I think I always had a bit of angst with my body. Things that happened to me when I was a child caused me to believe that my body wasn’t really mine and that I had little control over it. From that broken place a really poor view of myself and my body grew. It has taken me a long long time to feel comfortable to talk about this. Even this week I have been asking myself questions about some of the beliefs that I grew up with around , victim blaming and other issues that I can now see were at the heart of poor self esteem.
I didn’t believe I was incredible, strong or unique. I felt disempowered and then other things took place in my life that reinforced that to me. I am truly grieved that it took me the best part of 40 years to start to love myself and my body.
For a while I did wonder about weight loss and body positivity. My journey towards loving my body had begun prior to weight loss surgery and my health had been in a rapid decline due to my size. As part of loving my body and myself I decided that if I was going to live, I simply had to try to lose some of the weight that was beginning to cause other life threatening medical conditions!
For me, I did not have a goal in mind, I didn’t have a size in mind. All I had was a hope of living past the age of 45. So I had the surgery. The entire process has been about wellness, kindness and lovingly accepting myself at all of the different stages of this journey.
Now I am still covered in damaged skin and my body is just that – mine. I love it as it was, and as it is today. How I look is no one else’s concern and likewise the way others look is never for me to make assumptions or judgements about!
Even the skin removal was a matter of health for me. Carrying all of that around was not going to be good for me as I aged and it was very heavy and gave me regular infections. Now I am left with scars and I am totally okay with that 😌
I guess what I am saying is that I feel like I have come a long way in accepting myself as I am and also understanding that this is always going to be a process, with new chapters being written. I am thankful for that. I am in love with the life and the process of finding out what is around the next corner and walking that walk out with love and kindness – both to myself and to others.
We are approaching the 2 year mark! On the 18th of June, it will be 2 years since I had RNY – Gastric Bypass. It has been a strange time. The changing, the growing, the turning into a different version of me. Dealing with the demons in my past and letting go of things and people that I didn’t want to let go of. In short – life is very different. But different, I am learning, can be a gift – it all depends how you look at it. The wonderful thing about choice is that we get the chance to move ourselves from where we are and position ourselves to have every possible chance to make life long changes.
2 years ago, wow, there is absolutely no way that I imagined that I would be where I am at right now. Getting to be an Australian size 4-6 was NEVER ever part of my plan. I had thought that it would be wonderful to be perhaps a size 12-14 if possible. I have enjoyed so many wonderful and unexpected blessings along the way to being a healthier me. Over the last 7 months I have noticed marked changes. Those who know me best can attest to this also. I have tried to put my finger on what triggered it. I have tried to work and reason it out, mostly without success – until I was chatting with one of a hand full of people that I consider to be part of my inner circle. That circle has 6 people in it. They are the people that I trust unquestioningly and that I know, like I know that I know that I know, love me, without judgement and that I talk to nearly on a daily basis. Here is what has come from our talk.
I realised that I have not allowed myself to process AT ALL, the fact that I was on deaths door when I had my plastic surgery last year. I had a radical tummy tuck with mons lift and muscle repair and a breast lift, reduction and fat grafting. Now I know that we can’t dwell on things because that isn’t healthy, but I am damaged by what happened to me and not dealing with that trauma isn’t healthy either. I need to talk about it so here goes.
I guess I knew it, like……… I knew that I was very very sick. But in truth I didn’t want to admit how close I came to not being here anymore. I didn’t want to have to think about any of it!!! I tried to avoid it, however I can now see that it has changed me in the most profound ways. When I was lying in the ICU, surrounded by doctors trying to get lines in to me and keep my oxygen levels from dipping any lower than they already were, they were asking me “Who should we call for you, do you understand what is happening, you are very very calm, are you sure you understand what is happening”. I am scary calm under pressure. When I was young this was NOT the case. But years change people and I don’t get loud or dramatic now. I go stone cold ….. but this wasn’t that – I was awake to what was happening!
