Itty Bitty’s Moving


Hello my friends, I am in the process of transfering my wordpress.com blog to my new website www.ittybittyboomer.com – please check out the new website, and register there to continue following me while I’m in this strange time of transition!

With any luck within a week everything here will be there …

Thank you!

The Itty Bitty Boomer

Weight Loss Surgery Post Op Stuff


I don’t know how time passes so quickly. Again, almost every day my intention is to post an entry. And then the day is gone. There is much going on in my life – things I want to share because I need to – some of those things I am equally hesitant to share, blogs being rather public forums and all. The two things most prominent in my mind are vastly different, so I will do two entries today then follow up as each progresses in the future.

Exciting news (for me anyway) is that Hubby and I did, indeed, transition to Kaiser Permanente health insurance on January 1. I have had Kaiser insurance on and off since 1969, before which I was a military dependent. I have always had positive experiences so was excited to be able to go back. I am not typically one to run to the doctor, but there are just now so many things I need to “catch up” on that I have had a string of appointments of varying nature over the last three weeks.

The first thing accomplished was engaging with the bariatric department locally and getting into face to face support meetings for weight loss surgery peeps. There is a meeting every week – one alternating in the early afternoon, and alternating in the later afternoon. I’ve already been to one – and am signed up for another on Monday late afternoon.

Through this department I also signed up for an annual follow up “group” appointment and had the suggested nutritional blood analysis lab work done. 10 vials of blood and 14 tests later, I am doing ok – within the normal ranges, except for ferritin, Vitamin D and Vitamin B1. Considering I have been really bad about not taking my vitamin supplements for the most part for the last four or five years, I was surprised. Then again, I surmise my eating (leading to 30 pounds regain) was enough to keep those levels up.

I also had my PCP do a fasting glucose (as there is a family history of diabetes that I have so far avoided) and cholesterol panel. Both of these are within normal range as well!

Yesterday was the “group appointment” – to update on best practices with respect to supplements and nutrition. I was originally scheduled for a morning appointment, which got changed late last week to an afternoon appointment. As it turns out, the morning group was overbooked, and there ended up only being three of us in the afternoon, one of which had to leave early to go back to work.

This was not a bad thing at all, as the other lady and I ended up having, for all intents and purposes, a one-on-one meeting with the Dr. that runs the program, and the nutritionist!

The two-hour appointment reviewed what we should be doing as post-ops (modified a bit on the spot as we were both 7+ years out), what nutritional supplements are currently the recommended best practice – and (because we both have about 30 pounds to lose) sample 1200 calorie meal plans. We were told we could safely (with our supplements) modify this down to 800-1000 calories a day to assist in losing our regain and getting our eating patterns back on track for our WLS procedure.

The bariatric Dr. also wants me to redo my blood work in 3 months (after taking my vitamin supps and modifying calorie intake) to make sure I am still doing ok and the low levels are where they should be. No worries!

I feel more confident now about being successful in correcting this regain knowing that support is readily available – either in face to face support groups (weekly if necessary) – or just an email away with the Dr. and the nutritionist if I have concerns or questions.

The important thing is to never give up the fight.

Namaste – I honor you and your journey …

Itty Bitty

Surgically Altered Freak … And Happy To Be


IMG_20140109_055835_103

This is the front of a t-shirt I got at a weight loss surgery convention a few years ago and is one of my favorites!  It wasn’t meant as a “dis” but a celebration of our success as gastric bypass post-ops.  It truly was the hit of the conference!

That being said, I, as I’m sure many WLS post-ops and the people around them, get tired of thinking about … talking about … dealing with … being a “surgically altered freak”.  The fact is, anyone who has had a roux-en-y gastric bypass procedure is just that.  We have taken a perfectly normal digestive system (other than any dis-ease we have caused by being morbidly obese) and agreed to have it purposefully re-created into what amounts to a SURGICALLY ALTERED unhealthy one.  We have committed to spend the rest of our lives keeping this altered body healthy.

Because of that commitment, it becomes impossible for us to NOT deal with it on a daily basis.  There are times when I tell myself to stop talking about it … it’s just the way life is now, 8 1/2 years later.  But the fact is … it is always foremost in my mind – every single day.

Today, for instance, I had 10 vials of blood drawn for 14 different analysis of my blood to see if I have any nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion.  That is one reason why I should take one of each of these (and some more than once) every single day …

Vitamins

It’s the first time in five years I’ve had medical insurance that would cover these essential tests that should be done annually, if not semi-annually.  My hubby and I have, as of January 1, returned to Kaiser Permanente, the insurance under which I had my surgery, and who in my opinion, at least in Northern California, has the most comprehensive long-term follow up for their WLS post-ops.

Next Monday I am excited to return to their bi-weekly WLS support meetings, and in early February to their group medical follow-up appointments, at which time the doctor will review my lab reports.  I will be able to review them myself in two days time!

