Emotional Fatigue

nicole rough dayIn the last 7 weeks since surgery, I’ve had lots of ups and downs, good days and bad days. My bad days are usually from physical symptoms, but today was a BAD emotional day.

I had some rough things happen at work, got very agitated emotionally. As a result, it affected me physically. I have a headache from crying. My body aches like I had a big workout at the gym. I was feeling fine, then suddenly I couldn’t make it at work anymore. I came home and took a long nap. Naps aren’t out of the ordinary since surgery, but I woke up feeling EXHAUSTED.

One thing that I haven’t talked about much on this blog is my long-time struggle with clinical depression. I started on my first anti-depressant at 15, have been in and out of therapists offices to deal with traumatic life events, and have even struggled with thoughts of suicide. It was very out of character for me, but I stopped taking my anti-depressants, cold turkey, after surgery. My main reason for stopping was that I was too lazy to make a doctors appointment to get a prescription for pills in a tablet form. I can’t take capsules right now because my pouch won’t tolerate them.

Surprisingly, the way I’ve felt emotionally since surgery has been much better than I expected. I haven’t really had the down days like I normally have. Today was tough, but it was more of a situational sadness. I’m not going to go into what happened today, but it was definitely the hardest emotional day since surgery. My friend Simply June wrote a post today to help with my bad day. Thanks, June!

I’m getting a little worried that I’m getting another stricture. In my Bariatric Bad Girls Club, we talk about getting “the foamies.” Right before vomiting, you start to get pressure in your chest/pouch area, food and mucusy saliva starts to regurgitate up, and it’s usually a sign that you’ll be vomiting in the next minute or two. I got “the foamies” a lot right before I had my dilation for my other stricture, and I’ve had the foamies a few times this week. I’m hoping that I won’t need another dilation…at this point I can still keep liquids down.

Stomach Flu? Or Just A Bad Pouch Day?

It’s been one of those days that I don’t really feel like documenting because I’ve felt so miserable. Do people want to know that I threw up 5 times today? Sometimes I’m not sure. I know I’d much rather talk about weight loss and good days.

Since I’ve been back at work, I’ve been around a lot of sick people. It’s frustrating when people come into work sick and germy because I usually catch anything that’s going around. Especially since my immune system has been down since surgery. I take my vitamins and supplements daily, and I’m vigilant about washing my hands. But today I’ve been sick enough to wonder if I picked up what the boys at work have.

I couldn’t keep anything sizeable down until about 3pm today. Had egg whites and melted cheese for breakfast – lost it. Had a few bites of pudding – lost it. Had a little bit of tomato sauce with melted cheese – lost it. I tried to make up for a lack of nutrients with a protein shake, lost it (twice). I couldn’t even keep down water very easily. I made it through half of church, but I was feeling dizzy and nauseous, and decided it was time to go home.

I kept down a few bites of light yogurt, then took a long nap. When I was up, I had a little bit of shredded meat, enchilada sauce and cheese, and didn’t lose it. I sipped water through the evening, and had a little bit of vegetable broth. I kept my emesis basin handy for all the regurgitation and times I though I’d lose my dinner…but it wasn’t fun at all.

If it’s the flu, I hope it’s just a passing 24-hour thing. If it’s an unhappy pouch, I’ll be discussing that with Dr Smith at my post-op surgical appointment tomorrow morning. I’m going to talk about the ongoing nausea and fatigue that I deal with every day. Some people have suggested me upping the amount of protein I consume, and I also switched the type of B-12 I take from sublingual drops to sublingual lozenges. I’ll report my weight in my post tomorrow.

Food diary:

  • Egg whites and cheese (lost it)
  • A few bites of pudding (lost it)
  • Tomato sauce and cheese (lost it)
  • Protein shake (lost it)
  • 1 oz light yogurt
  • 2 oz shredded pork, enchilada sauce, and melted cheese
  • 2 oz vegetable broth
  • 5 grapes

One Month Of Beauty And The Bypass

It’s crazy to think it’s been a month since I started my weight loss surgery blog. 5 weeks ago I publicly announced that I was having gastric bypass surgery. I’ve talked about what I’ve eaten, the surgery process, emotional struggles with my obesity, post-operative complications, and added pictures along the way. Already I’m feeling healthier and more confident.

