Home – Day 4

Good morning Family! I was allowed to go home yesterday!! My drains were removed and I was discharged at noon! I am loving being home and have curled up in my favourite outdoor chair in a sunny place on our back deck to enjoy the feeling of warmth in the air and a beautiful cup of French Earl Grey with Tasteless in it made for me by my 11 year old son!

Yesterday was a super emotional day. I woke up from a wonderful sleep because an incredible nurse by the name of Maddi at SJOG in Geelong went out of her way to get me a recliner to sleep in last night. It meant the world to me to be able to get comfortable and she did not have to go out of her way to make my night easier like that but she did. I have to say that I had an absolutely exceptional hospital experience this time. Every staff member was wonderful but particularly Kate, Maddi and Meg – those girls just went out of their way to help me and I am so thankful.

Then something happened that has never happened to me in my entire adult life – I put a bra on and I didn’t have to tuck my side boob flap in and as soon as that happened I started to cry. I cannot even tell you how many times I have dreamed of that and I never thought it would happen. Gosh I am thankful for the transformative power of weight loss surgery, for skilled surgeons, for family and friends and most of all for the possibilities that unfold before us when we start to believe that we do matter. Have a beautiful weekend. Sending love to everyone and don’t forget to show up for your life and let nothing stop you xx

The Count Down

Well, here we go! Counting down until I am having surgery 😳😳. Last night I decided to take the pictures that I have been dreading. I sort of felt like I needed to prove to myself that I wasn’t just making a bigger deal of my skin than it actually is. Gosh self doubt can be a horrible thing. These pictures were for me. I mean this in the kindest possible way but no one else’s opinion of my skin will influence or define my thoughts on it. I care about the thoughts of those that will help me to recover post operatively but I am only influenced in this by what I believe is going to be best for my long term health. I have to live in this body and so have to know what is best for it and be responsible for the choices I make.

When I last saw my plastic surgeon a few months ago he said to me “when we do your bum and thighs ……” because they are as wrinkly as my front is …. and I know that he is coming from a place of wanting me to look as good as possible considering the years of abuse I subjected my body to via food! However, I can’t, at this point, imagine that I will reach a place in myself where I will ever want to have those areas of my body done. That is the reality. Reconstructive plastic surgery is a big deal and the recovery is hard. The more I have learned about the recovery etc the more positive I am that the higher the weight and the more weight that was lost the harder the reconstructive work may be and also the longer and more complex the recovery. So that must be accounted for!

In truth I am melted, imperfect and marred by the life I have lived. I look somewhat melted naked but I am pretty fucking glorious in this state. I am okay with how I look – I just want to be able to avoid belly button infections and skin break downs and hopefully not catch my arm skin on things!! So that seems like a fairly reasonable request to me.

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and it was a hard day. I spent most of it outside in the yard. I needed to do something different to stop myself and that seems to be a great strategy for me if I am starting to focus on unhelpful thoughts. Probably the fact that I have been sick for nearly a month has not helped much! I have been feeling quite down and that can lead to feeling a little bit lonely. Often times I tend to forget that I have autoimmune conditions and weird blood sugar dramas! I want to be able to feel like a “normal” person and will push myself to be that, until my body does what it has for the last two weeks. My tipping point is much easier to arrive at than it used to be. That frustrates me! I had antibiotics for two weeks for a condition and just when I seemed to be improving, I think I allowed stress to get on top of me again. So I am staring down the barrel of my 4th week on antibiotics with the addition of an inhaler for 6 weeks for my sinuses and a week of prednisone 😟

So instead of going to church after Easter Sunday Breakfast, I allowed my kids current feelings around that issue to be heard and even more importantly – to hold some weight. So, we sat at home – enjoying time in the back yard together.

As the afternoon went on and I got to thinking about more and more of the situations surrounding some difficulties that I have been facing, it became clearer and clearer why I have been holding back. I have always been my own harshest critic and I have realised that once again fear was probably what has been holding me back!

So I decided to get really clear about my why for this surgery and what I am planning to do after it is over. This enabled me to give myself a kick in the pants because I needed one!!

