Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bum Watch Week 16: Time for a Break


For the last 16 weeks, I have documented  the highs and lows of recovery from my reconstructive skin surgery.  If you are new here, I have lost a lot of weight over the last two and a half years thanks to the tool of gastric sleeve surgery.  I used to weigh 320lbs.  Thanks to that tool and a lot of hard work I have completely changed my health around.

320lbs.  I was literally as round as I was tall.  My hips were 65" and I am 65" tall.

 Sixteen weeks ago I underwent a lower body lift and an inner thigh lift with Dr. Timothy Katzen in Beverly Hills.  At the time of that surgery I was 190lbs and I had 27lbs of skin and fat removed.  Recovery hasn't been all that easy and I had four spots open up and turn into wounds that required daily treatment with antibiotic ointment and being covered in gauze.  Turns out I am just a slow healer!

Day of surgery and 190lbs.

My old stomach and butt skin!

Miserable with 8 drains, catheter, and pain medications that made me incredible sick.

Over the last couple of weeks though, I have gone from feeling like Frankenstein's monster, to feeling nearly human.  Wounds have closed over and I am no longer treating any of them!  That sure makes the morning routine a lot easier!  I have been monitoring my daily swelling and noticed that it wasn't changing too much from morning to evening.  I have been wearing a full compression suit (aka. the batsuit) that covered me from ankle to chest complete with straps over my shoulders.  It is a miserable contraption, but it has done its job well.  The compression it gave allowed my scars to heal flat and it kept my swelling in check.  Yesterday though, I went without it.  Instead, I just wore a core compression wrap and last night I had zero compression on.  It went very well!  The only spot that is swelling is my waist and it only went up an inch during the run of the day.  Success!  It feels odd to not have the full suit on; my body has just become used to wearing it and clothing now feels very rough against my skin.  But the freedom of not having it on is so wonderful.

The bat suit.

I have some goals now that I am working towards.  I would like to be 160lbs for summer.  It is my dream weight because it will mean I have become exactly half my size.  Never did I think that would actually be possible and now it is just 10lbs away for me.  Ten pounds...  that seems like nothing when I have already lost 150lbs.  And I want to be strong again.  I am a full on weakling after four months of not doing much other than sit on my arse.  Thanks to weekly massages, the tail bone pain I have been suffering from is actually improving.  I have an xray scheduled for it next month and a chiropractor appointment as well. 

I am looking ahead to summer and realizing that it is going to be fantastic.  I am going to be healed up enough to truly enjoy it.  And enjoy it without the constraints of extra skin.  The flaps of excess skin were miserable, especially when it was hot.  The cost of this surgery was very high and we paid for it all out of pocket, but I have zero regrets.  This process has been completely worth it even with my wounds.

Months ago a friend asked me how long I was going to post photos of myself up on my blog for the internets to see, and I told her until I was healed.  Well, I feel I am healed.  I will still post updates for sure, but it might be a quite some time before I post some new nearly naked photos of myself.  It is time to move forward.

I have been blessed throughout this entire process with friends, family and internet strangers that have encouraged me, laughed with me, and inspired me.  I have found it very freeing to share my experience fully on my blog.  I have used this writing and picture sharing to work through some very hard mental blocks and insecurities.  Nothing has been easy, but it has all been worth it.  Thank you to everyone who has been there for me in person and online. 

So, this week's photos!  The last for a while.

Today I opted for my new hot pink undies.  Size medium.  I love it.

I don't miss the extra skin one bit.

With undies on, my bum looks pretty great.  Thighs still swollen a I believe and we will see what they look like at the one year mark.  I love my new shape.

I have a waist.  And hips.  And curves.  And hot pink undies.  And a new belly button.

This wound is done with treatment.  There is no depth to it and it is now just scabbing over and drying out.

Left hip wound is done!

My new freedom!  No batsuit and just core compression.  Bliss!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

For the birds

Matt and the boys made a birdhouse this week and it is adorable.  I had them paint it to match our house too.  I like it so much, I have asked them to build another one for the other corner of our deck!

Bring on the birds!