It hasn’t always been easy to talk about what I’m going through, and I’ve tried to be as honest about the process as possible. It’s been incredible to see how many people have reached out to me – those who have had surgery, those who are thinking about surgery, and those who purely appreciate sharing my journey. I’ve had some haters, I’ve had some rude and insensitive comments, but overall…I’m SO glad I decided to document the process.

Since I started the blog, my BMI has gone from 53.5 to 49.2, meaning I’ve gone from “super obese” back down to “morbidly obese”. Next step, I’ll just be “obese”. I’m down a little over 30 pounds, and I’m shrinking all over my body. These are my current measurements, with a total of how much I’ve lost:

  • Neck 16 (-.75)
  • Bust 50.5 (-1.5)
  • Chest 44 (-2)
  • Waist 45.5 (-4.5)
  • Upper belly 49 (-4)
  • Hips/butt 59.5 (-2.5)
  • Thigh 31 (-3)
  • Calf 23 (-1.5)
  • Ankle 11.5 (-1)
  • Bicep 18.25 (-1.75)
  • Forearm 13 (-1.5)
  • Wrist 7.5 (-1.5)

Being back to work has been a challenge. I’ve struggled with some major fatigue, some days it’s hard to stay even 3 hours, and I always follow-up my work shift with a hefty nap. I’m not sure how I’ll feel through the next few weeks, but I’m trying to be patient with my recovery. I’m still dealing with a lot of nausea and vomiting, but I’m getting more comfortable with what I’m able to eat (and how much). I’m still craving things that I can’t have (like Easter candy), but there’s reassurance that avoiding those “bad” foods will help me avoid getting sick.

Today’s food diary:

  • Light yogurt
  • 1 TB peanut butter
  • 2 oz marinara sauce, mushrooms, and cheese
  • 2 oz shredded pork, enchilada sauce, and cheese
  • 3 oz Simply Apple juice
  • String cheese

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

Some days I have a lot of energy. Some days I don’t.

While I was on FMLA, I had the luxury of resting, lounging, or sleeping as much as I needed to. Being back at work doesn’t allow me to follow my body’s cues when I’m needing to rest. If I push myself at work, that means I pay the consequences at home.

I got to work just after 8. By about 1pm, I was SO tired. I had eaten a light lunch of minced up deli turkey with some melted Laughing Cow cheese. I didn’t even finish half of it before I got shaky and nauseous. I ran to the restroom and lost my lunch. When I returned to my desk, I was dizzy and lightheaded. I figured my blood sugar was too low, so I had a few sips of juice and water. Five minutes later, I lost that too. I didn’t feel safe enough to drive home, so I sat back in my chair and tried to get my bearings. I left shortly after.

Because I wore myself out so much, I easily fell asleep and took a 3 hour nap. When I woke up to eat, I had a hard time keeping down soup. I had a hard time keeping down water. I felt too tired to do anything but lay in bed and be on my computer a little bit. As the night has dragged on, my body has broken out into hives. This is the 3rd time it’s happened since surgery, and all three times have been on days I’ve overdone it.

In an attempt to avoid reckless vomiting and widespread rashes, I REALLY need to listen to my body and stop before I’m too worn out. I’m trying to work myself (slowly) back to full time hours, but I really can’t handle more than 4-5 hours without rest. I have the option to work some hours from home, but by the time I get in bed to nap, my mind is gone for the night.

Food diary:

  • 2 oz Light yogurt
  • 3 oz Protein shake
  • Deli turkey and Laughing Cow wedge (lost it)
  • 1 oz Pomegranate Blueberry Trop50 (lost it)
  • 2 oz cream of vegetable soup
  • 2 oz marinara sauce, cooked mushrooms and melted cheese
  • 1 TB peanut butter

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:

2nd Day Back To Work – Post-Op Day 15

Day 2 back to work was actually more exhausting than yesterday. I felt more tired and had a harder time concentrating. I planned to work a half day, but had a mandatory meeting at 1pm, so I stayed longer than I really had energy for. By the time I got home, I was totally tuckered out. A long nap was necessary.

jack daniels bbq chickenToday’s lunch was so yummy. One of my favorite items from Costco is the Jack Daniel’s pulled BBQ chicken in the refrigerated section. It’s nice and tender, and easy to eat post op. I melted some cheese on top, and it was a great meal. For dinner, my husband made chicken curry, which was also delicious. I had a tiny bit of rice with it, and didn’t have any problem tolerating it.

