Friday, March 23, 2012

Barium X-Ray Morning

Wow! Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days! I've been in a lot of pain with a neck/shoulder injury...big time pinched nerve! So let's get to it! :)

I went in for the barium x-ray. That's was an experience that will be remembered for a while! It was AWFUL. The doctor had absolutely NO bed-side manner. She was extremely cold and unfeeling. The nurse was really great though...very soft-spoken and helpful. Thank goodness!
In preparation for the x-ray I had to fast after midnight and thankfully my appt was at 8am which means I didn't have to wait too long for breakfast. I was so nervous in the waiting room and just ready to get the whole experience over with. When I got in the room where the stand-up x-ray machine was they had me swallow some kind of crystals and swallow it with very little water. This was supposed to give me gas which makes things show up better in the pictures. Then they gave me the dreaded "shake." It was awful! They didn't even bother to chill was warm and chalky. I thought I was going to throw-up. The doctor at this point was taking photos of my esophagus because apparently it was noted that there was irritation there during the endoscopy.

After about five minutes, the doctor tells me to face the back of the machine and hold on to the sides. It was at this point that the machine started lowering to the lying down position. I almost freaked out! I was not expecting this to happen at all and the nurse yells to the doctor to stop because she is trying to explain to me what is going to happen. I am so thankful that I had a nurse who cared about the patients because clearly the doctor did not.
So after I am lying on my stomach, which is difficult because of my size, they give me the wonderful cup filled with chalk and it now has a straw in it and they tell me to get drinking. So I am really sick to my stomach at this point and ready to lose it all over the floor. I only took a couple of sips when the doctor tells the nurse to start "sloshing" me around. I looked at the nurse and said, "Is she for real?" I'm lying on my stomach and the nurse starts pushing me kind of side to side to slosh the barium around in my stomach. She is then instructed to turn me over onto my back and do it so more.
The doctor then takes a series of x-rays and when she is finished I am told to turn back over onto my stomach and then the table begins its descent back down to place me into the standing position. Finally, they are done! I leave the room and get dressed and go back to the waiting room to my husband and we get out of there!
I have a few friends who have had barium x-rays done and they all had different experiences. Some of them have had chilled chalky drinks...some of them have had chilled coffee flavored drinks...there have been a variety of stories I've been told. I was really hoping that I would get lucky and have a good one...but it was not to be. I see the surgeon on April 10th and we shall see.

I would not wish this awful procedure on anyone. Hopefully the doctor will not see anything disturbing enough that would put off my surgery longer. I am really hoping to get my date on April 10th as well as the possibility of not having to do the Optifast for too long ;)

So now we wait...
Cheers and Much Love! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Barium X-Ray Tomorrow

Well I begin fasting at midnight so that I can go in for a barium x-ray in the morning. They are looking at my stomach further after discovering it didn't look right during my endoscopy. It feels like there is a set-back at every turn and almost like this surgery is never going to happen.

I spoke with the secretary at my doctor's office this week and all she could decipher from my stomach biopsy results is that it came back with some inflammation and lymphocytic gastritis...from what I've read that could be a couple of things. The doctor did say that if anything they could fix the stomach when they go in to do the roux en y surgery. I'm just thinking, "Oh, great. Something else to have to heal from...something else that could potentially cause problems."

On another note...I went to the library today with my kiddos and picked up some new cookbooks to check out. I got a really good one from the American Heart Association. It has over 600 pages. After searching through it, I can say that there are quite a few really good recipes in it. I will be adding some to my recipe section in the upcoming days and weeks.
In other news, the weather here today was BEAUTIFUL. However, it reminded me again as to why I can't wait to have this surgery. It was sunny and barely reached 50 degrees and I was sweating and hot like it was 100 degrees outside. My children want to go bike riding tomorrow. That is not something I will be able to join them on. I feel bad about that and I'm sad about it too. But better days will come in the future! So I am trying not focus too much on the what I can't do right now but what I will be able to do again!

There's not much else to report on right now. My kiddos and hubby are home for March Break this week so we are extremely busy doing fun family things! :)

Keep checking the recipe section. I will post some new things soon :)
Have a GREAT week everyone :)
 Cheers and Much Love! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Family Trips

Family trips aren't as fun for me as they used to be. The one thing we pride ourselves on in our family is trying to stay busy and show our kids as much culture and fun as possible. There was a time in our lives where we rarely stayed home...we were always going somewhere. Road trips are the best! But over the last few years as I've been become bigger, I do not enjoy going on many of these trips anymore. My husband and I have always been a go, go, go couple. We love to be outside. It probably has something to do with the fact that in Ontario, Canada you have to enjoy what you can from the summers because they are short. I come from Louisiana where it's warm pretty much year round and I endured quite the culture shock when I moved North and discovered it's not that warm all year round!

