Finger-pokin’ Good

So as an RNY’d pregnant person, I can’t do the usual glucose tolerance test. My OB asked me to go buy a glucose testing kit with at least 25 strips and test for 7 days. I’m supposed to do my fasting level right when I wake up and then test again two hours after breakfast.

Umm, okay?

See, this is really new for me. And I don’t want to spend a fortune on a non-covered ridiculously-expensive glucose meter and all that, so I talked to the pharmacist at Walgreens and she suggested the store-brand kit that comes with a rebate for the full purchase price. It’s basically free! And it includes 10 test strips and 10 lancets so you can test for 5 days, which is plenty long enough!

Except NO.

I tried testing for the first time today. 10 finger pricks and 7 test strips later, I got my two readings. Guess I’ll need to buy more supplies since I basically used them all on DAY ONE!

Upon waking: 82

Two hours after breakfast: 67

Now I know absolutely nothing about this stuff. My mom is pre-diabetic and is supposed to taking Byetta or something, but she doesn’t. I have a Type 1 diabetic aunt, but it’s not like I ever see her test or anything. So I turned to Dr. Google to look up what the normal ranges actually are, and discovered that two hours after eating should be 70 – 140. So I’m a little low. I read on.

I learned that under 60 or so, you experience the heart-rating, sweating, dead-tiredness of hypoglycemia. I just call that carb coma and it happens to me ALL. THE. TIME.

I read on. And discovered under 50 or so, you can experience memory loss, shakes, loss of consciousness, and as the level dips lower, seizures and coma. YIKES. I’ve been in the 50’s, I just know it.

Now here’s the thing. For breakfast, I ate a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese smothered all over it. Of course that’s not the ideal breakfast for a bypassed person. I could have had something smarter like a protein shake. Or a protein bar. Or a nasty little sausage patty and some nasty eggs (not into that kind of food). But seriously, I’m sure it was low because I ate so  many carbs for breakfast.

Anyway, this little adventure isn’t so fun. I feel bad for the day-in, day-out glucose testers. I guess I’ll pick up more supplies today and see what I can find out throughout the week. As of right now, it certainly doesn’t look like gestational diabetes. Whew!

And hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to type without band-aids on four fingers.

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Let the baby boom begin!

Great news! My cousin’s triplets were born on Sunday and although they were just under 32 weeks, mom and babies are all doing incredibly well. Amanda’s water broke (well, one of out three “waters” broke) early Sunday morning, so they took her to the hospital. They were going to keep her on bedrest for another week if possible, but then contractions started by mid-afternoon and they did an emergency C-section. Two of the babies were on CPAP machines at first, but they’re breathing fine on their own now.

Meet Aubrie Mikayla – 3# 3oz. One of the identicals, and the first one out!

Meet Bailie Rian – 3# 15oz. – She is the bigger of the identicals. Second one out!

Bailie

Kilie Addison – 4# 11oz. – The non-identical of the three. Biggest and the last one out.

Kilie

And as for me and Lee, we got to hear OUR baby’s heartbeat and see him/her flipping around on an ultrasound Tuesday. The little kiddo is very active! Lee was a little disappointed, but I’m thrilled to know there is just one in there! The baby’s bigger than it should be for 9 weeks, so we have another ultrasound next week to determine the due date–they think it’s more like 12 weeks right now. Not quite sure how that can be the case, but whatever! We shall see!

Lonely Lab Rat

I mentioned that my University has a psychology lab that’s running a bariatric study and I was joining. That first meeting was yesterday and let’s just say that it was a little… uhhh… lonely. And weird. Shall I enumerate the weirdness?

  1. This “group” being studied consists of me and 1 other person. Just one!
  2. I expected questionnaires and tests and experiments. Instead, it’s “group” (two people!) talk therapy. So it’s me, Subject #2, and our two therapists. 2 researchers, 2 subjects. Weird.
  3. When I signed in, the receptionist asked for my payment. Payment? To participate in a research study? I thought I was doing you the favor here? Oh well. $5 seems reasonable for the attention of two psychologists for 90 minutes, right?
  4. The “lab” was strange. A room full of computers, couches, and a mini-kitchen. I know it’s about eating, health, and what-not, but the little play kitchen was odd. Should I bring plastic food next time?
  5. This is a 6-week study. But we may have another person join next week and a fourth person join in two weeks. So I guess it’s a come-when-you-can thing? I don’t understand how that works in terms of research information (or group therapy dynamics for that matter), but whatever.

So considering the strangeness, why am I doing this? The answer is simple: because I like taking 90 minutes a week to be mindful of my body, my weight loss, my journey, and all the changes I’ve been through. It’s not what I expected, but it’s a nice short-term commitment and it helps me maintain focus on my health. It can’t hurt. Plus it’s all for science. Study me, I’m yours!

