The Day I Lost an Organ

Monday, March 17 was an ordinary day.

Ok, that’s not true. It was the first day of a new term, so I had an entirely new batch of students in my class, and I’d had a headache for going on four full days. I figured that it was due to the constantly changing weather, the end of the term, the stress of doing grades and my general malaise thanks to this eternally gray and cold winter.

I’d made this delicious Mexican crock pot pork dish which I’d planned on eating atop giant salads for the course of the week. A bit of relaxation had made my head stop hurting, so I made my salad, and decided to go to bed early to hopefully avoid a fifth day of a headache.

Fast forward to 12:30 a.m.

Have you ever wondered what Iron Man feels like? (I swear I’m going somewhere with this) I’m not talking about his cool gadgets or suit or anything, but that whole “messed up heart so there’s a machine cutting through the front of his chest almost through his back” thing? I woke up feeling like that. There was this intense pain in the very center of my chest right under my sternum straight through to my back. I initially thought it was horrendous heartburn, but then next thing I knew I was sweating, exceedingly pale (according to Adam) and throwing up all over the bathroom (sorry for the visual).

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Adam convinced me that I needed to go to the ER. Pain like that wasn’t something to mess around with. Apparently, I’d picked the “perfect” time to go to the ER, as I was the only one there and seen right away. Within two hours, I’d had pain medication, anti-nausea medication, an ultrasound, CT scan, and more pain medication. They’d determined that I had gallstones which were causing gallbladder attacks, which explained the pain, vomiting, and possibly the general feeling of ick I’d had over the last few weeks.

But, because my blood pressure was super-low (I’m talking 76/54 low) they wanted to admit me for observation before I could be assessed for possible surgery. So up to the 6th floor I went, drugged up for pain and finally slept.

At 8 a.m. I was woken up by my wonderful nurse, who explained that before they would make any decisions about the next steps of my care, I would need to get a HIDA scan performed. There was a catch though: the scan couldn’t be performed until I’d been off of all pain medication for 8 hours. This meant that I had to be pain med-free (as well as food and drink free) until 1 p.m.

I don’t do well when I’m hungry. I’ve eaten every 3 hours like clockwork since I started my OptiFast plan… so seriously? 8 hours without food? It was really good that I wasn’t dealing with too many people. 1 p.m. turned into 2:45, and then the test was an hour (in which I was radioactive!) They determined that it would be in my best interest to have my gallbladder (and its stones) removed. After a major panic and lots of tears, I made the decision that I would rather deal with the surgical recovery than EVER have to deal with the pain and discomfort of another gallbladder attack.

Adam went with me into the surgical prep room, and the anesthesiologist explained what she would be giving me and how anesthesia worked since I’d never had it before. I remember being wheeled into the operating room, then next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery. I asked for Adam and my sister, and they were there in a minute.

So now, I’m sans gallbladder. I have four holes in my belly, one of which is in my belly button and is annoying the crap out of me. I’m sore in my muscles too, as if I’ve done about a million crunches. Apparently they had to shove my muscles around in there when they were removing my gallbladder through my belly button.

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The upside of all this is that I know that I won’t have another gallbladder attack, and it’s in my best interest to continue eating a low-fat, low-carb diet to avoid the side effects of not having a gallbladder.
The downside? I had to cancel my trip to Arizona for spring break. I’ll reschedule I’m sure, but I’m still beyond bummed. The surgeon and general physician both suggested that flying might not be in my best interest. At least I’d thought ahead and bought the travel insurance…
What’s interesting is that when I first signed up for my OptiFast program, I signed paperwork acknowledging that gallbladder problems are a possible side effect of rapid weight loss. I was asked if I regret doing the program and losing the weight so quickly. My answer? Absolutely not. I’m relieved that, if this had to happen, it happened now when I’m in the best physical shape I’ve been in years, and not when I was 70 pounds heavier.
I’m on the mend now, and I feel significantly better than I did even 24 hours ago. I’m lucky I have the most understanding principal on the planet who instructed me to stay home for the week (even though I was worried about it) and that spring break is this coming week, so I’ll be up to working once that’s over.
I’m off to rest and recoup… I’ll check in next week!

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171 Days

It’s been 171 days of following my plans.

171 days of high-protein, low-carb, completely different eating (and “eating” in those early days).

171 days of avoiding sweets, pasta, bread, potatoes, and other starchy foods I’d come to call friends over the last few years.

171 days of re-teaching myself how to eat for fuel and necessity rather than solely for pleasure and comfort.