In that moment did I understand what was going on? Yes of course I did. I was fully informed of my risks prior to my surgery. I knew that the massive blood vessels that used to feed my fat had not shrunk and that I had an increased risk of bleeding because of it. I knew that I had internal bleeding. I knew that they had to stabilise me before they moved me to the icu and I knew that the nurse looking after me stayed well past the end of her shift to hold my hand until they moved me. She had caught my head the second time I fainted and when I woke, lying in a crumpled mess of blood and my own urine she was still holding me. (Fun fact, when you pass out, if you need to pee …. well you just do.)She also carefully cut my blood and pee soaked night gown off me – it was too far gone to be kept. She reassured me that she would stay with me until ICU had me and she did. So I knew from those things that it wasn’t good. I have had a lot of surgery, been in hospitals a lot and I knew this was not a “usual” thing. Nurses are incredible people, they see that type of stuff on a daily basis and remain caring and thorough in their care. But she was going far beyond normal.
After the ICU stint and additional surgery was over, I eventually came back to the ward days later and found that my story had preceded me. One of the nurses that had been responsible for my care on the day it all happened, came, found me, hugged me and told me she was so glad that I was alright. I remembered her on sight and called her by name. She said “oh you remember!” I said “Yes, the doctor told me to focus on your faces and not let myself float off!” So that is what I did. There was a long period of time where they couldn’t get my blood pressure to read or find a pulse. That was not great. This was during the time when they were trying to stabilise me. I kept wanting to shut my eyes and sleep but they told me it wouldn’t be sleep if I did that so I had to stay awake.
I knew what that meant. I fought to not let myself float off and tried so very hard to stay with them. Loud shoutings of my name brought me round time and time again. Multiple failures to locate veins because my body didn’t want to cooperate didn’t even bother me, I was being jabbed with needles and I didn’t care. I was fading away and I knew I was. In that moment I made some decisions. I did decide that if I woke up after the emergency surgery I needed to stop the internal bleeding, I was not going to live my life afraid of what people would think of me anymore. I wasn’t going to wear any type of face to please others and that I was going to be kind and assume the best of people no matter what.
So did I understand what was happening? Yes, I absolutely knew and I told the very lovely doctor that yes I understood, and as she held my hand she made no promises – which I appreciated! I loved the fact that she didn’t say to me “oh don’t even worry, you will be fine!” Because I was bleeding out on the inside and I wasn’t fine! I like real and value it when people don’t bullshit me.
No one of my contacts that the intensivist called were answering – it was 1 am so naturally people were asleep, but they were anxious to let someone know that I was not okay. In that moment my mind was drawn to the person that I knew would not answer me and as tears rolled down my face and my heart broke a little bit more than it had before, I knew who would answer me, I called my Dad. When I was a kid and was hit by a car he knew something was the matter and was frantically trying to get info before anyone knew what had happened. The phone rang once and he answered with “hello baby are you okay!” The intensivist was holding the phone to my ear as I said “no Dad I’m not, please keep calling Steve, try to wake someone up. They are taking me back to theatre, I love you Dad I have to go” and with that I ended the call. The doctor finally managed to get my Aramis to answer and he spoke to the doctor and went and got his dad. Steve ran into the ICU as I was being wheeled through the doors to go to theatre. Do they call families in to the hospital at 1:00 am very often? Well I already know the answer to that. They don’t. They had told me that I may be kept sedated – it would depend how things went. I don’t really remember waking up but I know it was hours later and I know that Steve was there all night waiting for me. Then he had to go, after sitting up all night waiting for news of me, to get the boys and drive them to Melbourne to the airport to catch their flights.
