The Coins

I read a blog nearly 5 years ago and, that particular piece of writing has actually changed my life. My ability to be able to convey to my family and those closest to me, the way that I am feeling on any given day has changed my life. It gave me a framework, which on my worst days, I have clung to like my life depends upon it. Chronic illness is heartless and often times I have struggled to convey the true impacts that it has had on me. I have Celiac Disease and looking back now, I can see that it affected so many things about my life when I was growing up. As an adult it caused many problems and difficulties – until it was finally diagnosed and my diet changed. In more recent times, there was something profoundly wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, just an all encompassing, profound wrongness that I tried to articulate to my doctors. It took nearly 18 months but the diagnoses for that was accidentally discovered due to the timing of a blood test. I am learning to live with a really terrifying condition – that is severe in my case. Having to speak to my kids about things like, “if I happen to fall unconscious while I am out in public, this is what you do” and teaching them how to inject me has been frightening. I keep a stiff upper lip to them, laughing about it and we joke – but underneath it all they know that it is not anything to laugh about.

Anyway the writer of Coins was part of my life when I was a child. She was a glorious dancer, kind with her words and I so aspired to be like her. My earliest memory of her was as she danced across the stage in a church musical as Delilah – I thought she was the most beautiful lady I had ever seen. My first impression of her was accurate – she is a beautiful person and when I read her online piece about Coins years ago I took it to heart. You can read that article here. https://keepinmindproject.com/2016/02/09/coins/

Today I am clutching my metaphorical bag of coins very tightly and I am aware that it is not as full as it would usually be. Yesterday I did so many wonderful things – I did something that I have promised to do with my children for 10 years. I tested my BSL and determined that because I hadn’t eaten yet (my sugar drops dangerously low when I eat and drink) it would be safe for me to do a quick trip to the shops and get a few things. That number of things that I need always seems to multiply!! This shouldn’t be an exhausting exercise but it is. The whole time I felt a level of anxiety and I kept reassuring myself that I had my jelly bean stash and at the worst, my injection in my bag should it be needed. We were walking through Kmart, in search of the Bunch-O-Balloons that weren’t available a few weeks ago. There was great excitement when we found some and positioned right by them were tents. Justus (now 13) said to me “I wish we could go camping mum” as he wistfully eyed the tents. and I said “we can, pick that tent up and bring it with us!” He and Lincoln nearly exploded with happiness. But I could see the doubt in their eyes. I was determined that I would not disappoint them again. Big me said no to them constantly. It was easier to say no than to just admit – I cant do that because I am too big.

Moments like those are filled with so much happiness but also with bucketloads of regrets. I think about the things that my daughter missed out on and the mum that my older kids didn’t get to enjoy. There is no fixing that now, no coming back from it now BUT there is the fact that I am not that person anymore. So regardless of the fact that I was feeling unwell, I pushed through the things that I needed to do in the house. I had promised to bake Lincoln cookies so we did that – I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal but the mixing can be hard for me. I powered through that, got dinner ready – which is never a simple affair at our house. 2 lactose intolerant people, one Celiac and one Crohns Disease, meals are complex and everything is always from scratch. After that I did some other writing that I needed to get done and found myself sitting outside at 11:45am with everything completed for the day except the new task, erect the tent and make it habitable.

Thankfully the older boys helped with this and before long the tent was up, we hung string lights, put mattresses in it and the boys continued to enjoy it for a few hours more. Our Regional Covid restrictions have rolled back recently and we were expecting our household bubble person yesterday ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ so we enjoyed time together and after putting the finishing touches on our evening meal, we watched a movie together as a family and then we retired to the tent. I had the best sleep I have had in years (literally) But the pressure of yesterday has taken a toll.

Today I am bereft of coins, I did not manage my energy well yesterday. Everything that I have to do today has gone by the wayside. I did not pace myself yesterday and I’m glad because I loved every moment of it but today I am exhausted and that is my trade/off. I have had three hypos where my blood sugar was under 1.7 and I am curled up in a ball on the lounge, pretending that the washing doesn’t need doing and that mount washmore will fold itself.