I want to share my process and progress in returning to a solid support system – and how it affects my motivation, commitment and ability to return to using this very special tool to lose the 30 pound regain I have experienced.  Doing a daily journal simply doesn’t work for me.  Maybe weekly?  Maybe.

I still need to get my head out of this glass of wine.  But I shall never give up – and never go back to where I was 8 1/2 years ago and this is why:

This was me in February 2005 … 225 lbs

Before_thumb.jpgThis was me in March 2006 … 135 lbs

Gramaree.jpgThis was me in 2007 – 140 lbs – the “ginger” is my daughter

MeAndMo_thumb.jpg

And the weight I want to get back to. My happy place even though it is technically still  “overweight” for my 5 ft, 1 in frame.  We all eventually find our “happy weight”. I will find it again.

And happiness in being a “Surgically Altered Freak”!  For all of you considering weight loss surgery, or newbie post-ops – learn all you can, the good ~ the bad ~ and the ugly ~ about the procedure you are considering.  Commit yourself to following to the letter the keys to success your tool gives you.  Commit to keeping yourself healthy.  As they say in 12-step programs, it works if you work it.

Namaste – I honor all you Freaks out there!  Never give up and never go back!

Itty Bitty

Itchy Fingers and Continuing Sagas – Post Gastric Bypass Regain


Every day I wake up and say – today is the day I get back to blogging regularly – because life is, well, being lived – every day …. and yet I don’t.  And I can’t figure out if it’s because there is so much I want to blog about swirling around in my brain that I can’t focus on one thing or another – or if I just can’t get my head around those swirling things and blog about them.  Some give me joy – some terrify me. The moment defines which direction I want to go – and then I do nothing.  But my fingers are itchy to let the thoughts out …

So the itchy finger issue today is the recurring topic of the annoying fact that since my gastric bypass 8 years ago, in the last 5 and a half years I have regained 30 pounds of the 95 that I so joyfully lost.

Reason?  I stopped doing what works. Got complacent – lazy if you will.  Coincidentally, it was 5 and a half years ago that I met my hubby.   Is that what contentment does? nah.  I just got cocky and lazy.  Returned to old habits – forgot to work my program.

A Facebook page I follow – A Post-Op and A Doc – (here is their website also: Connie Stapleton & A Post-Op And A Doc)  two post-ops:  one PHD specializing in recovery issues of all kinds and a post-op who now does motivational speaking for bariatric afterlife (both incredible, beautiful, amazing women) – posted the following today and it really hit home with me:

IF IT WORKS, DO IT. THEN…KEEP DOING IT. 

Post-Op Here: So, I had this thought…If you’re doing something, and it works…shouldn’t you KEEP doing it? And, if you stop doing it, should you be surprised if it stops working? 

We hear from so many people who say, “Help me! I’m regaining and I can’t stop it! I know I’m eating more carbs now, and working out less, and not journaling my food…and I know I drink sometimes, but still — WHY AM I REGAINING?”

Which of course makes me say, “You DO know why you’re regaining…because you stopped doing what worked!”

The question is: Why don’t you want to do what you know works?

Ahh…..because you’re looking for a softer, easier way, right? 

Well…there’s really only one way to be healthy, and that’s to do healthy things…at least 11 of them (if you’re to believe the Gotta Do ‘Ems!) 

Here’s my challenge to you: If you stopped doing what worked (and started regaining), how about if you start doing what works again, and see if it actually…WORKS?

And then, to further my “ah-hah” moment, I wondered how can I tell my son that age-old recovery adage – you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results + when I am doing the same thing and wondering why things aren’t changing?  Granted our issues are different, but the insanity is just the same.

And what are the “Gotta Do’Em’s”?

1. Make Healthy Food Choices
2. Maintain Portion Control
3. Exercise Regularly 
4. Drink Water All Day.
5. Eat Breakfast
6. Plan Your Meals/Follow Your Plan.
7. Keep a Food Diary.
8. Keep an Exercise Diary.
9. Get Enough Sleep
10. Use a Healthy Support System
11. Get Individual and/or Group Therapy
These are not tips for only weight loss surgery post-ops – but for anyone working to control weight issues.  And today it was an extremely well-timed reminder.
Thank you, Connie Stapleton and Cari De La Cruz for your continuing and loving support of the bariatric community!
Namaste – I honor you both and your unconditional love and support

Weight Loss Surgery Works!


As a 7-year post-op roux-en-y (gastric bypass) individual, I talk to pre-ops and post-ops all the time.  I talk about the good, the bad and the ugly with pre-ops. I talk about the lifetime committment to taking care of ourselves with the post-ops as well as the ongoing, never-ending head battles that got us obese in the first place.

