Transformation Tuesday

I don’t think I will ever comprehend not being thrilled for others when they are happy in themselves and have achieved something transformative in their lives! I am so fortunate to meet incredible people on a daily basis. Women and men that have decided their lives simply had to change, so they have made that happen. When you are around that kind of motivation day in and day out, it becomes infectious! I love talking about hopes and dreams with people! I love watching passion and purpose come alive in someone because I remember how it felt when it came alive in me!!

One of my favourite parts of each week is Tuesday! In the weight loss surgery community in Australia because it is affectionately known as Transformation day or Transformation Tuesday and what a wonderful thing to do!! Who doesn’t love a good transformation. I know I do!! It is just a fact that in life we really must learn to clap for ourselves!!!

One of the things that quickly became apparent to me after my weight loss surgery is that not everyone will cheer for us. Some people will watch from the sidelines and give you the once over every now and again, some will watch just waiting to see what happens and if you actually make it, some may even try to actively discourage you under the guise of “I’m just so concerned for you” and still others may just be blatantly opposed. The best and most valuable lesson that I think I have learned in life is that it IS NOT the voice of every external thing that matters! It is my response to those voices and my ability to advocate for myself, know who I am, what I want and deserve in life! It isn’t up to other people to give me those things. They aren’t found externally – self worth and self belief is something that bubbled up inside me when I eventually found the courage to drown out other voices!! When I looked at myself 4 years ago trying to wear a graduation robe that didn’t fit me, I saw a woman so filled with potential but also with so much frustration! It was exactly what I needed to see in that moment and that woman looking back at me in the mirror had achieved something on her own, with no help from anyone and right there I started to imagine that if I could study, be a mum and work full time then SURELY I could lose weight.

It was a painful road to be standing here!! The sacrifices have been steep! I am thankful for the lessons, for the learning, for the highs and I am also thankful for the lows. The painful times don’t cause me to self destruct anymore!! I care about my health and my life too much for that! But I will, without hesitation, question or even a parting glance, remove from my life, people who try to make me feel bad about myself or who are destructive to the self worth of those I love.

One of the keys I have found is in community. I have learned so much from some really fabulous people. It is in relationships with like minded people, people that have gone further than we have. I am continually inspired by some phenomenal human beings that have lost more weight than me, who do life beautifully and who practice the same types of behaviours that so value!! My friend surround yourself with a cheer squad, surround yourself with those who will celebrate you, love you for who you are and will be there for you every step of the way! People who walk beside us are precious!!

These days I have learned I can wish people well but that doesn’t mean they are up in my circle! I hope that the people who have tried to bring me down, one day see how toxic their behaviour was but it’s not my job or responsibility to do anything about that! It’s not even my business what they think of me just like it’s not their business what my opinion is of them!i have finally learned that I must choose my own mental health and wellness over the comfort of someone who does not have my best interests at heart. You deserve the best and so do I so let’s practice kindness to ourselves and celebrate ourselves each step of the way!

When Fears Whisper in your Ear

Hands up if you know what it is like to feel fear? That visceral, consuming, blood gone from your extremities, hyperventilating kind of fear that leaves you wanting to run – but you can’t run because there is no where to go to escape it.

Well that happened to me on Saturday afternoon. My plastic surgery in September 2019 was filled with problems. (Read back in my blog for info) Well my baby sister had her Tummy tuck last week – and we had just picked my mother up from the airport for a visit – the first time since pre covid times, when the phone rang.

Mum went outside to take the call as we were preparing for my sons 19th birthday party, and it was quite rowdy in the kitchen. When mum walked back into the room I knew that something was wrong and she told me what had happened and that my sister was not okay. I felt that fear – I had spoken with my baby sis right before her surgery and told her not to go towards the light – I guess I was trying to use humour as a coping mechanism to mask my concerns BUT I also had a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. Anyway as mum was talking to me I tuned out, it felt like she was speaking to me in slow motion and I felt everything about my experience come flooding back.

Hours later my sis was out of surgery again and they had found the source of her bleeding but she remains weakened and will have a longer recovery ahead now. Aaaaaaaand I am meant to have surgery myself in 31 days – and I’m just not sure how I feel about it!

Kindness

Today was hard. My blood sugar was low right from my first waking moment. I don’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 it’s PTSD. So I just sit still and I try to push the panic down. I haven’t actually found the words to say that out loud to anyone in my family yet. I know it means I’m a little bit broken so I just continue on with the test. 3.8 great 😔 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 everyone’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 … 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 isn’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 P’s immediately so that my inability to drive doesn’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 people’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.