Tomorrow will be better and until tomorrow I will just be gentle with myself. Lots of Love Tash

You are enough . . . . . . .

Don’t allow yourself to remain frozen in the past or bogged down in the muck of things that may want to drag you backwards! Allow yourself to run, even if its with a bit of fear in your heart, into your future.

Plastic Surgery 12 months on

12 Months ago yesterday I had my plastic surgery. I had a Radical Tummy Tuck, Mons Lift, Breast Reduction, Breast Lift and Fat Transfer to give me boobies. 12 months on I feel very differently about the whole process to how I did at the start. I want to make a few points that I really believe are vitally important for people to know and understand if you have lost a massive amount of weight and then go down the road of plastic surgery.

  1. Size does matter – this is a really strange concept to me. I hate comparisons and I actively advocate NEVER comparing your journey with someone else’s. BUT, where skin surgery is concerned if you are going to look at someone else’s results and covet them for your own – you better be comparing the same kind of starting point and the same end point prior to surgery or disappointment may follow! The results of someone that had 40 kilos of excess weight to lose and the results of someone that had 80 or 90 or 100 kilos of excess weight to lose are not the same thing and they are going to be vastly different! Everyones weight loss is amazing, awesome and incredible – that is a fact – And I don’t believe that anyone is better etc based upon the amount of weight that they have to lose – however these things DO impact results when we are talking about plastic surgery.
  2. When it comes to skin surgery SOOOOOOooooooo many things impact the final results. The results of someone that has had multiple pregnancies but never been overweight is going to have a different result to someone that has been overweight with multiple pregnancies and the higher the starting weight, the more the skin has been stretched and the lower the finishing weight the more noticeable the sag. The length of time that the skin has been stretched also has an impact on the final results too. I knew all of this BEFORE I had my surgery. In my head I understood that stretched skin from being super morbidly obese for nearly 20 years AND having had our 5 kids was going to have an impact upon the way that my skin would respond after surgery. But I didn’t really understand this. I thought I did – but I didn’t. You think because you are paying out serious dollars to have this surgery, that you are going to look pretty fricken amazing by the end of it. The reality of that, for me, did not materialise! I did not look how I wanted to look or how so many other people look. People have told me that I should blame my surgeon for that. He told me to expect revision – I guess I assumed that would happen if things went wrong – not that was going to happen because of the state of my skin. That was probably a breakdown in communication.
  3. Communicate your desires clearly to your surgeon. Ask a lot of questions and write down the answers. Ask where your incisions will be. Ask that it be explained to you thoroughly. Ask what kind of things can go wrong. Ask what you can expect from them in a worst case situation. Ask how wound break downs are treated. Ask how many times you will see them post operatively. Ask what kind of compression garments they recommend and how long you have to wear them for. Ask what kind of dressings they use and ask to test the dressing out to make sure that you don’t have reactions to it PRIOR to your surgery. I wore my dressings for a week before my surgery to make sure that my fussy skin was going to be okay with them.
  4. MAKE SURE you are healthy going in to your skin removal surgery. Make sure that your most trusted health care provider (for me that is my GP) says that it is a good idea to have the skin surgery. Don’t do it if you have even slightly dodgy blood test results. Be as healthy as possible for the best possible healing and outcomes afterwards.
  5. Collagen. I had a LOT of collagen protein in the lead up to my surgery and in the healing phase. It is the one thing that I can say that I did differently to the 26 surgeries that I have had in my lifetime before my skin surgery and it was the ONLY TIME I did not get a wound infection. My incision was gigantic and I was very concerned about that particular aspect of things. I healed beautifully – and when I consider all of the complications that I had post operatively, the healing beautifully thing meant the world to me. The only issue was that I did spit a stitch a few weeks later but again it was fine and healed up well. The brand of Collagen Protein that I use is called Tasteless by Feel Good and it has been fantastic for me.
  6. Expect revisions and expect that it is going to take time. Also expect that it is going to cost a lot of money. There are all kinds of ways to have skin surgery. Some weight loss surgeons in Australia do offer skin removal (usually just tummy tucks) to their patients and they are often done as a revision surgery so there is very little out of pocket cost. Some general surgeons do skin removal then cosmetic and then plastic surgeons. There is also a program called The Access Program and if you have private health insurance then this may provide a lower cost alternative if you are willing to travel to Sydney. https://accessprogram.org.au
  7. How much does it cost? Tash can I just ask you, Tash would you mind telling me, Tash is it too much to ask to know – I totally understand when I get those inboxes and direct messages but the answer to those questions is that I don’t talk about the cost of my surgery. Honestly, the best thing to do is to pick your surgeon and go and have a consultation with them. The initial consultations vary a lot too – anything from $200 – 450 dollars BUT if you want to know how much your personal case would cost with a particular surgeon then it is the best way to go. My general rule of thumb is as follows – for persons with private health insurance the GAP that you would be expected to pay for a low cost tummy tuck would be 1-7k, medium cost 7-11k and high cost 12k and over. That is WITH private health insurance covering the hospital and theatre costs and a small amount to the doctors involved. My theatre costs were astronomical and thankfully covered by my private health insurance because my surgery met the criteria to be considered medically necessary – because I had to be taken back to theatre in the middle of the night so that I wouldn’t bleed to death, my original gas doctor was not available so they had to call someone else in and I ended up paying a second Gap cost for that doctor.