1. I want to be free of skin related issues going into the future.

2. I want to be able to avoid pain when exercising.

3. I want to be able to look better in clothes rather than always bulgy and bumpy.

4. I want to remove my excuses.

So with all of that in mind I decided that I needed some new pics – here they are. 18 months post ETT with Muscle Repair, mons lift, breast lift, breast reduction and fat transfer.

What is planned for my revision surgery is FDL revision of my Tummy tuck, extended arm lift dealing with side boob skin and fat transfer.

The Day After

The morning after the day before! How are we all doing? I vividly remember how crappy I felt my first easter after WLS. I was nearly 9 months post op, my life on a personal level had fallen apart in a particular area, Steve had just been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, I had just started a new job and I right around that time I fell into the worst depression I have ever had. Looking back on that time I know that my body was a hormonal chemical factory. I was losing roughly 12 kilos a month at that point and between that and the stress that was going on behind the scenes I really had no time to think about how I was going to manage Easter. I sat staring at everyone else’s eggs and I wanted to cry. Carbs over 12 grams make me dump so most chocolate was out, artificial sweeteners made me dump back then so I was seriously limited even in the no sugar chocolate department. In addition to my unfun RNY limitations, I also have coeliac disease, so I couldn’t even enjoy a tiny piece of hot cross bun. I remember sitting down after plastering a fake smile across my face and smiling through the morning for the sake of my kids, and crying my eyes out in my bedroom. I avoided cooking that day, and I just generally was aware of everything that I felt like I was missing out on. This is me being honest about how I felt. I didn’t express these feelings to anyone – I just went on and felt like the most horrible person in the world because in my head I was angry and resentful that everyone else could have the things that I wanted to have and it felt really unfair that I couldn’t do that too. By contrast, yesterday was okay. I have done a lot of work to get past those unhealthy feelings that I had around food. Food is not the focus of my life anymore. It is a great and wonderful way to fuel my body but I don’t think about it day and night. I had two little noshu protein chocolates that I made myself throughout the day and just had my normal meals. I had a couple of drinks and I understand the implications of my food and drink choices these days. The heavens didn’t fall in and I didn’t end up crying in my room over food that I felt like I couldn’t eat so that is a big relief. I don’t use food as a treat anymore. I also don’t think of food as good or bad particularly. I have a certain macro profile that I want to hit each day – its that simple. I make my meals up around that and that has really helped me to have a better relationship with food because, in reality, I now have a better relationship with myself and I understand what food is and what it isn’t. I don’t want to hurt me anymore. I want my body to be as strong and well as it can be so I give it what it needs. I am also really glad that I have not woken up this morning feeling the need to eat every bit of chocolate in the house because I have had years like that too but usually that is because I didn’t let myself have anything on the day so I would then just binge like a mofo for weeks afterwards. There is so much to be said for being kind to yourself. For giving ourselves good and healthy boundaries and ways to navigate important holidays and celebrations. Talk to our teams to get hints and ideas. Talk to others that are journeying well and come up with a plan so that we aren’t blind sided at the time but you know what if you are feeling like you have stuffed up majorly over the weekend DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. If you had some things you wouldn’t normally have, just start fresh from now. Weight loss surgery and the life that follows is a transformation process and processes take time. We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to feel ashamed, we can be proud just coz! You are all amazing. Love Tash

Smoothie Bowl made with @purebotanypurveyor raspberry powder ❤️

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!

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 😁😁 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

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. 💞

Medication – Day 1

Arcabose – typically for type two diabetics but apparently used to help hold blood sugar steady so that is what I am now taking. I still experienced a couple of mild hypos last night and to be honest I still feel scared to eat this morning because I don’t want the usual to happen – in two hours I am a mess on the floor. Side effects so far – yup. I am itchy and I have the poos (sorry everyone I know how much you wanted to know that 😆) and weight loss – which lets face it, would not be ideal and seems to have already happened. But as with anything, you really have to take any medication for a couple of weeks before you will know if it is going to be okay for you or not, so I will persist. Besides my multivitamins I only take one other tablet which is for reflux so at least I don’t have to worry about any weird medication interactions taking place. It’s still not a pleasant thing to be on another type of medication but hypos that cause you to black out aren’t fun either – in short the risk is not worth being precious about having a mildly irritated butt. All in all I have woken up feeling much more positive today.