Someone’s kindness changed my whole day. It reminded me of the goodness of people. 💞

The letter

I wrote myself a letter before my surgery. I didn’t expect that I would ever share it here but I am doing so in the hope that it may help someone to decide to take the chance and have the surgery. I never wanted to let myself forget why I have made the choices I have made. When I found this last night I ugly cried. So on Thankful Thursday I can’t even begin to explain how thankful I am for the life I have now 💞

June 16th 2018

Dear Tash,

I hope that you never forget the reason that you are about to have weight loss surgery. I know that you are absolutely terrified right now. Knowing you, you won’t forget tonight, but just in case your brain shrinks along with your body – I don’t want you to forget! You are sitting awkwardly at the dining table writing yourself this missive. You know you would usually sit in bed and do this but you can’t right now because there are two kids asleep in your room and you don’t want anyone to hear you crying. You are bawling because of all of the lost years that you can never get back. Your precious girl has moved out and you can’t get back the years with her but you still have a chance to be the mother that you always wanted to be to your boys. Tash please don’t just remember being afraid, remember why you are doing this. Be driven to become the healthiest version of you that you can possibly be. Remember that in amongst all of the fear you feel right now, it’s really fucking hard to reach the table!! Your belly is pressed hard up against it and your little T-Rex arms can hardly reach. You don’t want to live your life like this!

You know that you have to do this. Even though it terrifies you in every single way. You want so much more from life than what you have had. You don’t want to struggle to tie your own shoes or wipe your own arse! You want to be the mum that can run and play with your kids. You want to be able to go on adventures with them. You don’t ever want to hear another kid tease them because you are the “fat mum” ever again. You want a better job, you know you can do more but right now people only see your size. You want to be a better wife and have a better relationship with Steve. You want to be able to give yourself to him totally without always holding back because you feel frightened that one day he will decide that he can’t deal with your self loathing and your binge eating anymore.

But then there are the things that you want just for yourself. You want to be able to wear something that isn’t black. You want to wear pretty dresses and clothes that make you smile. You want to be able to stand to sit at the hair dresser rather than hating your reflection so much that you never go. You want to walk into a cafe and not worry about if the chairs are strong enough to accomodate you. You want to walk into country road and buy straight off the rack. You want to feel healthy and not like you are eating yourself into an early grave. Don’t give up. You want to sing again, you want to dance again. Keep going. Please don’t stop because you were made for more than what you have had up until now. This is all I can do for you. I can give you this chance and it is up to you what you do with it. Please write some wonderful chapters.

The Cost

Let’s talk for a minute about the Cost of Bariatric Surgery. Many of us pay quite a sum just to have our surgery in the first place. But the costs that are ongoing are something that we don’t really talk about a lot. That’s not to say that WLS isn’t one of the best descisions I have ever made because it is!! But these are things I didn’t think of beforehand. Some of the things that I have replaced because of weight loss surgery include the following.

  1. My mattress – I was in pain from lying in my “big me” sized mattress hole.
  2. All my shoes – I am now 2 sizes smaller
  3. All of my underwear 4 times over as I found out the hard way one can’t wear undies that are too big and not risk them falling off in public – yep it really happened 🤦🏻‍♀️
  4. My car seat – this is a weird one and I upgraded my car because it needed an upgrade anyway BUT the drivers seat was broken because of my bum and my weight.
  5. My lounge suite because I broke it 😔
  6. My dining chair – I am going to have to replace the set but am making do for now.
  7. My entire wardrobe because going from a size 24/26 to a size 4/6 means that nothing from bigger me fits me anymore.
  8. My supplements and vitamins ongoing but for me the cost of my weekly food and vitamins and supplements is still less than what I used to spend per week on my food (I ate a lot).
  9. Skin removal surgery – this shot of me there with the excess skin is current. That is after my radical tummy tuck – obviously I require revision surgery because my surgeon thought that a radical tummy tuck would be enough but it wasn’t. When you have as much excess skin as me it is unpredictable how it will respond.
  10. New glasses coz the old ones fall off my face 😳
This is me now

As for the plastics, I don’t disclose how much my surgery cost, but the following is a rough guide per area of the body and what you might expect to pay (after private health insurance and Medicare covers the hospital costs and a small payment to the surgeon and the gas doctor) THESE ARE AUSTRALIAN PRICES
$1k-$7k is considered low cost.
$7k-$11k is mid range.
$12k and over is high range.
That is the gap payment as plastic surgeons will charge you a gap fee even if skin removal is deemed medically necessary. The gaps vary from surgeon to surgeon. My recommendation is ONLY USE a PLASTIC SURGEON. If you have private health insurance are in NSW or don’t mind traveling, google ‘The Access Program’ if you want a lower cost option.

Would I do it again? Heck yes! Over and over!! I have a life now and I am so grateful for it.