I think it’s fair to say I’ve come a long way.

As of this week, I’m down 68.1 pounds.

According to a fun list I found online, and a few of my own calculations, I’ve lost:

  • 68 guinea pigs
  • a baboon plus an average human brain
  • 3.5 automobile tires
  • 4.25 sperm whale brains
  • An elephant’s penis
  • $1,459,519.20 in gold (at $1339.50 per ounce, today’s cost)
  • 3 bags of our dog’s food
  • 1 of the members of our 6th grade wrestling team
  • 272 sticks of butter

I’ve still got a ways to go…but seeing my progress this far has been SO motivating! I get to eat real food snacks starting this week, so I’m down to three meal replacements! I’m counting down the days until Spring Break, since I’m heading to Phoenix for a few days. Warmth is much-needed after this hell of a winter.

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Me and my bestie, Lizz, at her birthday party last weekend

Six Months

Six months ago, Adam and I went to the gun range after my very stressful doctor’s appointment and followed that with a “last meal” at Red Robin. A Banzai burger, regular soda, and french fries laid heavy in my gut when I went to bed that night, anxious about what the next days would bring. One day at a time… that’s what I’d committed to do.

Day 1 was not easy. Believe it or not, Days 2 and three were harder. On those days, I was so out of it (more than I would’ve admitted at the time) that I taught my sixth graders the same lesson twice… and no one said anything. It was 90 degrees outside, I had all sorts of lovely skin issue from the heat/sweat/friction…I won’t get too into it.

By the end of the first month, I was in shock at my own success. Yet I was still apprehensive. I still had SO FAR to go. Sure I’d lost 20 pounds, and my clothes were fitting better, but I was still solidly in the same clothes I’d been wearing. Nothing really new, no size changes, and I was still in the state of disbelief in myself. 20 pounds could be an accident. Or water weight. Surely it couldn’t have been what I was doing.

It’s been interesting to look back and read my old posts, for a multitude of reasons. Some days, when I feel like saying “screw it” and eating a giant cheeseburger like I would’ve 6 months ago, I read those first few days and remind myself how horrendous that detox was. I never want to do that again. Some days, when I want to see how far I’ve come, I read the posts from a month in.

At first, I didn’t want to take pictures of myself. I thought it was weird, I thought it was vain…but in reality, they’ve been the biggest help to my own intrinsic motivation. I bit the bullet and started posting progress photos on Instagram and Facebook, and every “like”, comment, and “thumbs up” boosts me up a little bit, especially on days when I really need it.

I’ve had an amazing external support system: Adam has been beyond supportive, my mom and sister have been my biggest cheerleaders, and my friends at work are more motivating than they will ever know. But in the end, it’s in my own head. And I’m really glad I have photos to look at.

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August ——————————————————————————————————October

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November ————————————————————————————— February
Six months in, and I know I have a long way to go. But, instead of it being this incredibly daunting task that I had no idea how to conquer, I’m learning how to make it manageable. One day at a time, one meal at a time, one minute at a time. Choosing to eat my OptiFast bar instead of the brownies in the lounge. Choosing to have four ounces of grilled salmon and roasted veggies instead of a giant burger and fries. I’m the same person that I’ve always been… yet I still feel like I’m completely different.

Weeks 18 & 19

NINETEEN.

i truly cannot believe that it’s been 19 weeks since I ate a high-fat, high-carb, crazy-caloric day of meals and wondered why I felt like garbage all the time.

NINETEEN WEEKS since I had to gear myself up to get up from the couch.

NINETEEN WEEKS since I looked like 10 pounds of fat in a 5 pound bag. I was pale, pimply, tired all the time, and had so little energy that even walking upstairs was a chore.

My last two weigh ins were rather uneventful. I’m now down a total of 59.9 pounds. I know, I could’ve gone to the bathroom and lost that extra .1, but whatever.

I’ve loved eating one meal a day while still having the security of my Optifast products most of the day. I’m a little nervous to move on to two meals a day, so I’m putting it off for a while longer.

Some things I’m proud of accomplishing (and I need to update my list of goals!)

  • I’m down 5 jeans and dress sizes from a 22 to a 14W
  • My feet are no longer wide
  • I can wear low heels for a whole day (not that I do often with all this freaking snow)
  • I can workout without pain (except the kind I’m looking for!)
  • I don’t reward myself with food, at all

And, finally, I can proudly post pictures like this:

59 lbs gone

The left photo was Western Day in July 2013. The photo on the right was taken Friday, January 31 at the Jean Banchet Grand Chef’s Gala where my sister won Pastry Chef of the Year! 59.9 pounds. I’m still in disbelief.

