons. Until my beach house becomes a reality, this is where I’m going to work on the butt grooves of my writing chair.

When my sweetheart first talked me into visiting this little berg, there were hitching posts in the downtown area. Seriously. For horses. They became central to my argument against settling here, but lucky for me, my sweetie was more persuasive. The hitching posts were removed shortly after we bought our house and I began to appreciate my new surroundings.

In a move dripping with irony, a couple of decades after putting down roots here, I served on a civic committee that worked to put hitching posts back into the downtown area, this time to attract tourists. Not that we tie them up there, but to make people remember when we had them for horses.

Our area attracts a lot of different people, activities and special events. We host a generous visitation of singing cowboys and cowgirls every spring, our aquatic center accommodates Olympic-style competitions, there is an annual PowWow that teaches us about Native Americans and our Fourth of July parade is passionately patriotic. We have a performing arts center that attracts some amazing entertainers and I can guarantee that you’ve seen our city in commercials, TV shows and movies.

My lovely daughter, Casey, writing a tribute to our dear friend Shirley Joyce. This was when Lance was still Live Strong...
My lovely daughter, Casey, writing a tribute to our dear friend Shirley Joyce. This was when Lance was still Live Strong…

One of the events we hold here is the Amgen Tour of California. It’s a world-class cycling event that attracts a following of visitors eager to watch the colorful blur go by and drink in some of the excitement that accompanies the race. I’m the kind of cycling fan you could classify as “curious” – I’ve seen the race several times and covered it as a reporter a few times as well. It’s not my cup of tea, but variety is the spice of life and I appreciate that my city officials invite the cyclists to zip through town for those who do enjoy the sport.

In other words, it’s not all about me.

Cycling is a sport with incredible health benefits. Their cardio is off the charts, spandex sales are expanding and it’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery. Coming out of their cubicles or homes to watch the riders might be the only time some people get out for some fresh air. And it is awe-inspiring to see how these riders are disciplined and dedicated to their sport. Today, they rode in the rain, a special event in and of itself in this parched state of California.

Why would anyone complain about this world-class, put-us-on-the-map, exercise-inspiring event coming to town?

Sadly, social media – and in the past, letters to the editors of various media outlets – have been flooded with people who were slightly inconvenienced by traffic because roads were temporarily blocked to accommodate the race. You would think we were forcing them to sit naked in a puddle of toxic waste the way some of them bitched and moaned. Some claimed to have been delayed HOURS (I call bullshit on that one), their children scarred for life because they failed to plan an alternate route. Some people were mystified as to the reason for the snarled traffic – despite the city’s extensive efforts to publicize the closures (seriously, I’ve seen it everywhere).

In other words, some people truly believe it is all about them.

I am convinced blinders have been handed out at every Starbucks (the only place or event that is universally known) that keeps people from being aware of their surroundings. The phrase “I never knew” seems to be the mantra. Ignorance seems to be epidemic, but most of the victims are Teflon. I know we’re a busy community, but seriously?

Think of how boring life would be if our routines were never disrupted, the ennui of daily life a never-changing horizon. Do people really want that? And I suspect that some – if not most – of the complainers have been part of a traffic problem themselves at a different time. (School drop-off, or Target parking lot during the holidays, anyone?) Some people just love to be miserable or as my mom used to say “you’d complain if someone hung you with a new rope.”

Don’t worry, it didn’t make sense then either, but it does offer perspective.

All these complainers seem to forget that they enjoy the benefits of what our municipal agencies provide. Sadly, a sense of entitlement oozes out of doorways and comprises the exhaust of their vehicles that fight over parking spaces at the mall, clouding their ability to see that what pays for our more than adequate public safety, professional city staff, abundance of parks and well-maintained roads might just be those “events” that are such an inconvenience.

Did anyone notice that those cyclists attracted hundreds of spectators? Are they all locals? No. Many of them – including some of the competitors who are sleeping here overnight – are visitors who are spending money on hotels, restaurants, souvenirs and other ways of investing in OUR local economy. We benefit from that, every complainer and fan alike.

That investment comes back to our city in its ability to finance a better quality of life that everyone takes for granted and –perhaps to a greater measure – enriches the cultural atmosphere that we all enjoy. Anyone like sports? Performing arts? History? Youth activities? Supporting worthy charities? (Heads up, people, the second largest Relay for Life in the state will take place at Central Park this weekend. It might affect traffic, but I’ll take the delay if it offers hope and help in the fight against cancer). It’s the circle of life (Amgen pun intended) on a fiscal plain.

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The two people on the left have attended every Amgen Tour; Parks Commissioner Duane Harte who is a real man of the people and cares about every event the city sponsors and Cathy Martin, who has actually traveled to FRANCE and invested in their economy to ride along with and watch the Tour de France. They’re hanging out with some itinerant reporter and alleged VIP

 

And for those of you who notice that I have not named my beloved city, it was on purpose. These blinders are typical in many communities. I’m encouraging people all over the country to get out and appreciate the beauty around us every day. Even if we’re sitting in stopped traffic, we can notice birds or flowers, or people on the street, new businesses opening or restaurants we’d like to try. It’s much healthier to set an example of gratitude than entitlement.