Me yesterday and me a lifetime ago
My dangly skin before I had it chopped off

ET and I are mates 😉

Snippets of my why

The lulling tattoo of the waves relentlessly pounding onto the moss-slickened rocks far below her little sheltered nook at the edge of the cliff face, always quietened her heart. It was peaceful in a way that nothing else was, to gaze out over the shimmery, expanse of blue, breathe in deeply and allow herself to feel the sense of perspective wash over her anew. It may feel like the world was collapsing, like her support system was broken, beyond her ability to mend it and her sense of self loathing may have been totally all encompassing at times. But here, in these moments she feel her pains melt away.

That little sea-savaged place had become her most favourite place in the world. It was a place to help her forget and forget she did. He helped her with forgetting. She had a thing for blondes, it started years and years earlier, the only problem was that she was his secret. What she wanted the most, needed the most, was to find a way to like herself, to see some kind of value or worth when she looked at her own reflection and for a few stolen moments she felt like she had value because he wanted her.

When it became that way between them, she wasn’t quite sure. She was messed up with her past hurts and pain and so was he. Two broken people trying to forget and losing themselves in each other. It’s not an unfamiliar narrative is it? All she wanted to do was feel like she was loveable. The beliefs that she had relied on to ground her had slipped through her fingers, and seemed to be lost to her. She felt as though those beliefs hinged on her ability to be good enough – and she had blown that a long time ago! She adored him but she couldn’t tell him that because that would be admitting that she need wanted something and besides, she suspected that he didn’t really want her – he wanted sex and she hoped that if she gave that to him that he would want more.

Oh how I wish I could shake her, stop her, appeal to her in some way that would change the trajectory of her choices. But the truth is that it would take years for her to come to the place where she was willing to learn from the mistakes of others, rather than making her own. She would never have listened – It was the arrogance of youth and her inability to trust. She was sure that she wanted this and that she was okay with no strings. She was convinced that nights in his arms were worth it. They made her feel like garbage afterwards but at the time, for those few hours, it all felt worthwhile and she nearly forgot that she was chunky, just for a while!

Where you from, you sexy thang!

Or perhaps I should call this – How Tasha got her groove back? 🤣 In any case I am finding me again. It’s been a long time coming but I am starting to feel at home in my own skin – possibly for the first time in my adult life.

I feel blessed and grateful 🙌🏻💞 Oh and blonder hair is brewing!

Photo Roulette

If you have never played this little gem of a game, you are missing out. We now have a change to the Covid-19 restrictions that we are living with and we are allowed to have 5 people visit our homes. Last night we played this with two close friends – the game is essentially this “guess whose camera roll a picture comes from” and you have a limited time to make your choice. Would you do it? Expose your camera roll to the rest of the room? My camera roll is full of my kids, my family, myself in various stages of transformation, my dog and work related photos. As we were sitting there playing, a photo popped up that I didn’t recognise at all but it was a picture of a large person and photos like that are regularly sent to me by folks asking for advice, so I assumed it was my picture, as did everyone else playing. When that round finished, everyone had that picture wrong – it was from Steve’s phone and it was me! I was totally shaken. How is it possible to not recognise myself??

I sat looking at that picture and it really got to me. If I had known all of the things would happen over the next three years I would have so wanted to find a way to pause or stop time. I would have chosen different outcomes for my family but I wouldn’t have chosen a different outcome for myself. Can you see it in my eyes? The absolute anxiety at being in front of people, feeling horrible about myself and wishing that I didn’t take up so much space in the world? I can see it, it is written all over my face.

This was me – Three years ago to the day. It was two years ago that I had weight loss surgery. That night WAS my defining moment. Not so much because of the double diplomas, but because of the decision I made. I hated how I felt that night. It should have been a celebration but instead I wanted to run and hide. It was the very next day that we increased our health insurance to cover weight loss surgery. I made a life altering decision that night, as I looked out on the hundreds of people assembled, that I never wanted to feel like that again.

I had worked sooooooo hard to stand there, full time mother, working full time, studying as best as I could and fighting through some really crippling anxiety to complete my double diploma. However on the night that I should have felt like I could celebrate my achievements, all I felt was self conscious. My graduation gown wasn’t big enough. It was the largest size that they had. I remember my total embarrassment as tears burned in my eyes. While the gown wouldn’t fit, my humiliation was all encompassing and it wrapped itself around me, cloaking me in feelings of shame and inferiority. I was so conflicted that night. So proud of myself on the one hand and so embarrassed and ashamed in the other. I decided while I was standing in that fitting room, surrounded by strangers, that I NEVER wanted to feel like that again.

Those feelings were the tipping point, the shove that I needed to make the decision to have weight loss surgery.

This is the photo I didn’t recognise

Me Yesterday