Cavan and Matt starting the painting.

Big grins!

On the deck and adding food at -30C this morning!

And now we just wait for the birds to arrive!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

We love Dahl!

Roald Dahl is one of my favorite children's books authors.  His books are dark and gruesome and remind me of old children's fables.  They are perfect for my boys.

A couple of weeks ago I read aloud to them Fantastic Mr. Fox and they were completely enthralled for the entire book.  Pictures are few and far between and I wasn't sure it if would hold their attention for our evening book time.  But at the end of every chapter, they would be begging me to continue.  It didn't take us long to finish the book! 

Here is a quote from early on the book, a bit of the gruesome that Dahl is known for:
"One of them shone a flashlight on the hole, and there on the ground, in the circle of light, half in and half out of the hole, lay the poor tattered bloodstained remains of ... a fox's tale."
- Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr Fox, Ch. 3

Sweet!  Talking about his blood stained tail!  It was shot off by some nasty farmers and the boys talked talked about this part in the book over and over.

They were so happy with the ending I had to snap this photo of them grinning.

We asked our librarian to bring in another Dahl book, James and the Giant Peach, and we have been reading a few chapters a night.  It is quite a bit longer than Fantastic Mr. Fox; I believe it is 130 pages and the other one was just 40 pages.  There are even less pictures in this book, yet the boys sit still and listen attentively.  Cavan asks me to follow the words along with my finger so he always knows where we are in the book

I was that kid who would stay up as late as possible, reading my books by flashlight so my parents wouldn't catch me and tell me to get to sleep.  Now I rarely let myself take a book to bed because I know I will look up and it will be 1am and I have morning children.  Books in bed + morning children is not the best combination for a mama.   The first time I have to confiscate a flashlight from one of them because they are up reading to late will be a proud moment for me.  I am not sure which novel I want to start with them next.  Now that I know they have the attention span to listen to me read them a novel, a whole new world has opened up!  I just don't know where to start!

What were your favorite childhood books?  What should I add to our "must read" list?

Our evening reading time- my favorite time of the day.  Second favorite is right after this when they go to sleep!  HA!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bum Watch Week 15!!

My bum is back on the internets!!

It is hard to believe it is already 15 weeks since my surgery.  My healing is moving ahead now in leaps and bounds.  About 6ish weeks ago I tried jogging on the treadmill.  I felt great that day, but the day after I couldn't function at all.  Yesterday I tried it again, just interval running (walk for 2 min and jog for 1 min) for 20 minutes.  Today I feel stiff, but not too painful at all!  Maybe I will be running 5k by fall! 

Tail bone pain is my newest torture.  Over the last week it has gone from irritating to all consuming.  Sitting, standing, walking, laying have all now become painful.  However, this morning I feel a bit of relief.  I saw the massage therapist yesterday and I actually had tears in my eyes when she prodded the muscles in my butt.  The torture I think it actually helped!   I went and saw a doctor about it and am getting a nerve pain prescription medication, a referral for a tailbone xray, a prescription for the chiropractor, and encouragement to continue with exercise and massage.  So we will see where all of that leads!

I think the B-Complex my friends recommended is working wonders on my mood stability right now (Thanks Daria and Jilly!).  I have been taking it for the last 10 days and am really feeling better mentally.  I have not been feeling those huge ups and downs each day.  Heck, I don't think I have broken down in tears once since taking it (the massage therapy torture doesn't count).

My wounds are doing amazing.  I have stopped treating my inner thigh one and it is drying up and scabbing over nicely.  My hips still have a few more weeks to go, but the end is really in sight!  I am still swelling from morning to evening.  Yesterday I took photos and measurements in the morning and evening.  My waist went from 33" to 35.5" during the day and my hips went from 38.5" to 40".  My thighs didn't change at all though during the day.  So my compression garment is very much still needed!

If my tail bone pain would stop, I think I would be feeling amazing!  But I am progressing well and looking back at my body from 15 weeks ago, I am very happy with the changes.

Onto my bum pictures!

Morning to evening swell.
15 weeks!  I love my flat tummy!

