In A Groove And On The Road

nicole and rosie bullockIt’s been 6 weeks since surgery, and I feel like I’ve hit my groove. I’m getting better at listening to what my body needs and what I can safely consume. I’m usually at good energy levels, but still not as high as before surgery. Life feels different since surgery, but it’s a good different.

As funny as it might sound, my biggest complaint is my CPAP mask. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve lost so much chub in my face, or strictly because a TSA agent screwed it up (which wouldn’t be the first time), but I can’t get the mask to seal on my face, no matter how I adjust the straps. It hisses through the night, which wakes my husband up. It shoots dry air up towards my eyes, which dries them out…and has even made my eyelid chapped. The eyelid, right by my tear duct, keeps splitting and bleeding. I’ve been vigilant to apply Neosporin to the area, but it’s just not getting better.

I’m working 20-25 hours a week, and a few days I’ve made it over 7 hours. I usually start feeling fatigued in the early afternoon, and will head home to nap. But if I have a meeting or an urgent task to complete, I truck on through. When I’m lucky, I’ll hit my second wind. It’s SO difficult to get through the sleepy afternoons without caffeine.

One of the happiest things is that I’ve felt good enough to travel a bit. As a pilot wife with flight benefits, I have a hard time sitting still for too long. First I roadtripped to Portland to help a friend move up to the Northwest. The next weekend, our family was supposed to go to Anchorage to visit my brother and sister-in-law. But since flight loads were miserably full, Rosie and I opted to fly down to southern California.

One of the most humiliating things about being an obese traveler is needing to request a seatbelt extender. After losing 5 inches in my waist, I was certain that I’d be in the clear for buckling my seatbelt sans extender. This picture doesn’t accurately show the gap (buckling a seatbelt requires two hands, and I had one on the camera). I was about an inch and a half from securely buckling my seatbelt. Hopefully the next time I’m on the plane I won’t have to make the walk of shame to ask the flight attendant for an extender.

We flew into LAX, but after a one hour ground stop, we decided to grab a hotel and pick up our rental car in the morning. The hotel’s website said they had a “deluxe continental breakfast buffet,” which was actually just muffins, doughnuts, and a few mushy apples. I skipped the free food and went to Trader Joes to get some good food that I could eat on the trip. Afterwards, we drove up Pacific Coast Highway from Dockweiller Beach to Santa Monica. At Venice Beach, Rosie and I got out of the car and took a 40 minute walk on the cool, foggy boardwalk. It’s amazing how the ocean makes exercise SO much easier.

Being in California was tough this time, because I realized how much of my usual Cali experience revolves around food. I have a bunch of favorite Mexican restaurants, donut shops, bakeries, and dessert spots. I did indulge in a few restaurant things (like a little tiny bit of toppings from carne asada nachos from Tijuana Tacos in Pomona), but I avoided most of the places where I knew I’d get myself into trouble. My in-laws carefully watched me as I ate during meals, blown away at how little I was eating.

It was an enjoyable time in LA, but the trip home was tough. Due to a rental car return fiasco, we missed our flight from LAX. We ended up flying to Las Vegas, hoping to get a connecting flight to SLC. We lucked out getting seats in first class to Vegas, but flight loads to SLC were dismal. Instead of waiting 6+ hour for the next flight to SLC, I decided to rent a car and drive up to SLC.

Not only do I love air travel, but I love roadtrips. Unfortunately, I associate a lot of a roadtrip by the drinks and snacks I bring along. But by the time I got on I-15 in Vegas, I was dragging. I broke my 2 month Coke-free streak by getting a cup of Coke Zero, filled to the top with ice. I sipped it for the parts of the trip I was dragging, with Gatorade G2 and water for the rest of the time. But as I drove, I thought about what I wished I could be eating….chocolate Dunford donuts, caramel popcorn balls, and chewy candies like Swedish Fish. I was glad we stopped at a grocery store for some chicken salad at the deli to snack on.

central utah snowstormIt was tough to drive up to SLC without a relief driver, and I had to stop to nap a few times. I hit all sorts of weather…from warm cloudless skies…to sunny snowstorms in Central Utah, to torrential rainfall. When I finally arrived home, I was TIRED. I still feel like I’m recovering from the trip 3 days later.