I told a close friend yesterday that I was giving myself a few days to sulk and cry and feel like everything was unfair but the truth is – there are much worse things. There are still going to be a lot of tests and there will still be mountains to climb but that is okay – the mountains will move. I have stopped feeling sorry for myself and am thankful for the breathe in my lungs today! Much love always x

A Sparkly Unicorn

When a was a child I had a favourite toy. It was the cutest My Little Pony and to me – well that toy was just the beginning and the end of all things. I loved it with all of my heart. In fact, I am fairly sure that I still have it somewhere in my garage. I think what I loved the most about it was that it stood out. Who doesn’t want a blue horse with a pink mane and tail right! I can remember taking it to school and no one else had the blue one! I thought “oh no! I should have got one that was like all the others!” and there began a lifetime of wanting to be like everyone else and never quite embracing my me-ishness!

Over the years I have been drawn to many sparkly unicorns 🦄 but eventually I put my me-ishness away in a box and decided that it was going to be better for everyone if I just stopped trying to be me. I shouldn’t want to grow my own food, and I shouldn’t enjoy making everything for my family from scratch. I should put away my long floral skirts and pretty mobiles that used to hang around my house. Apparently, so I was reliably informed – they were going to summon demons to my door 🤦🏼‍♀️ (Just quietly, I have always had one in our bedroom, given to me as a gift by someone that I absolutely ADORED when I was 15 annnnnnnnd no demons 🤷🏼‍♀️😂) Sewing was old fashioned and embroidery was worse. Why would I want to make preserves and why would I mix my own washing powder and why would I dream of a self sufficient life, on land – (with a mote and crocodiles to bite intruders – okay, okay perhaps that part was taking my introvert sensibilities a bit too far 😂😂😂😂) but seriously I spent so long trying to be someone that I wasn’t and I never quite managed to do it. It was not an authentic way to live and it was exhausting.

Then, one day I realised how stupid it all was. I realised that I was making myself miserable for other people. Those people didn’t expect it! I placed unrealistic expectations on myself and made myself miserable by trying to be something that I wasn’t. I wanted to be something other than me. I wanted to be a little less sparkly unicorn-ish and a lot more mainstream. I had fallen, hook, line and sinker for a story that brought me so much pain, misery and hopelessness. Comparison is a heartless bitch and I had been deceived by her narrative for decades. The day that I realised that, was the day that I decided to be me again. It was the day that I started allowing my dreams to bubble up in my heart again.

My biggest concern was, “would I be able to find her!” She whispered and sung and felt free among wide open spaces and lived right where quirky and mainstream collide! Thankfully my fears around not being able to find the real me were, for the most part, unfounded. After all, I think that in our heart of hearts, we do know who we truly are even if it worries us and even when we are afraid to dust off our inner unicorn and just be our own kind of weird and wonderful.

It took a while, but eventually I managed to locate the real me, she was buried under a huge pile of self loathing and pain, but she was still there, right where I left her. Still in love with the whimsical things, still a dreamer and still joyfully content with the simple life. It has been a revelation to find myself again. To find so many parts of me that I had lost along the way. To find the joy in being authentic has changed my life. This change happened because of an inner knowing that I am a better, kinder and more joyful soul now than I ever have been before and that I am responsible only for my own responses. There is a confidence that comes from knowing that I am loved as I am, imperfect, a bit broken and totally aware of my own failings but I am also wake to my own value.

I don’t expect anyone else to take care of me emotionally anymore. I know that I am responsible for the welfare of my own heart and soul and I do take responsibility for it these days. What a different life it is. My life is slower, more intentional and I listen to myself much more than I used to in the past AND I trust myself. I care for my body, I am kind to it in the most nurturing way possible. I have a small, tight circle of people that not only love me but see me. They are true friends, not people that stick around on our socials for the juicy goss! They are the flesh and blood people with hearts full of love for me and mine and purpose filled vision in their sights. They are the bringers of chocolate, gifters of meals, speakers of wisdom, value and purpose and offer a good slap of reality if I am in need of that too. When I stopped feeling like I needed to apologise for my very existence I learned how to live. Weight loss surgery gave me the confidence to deal with so much more than physical weight. It made me believe that I could deal with the emotional weight also.

Love always

Tash xx