I have the privilege of being involved with the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America – a 1500+ strong (and growing daily) on-line organization that is made up primarily of WLS post-ops and some pre-ops, looking for 1) peer support and 2) some way to give back to our unique community. This is why I love the Weight loss Surgery Foundation of America!  We just spent 3 days in Las Vegas – 500 of us … and had a blast.   Our COMBINED total weight loss was almost 37,000 pounds!

Would you like to see the joy of before and after photos?  Here is a sampling of our Beautiful WLS Peeps celebrating and sharing their success, health, happiness and new lives!  This alone speaks to the fact that WLS WORKS!

Weight loss surgery is NOT for everyone, nor the easy way out, nor a cop-out to will-power – to be successful, it takes a lifetime committment to taking care of our bodies – from working through often serious psychological issues, serious and debilitating health issues, destroyed self esteem – to paying daily attention to meeting our altered nutritional needs, exercise (yes, exercise), dealing with the same lifelong “head battles” we have always had and avoiding cross-addiction issues.

The reward?  Minimizing or eliminating the serious health issues, renewed confidence, healthier lifestyles, longer life, fully enjoying our families (or having families in some cases) and our daily existence.

As a foundation, we have over the last year and a half, raised funds to provide grants for:

  • Three (3) weight loss surgery procedures (thanks in part to the generous donation of the procedures by surgeons involved with bariatric Centers of Excellence) for individuals who did not have health insurance or whos health insurance would not cover WLS
  • One (1) full body lift for a post-op who had lost in the neighborhood of 200 pounds (again thanks in part to the generous donation of the procedure by one of our participating plastic surgeons).  Most health insurance companies will not cover these procedures as they are considered “cosmetic”.
  • One (1) co-payment to enable another member to have surgery.  She was otherwise unable to afford the co-pay and would not have been able to have the surgery.
  • One (1) grant to cover laboratory tests that the pre-op could not otherwise afford

And we convinced one medical supply company to continue to provide one super-morbidly pre-op with an in-home hospital bed while he is losing enough weight to safely have gastric bypass surgery.

We are in the process of forming face-to-face chapters around the country.  If you know of anyone who has had a weight loss surgery procedure or is in the pre-op or investigative stage, please let them know about this incredible organization.

The disease of obesity continues to grow in this country – and the fight to end it, one pound at a time, will always be the mission and goal of the WLSFA.

Ok – I’m off my soapbox now!

And, of course, Namaste!   I honor you!

Choices … My First Word For 2012


2011 was perhaps the most unusual year I can recall in the last five –  a culmination of closing doors and opening doors right up till the very last-minute.  I’m glad it’s over, and 2012 holds promise of a better, growing, stronger year. 

I read a blog this morning, Remarkable Wrinkles – you can click on it in “Other Bloggers I Love” … about that whole “New Year’s Resolution” subject.  apparently I’m not the only one out there who doesn’t do well with resolutions.  Good to know!  Her blog was about .. ahem … another friend’s blog she’d read suggesting not resolutions but WORDS.  Pick a word … any word that means something to you and make it a … not so much a resolution, but kind of a goal … something to strive for or work on … in our lives.  Made perfect sense to me!

One of the biggest things I learned over this last year of unending speed bumps and change is that I really do have a CHOICE in how my life goes.  I made a lot of progress in cleaning up messes and making changes that were necessary, but I can take my little ol’ self down paths in directions that I CHOOSE. 

CHOICES I can manifest ….

To take care of myself first … I forget this too easily.  Before I can take care of anyone else, I need to take care of me.  I also don’t need to take care of EVERYONE else, now do I?  This includes physically, emotionally, spiritually, as well as financially. 

  • Physically – as a 6-year post-op gastric bypass patient, I have, after woefully not doing as I should for probably 3 years now, have started taking my vitamin and protein supplements religiously … every day.  I am working on getting at least half an hour of exercise (even walking) in every day.  I am fighting the carb monster … which is my acknowledged complete and utter addiction.  I am drinking more water.  
  • Emotionally – why is it that we always “look after” others before we look out for ourselves?  Or is it just us nurturers?  I HAVE allowed myself to surrender to loving someone – though I will not ever surrender my identity to anyone again – I am trusting someone with my heart.  I am chosing to be differently in this relationship that I have in past commitments.  I am making the CHOICE to be more open and forthcoming.  This is difficult for me because of fences and guards that are decades old.  I’m working on them, though.  It’s the right thing to do – not just for me, but for him. 

            I trusted enough to get married on December 15, 2011.  He is my CHOICE!

  • Spiritually – This is an area where I am needing to center myself and focus my energy.  2011 was filled with chaos (good and bad) and though things are slowly coming together, I need to refine my balance and take the time each day I need to quiet my mind, express my gratitude and send out my positive thoughts for the day.  Every morning and every evening.  To thank the Gods and Goddesses for helping me find the right path.
  • Financially – Huge one.  As I am finalizing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (not a thing I am proud of, but it became necessary given my particular situation of long-term unemployment and limited access to financial resources) I am gifted with an opportunity to begin again.  I have CHOICE on how I live my financial life from this point forward in rebuilding my financial integrity. 

