This is not something I talk about much because…emotional. I shaved my head recently and then saw a pic of my mom posted from a recent family get-together which prompted me to create this collage.
A bit over 10yrs ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had to have a partial mastectomy and suffer through months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, hospitalization and hair loss. She fought…and won!! The cancer went into remission.
Unfortunately, about a year ago, my mom’s breast cancer returned. She had a medical incident that presented in symptoms that mirrored a stroke. I remember the call from my aunt (a nurse by trade) telling me that they were at the hospital (my dad and both of her sisters were with her). The breast cancer had come back and metastasized to her groin, abdomen and brain.
The cancer and the treatment have intensely changed my perspective of our relationship. My mother has always been strong, active, vital; she’s always been the caregiver. Seeing her weakened by the treatments, unable to eat and losing weight, unable to get up and move around unassisted has been difficult for me. I think it’s been particularly hard since we live in different parts of the state so I can’t be there everyday. Add to that, worrying about my dad who is older and not in the best of health and being unexpectedly thrust into a role as primary caregiver; it’s a lot for us all.
In the midst of it all, the picture of my mom didn’t make me think about all the changes in our lives, the treatments and the care. All I could think of is how much I love my mom’s face. I love all of the ways my face resembles hers. I think of all the lessons she’s given me to prepare me for life. I think of how much I love her and want her to feel as cared for and loved by others as she has made others feel; she deserves that.
The cancer is not gone but she’s on the mend. Treatments are done, tumors are shrinking and she’s regained some of her strength but she still has a long way to go to recovery but she’s here and I am thankful for everyday God blesses us with.
I was in high school and had gone to a slumber hangout and took JaLisa with me. She always wanted to go with me EVERYWHERE and was never shy; cautious of new people but never shy.
As a child JaLisa was loud, ridiculous, funny, compassionate, loud, talkative, smart, friendly, generous, kind-hearted, spoiled, loud, imaginative, thoughtful, resilient, courageous, loud…
Here we are all these years later and she is still all of those things. She’s lived through a lot; more than most women her age and she’s still standing.
From birth I watched her scoot, crawl, walk and run. There was stumbling and falling but she got up and kept going.
From adolescence to adulthood, I watched her go through the same process from scoot to crawl to walk to run. Sometimes, things got out of order but Tomi & I, her grandparents and the rest of her ‘village’ were there to help guide, dress wounds from the falls, counsel and keep her moving ever forward.
And today, she enters her 27th year. She’s out there moving through life…from a scoot to a crawl to a walk and then a run. She stumbles and falls and we’re still here to guide her; kiss the boo-boos and hug the hurt and tears away. She needs to lean on us less, as is God’s design. More independence; less hand-holding. It’s like I blinked and my Baby Bean became a woman and I wasn’t ready.
I know! I know! I’ve been missing in action lately (about 2 months) but I’ve got a good excuse; I’ve been busy living life. Work has been CRAZY busy, my wife and I both had birthdays and I put together a stellar birthday weekend with lots of travelling, we bought a house (we signed papers last Thursday and get the keys Monday after work) and I’m helping one of our daughters with wedding planning.
I am one busy lady!!! I wanted to make sure to write on the anniversary of my surgery though.
I had my Lap Band surgery on July 29th, 2016. I was almost 500lbs. I had severe chronic back pain and sciatica, lymphedema of the legs, difficulty with movement and breathing and was always just generally uncomfortable. I didn’t get that way overnight. I definitely had an unhealthy relationship with food. I was as n emotional eater and developed an addiction; food was my drug of choice.
Fast forward 365 days…I am down -90lbs and holding. I have been at this current weight for about a month which is A-OK with me. The weight loss with the band has been slow and steady; about 2-3lbs loss per week on average. I’ve learned to have a different relationship with food for sure. Mental health counseling and medication helps me with finding healthier ways to process emotions, anxiety and depression. I’m able to eat about a shot glass amount of food at a sitting so what I choose to eat is super important; nothing too starchy or too fibrous. I also have to be cognizant of how quickly I eat; I have to make sure everything is chewed REALLY well. Because my stomach has limited space, gas or sort back up from eating too quickly can’t be expelled by a burp; I am literally unable.
This journey has been frustrating, scary and quite indelicate at times; for me and for my wife. She deserves an award. I had to learn to eat for sustenance and not allow my ‘eyes to be bigger than my stomach’; literally and figuratively. I had to learn that there are going to be things that I will never eat again and embrace that. Pancakes, waffles, bread…just a few of the things I used to love that I simply can’t have since the surgery. I also have to avoid other favorites like bananas and pineapples, asparagus and broccoli; anything too high in sugar or too stringy/fibrous. Totally worth it though. If i have the unfortunate incidence of food getting stuck on the way down or getting an air bubble trapped while eating, I get one of two results. If I’m lucky, I can stand and walk or put my arms over my head or drink a little bit of a warm beverage and coax it on through. What often happens (here’s the indelicate part) is that it gets stuck and my body forces it back out the way it came. Sounds simple right? Well, because the size of my working tummy is greatly reduced, it’s probably one of the most uncomfortable and excruciating things I’ve experienced.