I’d like to thank the people who checked up on me this week, worried because I hadn’t posted anything new in over a week. It was crazy with travel, and my personal laptop is having major issues. I hope to post 3-5 times a week from here on out.

Oh, and about my weight. I haven’t weighed myself in almost 2 weeks, but I’m guessing that I’m down about 40 pounds.

Down 29 Pounds – 3 Weeks Post-Op

After a tough day yesterday, I promised myself I wouldn’t overdo it today. I had to wake up at 5 to pick my husband up from the airport, but I was already half awake when my alarm went off. After having Taylor home for 3 weeks, 4 days apart felt like a long time. Seeing him was worth the 5am wake up call.

I went in to work to work on a proposal that was due at 10, had a meeting, and was out of the office by 11:30. I was gone before I was exhausted, which was a nice change. It was hard to turn down urgent projects, but my body is much more important than my work at the moment.

I spent the better part of the afternoon in bed, took a two hour nap, and regained enough energy to leave the house for a few hours. With how many people ask me about my weight loss, it’s been frustrating to not have a scale at home (that goes high enough to track my weight). We did a little shopping, picked up a scale, and visited some friends.

I weighed in this evening, and I’m down another 7 pounds, which puts me at 344.2. This means I’ve lost a total of 29.1 pounds since 1/30/12. Today I also fit into another pair of smaller jeans. After so many years of weight loss failures, it’s exciting to see the progress to quickly!

A friend mentioned to me tonight, “You’re getting numbers like on The Biggest Loser.” Funny that I auditioned for The Biggest Loser, and didn’t get a callback. Although it would have been interesting to be on a TV show, I think that weight loss surgery was a much better long-term decision for me. It’s crazy to me that 3 weeks ago, I was laying in a hospital bed, only allowed to sip one ounce of water per hour.

Food diary:

  • String cheese
  • 2 oz light yogurt
  • 1 TB peanut butter
  • 2 oz chopped grilled chicken with sauce and cheese
  • 2 TB refried beans
  • 2 oz sliced roast beef with au jus  (part of a French dip minus the bread)
  • Jell-o pudding mousse

Down A Dress Size

nicole little black dress

When it comes to non-scale victories (NSV) this week, I had two. I fit into a pair of jeans a size down (24, instead of 26 or 28) and I fit into this black dress than hasn’t fit me well for over a year and a half. It’s a size 22, and I was wearing dresses (with stretchy elastic) in size 26. I was still self-conscious about my tummy bulge in it; but, I look forward to being down a little bit more so I can fit into the largest size of Spanx.

I posted this photo on Facebook, and got a flood of positive comments. It really made my day! I don’t think I’ve ever got 80+ “likes” on a photo. Ever. I’ve also been getting random friend requests and message from friends-of-friends saying that they are “inspired” by my story. Every time I hear positive feedback, it makes me happy that I decided to publicize my journey.

nicole bullockToday was a busy Sunday for my extended family. My cousin Jayna’s adoption was finalized this week, and she was blessed in sacrament meeting today. It was also another cousin’s missionary homecoming. They were held within minutes of each other, and I had to zoom across the valley to catch Elder Parry’s report. I knew I’d be exhausted today, so I laid in bed for most of the morning so I’d have energy for the festivities.

After the meetings were over, my aunt and uncle hosted a luncheon in honor of my cousin. They always put on a great spread, but it was hard to pass up the stuff I love like fresh veggie trays and croissant sandwiches. Instead, I got a scoop of chicken salad, a little bit of cheeseball and ate it with a few wheat thins. My aunt makes delicious mint brownies, and I had a hard time taming my sweet tooth. I took the tiniest chunk piece on the place (about 1in by 0.5in), licked off the mint frosting, and let the fudge melt in my mouth. I didn’t eat the actual brownie, but it was nice to get the taste of a favorite dessert.

I sputtered out around 4pm (after 5 hours of family fun) and went home. I got straight into my pajamas and rested all evening. It’s frustrating to be completely drained of energy like this, but I know that adequate rest is key to my recovery. I need to be patient with myself, even when it’s not fun. I’m hoping to get up to 6 hours of work per day this week.