In saying all of those things, I am glad that I did have the tummy tuck. I wish that it had been a better result and I wish that I was not having to have another revision surgery in the future but “wish in one hand, spit in the other” as my Nan used to say. I wanted to include some pictures so that you can see how my skin is now. It is confronting and it is why I need more removed but hey thats life. I lived, I get to enjoy my life with my family and that makes it all worthwhile.

This is me – prior to the tummy tuck
3 months ago. I am 4 kilos lighter now

Love Tash x

Kindness

Today was hard. My blood sugar was low right from my first waking moment. I donโ€™t enjoy checking it, I hate the smell of blood. It reminds me of my time in the ICU last year. I am reminded of blood transfusions and life saving surgery in the middle of the night. I can feel my pulse quicken and I know itโ€™s PTSD. So I just sit still and I try to push the panic down. I havenโ€™t actually found the words to say that out loud to anyone in my family yet. I know it means Iโ€™m a little bit broken so I just continue on with the test. 3.8 great ๐Ÿ˜” my blood sugar will fall from there when I drink my coffee ….. it will fall when I eat or drink anything so the medication will need to do its job this morning.

As is his custom, Steve brought a coffee and my bariatric multivitamins in to our room at around 6:30 am and I sat – trying not to feel frightened by the appearance of my favourite beverage. My endocrinologist has explained a couple of medical conditions to me – we are treating one and it is everyoneโ€™s hope that I am going to quickly respond. So I drank my coffee. I think I do feel better than I was feeling so we are taking that as a positive sign. Taking so many tablets each day is a very strange and foreign concept for me and I feel the symptoms of hypo number 1 for the day coming on at 8:00am. I know what the feeling is now – I thought it was all just in my imagination, a lack of sleep, stress or a combination of all of those things. I was wrong – All along it was blood sugar. It has even had me casting my mind back to last year – wondering if that is really when all of this started โ€ฆ I think it probably was.

I seem to have muddled my way through the morning. Helping the kids when they need me, working and then having my doctors appointment. My GP, I am fairly certain, is some kind of saint. He always listens to me with compassion and totally agrees with my specialist that I must not be driving while my blood sugar is still prone to such terrible lows. This isnโ€™t what I wanted to hear but I know it is the safe and responsible thing. This also means that we need another driver in the family pronto. Dr. Mendes has written a note to that effect. Now we just have to hope that Vic Roads will give Aramis the medical exemption that he needs to get his Pโ€™s immediately so that my inability to drive doesnโ€™t affect everyone so terribly.