Food Diary:

  • Light yogurt
  • 1 TB peanut butter
  • 1 oz Creminelli Mocetta
  • 2 oz Simply Apple juice
  • Muscle Milk light shake
  • 2 oz pulled chicken and cheese
  • 2 oz chicken curry with rice
  • A few sips of hot chocolate

Back To Work Today

Nicole Bullock seo.com

Well folks, it’s been two weeks since surgery which means FMLA is over. I’ve been nervous about going back to work because my energy levels vary from day to day, and two weeks was on the short end of my doctor’s recommended time off. But since I’m not a benefits-eligible employee, the time off has been unpaid. Pre-surgery deposits to the doctor and hospital + 2 weeks off work = VERY BROKE Nicole.

Luckily, my work is computer-based, seated at a desk, so it’s not physically taxing. I work for an internet marketing firm, and my work is usually broken up in 15-60 minute sections, so it was good for my post-op attention span. Anyone who tells you that you think normally after two weeks of sitting around on drugs is lying to you.

I was able to work from 8:00 until about 12:20, and then gave in to my fatigue. I came home, had some lunch, and then took a 2 hour nap.  I took it easy the rest of the day. In the evening, my friend Esther came over to hang out and hear about my surgery. We watched some TV, chatted, and talked a lot about weight loss and the changes that are necessary for a successful weight loss surgery experience.

With all of the unsolicited advice I’ve been getting since I announced my surgery publicly, it was nice to talk to a friend where I don’t have to explain the choices I’m making, especially regarding food. I have had countless people tell me that what I’m eating is wrong, that eating so few calories will kill me, that they know more about my body than my doctor does, or to watch one food documentary or another. I appreciate that people are trying to be helpful, but when I get dozens of opinions a day, it gets really exhausting. I am mindful of the foods I’m eating, and my body is no longer “normal” for regular nutritional advice. I’m going to listen to my doctor and my nutritionist, thank you very much.

poor girls pina colada

Another thing that’s hard is trying to tame my wild sweet tooth. I used to eat a lot of candy and pastries, and I often want something sweet in my mouth. The taste of sugar-free Jell-o is wearing on me, so I’m always looking for ways to have a treat that’s compatible with my diet. My husband brought home some of this Silk Coconut Milk the other day. It was good, but not enough on it’s own. I pour about 3 ounces of coconut milk over ice, and add a splash or two of Torani sugar-free peach syrup. It’s delish!

I call it the coco-peach delight, he calls it the “poor girl’s pina colada. Either way, it’s tasty.

Food Diary

  • Half of a frozen yogurt creamie
  • About 1/2oz of deli meat
  • Heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
  • Chopped BBQ chicken with melted cheese
  • 2 TB of hummus
  • 2 oz of Trop 50 blueberry pomegranate juice
  • 1 oz of fresh fruit, chopped into little bites
  • Melted shredded cheese
  • Coco-peach delight


Pushing Myself on President’s Day

nicole bullock braids

Today is President’s Day, which meant that I postponed my return to work by a day for the Federal holiday. If nobody was going to be in the office, I surely wasn’t going to be. I spent a fair amount of time going through paperwork and crunching numbers though. I’m trying to figure out my flexible spending amounts for reimbursement and for tax purposes. It’s ridiculous how many medical expenses I had last year. Just in prescriptions with $5-15 copays each, I paid $585 out of pocket. I’m hoping with this surgery and my improving health that my medical expenses will drop dramatically.

Taylor and I went and did some shopping today. I wanted to get a new neoprene lunch bag for work that would fit ice packs. While I was out, I also got some cute little square bowls that hold less than 3 ounces…perfect for portioning out my meals. When I’m served food on a big plate, it’s really easy to overeat. And when I overeat, even just a bite or two, it makes me sick.