When I saw Steve’s face at around 11am that day the look of exhaustion and concern was so evident to me. He had arrived back from the airport to sit beside my bed in the ICU. I just wanted to cry for him. I know what it is like to sit in one of those rooms watching machines and listening for alarms that were going off very frequently. No family nearby to help him and carrying the weight of everything on his shoulders. Thankfully my Dad made provisions to take time off work and flew from the Gold Coast to Geelong to be with Steve and I. Our boys were being loved on by family in QLD and I got to rest, heal and think about all of the ways I would rewrite my story. I was going to really live! No more bench sitting! And most of all, how I would stop pulling my punches. So in that spirit let me tell you that the skin removal and tummy tuck surgery has changed my life and it was worth it BUT it was really fricken hard and many tears were shed over the process of my recovery! I didn’t know I could cry so much or that I would emerge from this so changed.
I am excited for the next chapter of my story. I am looking forward to how the rest of 2020 will unfold. Let’s face it – the first part has been less than ideal but I am getting ready for a comeback story! I am dreaming of days with family and friends, living with intention and purpose, being kinder and more open, taking less and giving more. Xx
Let’s talk about post WLS boobies for a minute. In my pre WLS life I sure didn’t take a lot of pics of my chest. It was gigantic, I breastfed 5 kids and they were just the big ole saggy fun bags! Heavy as lead and because of their sheer weight I lived with migraines, sore shoulders and a permanently sore neck and upper back. After my bypass the first thing to vanish was my boobs. They shrunk smaller and smaller at a really rapid rate. In the end, after 97 kilos and I parted ways, I literally had totally empty skin with a nipple attached to the end. My pec muscles were clearly visible and my excess skin flap that was once a breast, hung underneath it. It was depressing.
I had a breast lift, breast reduction and fat grafting in September 2019. Unfortunately my body has eaten 100% of the fat that was grafted and I require additional surgery to rectify a shocking amount of side boob. It would be really easy to feel upset about how my breasts look now I guess (No I’m not posting a current picture of them) but to be honest I don’t care. If I was younger, if I was interesting in what someone else thought of my body then I guess I may care but the fact is, even though I am never going to have perfect boobs – they no longer give me migraines from their weight, they don’t flap when I exercise, I can run for the first time since I was 9 years old and I am not in pain anymore. In a push up bra I look fabulous and out of my bra my nipples don’t point down, so I’m happy. Am I settling? Hmmm I guess perhaps some would say that but I don’t want implants so I am content with what I have. My plastic surgeon wants to put implants in and laughed at me when I said I felt I was too old to have the worry for that. But hey it’s a personal choice and one that I am not comfortable with.
I would NEVER discourage any woman from pursuing her dream rack …. and as long as it’s her dream it’s worth it! I will never do anything to my body because someone else thinks I should. No opinion from anyone else will ever factor in to my decisions because they don’t have to live with the changes – I do. The biggest change that I have had is the one that I did worry about prior to my reduction and lift. My nipples don’t work like they used to. I have one that is ULTRA sensitive now. What I once enjoyed in terms of nipple stimulation in my intimate life now causes excruciating pain. Only one side is like that – it’s disappointing but I knew it was a possibility. If I had taken that risk because of someone else’s opinion or wants then I would probably now feel as resentful AF but I don’t because I did this for me and me alone.
Steve (husband of nearly 25 years and let’s be honest and say that things have been hard for a while between us) believes that it is my body and my choice – I feel like that for him too. When we spoke of breast implants he had no opinion other than it is my body and my choice. The thing I have learned through my WLS journey is that all of the changes don’t necessarily make us happy unless we can learn to really love who we are on the inside. The work we do on that is the most important work of all.
Well that was a big title! What do you mean that no one is joining in my overflowing excitement that I am no longer plumpy me!?! All I can think when I say the word ‘Plumpy’ is of Moto Moto from a kids movie that I absolutely adore. I’ll try find a clip so you can see what I mean.
Annnnnnyway I am not sure what I was expecting to happen when I reached my goal. I think I was probably feeling like I would suddenly self actualise, all would be well in my universe, all of lifes bigger questions would be answered and BANG, just like that, things that had sucked would no longer be sucky and I would live in a state of perpetual bliss. WRONG. This sounds extreme and it is, BUT the bones of it are true. Numbers don’t fix things, smaller numbers on the scales may fix some health problems and give you a longer life but they will not remedy any inherent misery that you happen to be experiencing unless you actually work on those things.