Food diary:

  • Light yogurt
  • Half a string cheese stick and a few pieces of deli meat
  • 3 TB of chicken salad, 3 crackers, and some cheese spread
  • Mint topping off of a brownie
  • Sauce, cheese, and a meatball off a leftover Subway sandwich
  • 3oz apple juice
  • Protein shake made with coconut milk and Syntha 6 mix

Pushing The Limits

nicole and rosie bullock

This has been a great week, but it’s been EXHAUSTING. Not only have I been back to work, my husband went back to work, so I’ve had to start doing more things independently. I’m still trying to figure out what my body is capable at this point, both in activity and the foods I can eat.

This week I worked 18 hours over 4 days, meaning I worked 4-5 hours each day. Some days were easier than others, but I always left the office as fatigue set in. I had just enough energy to drive home, climb my 3 flights of stairs to my apartment, and get in bed. Every day after work I took a 2-4 hour nap to recover. But I’ve never been one to sit still too long, so I tried to get out and do something every evening. By the time I got home, I was so tired that I skipped the blog posts and went straight to sleep.

I’m trying to work my way up to “legitimate exercise” by walking more in general. As I crunch numbers in my head, 400-600 calories a day doesn’t seem like it’s enough for me to be consuming if I’m exercising. But it’s hard to eat more than that, and I want my body to tone up, so I’m trying to add in walking wherever I can. Because it’s frigid in Utah, I usually do my walking in stores and malls.

venous stasis dermatitisOne thing that’s been frustrating this week is my skin. I have VERY itchy skin around my surgical incisions. The scars are healing nicely, but they are so itchy! I’ve had eczema since childhood, so rashes are not uncommon for me, especially since I’ve been stressed and have been pushing myself to get back into normal life again. I’ve broken out into hives a few times, and have gotten this nasty rash on my feet. I already have problems with venous stasis dermatitis, but this looks and feels different. I’ve been wearing my compression stockings daily and have tried to use the right ointments, but nothing seems to work right. Maybe I’m pushing myself too hard? Thank goodness for Benadryl!

Today’s food diary:

In A Fight With My Body

feeling rotten

If I’ve learned anything since I’ve had surgery, it’s that my body has a mind of it’s own. Some days are trouble-free, other days make me want to curl up and cry myself to sleep. Today was one of the latter days.

With a vomit-free week and a half after surgery, I was feeling confident that my body was healing and ready for new foods. But even though certain foods are on the list as acceptable for the post-op phase I’m in, it doesn’t mean I’ll be able to keep them down.

This morning was particularly horrid. It started out with liquid diarrhea, which has been pretty common since I started moving my bowels post-op. For breakfast, I had some egg whites with cheese, but was still a little hungry. So my husband heated up some lean turkey sausage links. I cut them up in little bits, but they were very dry. I ate them with some gravy, but it was still hard to stomach. I waited a few minutes to have a sip of water, then the pain began.

It almost always begins in my back for some reason. My spine and back muscles ache, and I want to hunch over. Then I get the feeling like I’ve been punched in my upper gut, and I start releasing funny burpy noises. Some of the food regurgitates up, and I feel like the only thing that will help me feel better is a good burp. And when I get that burp, my mouth starts watering profusely, and I know I’ve got about 10 seconds before I’m going to vomit.

The last two days when I vomited (applesauce and chicken), it was a quick, fairly painless process. I don’t get the yucky bile taste like I used to, since I’m basically emptying the contents of my stomach pouch in reverse. But today, I kept heaving and wretching. And with each wretch, I lose bladder control. Nothing like puking and peeing your pants at the same time. Because it happened in bed, I got to wrap up in my daughter’s cute flamingo sheets while the others were washed.

All of this happened around the time that I was supposed to be getting ready for church. I decided to let my husband and daughter go without me, which was good because I was miserable and nauseous. About 10 minutes after they left, I sipped some water….and lost it a few minutes later. The wretching was even worse this time, so I decided to let my body settle a bit and take some liquid Lortab. I yakked it up almost immediately. At that point I was in pain, wretching, dehydrated, hungry, and ready to take a nap.