Week 17: Weigh In

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Down officially 57.9 pounds! WAHOO! I treated myself to some clothes that fit so I could stop looking like a shlub at work… and being me, I made a comparison photo:

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Speaking of, I’ve updated my “Progress” page to show a bunch of “before” and comparison pictures, which really keep me motivated.

The fun thing that’s happening lately is that I can truly shop at “normal” stores. I’m back to a 16 at New York & Co. which is almost where I was at our wedding. In the pictures above, the “before” is a 20/22 from Torrid, and the “now” is a 16 and XL from NY&Co… I’m feeling confident lately! It’s a rather odd feeling.

When hanging out with my sister on Monday, I noticed that people don’t get out of my way the way they used to. I actually got run into quite a few times. It was also quite lovely to walk WITH my sister (who walks at typical Chicago pace, a.k.a. really fast) and not be trailing after her, out of breath. And this was AFTER a run/walk workout!

We had such fun eating beautiful veggies at Eataly,

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It was really the first time I noticed how different I feel doing normal everyday things. And I loved it!

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Week 17

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I weighed in a day early this week, and will be for the next couple of months thanks to my insane after school activity. I was THRILLED to see that I had lost yet another 1.4 pounds for a grand total of….

55.9 pounds GONE!

I am still in shock. I think I say that every post. But really. I’m in shock. 

I find myself feeling, as our class said last week, “phantom fat”. I still feel and sometimes see weight that used to be there that isn’t anymore. I’ll grab a favorite outfit or sweater thinking “oh sweet, this is clean, I can wear this!” and find that I look ridiculous. The saggy baggy elephant look is not good on me.

Back in the Weight Watchers days, I once lost 51 pounds. I’m still 29 pounds above where I was at that point, and my first major goal is to get under 200 pounds. I’ve decided though, that my -60 pound reward (my next one!) will be that I’ll get myself contacts again. Not that I’ll wear them every day, but I’d like to have the option again. I was about this weight the last time I got contacts, and only started having issues when i gained weight and my eyes reacted.

Eating is still going well in this transition phase. I’ve learned that I don’t need to have a starchy side with every any dish, and a perfectly roasted vegetable is as satisfying as a bowl of pasta. I’ve also learned that undercooked spaghetti squash is gross.

Oh, and the high protein OptiFast powder, no matter how much it keeps me satisfied, is SO DISGUSTING that I can barely stomach it.

Off to another week…

Weeks 15 & 16

You know what’s really amazing to me?

I had so many thoughts those first few weeks on Optifast… things were changing quickly, I felt so different, and then I got into a pattern and out of my old habits. Instead of cooking a cheese and carb laden dinner every night, I came home, ate some soup, and that was that.

Relearning how to eat and cook has been an adventure in and of itself. Dinners are simple, even when we go out. I’ve been snapping photos of most of my meals, mostly so I remember what they are when I go to input them in MyFitnessPal. (follow me there! I’m marafaye)

The really odd thing? I’m still in shock as to how little food I need. I’m not talking want. Do I want to sit and eat every tempura-laden sushi roll I can think of? Sure. But I know that I’ll feel like garbage afterward.

Instead, I ordered a cucumber-wrapped spicy roll, with about an ounce of 3 different fishes. It was phenomenal and hit the sushi spot.

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Over the weekend, I roasted a whole chicken and we’ve been eating it over the past few days. On salad:

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and mixed with roasted veggies:

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I’ve rediscovered grated parmesan cheese as a condiment, and find myself craving protein and vegetables more than I ever have. I’m still having shakes and bars during the day, and am loving the sugar free caramel syrup I found at HomeGoods!

My latest progress photos, at 16 weeks in and 54.6 pounds down. I’m wearing a sweater from Anthropologie, something I never thought I’d be able to do again!

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Oh, and we had to take one of our cats to the vet, and he finagled his way out of his carrier on the way home…

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I still kind of can’t get over the difference in myself. I’m down 4-5 dress sizes, 5 pants sizes, and can wear clothes from just about everywhere now. I still have so far to go, but the progress is SO encouraging!!!

In the coming week, I’ll likely be making another pot of my favorite chili. It’s comforting and delicious without being awful for me. A small serving plus some roasted veggies is a beyond great meal, and a little work once (for the chili) pays off all week.

I’ll try to post a bit more… darn things keep getting in the way 🙂