My Nan was one of the most influential people in my life for the years that I was fortunate enough to have her. She was a bigger person for most of her life, and along with her bigger size, came her great big personality, her kind, generous heart, wicked baking skills and her stories. It is safe to say that I adored her – I always will. One day she was in considerable pain with her tummy apron. Her skin was excoriated, bleeding and causing her so much discomfort. I asked her if she would consider going to the doctor and she said “for him to tell me that I need to lose weight again! No thank you, I could go in there with my head dangling by a thread and that doctor would tell me that it would be fixed if I lost weight”. Guess what, Nan was totally correct about that attitude AND she was also correct that ole mate the doctor, would have told her to lose weight and her rash would go away because her apron would shrink. I know this because I saw the same doctor, for the same thing and that is what he told me! I can emphatically call bullshit on that notion!!! In losing all of the weight that I have lost I did not lose the tummy apron and the skin rashes and tearing only became worse not better! The only thing that worked for me and would have worked for my Nan, is the unceremonious removal of the offending apron. I didn’t really expect that my reward for all of my hard work and weight loss was going to be a body that resembled ET. Those smaller numbers on the scale were meant to fix everything right?
I also didn’t expect to find it so different to find my way in the world. I spent so much of my life obese, that I was comfortable with my role as an often disregarded, second class human. I actually didn’t want to believe that I was treated differently to anyone else. With that denial of the obvious firmly in place, I decided that I wanted a change! So in 2016, tired of working for myself, I decided that I was going to go in a different direction. Over a period of 2 years from 2016-2018, big me applied for in excess of 90 jobs and went for MANY interviews. But guess what, there was always someone better suited to the role. One lot of feedback I received from the recruiter was “the employer would love to stay in touch with you and said you are just the kind of person that would be in her friend group!” 🤔 What even is that? I am never opposed to making new friends but I went for a job interview. Fast forward 8 months – because I was tired of continual rejections, I went for no more job interviews until January of 2019. Imagine my shock 😒 when I was offered two jobs in one day from the first two interviews that I went for post weight loss surgery. I WAS STUNNED! Am I suddenly a more acceptable human being? Apparently I am. I was filled with rage. I know that rage is a strong term, but it is befitting the storm of emotions that I felt. I was NO DIFFERENT, still the same person – except that I was 50 kilos lighter at that stage.
That was a low point for me. It should have been a wonderful high point right? But it wasn’t – As the kilos continued to come off I realised that living at goal weight was something that I was spectacularly unprepared for. I believed in myself, I was losing weight for the right reasons and yet I was frightened of all of the changes that were happening. It is odd to go out and be hidden in plain sight. I don’t look like I did so I can accept that people do not recognise me. But it takes time to form a new image on the inside of yourself of who you are and where you fit in the world. These are my hot tips for living at goal weight. They are my must do’s and they have given me so much courage to take the road ahead.
Here is my LIST OF GOAL WEIGHT MUST DO’S
Celebrate yourself and what you have achieved. Most people won’t truly get it – they may be happy for you, some will be sick of hearing about it, some will be downright jealous, some will not see what the big deal is – all legitimate and valid points of view so celebrate yourself!
Make friends with your flappy bits. If you have lost a lot of weight then you are gonna need to make friends with your excess skin. I am friends with mine. Sure if I had unlimited spare dollars I would go and get a few other things sorted but right now I’m okay with me. My arms are still waving bye bye to people three minutes after I stop waving and that’s okay!
Get regular check ups from your GP – its so worth seeing the way that our body heals itself when it is given what it needs to do so. One of the most gratifying parts of this life change for me is the fact that I no longer have high blood pressure and I am no longer pre-diabetic. Mwahaaahahaaa take that genetic pre-disposition!!!
