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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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 14: Then and Now

232.2

On my first week of eating real food one meal a day, I managed to lose 4.8 pounds. I’m officially down 52.8 pounds in 14 weeks. I’m still in shock and I weighed in on Thursday.

Winter break has been the relaxing time I’ve so desperately needed, and I’ve spent each dinner time (my chosen meal) slightly indulging the cravings I’ve had since I started this program. When I say slightly, I mean slightly.

I thought I’d go through a few “then and now” comparisons.

Then: sushi dinners out would consist of 5-6 big rolls shared between Adam and me, usually full of tempura, mayo, and other delicious yet horrible for me ingredients.

Now: 3-4 ounces of sashimi and cucumbers or daikon.

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Then: Dinner at Wildfire would be half of a chopped salad with dressing, an 8 or 10-ounce filet crusted in bread crumbs and horseradish and wrapped in bacon, a huge baked sweet potato or creamed spinach, and then dessert.

Now: One small plate of chopped salad with less than a teaspoon of dressing, half of a petite filet (so about 3 ounces) and about a cup of steamed broccoli.

Then: Chinese food out would be an egg roll or crab rangoon, followed by Mongolian beef and white rice, and then probably a trip to the fro-yo place afterward.

Now: Shrimp and broccoli, steamed, with brown sauce on the side.

Then: I’d leave most meals stuffed beyond comfort, and still wanting more. My clothes would be uncomfortably tight, and I’d repeat the same behaviors over and over, wondering why I couldn’t lose weight.

Now: dinner out is remarkably freeing. I’ve spent more time talking and less time eating, and am surprised at the end of each meal as to how little I need to be satisfied. I’m used to the sort of “empty” feeling I’ve had while on OptiFast, and I’m finally familiar with the feeling of being satisfied instead of being full.

I’ve had a few milestones this week besides hitting the 50-pound mark: I purchased a sweater at Ann Taylor Loft, something I haven’t done since 2008. On a whim, I went to the sale at Dick’s Sporting Goods to look for a new winter coat, assuming I’d have to buy something from the men’s section. I ended up with my first non-plus-size women’s coat since 2007 (on sale no less!) I booked a trip to Phoenix for spring break,and I’m looking forward to hiking and being active rather than dreading every bit of physical activity.

I’ve been long-winded enough!

Here’s to a great end of the year, and a happy new year to all!

Week 12

It was brought to my attention that I haven’t posted in a while…

Yeah, it’s been a while, and that’s not exactly an accident. I was having a Negative Nelly (or Polly Poopypants) kind of week. It started with that little gain last week, which was the end of one of the LONGEST weeks I’ve had in a long time. I’m talking 12-13 hours out of the house on a daily basis, which during the school year is next to unheard of.

So then I had a half-pound gain, and got into a kind of destructive self-loop. Why am I doing this again? What the heck am I doing eating these monotonous products and avoiding the delicious things that I love? Tell me again why I’m not just “watching what I eat” and taking it slow the way I’ve done (and failed at) so many times?

So I didn’t post. I probably should’ve, since you all have been so supportive…but I didn’t. And instead, it was nose to the grindstone, walking and eating my freaking products, and then my amazing hair colorist (who’s lost a boatload of weight too) told me to take a full-body photograph and compare it to an old one.

I never do that. I hate looking back at old pictures of more than just my face because it’s honestly kind of depressing…but I did it. I mean, I trust Demi with my hair, I should trust her with this. And so, with a typo (originally I put 2014 instead of 2013) I posted this on instagram:

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I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Later that evening, I found an old pair of jeans in a size 16 and tried them on for the heck of it. Not only did they zip, but they fit well and I wore them to work later in the week. I started this at a very tight size 24. My weigh in proved that this wasn’t for nothing…

238.8

Officially down 45.3 pounds.

I’ve got this.

I’m talking to the doctor/dietician about beginning to transition while on winter break, which means one “real food” meal a day. The fact that I’m so excited about 4 ounces of protein and veggies really tells me a lot about how my attitude towards food has changed.

Oh, and also, here’s a picture of what the wonderful Demi did to my hair, while she was giving me some attitude-changing advice. I went back to my brown roots, and am loving how it looks!

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Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season (even though “my” holiday is over). It’s a rough time of year for me…which I’ll get into this week, I’m sure.

Week 11: The last few days

245.3

Yep. I had a gain.

A whole half pound.

Eight ounces.

There’s no way in you know where that I consumed THAT MANY extra calories to truly warrant a gain. I’m not thrilled about this though. It’s just not computing in my crazy brain that I eat no more than 820 calories a day and have GAINED weight.