All that said, can I just tell you how much I don’t jive with subject #2? Here’s why:

  • Lady’s my grandma’s age. There’s no problem there, except that we are really, really different in terms of our lifestyles, influences, etc. For example, she talked about the challenges of growing up in the meat-and-potatoes post-depression food paradigm. The Great Depression? Is relevant to you? Holy crap, that was ages ago!
  • We have different surgeons. Hers is odd. He calls gastric bypass “surgical anorexia” as if that’s a good thing. My surgeon, on the other hand, sees this as a way to eat normally. Not like a bird.
  • Lady sees this as a cure for life, which I think is DANGEROUS. She said “It’s like they did a lobotomy! I just don’t want bad things any more. I’m cured!” Whoa. She also said, “I know I’ll never be fat again!” Whoa. Big, red, flashing lights. Have you not read about post-op weight gain?! I see this all as very non-curative. I’m a work in progress. Always will be.
  • Related to the previous point, chica’s only FOUR months out. It’s all daisies and roses for her right now. Of course she doesn’t want ice cream. Give it time.
  • She introduced herself first and talked about her highest weight of 280, and that she was huge and miserable. I bust out with my 364 and she looked like she might pass out.

She’s sweet. I like her fine. But I don’t think we’re on the same page. Maybe that will change, maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll just be a really good contrast for the researchers. Time will tell! In the meantime, my assignment for next week is to imagine what it would feel like to be more open with people about my surgery. To just tell people how much I’ve lost and how I’ve done it. We all know I’m weird about sharing this info in my day-to-day life, so I have to visualize myself being more open about it.

It would be uncomfortable.

Liberating.

Easier than worrying about what people think.

Most of all, I think being more open about it would give me opportunities to help people or share what I’ve learned, even if it is just my own situated knowledge. I do want to be an advocate for health, no matter what that looks like for each individual person (WLS or not, “normal” weight or not, fat activism or not). It’s hard to be an advocate for health when I’m hiding what I’ve done (or skirting around it, or keeping it private, or whatever). I want to take an activist’s stance, but I have to put my story–my whole story–out there to do it.

Signed, sealed, and (almost) delivered!

Three weeks from tonight, I’ll be laid up in bed moaning and groaning in agony. But it will be worth it, because I’ll be rid of my batwings. And I’ll have acquired a ginormous set of new boobies!

Out with the old, in with the new! Maybe I’ll even get a smashing new tank:

68154492v3_350x350_front_color-white

I kid, I kid.

But really… remember all that talk about “do I want implants? do I not? isn’t it weird get implants? shouldn’t I be natural? I’ll just get the smallest implant available.”

Screw all that. When you get in the room and you try on a surgical bra and actually place the implants inside to get an idea for the size, it’s soooo easy to just say bigger! Bigger!! BIGGER!!

When I said I didn’t want anything insane, Dr. Hartog said, “Okay, we can place a 200cc implant during the lift. If you decide bigger, we can place the implant, leave a tube hanging out, and fill it a week after the lift so your tissue has time to heal before we stretch it back out.”

He knew me better than I knew myself.

I tried the 200. I tried 225. I tried 250.

The nurse smiled a knowing smile and handed me 300.

325.

350.

375!

We stopped there. I was kinda having a crazy identity crisis seeing myself in the mirror with ta-tas again. How I’ve missed them! And cleavage! Remember cleavage?!

My mom and Lee came with me, and it was hilarious. Lee was getting more and more excited with each bigger size. The poor guy was ready to do back hand springs when I kept trying bigger ones!

I lost my mom at 350. For her, that was the max size that didn’t look unnatural. Lee is trying to convince me 375 is the only possible solution or else the earth will crumble.

In my opinion, 350 is luscious and large and proportionate. 375 is hot dayum nice rack! and not exactly, shall we say, conservative.

The nurse thought anything smaller than 300cc’s was too small, and that any where from 300-400cc’s would look right on me.

So here’s what we decided on:  an implant that can be filled within the range of 325-390. So Dr. Hartog will place those implants during my breast lift, leave a little tube out, let the incisions start to heal, and then actually fill the implant with saline one week after the surgery. And we’ll do it in front of a mirror so I’ll actually be able to see my boobs inflate and deflate to the exact fill size I want. How cool is that?!

So I’m signed. (Eight million consent forms)

Sealed. (Paid. Bye, bye savings!)

And almost delivered. (three weeks three weeks three weeks!!)

Bye bye arms. Hellooooo boobs!