After that I was feeling fairly low, sad, like a burden and useless. These are feelings that I am not a stranger to. They were my constant companions when I was big. I hate it when they reappear now that I am meant to be living my very best life …. then there was a knock on my front door and a delivery from a lady that I have met via a Facebook page that I help to run. We are nudging 36 thousand members and I truly believe that they are the most inspiring humans I have ever had the privilege to know. Serving the weight loss surgery community is such a passion in my life and I do it because I love watching peopleโ€™s lives transform. Anyway … the postie handed me the package and when I opened it I was just so touched that someone thought of me. I was even more blown away by the timing of the delivery.

Someoneโ€™s kindness changed my whole day. It reminded me of the goodness of people. ๐Ÿ’ž

The Highs and the Lows

I am slowly coming to terms with my new life. 4.7 is my Blood Sugar Reading this morning. I am not allowed to drive if it is under 5 so that sucks! Hopefully throughout the day I will have a period of time that affords me the opportunity to be able to go and do some essentials at the grocery store. Our son has tried applying for an exemption to get his license (he has been eligible since April but covid means that there is no license tests unless you fall into exceptional circumstances) But the department of transport have knocked back his application on the basis that him driving is not essential – I would say that getting the immunocompromised person with a tendency to become unconscious from hypos should be essential but apparently not. So there is quite a lot of stress around how things are going to look going forward for me and for us. I have an appointment with my GP this morning to discuss things so we will see where things go from there.

The trouble with our hearts

If you can relate to ๐Ÿ‘†๐Ÿป raise your hand!! I see you there nodding. Gosh if I was to just be led around by my heart I would simply collect fifty thousand floral tea cups, only eat chocolate and never drink anything but coffee or gin. My wardrobe would be 10000 offensive t shirts, all the long boots and ripped skinny jeans and I would probably shave my head just to see how it would look ๐Ÿคฃ !!

Dr. Lan Lan

What a true legend. I was so nervous ahead of my appointment today but I really need not have been. Dr. Lan Lan was absolutely wonderful and such a great fit for me. She was kind, informative, listened to me and I instantly felt so at ease. I am glad that my Weight Loss Surgeon knows me as well as he does and that he referred me to her. We went over everything and she came up with a plan. I have a greatly increased medicine regime to follow, new meal schedule and I have a scary new kit that the family has to learn to use in case I am found unconscious again. Probably the most upsetting part of this is that I have to test my sugar far more often and I am not allowed to drive if my blood sugar is under a certain level. Of course this is the safe and responsible thing and I am 100% in agreement with it but I do worry about how that may look in terms of disruption to our lives. My BSL has only been at a level that I would be able to drive one time in the last 2 weeks that I have been testing it.

To be honest – generally I feel a little bit overwhelmed by it all and I expect that is quite normal. We decided to do this new plan for 4 weeks and then I have another appointment with Dr. L. Hopefully we are not going to need to add in another medication or further tests but if needed she said she will fit me in as soon as possible if things do not calm down. The other medication that she wants to put me on would mean that I would have to be testing my blood pressure all the time as well – I want to avoid that if possible. So I am hoping that things will calm all the way down with the increased meds and I can start having a somewhat normal life again.

My very own stabby stick :/

Endocrinologist

Friday feels like it is looming large for me. It is a big day in my family for a few reasons but for me personally it is endocrinologist day. I am nervous. Mostly because I don’t want there to be something happening with my health but there is. Tonight we filled out the extensive amount of paper work that has to be filled in ahead of the appointment and I noticed that a squirmy feeling has started in the pit of my stomach. I always have that gnawing, unsettled feeling when I am meeting new specialists. Thankfully this is a referral from a well respected surgeon and I have a great deal of faith in his choice. When attending specialists appointments as a big person I experienced a lot of judgement. All of the many comments about my weight hit home and were taken to heart to the point that I still feel nervous even now.

Obviously my weight is not the issue here – well it is and it isn’t. The remedy for the excess weight (my weight loss surgery) may have been the trigger for whatever it is that is happening in my body at the moment – although we won’t really know that until more information is gathered or it could be stress that has triggered this. Whatever it may be – I am over it all. I have been on the new medication for a week and I am having glimpses of feeling okay so I am hopeful that we are on the right track. I still feel pretty crappy most days, but half an hour here and there without terrible symptoms feels like a blessing to me.

I will update when I know more. Much love x