Learn that there are some jealous mofo’s out there in the world. Not everyone will be happy for you. In fact, there will be people who will give you the stink eye at every opportunity. Thats okay, all that squinting will make them wrinkly AF. On this matter I believe that Jane Austen said it best via Elizabeth Bennett when she penned this phrase “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.” In other words – there opinion doesn’t matter – you just do you and let them be a squinty mess – who knows, you may even inspire them!
Keep track of your eating and your weight. That doesn’t mean be obsessive. That doesn’t mean go and jump on the scales 3 times a day. That means check yourself that you are staying on track. Enjoy good, nourishing food and drink. I stay within my calorie guidelines on a daily basis and when I do go over I do so because I am choosing to do so. Goal weight does not mean that we are dieting forever. It means that I am mindful of what I eat so that I stay within a 3 kilo tolerance of my goal.
Living at goal weight means that I am no longer restricted like I once was in terms of my physical activity so for me it means getting out and moving my kick arse body a whole lot more than I used to. Who knows I may even do a pole class soon 😜
Talk to your psychologist, see what I did there – I made an assumption that you have one because massive weight loss = massive mental shift and that needs support. It requires more support than I could give to myself or than my usual support system could give to me. Our mental health should not be an after thought.
Have fun. Don’t sit back and find another excuse to not live your life. I try to do something that scares me every single week. Its amazing what cultivating a culture of breakthrough will do in your life.
Today I met with my plastic surgeons nurse. I love going in and having chats with Natalie. She is just genuinely a good human being. She has been so honest with me from the start. She did not blow smoke up my arse when I said that I thought I was going to need a revision surgery because of the excess skin. She has been supportive of me from the first time that I met her and I am grateful for that.
When you go to plastic surgery follow up appointments it is an odd thing to start with. I have taken my clothes off in front of this woman so many times now that I truly think nothing of it anymore. This morning, as I stood semi nude again, we were able to see that the seroma I had seems to be resolving or resolved, as the big bump that I had on my right hand side over the scar has significantly dissipated. My incisions have healed beautifully and basically I can get back to life. I wish that my energy levels were better but hey things are what they are and we just have to work with what we have, so I am.
The other thing that was wonderful about today, is that Natalie gave me the photos of my surgery! They are graphic but they have helped me to come to terms with what has happened to me. I can see why my surgeons thought that they had taken enough skin. Those photos have gone a long way to restoring my trust and confidence which is a very good thing.
Hey ho gorgeous folks – it’s been a hard weekend here. We have had a sick kid, hospital time and I continue to battle along with some issues that I have been having. I am tried and I feel emotional but guess what – I can choose how I am going to finish off this weekend. I can opt to allow myself to fall into despair and wallow here for a bit or I can GET UP and decide that I’m gonna cheer for myself today!
We can be problem orientated or we can become solution focused, we can look for the silver lining and choose to keep ourselves moving forward. Some days are hard and there is no two ways about that. Some days we wonder how the fuck we are gonna manage tomorrow and we feel a bit overwhelmed because eating is harder or easier than we were expecting. Honestly there is something to be said for proactively CHEERING for yourself on days like that!! I refuse to stay down today!!
So I am looking at this side by side pic and thinking – WOW me in the blue was 45 kilos lighter than my starting weight and I was so happy – me today looks a whole lot different again and both these pictures make me smile!! Yay little me!! You did it girl, you did it xx cheer for you today, pat yourself on the back or pull yourself up and get ready to go again because you are worth it and friends don’t let other friends wallow – Love Tash
This morning I woke up thinking about all the things that I have found on this little walk I have taken towards health. Most of the things that mean the most to me now, I wasn’t even looking for, and I certainly didn’t expect to find. I was reading something today – a story I have read a lot of times before and I was struck by the fact that the Hero in the story, the person who did not give up, even in the face of horrific circumstances, was actually motivated to a very large extent, by anxiety. Suddenly I could relate to this story in a whole new way! I had one of those light bulb moments because I saw myself in the story – I have viewed much of my life through the anxiety filter also.