I also perused through the clothes racks, and found a shirt I really liked that was on sale for $5.99. Now, many people on the weight loss surgery forums tell me not to buy new clothes while I’m dropping weight rapidly, because it ends up being a big waste of money. For $6, I don’t mind shrinking out of it in a few weeks. I grabbed a 2X and a 3X sized shirt and went to try them on. The 3X was too baggy, and the 2X was only a tiny bit tight, so I went for the 2X. It was fun to buy a shirt in a size smaller than usual.

We did a little more shopping, had some lunch, and went back to the house for a while. I went back to working through all those medical receipts…what a hassle. I also had to call my insurance to reprocess a bunch of claims (including my $42K hospital bill). Cigna thinks I have other insurance, and they’re continually denying claims as “deficient” because they want another plan to pay first. It’s been happening over and over for dozens of claims over the last year. I wish Cigna would get their act together.

farberware resin knife set

While I was working though the piles of paperwork, I got a knock at the door. Taylor had ordered me a new set of resin knives as a Valentines Day gift. With all the portioning and food preparation, and nice new set of knives tickled my fancy more than flowers or other gifts. If you haven’t noticed from the knives, bowls, and lunch bag, I love bold and fun colored items. With all the years of weight loss attempts, I’ve worn a lot of black. I hope to get into more bold and fun colored clothes as I lose weight.

In the afternoon, we went back down to Lehi for family movie time. My husband, daughter, dad, and brother went to see Star Wars Episode I in 3D, and my mom and I saw The Vow. I can’t remember the last time I went out to see a movie with my mom, and it was nice to have time with her.

Between shopping and movie time, I was a very exhausted girl by the early evening. We had Del Taco for dinner, and I had the insides of a chicken soft taco (sauce, chicken bits, and cheese). I felt like it was an acceptable portion, but chicken is still hard for me to eat. I immediately felt like I overate, and was very uncomfortable for over an hour. I wretched a few times, but was able to keep down my dinner. It’s so hard to know what foods I’ll be able to tolerate. I need to get enough protein, but meat is tough to keep down.

Tomorrow I’m back to work, and my goal is to make it through a half day. With my FMLA orders, I’m allowed to work a few reduced hour days before going back to my normal schedule. Hopefully I’ll feel up to it….tonight I’m so tired that I’m probably going to be asleep by 9:30.

Food diary:

  • A few sips of a protein smoothie
  • 1 wedge light Laughing Cow cheese
  • meat and cheese from part of a cheeseburger
  • heaping tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 2oz of light chicken and veggie soup
  • insides of Del Taco chicken soft tacos
  • 4 oz Coco-peach drink (Silk Coconut milk with sugar-free Torani peach syrup)


Trying To Have A Normal Day

nicole bullockWhen recovering from surgery, a lot of time is spent lounging around the house in pajamas. After so long, you want to get out of the house and just be “normal.” You don’t want to be in your pajamas with your hair in a ponytail. You don’t want to spend hours on end watching “Desperate Housewives,” even though I’ve enjoyed the 80ish episodes I’ve watched while on medical leave. You want to get dressed, do your hair, wear a cute outfit, and get out of the house with your family.

It’s a Bullock Family thing to see movies. We see dozens of movies in the theater every year. Movie time is our favorite thing, but after watching so much TV, I wanted to go out and do something different. I suggested the new Natural History Museum of Utah, and my husband and daughter thought it would be a fun thing to do.

The new NHMU has only been open for a few months, and it’s a really cool place. It was greatly funded by Rio Tinto and is located up next to Red Butte Gardens at the University of Utah,. It’s 5 levels of interactive displays, exhibits, and education on natural life through history in Utah.

Although there were stairs and elevators through the museum, it’s largely a walking facility. You circle and walk through the exhibits, go up ramps, and make it around level by level. For a normal person, it takes over an hour of wandering to get through all of the levels. But I am not a normal person right now. I had major surgery a week and a half ago, and I don’t have the same tolerance for activity and exercise. I had to stop and sit every once in a while.

But I pushed myself and made it through the whole museum. I was able to do a lot more than I thought I could, and I probably burned as many calories as I consume in half a day post-surgery. Not only was I tired, I was ravenously hungry by the time we were done.