Then my rational brain kicks in. I had an extremely long last few days. I didn’t leave school before 5:15 any day this week, and haven’t been home before 7. Yesterday, I picked up Chinese food for my husband, and got a container of chicken broth (really, wonton soup without the wonton) to eat instead of making my OptiFast soup. I felt like comfort food and I made the best choice I could. I mean, freaking chicken broth and a few (literally 5 or 6) tiny slivers of pork in there. Do you have any idea how much sodium is in chicken\wonton soup from a Chinese restaurant??

According to fatsecret.com, in ONE CUP of wonton soup broth, there are 769 grams of sodium. That’s 34% of the daily allowance. My OptiFast soup has 600. I’m extremely salt sensitive, AND I slacked off on water yesterday and today. So I’m bloated. It’ll be gone (and then some) next week.

In other news, some non-scale victories happened in the last few days:

  • I sat in a meeting with my legs crossed like a girl.
  • My leggings are too big. Like, so much too big that a student noticed.
  • I noticed I use less foundation to cover my face.
  • I ran up and down the flights of stairs at work today to get copies and wasn’t in the least bit winded or tired.

THOSE are the reasons that I’m doing this. The number is just that: a number.

Now, someone tell that crazy brain girl to lighten up.

Week 10 (the rest) & Week 11: The beginning

I spent the majority of week 10 worrying about what I was going to do about Thanksgiving.

I know, it’s silly.

I had these moments of panic envisioning myself taking one bite of real food and going completely ape-shit, eating everything in sight, then proceeding to get sick, and then deciding to do it all again over the whole weekend, vowing to “start over” on Monday.

I got a little more realistic and realized that, no matter what, I wouldn’t completely blow it. I would definitely eat something. I made an appointment with the dietician for after my weigh in on Wednesday, and planned out what would make for a sensible and satisfying first meal. She was wonderfully supportive, and heard every last one of my concerns and helped me visualize what a good serving would be. We decided on about 2 ounces of turkey, about 10-12 roasted brussels sprouts (not too many, so my stomach didn’t do crazy things) and a few bites of whatever was for dessert.

Oh, about that weigh in…

244.8

FREAKING 40.3 pounds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOLY HELL!!!!

That gave me the push I needed to keep going with my plan, eat only a small amount of food, and not completely blow it. That’s exactly what I did.

My mom had made some remarkable (really, really amazing) turkey stock which I ate in addition to my 2 ounces of turkey, 10 brussels sprouts, 4 green beans, and bite of mashed sweet potatoes. Dessert was a few bites of pumpkin flan and a pistachio French macaron made by my sister. (Officially can cross that off the cravings list!)

The conversation was wonderful, the company even better, and I was completely satisfied with my choices to eat. The jokes were endless, because after over 10 weeks, I’d nearly forgotten how to use a fork and plate.

A few photos ensued:

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(me, my sister, and my mom)

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(Me and my sister)

I must confess, later in the weekend at a favorite restaurant during a surprise party, I ate one bite of tuna tartare, and one bite of Peking-style chicken. Totally worth it.

A few non-scale successes:

  • Bought a 1X down coat for the upcoming freezing Chicago winter, to replace the size 22 pea coat from last summer.
  • My mom bought me boots for Hanukkah. Knee-high boots. That zip all the way up my calf. This is a first.
  • Bought off-the-rack jeans from Old Navy in a size I haven’t seen (or worn) in years.
  • I had to return an XXL sweater for an XL.

And now, since I’ve been fighting a bad cold since a week ago, I’m going to bed.

Week 7: Day 7

257.1

Down another pound and a half! TWENTY EIGHT POUNDS TOTAL!!!

I’m averaging 4 pounds a week, which is above average. I’ve never EVER been an above-average weight loser.

We had a really interesting class today about “stick with it-ness” and I shared with the class about how this all started out as a “have to” endeavor. I had to lose weight to be healthier, to get in a good place to start a family, get my cholesterol down, etc.

And then I was able to buy a pair of pants off the rack at Old Navy. And it’s turned into a “want to” thing. The health stuff is amazing, but honestly, the superficial stuff is great too, and really a phenomenal motivator.

A friend at work today gave me a huge hug and told me she’s proud of me. THAT meant a lot. And so did the number on the scale, but that’s just quantitative proof that what I’m doing is working. I prefer the qualitative proof…the comments, the smaller clothes, the feeling better.

And can you all tell I’m in a data-driven class for grad school? Qualitative and quantitative? Who am I?

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday…it’s been a LONG week!