Looking back would I make the decision to have the procedure again? Absolutely!! I have been able to completely discontinue 4 medications. I no longer have pain and swelling in my muscles and joints. I find that I am a lot more adventurous because I can walk and move for longer periods of time without having to rest. We’ve been on hikes and to festivals and sporting events; I’m experiencing a lot more of my life as opposed to being an observer. I’m able to buy clothes of the rack which I’ve been too big to do for years. It feels AMAZING to be able to walk into the store and try things on. Most importantly, I’m starting to have more days where I feel good in my skin. Not every day but most days and that is a good feeling.
This has been one of the most amazing years of my life!!!
So, life has been happening and I have been crazy busy with living it. Unfortunately, my consistency with blogging has suffered but I am here to get you all caught up.
I got a fill about a month ago and then ended up at the hospital the next day because my band had been over-filled and I couldn’t ingest anything; not even liquids and barely air. That was a bit scary. I was afraid to eat for the next few days and sustained myself on protein shakes and soft foods. I got back to a regular diet but didn’t have nearly the loss that I usually do after a fill. I was OK with it though because I was fearful about getting any fluid put back in. When I went for my fill for the month (Tues 5/2), I managed to lose -3lbs for the month which isn’t as much as the 7-11lbs I should have lost but was more than I had expected so I was good. I was super nervous about it but I got my fill. I took it easy and went back to my liquid prep diet for a couple of days and things seems to be alright this time. I did my weigh-in on Friday, as usual and was down by -10lbs from the previous week. Woohoo!!!
What else is new? Tomi and I took an impromptu trip to the Oregon coast (Newport, OR) last weekend to see her cousin who is currently stationed there. Her cousin Ava works for NOAA and is a Crew Chief for them. They haven’t seen one another for over 40yrs. It was a short visit but it was fun playing catch up. We’re planning a trip to Mobile, AL to see Ava and even more family sometime during the holidays.
What else is new? We’ve started house hunting. When we came here originally, our plan was to be here temporarily. Here we are 12yrs later; it’s time to put down some roots. We got pre-qualified for a home loan and our realtor has been on the hunt ever since. It is definitely a seller’s market right now. Houses are sold almost as quickly as they are listed. So much so that we have only gotten to look at two houses. The first one we looked at was nice. It was built in the 40s and definitely needed some work but it was a good house. Our realtor had us look at another home yesterday evening and we like it so much that we withdrew our offer on the first house and put an offer on this one. It’s smaller than what we wanted and it will need a little TLC as well but I fell in love as soon as I walked in the door. If all goes according to plan (God’s and ours) we will be homeowners by the time our birthday’s roll around at the end of June. That will be an amazing birthday present!!
Otherwise, we have just been working and living. I will get with you guys after weigh-in on Friday and I will try to do better with being consistent (y’all pray for me on that one)
I’m feeling stuck…again. My weight this week was exactly the same as last week. That was a little deflating but I’ll take that over having a gain. I’m going to have to be more consistent about hitting the gym and eat way more veggies and a few less carbs.
This weekend, I posted a pic of me in my Mickey Mouse leggings. Two body shots in as many weeks? I’m feeling myself! I love them and felt like I look ok in them. It’s an extremely vulnerable place to be in for me, sharing myself. I find that in my vulnerability, there is strength. Luckily, I have an amazing support system which helps when I need a bit of shoring up.
I got to visit my home town this weekend. I got to see my parents and our youngest daughter (She just turned 26 on 1/23). I miss them so much so it also makes me feel ‘full’ to see them and be around them.
I also got to see cousins and countless others I have known my entire life who’ve become ‘family’. I’m glad we have our life in the the Tri-Cities and for all the ‘framily’ (friends that are like family) we’ve gained over the past 12yrs but there’s no place like home.
I’ve got a little bit of catching up to do. I have been out living life and making memories and I missed a week.
8/26/16-I did not lose any weight. I think it was a combination of things but a big factor is that it was the beginning of my menstrual week. My body has always betrayed me during that time. I bloat, swell and retain water like nobody’s business.
9/2/16-I lost -2lbs. Not as much as I was hoping for but I will take it. I was still suffering from symptoms of my “lady time” so I was surprised to have any loss at all. I was able to introduce pureed food into my diet this week. That has been tough. There are things that I want to eat because I can but I am not supposed to have them. I am really wanting some mashed potatoes and gravy or mac and cheese. I’ve been being good though and sticking to things on my food list…mostly.
I didn’t do any planned exercise this past couple of weeks but the wife and I have been doing lots of travelling and I have been getting plenty of walking in playing tourist so I have definitely not been sedentary. Our most recent trip was this past weekend. We took an impromptu trip up to Crystal Mountain (Enumclaw, WA) and rode a gondola up the mountain and did some light hiking. It was FREEZING up there but lots of fun.
Yesterday, I entered my 40th year. Is my life 100% what I want it to be. Absolutely not! Am I happy, healthy and working my plan to get to where I want to be. ABSOLUTELY!!
All of our children and grandchildren are alive and healthy and living their best lives. I have a wife who loves and appreciates me for everything that I am and accepts me in spite of everything that I am not. My heart is full of joy and I am just happy being me.
For me, 40 means seeing some goals through to completion, somr lifestyle changes as I move closer to my surgery date and continuing to put my best self out to the world each and every day.
I thank God for another year where I can use everyday to let my light shine.