I could tell you lots of tales about all of the reasons why I ate. I have a good many sad and truly devastating things that have gone on in my life. No one that knows my past hurts and pains would think the worse of me for becoming a very large person. Except that fact that I refuse to allow myself to be the product of my hurts! All of those stories begin with the actions of others – but guess what – others don’t live my life, I do. Others didn’t open my mouth and put the food in it, I did. Others don’t determine the trajectory of my life, I determine that. It’s only really in the last few months that I have started to understand the very great power that we give “others” when anxiety runs unchecked.
My life was a product of continually making choices that empowered my dysfunctional coping strategies. Anxiety was and is a horrible task master and my “go to” response was EAT!! I, by no means profess to have mastered this old enemy of mine, however, I am working on it because I refuse to allow myself to be a watered down version of what I could be. I don’t want to hold myself back because of fear or disqualify myself before I even start. What would we dream for ourselves if we truly believed we were worthy and deserving? I have asked myself this over and over in my grateful moments and oh how that story has changed over the last 2 years.
When anxiety started to lose its grip on me I booked in with an incredible surgeon. I also started to make small changes in my daily life to give myself room to grow and change. I am that proverbial “old dog” and I needed to learn new tricks! The first thing that I did, and still do now, is practice being grateful. Every day I used to wake up thinking of food and how I would fill the empty feeling in my heart that day with whatever I was planning to eat. Now, I wake up and I don’t move until I remind myself of at least 10 things I am grateful for. Repetitively practicing this caused a shift to happen in my thinking and by the time I was about 8 weeks post op, I realised that I had other things in my life besides food.
From when I booked in with my surgeon until my op, I had 6 months. For 6 months I had no idea that arguing with myself in my bed every morning and being grateful – not looking at recipes and planning menus, feeling anxious and out of control, was going to change my whole outlook on life. Learning to feed my anxiety monkey a banana has been a revelation! I found a tiny little answer in my gratefulness exercises. I hope you celebrate your little answers too xx
Today I am feeling better than I thought I would be. Yes I am sore still but that soreness is becoming less and less. There is some pressure in the middle of my tummy that I am wondering about? Perhaps a seroma or perhaps something else. Anyway I am going to mention it to the nurse when I see them today.
All of my positive vibes and happy feelings seem to be pouring into healing at the moment and I am tending to find it a little bit of a challenge to write to you all. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I don’t just want to spew forth a whole jumble of unhelpful paragraphs that show the extent to which I have been affected by this surgery. I have however, been very affected.
I find myself jolting awake in the middle of the night with that feeling like I need to fight away the feeling of floating off. I find myself seeing my blood soaked nighty in the bin and the bin overflowing with other blood soaked items. Their presence in the bin and in my room made my experience all the more real. Perhaps I didn’t really pass out in the hospital, perhaps I didn’t really fall to the floor, perhaps my blood wasn’t really everywhere and perhaps my nightgown wasn’t really a blood soaked mess that couldn’t be saved? But unfortunately that is exactly what it was. I try not to let my mind repeat these things on a loop but it is and interrupting that loop is hard. I do it, daily I force myself to think about the wonderful things, but my brain keeps going back there, trying to make sense of it and forcing me to relive it.
I guess it is safe to say that my PTSD has come back again. We met before, a long time ago. I don’t talk about that time in my life but suffice it to say that I walked through it changed profoundly, and forever. I didn’t want to define myself in that way again but at the moment it fits. At the moment I have to avoid stressful situations, at the moment I have to focus on happy things. At the moment I can’t watch the news. At the moment some questions trigger really black thoughts and I know that I am fighting much harder than I should be to keep my mind positive. At the moment I guess I am fragile. I hate admitting that but it is the honest truth of the matter. So I am doing the be kind to myself thing.
I will write more after my appointment with the nurse this afternoon.