My teeny tiny lopsided bum!  That right thigh is an entire inch larger than the left.

I don't miss that stomach flap at all.
Thank goodness all healed!  Just dry skin and a scar now.

I am getting there!!  Right hip wound is nearly done.  A few more weeks I think is all that is left for treating it.

Thighs are doing great!  The right scar line is so perfect looking.  Left thing wound is being left alone now and is clearing up just fine.

Left hip is still a bit open, but again, just a few more weeks I think and I won't have to treat it at all.  It is very dry around this wound and incredibly itchy!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Where all of my grey hairs will come from.

He is approaching five and is utterly fearless.





While I was able to stave off bunkbed trampoline tricks (look for that in the summer Olympics in about 10 years) for another week, he was still able to make himself bleed this week.  Again.  I doubt more than seven days can pass without blood loss in this house.

Look at that face.  This kid wears his emotions front and centre.  This emotion was pure anger at his mama for saying that jumping from the top of the bunkbed to the trampoline was probably not a good idea.

Mum, we have to bake cookies and ice them for everyone in my class for Valentines Day.

Taking a nerf gun hit to the mouth (the gun, not the bullet) can do some damage.  His previously chipped tooth is even more damaged, super wiggly, and the gum is all bruised as well.  He is a tough little bugger!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My New Normal?

I know, it is Wednesday.  Where is Bum Watch?

My photographer is in Whitehorse on course, so no new photos of my healing progression for you this week.

After my post last week where I really felt like I was falling apart at the seams, I was inundated with comments, messages, and even some friends coming over for an intervention.  I started the day off trying not to cry and ended the day feeling so loved and supported, and full of ideas.

My friends brought up some good ideas for me to think about as I heal.  Mostly on how to leave my past hurt and worries behind me and just focus on the future.  I have gone through two extreme surgeries in order to be healthy and to feel normal.  Yes, I just want to fit in; I don't want the stares, the looks of fear/disgust on the airplane as someone realizes they have to sit beside me, the snickers, the fat comments.  I just want to feel normal.  My friends emphasized that I am going to have difficulties feeling my new normal if I keep focusing on the past and it is true.  I think I am still trying to heal my past, but I sometimes get wrapped up in it.

So how do I move on?  How do I just be me in this new body?  How do I just have normal days with those normal up and down feelings that everyone has?  I don't really know, but I am going to work on it.  Some other friends also suggested I start taking a B-complex vitamin every day to help with mood stability so I picked some up from town. 

It is also hard right now to feel normal since I am still very uncomfortable all the time.  I am still swollen, my tail bone feels like it is broken, and I itch all the time.  Maybe once the pain has passed and I am full healed from this surgery it will become easier.  It is also hard to feel like I am normal when I still have to be hyper vigilant about my eating.  And I don't really think that will ever change.  I am a food addict and when I get out of control with my eating it can be hard to pull it together again.  Falling off the wagon hurts. 

The feedback that I got from other people who have had both weight loss surgery and reconstructive surgery really made me feel at ease.  What I am experiencing seems to be completely normal and there was a lot of encouragement given that it will just get better. 

So I will trust in those that have been there and I will trust in those who love me and know that it will all be okay.  Also that it is okay to have bad days.  Everyone has them and it is just fine to hide away for a day and not feel bad about it.

A couple of photos for you all today.  Of me.  In clothing!  GASP!  I wear clothing?  I know, you all thought I just walked around mostly naked all day.  

Just me.  Pretending to be a normal person.

Helper Hunter snapped a photo for me today!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hotels, The Tooth Fairy, and Little Drunk People

I am so exhausted that an 8pm bedtime is looking mighty fine right now.  I put the boys in bed at 6:46 and I am pretty sure they were fast asleep by 6:48.  I win!