CHOICES – my word for this day.  It feels good and strong and empowering.  I’ll take it!

What is your word for the day? Make it mean something to you.

Namaste!

Weight Loss Surgery – The Easy Way Out?


In my weight loss surgery “community” this week there was a huge (and not always so nice) discussion about “traditional” dieting vs. weight loss surgery, and whether surgical intervention for losing weight is the “easy way out”.   The discussion was spawned by blogger Ily Goyanes, Fuming Foodie for the Miami New Times basically stating her very strong opinion that everyone should be able to lose weight simply by cutting back calories and exercising.  Individuals who chose the “easy way out” by having any variety of weight loss surgery are cheaters and simply lazy with no self control. And, further, she is convinced that pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as hospitals encourage weight loss surgery just so they can profit!  50+ responding comments from successful WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) patients about how surgery is anything BUT the easy way out and why, were incapable of swaying this person’s mind.  The comments continue to roll into her blog – bottom line is she is entitled to her opinion (as unsubstantiated, uneducated, bigoted and discriminatory as it is) but it would be so much better if she developed an educated, informed opinion.

Anyone who has gone through the process of qualifying for weight loss surgery knows it is 1) not a quick and simple process; 2) it is not always a given that one’s health insurance provider will agree to cover the procedure regardless of how medically necessary the procedure is; 3) the appeals process, when denied coverage, is not always successful; 4) while the surgical procedures make it EASY to lose weight, the lifetime commitment to maintaining a healthy body and mind can be overwhelming. We must diligently avoid malnutrition and a host of other potential health issues by dealing daily with vitamins and protein supplements. We must deal constantly with our “head battles” that lead to our obesity in the first place.   We must exercise regularly just like any one else trying to maintain weight.

The reality is that the tool of weight loss surgery to a morbidly obese person is almost always the absolutely last resort, last ditch, effort to lose weight and eliminate or minimize co-morbidities (all the obesity-related health issues that most people suffer from) after years, and sometimes decades, of seriously trying and failing with the traditional methods of diet and exercise.  WLS is a tool to give the morbidly obese back their lives and futures.  Close to 200 thousand WLS procedures are performed in this country annually because it works. And, unbelievably, 35% of deaths in this country continue to be related to obesity-related health complications.

The continuing unfortunate circumstance for some individuals whose doctors feel they would absolutely benefit from WLS is that there are still many health insurance providers who simply will not cover the procedures (though they will still cover decades of medical care costs for obesity-related health issues), or individuals who do not have health insurance and are unable to afford surgery.  These people suffer unnecessarily.

This will be my one-time only “promotion” – however, I so strongly believe in the following NON PROFIT organization, what it stands for, and what it accomplishes – to the point that I volunteer my time as a member of the Board of Directors – that I want everyone to know about it and what it does – look around our website!  We are the only organization of this kind that we are aware of.

The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America (WLSFA) is a nonprofit organization, powered by weight loss surgery patients & their supporters, Bariatric Surgeons & their practices, Hospitals and Corporations. Together we raise funds and gather resources to “pay it forward” in the form of Weight Loss Surgery Grants to people denied access to WLS treatment of obesity.  Our 2012 grant application process has begun.

Are you, or anyone you know, recommended for weight loss surgery by your medical professional but either do not have insurance, or have been denied surgery by your insurance company and lost your appeal?  You are invited to apply for our Alice Neff Grant for weight loss surgery or to please pass on this information to someone you know that might benefit from this grant.

And if you are just thinking about having WLS, are a post-op WLS patient, a supporter of a post op, join WLSFA!  IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING TO BECOME A MEMBER – but you will find 1300 people strong walking in your shoes … understanding your journey. It is the most incredibly supportive group of people with a common cause … ending obesity one pound at a time.  We offer you on-line peer support, educational opportunities, and the most fun and educational annual Mother of All Meet & Greets in Las Vegas you’ll ever attend!  Check it out! Or at least, spread the word.

Weight loss surgery is not for everyone – Each individual must come to their own conclusion based on their own personal and extensive research about the good, bad and ugly of having these procedures.  The mortality rate for people having weight loss surgery is less than 1%.  The success rate of losing and maintaining long term losses of 60-75% of your goal is 85%.

At 55 years old, and having suffered morbid obesity for over 20 years, it was the best decision I ever made for myself and in over 6 years I have never, ever once regretted it.  Even as a boomer, it’s never too late to change  your life.

I wish you all safe travels in your quest for a health life, whatever way you choose to pursue it – and Namaste (I honor you …)