Because we were up at the U of U, I wanted to take my family to my second favorite food joint by the U. My favorite is The Pie Pizzeria, but it’s off limits. We went to a little place called Sono Express that I used to eat at often when I was a student at the U. It’s still around, and the owners are the same…but the food is NOT the same. I ordered chicken bento, which used to be a bento box with teriyaki chicken, miso soup, salad, veggies, and a California roll. Instead, I was served a plate of rice, breaded fried chicken, and a little bit of cooked veggies.

I was so frustrated when it was a completely different thing than I was used to. I haven’t eaten there in about 6 years, and I’m guessing the economy has taken it’s toll on the family-run restaurant. But I was hungry, and decided to make the best of it. I used my fingers and fork to break off the thick breading on the chicken, but I couldn’t get all of it off. I ate some of the chicken, and the cooked carrots, squash, and mushrooms with a few sips of water. But it only took a few minutes before I was uncomfortably full. I could tell my pouch was too full, and I started getting some wet burping and regurgitation. But the time we got out to the car, I vomited into a styrofoam cup. It was gross, but I felt much better.

On the way home we stopped at Costco for some meat and fresh produce. But I was already tried from all the walking at the museum, so I had to stop walking and sit down about 20 minutes in. The only place to sit was at the Costco snack bar, where giant portions of pizza, chicken bakes, pretzels, and other convenience foods were served. I used to LOVE getting a slab of Costco pizza, and it’s funny how now the portions seem so gigantically inedible. Weight loss surgery changes your perspective on food so much….especially things that you used to love, and can no longer stomach.

When I got home, I was bushed. I laid down and took a 3 hour nap. I was still tired for the evening, so I’ve been laying in bed, blogging and watching more Desperate Housewives. It was fun to get out and have a “normal day” with my family, but I now know I need to be more realistic with what my body can do. I go back to work on Tuesday, and hope I won’t end the days being fantastically exhausted.

Today’s food diary:

  • Egg whites, cheese, and sliced deli turkey
  • 1/2 string cheese
  • De-breaded chicken, carrots, mushrooms, and squash (which I lost)
  • Thinly sliced Creminelli salami, with 2 fresh strawberries
  • 3oz Hood Calorie Countdown chocolate milk
  • Sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding


More Energy And Less Medication

Today I started the day with a peach protein smoothie. Because I’m now able to eat fruit, here’s my easy smoothie of the morning:

  • EAS AdvantEdge RTD protein shake
  • small can of diced peaches in own juice
  • lots of ice
  • Sugar-free Torani vanilla syrup

Usually I blend enough that it’s really smooth and thin, and I save half to have in the afternoon.

I didn’t think it would happen so soon, but I’m actually feeling like I’m really getting better. My energy is up and my pain level is down. I’ve only been taking about half as much Lortab as I was last week, and sometimes I feel good enough to skip a dose. For a while I was scared about how soon I would need to go back to work, but now I think I’ll be ready for next week.

Today when it was time to take my second pain meds of the day, I felt good enough that I didn’t need to take them on time. Because I’ve been restricted from driving since surgery, I thought I’d take this pain-free time to go on a joyride. I made a few stops, walked around a few stores, and enjoyed being out of the house for about an hour.

riverwalk apartments utahWhen I got back, my friend Marci came over to help me with some cleaning. As wonderful as my husband is at taking care of me, he doesn’t understand that a messy house hinders my recovery. Marci scrubbed the bathrooms until they were spotless, and did little things to straighten up a few rooms. I couldn’t do much, but it felt good to be productive.

This evening, I went out again with Mary and Shay, and they wanted to get Red Mango. I have been wanting some frozen yogurt, and I like their froyo because it has it has live and active cultures (which my body desperately needs after so many antibiotics). It’s low on calories and fat, but a bit high in sugar, so I only had a few bites. It was such a treat!

Today’s food diary:

  • peach protein smoothie
  • refried beans with melted cheese
  • shaved deli turkey with whipped light cream cheese
  • Red mango frozen yogurt  (about 2 TB)
  • 1/2 stick string cheese