The boys and I got home this evening from spending three nights in Whitehorse.  Matt was in there with us, but has to stay in for a few more days on course for work.  The reason for our trip was dental work.  Boooo.  Hissssss.   It wasn't fun.  Both boys had a number of cavities that were all in between their teeth.  Our dentist would not do the work on Hunter because has a crazy gag reflex and there was a 100% chance of him puking all over the dentist and neither on Cavan since he isn't able to sit still for long enough to fully say "Squirrel" out loud.  We were referred to a pediodontist who came up to Whitehorse from Vancouver for the weekend.

This dentist and his staff were amazing!  Our kids loved them (and the ipads they let them play with and prizes they got to come home with).  Both boys had to have conscious sedation in order to have all their work done.  It was like having a preview of what my boys will be like that first time they get drunk at a party.....

I wish I had filmed Cavan.  He had different medication than Hunter and watching him lose his ability to function was truly hilarious (does that make me a bad parent?  I think I am okay with that) and he would look at me every few minutes and ask how I got there so fast.  He was enthralled with a sucker they had given him as a bribe to drink the medication and would just stare and stare at it.  It was awesome.  He passed out, went to have all the work done, and came out like a little hung over person.  He puked, cried, and just wanted to know why his sucker was missing.  Again, still pretty funny.  I hid in the other room with the better functioning child while Matt got to deal with Mr. Pukes.

Hunter's medication was no where near as dramatic in function.  He seemed pretty normal until they asked him to walk to another room and then he just started laughing and saying how dizzy he was.  After the work was done (he also got some gas that knocked him right out while they worked on him) he was pretty much back to his normal self and was quite happy that he got to have as much pudding as he wanted- which was four pudding cups!

The worst part of the whole thing was #1- have to stay in a hotel for three nights and #2- not letting them eat or drink for 5 hours before their dental work.  Their appointment was at three in the afternoon, so not a fun time of the day to keep them away from eating and drinking.

During the dental work, Cavan's two loose teeth got stuck on the rubber dam they were using and both teeth came out.  Cavan was giddy about losing them and the first visit for him from the tooth fairy.  That giddiness woke him up at 4:30am this morning and I contemplated just locking him out of our hotel room and letting him run the halls for a few hours while we slept.

Upon inspecting his missing teeth this morning, he also saw that he had some new "metal" teeth as he had a few crowns put on.  On the drive home he asked me if he was turning into a Transformer since he now had metal teeth.  Of course I told him yes. 

Hunter showing off his submarine skills.

Cavan getting ready to lead a sneak attack on dad.

We lucked out that three other families from Faro were in town too!  We all went to the pool together to create chaos!

Hunter still cannot master the monkey bars.  Cavan had them down pact two summers ago at three and a half when we would have to lift him to reach the bars.  Two very different boys!

See ya later bottom teeth!  And hello new Transformer teeth in the back!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Three Months Of My Butt On the Internets.

Tomorrow will be the three month mark of my reconstructive surgery.  Where I was nearly cut in half, 27lbs of skin and goo removed, and 900 stitches put in place.

I would love to say how easy it has been and that life is all pink unicorns that fart rainbows and fluffy clouds that rain glitter.  But it has been hard.  Really fucking hard. 

Healing has been a tough road.  What am I thankful for?  The surgeon who performed the surgery and his assistants.  I can email in a question and usually have a response from them within the day.  The quality of service has been second to none.  I was worried since I live so far away that it would be hard to connect with my surgeon, but each week I send in my photos and questions and each week he advises on my progress. 

The mental part of healing has been hard on me, especially since it is taking so much longer than the normal patient.  I want this to be done.  I want to be back to my normal life.  Especially since I thought by this point in my healing my life would be back to normal.  Yet, I still cannot lift anything without pain.  My exercise is still just walking.  I still swell up easily if I overexert myself (which I seem to do every single day).  I get tired very easily.  And I still have three wounds that require attention every day.

I have had some pretty miserable days and I am worried that I am burning bridges with those around me.  My emotions just seem to swell up and overwhelm me.  I am lost in how to deal with them and how to make amends to those it affects.  For most of my life I have eaten to mask my emotions.  Eating gave me the ability to feel like I could manage myself.  Feeling upset?  Binge eat something and feel (fake) happy again.  But since my gastric sleeve surgery two years ago, I am no longer able to do that. 