After the nap, I felt significantly better. I was able to keep down some lunch, walk around the house a bit, shave my legs, and take more Lortab. But even 7 hours later, I’m still kinda weak and achy. We went to my parents’ house in Lehi for dinner, which was tacos. I had a bit of refried beans, and melted some cheese on the “taco meat.” This “taco meat” was previously prepared ground turkey, frozen and reheated. It was super dry, even with the cheese oils, and I didn’t think I could keep it down. But I moved to a more comfortable chair, relaxed, and let it digest a bit. Despite the discomfort, I was able to keep it down.

Before I left my parents’ house, I hopped on their scale. Tonight I weighed in at 352.0, which is down 3.3 pounds from last Monday. This means I’ve lost 12.3 pounds since surgery, and a total of 21.3 pounds since I started the pre-surgery diet. I’m not really noticing a difference in my clothes yet, but I definitely can see it in my face. There’s a lot more definition in my face, and my cheeks are much less puffy. I wonder how much different I will look once I’ve dropped, 50, 100, or even more weight. I can’t wait until my collarbones show up…I always liked my collarbones. 🙂

Tomorrow is my last day at home before I go back to work. Hopefully I will be able to keep down all my food and not wear myself out too much before returning to the office. I’m going to get a nice new insulated lunch bag tomorrow so I can bring the foods I need to work. I don’t know how many hours I’ll be able to handle this week, but luckily I’ve got a few days to work back up to my normal hours.

Today’s food diary

  • Egg whites and cheese with bits of lean turkey sausage (lost it)
  • Sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding (lost it)
  • 2 oz of frozen yogurt
  • Hummus, salami, and melted havarti cheese
  • Sauteed baby portobella mushrooms
  • “Taco night” with my parents – melted cheese over ground turkey with refried beans (almost lost it)
  • Melted mexi-blend shredded cheese
  • 2 strawberries
  • Silk coconut milk drink with sugar-free peach syrup

Post-Op Day 10 – Applesauce, Hiccups, and Progress

I have to admit, it’s really nice to be able to report good news. I felt like I really had some downer posts at the beginning of the week, both with Weighty Impressions and my post-op pneumonia. I’m starting to see a little indent in my cheek…can you see it?

Not everything is hunky dory though. I vomited today. It’s the first time since I’ve had surgery. I’m cleared to eat fresh fruit, but it’s not digesting so well. My tiny watermelon chunks come out like mashed watermelon, even though they are well chewed. I was craving applesauce, and had a bunch of apples that needed to be used, so I decided to make my own. I peeled, cored, and chunked 10 apples, and pureed it with cinnamon and vanilla extract. It came out delicious, and I had about 2 tablespoons. Unfortunately, I lost it within 5 minutes. I need to be careful to limit my sugar intake, including fructose (fruit sugar). Maybe my body will be ready for it in a few weeks.

I went to Cafe Rio for lunch, and was happy to eat my beloved pork barbacoa without any problems. Really body…pulled pork over fresh applesauce?

One of the worst things I’ve dealt with since surgery is the hiccups. It happens up to 10 times a day, and it’s usually from drinking water too fast. When I get them, it feels like my insides are being ripped apart, which is not cool after abdominal surgery. I found out that a spoonful of peanut butter helps better than any other remedy, but I have to be careful to not eat too much. Yesterday I uploaded this video to YouTube.

I took my measurements again today, and I’m exciting to see there’s progress beyond the pounds. Nothing drastic, but enough to make a difference. Here are my new measurements, compared to 2/2/12:

  • Neck – 16.25 (16.75)
  • Bust 51.75 (52)
  • Chest 46 (46)
  • Upper bulge 51 (53)
  • Waist 48.5 (49)
  • Hip/butt 60.5 (62)
  • Thigh 33 (34)
  • Calf 22.25 (23)
  • Ankle 11.5 (12.5) – and so much less swollen looking!
  • Bicep 18.5 (20)
  • Lower arm 14 (14.5)
  • Wrist 8 (9)