Itty Bits

Some good things:

  • My sister Rachel is coming with me to the conference in Rhode Island the weekend of March 28th. We’ll stay for a few days, boom in and boom out of my presentation, and get lots of sister time! We haven’t traveled together in ages. I’m really looking forward to quality time with her! (And I’m glad I won’t be traveling all by my lonesome.)
  • I’m off hormonal birth control for upcoming plastics (since hormonal birth control is a risk factor for blood clots). Being off birth control has forced Lee & I to think long and hard about when we want to try for kids, and we’re praying together and separately about this issue. But the good news is that we’ve identified a “window” of time to start trying that we can pray about. I’ll spare you the OCD spreadsheet where I worked this out, but we’ve identified April 2010 through August 2010 as an ideal time to conceive. That’s more than a year from now, which means a baby would be two years from now. And I know these things can’t really be planned to great detail, but this is huge for us. We’ve got a window picked out and we’re praying about it!
  • My scale is finally moving again. I’m 168.2 today. Still hoping I can reach 155 by May, but we’ll see about that.
  • I had a counseling appointment this week, and it’s the first time I’ve been since December due to scheduling conflicts. It was SO GOOD to get back there. I’m convinced it’s part of me transitioning into a well-balanced, healthy life! I won’t go forever, of course, but I’m grateful to have my counselor right now!
  • I’m making homemade chicken soup for dinner. I’ll be trying a whole bunch of new recipes this week as I’m trying for more fiber, lower calories for both me and Lee, and I’ll post anything that turns out to be good!

And now I’m off to study and have a great weekend. 🙂

Waaaah!

Today was the consult at the University of South Florida cosmetic surgery residency program. It was so cool. I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, for real! The doctors were young and talking really fast and there was even elevator awkwardness between some of them. It was awesome! 🙂

I had hoped to leave there today with the last bit of information I’d need to make a surgery decision. Unfortunately, they didn’t give me any price information at all. Their assistant is supposed to email me some time NEXT WEEK with pricing. When I said I needed price info, like, TOMORROW, she reacted that is a totally ludicris request.

Meanwhile, the deadline for the $500 incentive to book with Dr. Hartog by the end of January expires Friday.

What to do, what to do?

In the meantime, I’m acting like the freaking FBI command center faxing quotes back and forth between all the doctors I’ve seen. Nobody wants to meet or beat Hartog’s price. Dr. Marzek won’t place implants at the time of lift, so he would meet the price but couldn’t promise implants at a later surgery for the $1237 in addition it would cost for Hartog to do them now.

I want this over with! Tomorrow is supposed to be decision day. Major stress overload!!!

Plastics Consult 5

Peace. Serenity. Calm.

That’s what I’m feeling today after meeting with Dr. Marzek.

His office felt like a doctor’s office. Not a spa, not a retreat, not a gallery of postmodern furniture. A plain old doctor’s office.

And Dr. Marzek felt like a doctor. Not a Ken doll, not a socialite, but a bona fide doctor. Complete with a hideous necktie.

I can’t really explain why, because I can’t say I’m sure this is the doctor that would give me the straightest, cleanest scars or the tightest result, but I feel very comfortable with him. He is perfectly fine with doing the brachioplasty and breast lift together. Doesn’t recommend implants since I have “an intact breast mound.” (That just cracks me up for some reason.)

After meeting with him for well over an hour, I was curious to see what his prices would be like. I thought he might come out somewhere in the middle of the quotes I’ve received, and I was right. His price was $11,333.75.

So I worked up my nerve and asked the financial coordinator, “I hope this isn’t totally inappropriate, but I liked Dr. Marzek very much. If it came down to choosing between him and another surgeon based on price, would it be possible for me to show you the other surgeon’s quote to see if we could work on Dr. Marzek’s price a little bit?” and I told her specifically which other surgeon I was thinking about.

She said, “Oh sure, we know him! Fax us his price and we’ll match it. I’ll have to show the doctor first, of course, but it shouldn’t be a problem.”

And I said, “Wonderful. I have two more consultations and should be in touch soon.” But I was really thinking, “WAHOOO!!! Experienced massive weight loss surgeon for a botox-factory-surgeon price! Cha-CHING!” Not that any of it is cheap, however.

So if I had to book right now, it would be with Dr. Marzek’s office. I just feel safe with him, and I feel like he understands my body as a massive weight loss patient and the results I’m looking for. He has operated on people like me, and he understands that I’m not the same as a skinny 20-year-old looking for breast implants in an otherwise perfect body.

And it’s also just something about him. He seems like a regular guy. I’m a regular girl. It’s only natural that he should chop my skin off. 🙂