Right now, all I want to do is eat some shitty carbs and hide from the world.  Instead, I am going to eat my healthy protein-filled breakfast and continue to blog about how frustrated I feel.  And if you are curious, breakfast today is 3/4c of cottage cheese, 1tbsp of hemp hearts, and 1tbsp of sugar free jam (24g of protein right there).

When you are the fattest person in the room for your entire life, you excel at faking it.  I could fake the outgoing personality on my bad days (and then everyone comments on what a great personality you have).  But lately, I cannot even fake it.  Every emotion I have, which seems to be either the super happy or the super miserable with no inbetween, is out there for the world to see.  Well not really the world, just all the people I am close to here.  And I feel awful about it.  I don't want anyone to see me as not the happy Kara they usually know.  If there was a flower store in Faro, I would be buying all my close friends huge bouquets.  Or maybe I should just be forced to go and scrub their toilets or something else nasty to make up for it all.

I know so much of this is tied to hormones.  Having all of those fat cells cut right out of my body and then the physical healing process has sent my mental stability into a tail spin.  There is no balance in my body chemistry right now.  Then you combine that with the inability to sleep well due to the pain and wham!  The perfect combination to make Kara miserable with no clue why or how to control or fix it. 

Alongside the hormones, is just getting used to a new body.  I woke up and didn't look like me anymore.  The weight loss was more of a gradual process, but to change so drastically in a 12 hour time....  I wasn't prepared for how much it would affect me and for how long.  The results have exceeded my expectations by far.  But I am just not sure who I see in the mirror now.  I feel weird having almost zero ass.  I don't know how much I like that part of my body right now.  I am happy that it is so much smaller, but it feels a lot less feminine.  It is hard to look at the wounds on my body that are still persisting.  I am tired of dealing with them.

I am guessing most people are thinking to themselves and talking with others saying, "I wish she would just snap the fuck out of it and get over herself."  And I truly wish it was that easy.  I don't have anyone here in person who knows what I am going through.  Not being able to have anyone who understands is probably the hardest part of all.  I have a separate facebook account that I now use to access a couple of support groups for people who have gone through the same things I have- massive weight loss and reconstructive surgery.  It helps, but I think real person to person support would be so much better.  However, I love where I live so I will deal with this the way that has gotten me through the last two years- just blogging about it.

I can handle the criticism from my close friends, family, and heck even strangers about my blogging so openly about my feelings and posting of my nearly naked photos.  I have to.  Because this is the only outlet that works for me.  This is my therapy.  If I stopped this, I would have no outlet to get these emotions out and I am scared for what would happen to me if I lost this.  So friends, family and random internet strangers- just deal with it.  Don't look it you don't want.  And try not to judge me.  You aren't in my shoes.  This is what works for me, so this is what I am going to continue to do.  You can continue to criticize me or choose to try and just understand or accept me.

So right now I am hoping that it just gets better.  All of it.  It needs to get better because right now I feel so incredibly lost and miserable that I am completely at a loss as to what to do next.  And that isn't how I want to be living my life.

And now that you have skimmed through my emotional novel- the weekly photos!


My ass just 3 months ago.  No wonder it hurts to sit on.

Yes.... maybe this is why I am still swollen. 

No real words for this other than gross.  Oh, and that is my thigh.

I don't see any change from last week! 

Go away pubic swelling.  Just go away now.

I think improving.... but who knows.

Again.  Go away pubic swelling.  You suck.

The camera makes this inner thigh scar look worse than it is.  It is getting so much lighter!

Still rock hard scars here.  And my tail bone hurts all the time.  All.  The. Time.

Right hip wound is healing fast!  I know, still gross, but so much improvement.

Left hip wound seems to have closed off and now just filling in.  I cannot feel any sort of cavity in there when I push on it.  So I think it has healed well inside.  But the area feels like a deep bruise.

Missing from the photos this week is my inner left thigh wound.  Photo was just crappy.  But the wound is very shallow now and getting smaller.  That persistent bastard should (fingers crossed) be done in another week to 10 days I hope.