We are a family that goes on a variety of trips. We generally go for longs walks in the park or along trails, we go on bike rides, we go for walks along the beach, we go to many different places like museums, hall of fame buildings and libraries; the list could go on and on. One of my favorite places to go is Niagara Falls! We only live about 45 minutes from the Falls and I love to go there as well as few places in between such as Niagara on the Lake and Welland Canal. We've been all over; Ottawa, New Brunswick, camping and beaching all over Ontario. We've been quite a few places south of the border. All of these places require a lot of walking and hiking but the kids always have such a fantastic time and that is all that matters; good memories for them.
Here is my hubby and our two boys when they were younger (2003)in Ottawa :)

I have enjoyed every single place we have been to but I have gotten to a point over the last few years that I am not enjoying the walking and hiking as much. My back and hip can't stand the extra weight I have put on and I am always hot and sweating :( It's just no longer fun for me. Last year, every time my kids and husband got on their bike and went off on their little excursions around our town I would sit at home...sometimes crying. It made me sad that I was missing out on the little things in life that I should be out enjoying with my kids.

Me and my boys in Ottawa 2003

It seems like my 30s have been very trying. I've had many health problems which I attribute to my weight gain. When I was discharged from the military I weighed approximately 140 lbs. That was in 2002 when I was 30 years old. Since then I have managed to balloon to 260 lbs. I know that it is my fault. I comforted myself with food when I quit smoking and as well whenever anything goes wrong in my life. It didn't help that I was taking university courses that didn't end until 10pm at night and then eating a big meal before bed.
All of this has made it difficult to enjoy my life over the past few years. I finally decided about a year and a half ago to go to my doctor and find out about the weight loss surgery. My doctor not being up to code with technology in his office did not know how to go about doing the paperwork to get me started. So finally a year later after him dragging his feet, I looked it all up and got all the information and paperwork started and gave it to him. I will discuss all the ins and outs of this in a later post regarding all the time spent getting the process started.
So this surgery is going to be a big turning point in my life. I have been miserable and sad during the majority of my 30s since I have put on all this weight. I have grown tired with being so sweaty and out of breath on any family outings that we go on. I look forward to my 40s where I am hopeful that weight loss will occur and I will be able to enjoy going out with my family again. I will ride a bike and hike a million stairs to see a beautiful waterfall and run around the park chasing my children! I will enjoy them before they grow too old to play with their old mother ;)
 Cheers and Much Love! 
Our family Christmas tree trek Dec 2010 :)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Family Dinners

I never really knew much about healthy eating as was pointed out in my last post. I didn't have anyone to teach me all the ins and outs of maintaining a healthy weight by eating properly from each food group. My gym teacher at some point quite possibly had one or two classes where we discussed the food groups, but if you are living in a home that is not following those guidelines, you tend to just breeze through class and memorize whatever is necessary to pass the test; then all is lost from the memory thereafter. I think I remember more about my first class on sex-ed during Grade 9 than anything concerning the food pyramid from the semester before ;)

One thing I remember about my childhood is that I mostly took care of myself starting around Grade 3. Now, as mentioned earlier, my mother was a wonderful cook. However, there was a time in my life between the ages of 8 to12 that she was a single mother working two jobs to care for me. Most mornings I got up and made myself a bowl of cereal or put a bowl of oatmeal in the microwave before walking to school alone. I remember in the summers I made my own sandwiches or any type of Chef Boyardee pasta for my lunch. I have been using a microwave on my own for as long as I can remember. I also remember having money for the vending machines at school to buy all the junk food I wanted. I lived on Twinkies, Hostess cupcakes and Cherry Coke! The only vegetables that entered my body were whatever the school lunch consisted of.

Because my parents were divorced and living in different states, I usually spent 6 months with one parent and 6 months with the other. Time spent with my dad was a little unusual too. My father owned a bar and was gone from early afternoon until the middle of the night. I saw him sometimes on the weekends, but that was about it. My stepmother worked for the phone company and did what she could to keep the family going. I had a stepbrother and stepsister by her (both of whom were older than me) and I also had an older sister living there as well. My sister spent the majority of her time taking care of me because she was 9 years older. So between the three older siblings and a stepmother, someone was usually cooking. Now that I'm older, I realize it was probably too expensive for us to go out to eat as a family six. I remember on the weekends that my stepmother would try hard to have everyone at the table for breakfast together as a family. It didn't always work out that way, but I remember thinking it was better than being alone and cooking for myself when I lived with my mother.

What about fast food? How much of  a role does it play in today's world? Our world has become so fast-paced and go, go, go that no one sits down to a healthy dinner anymore. Most families are eating burgers in their car as they rush from one activity to another. As well, some households have dual working parents that are just too tired to cook a meal after working all day. Years ago, when I was child/teenager, fast-food restaurants were around but they were not a huge part of our life. They were generally something that our parents or grandparents treated us to when we were good or had something to celebrate. However, today, they are so many fast food or general restaurants that it would seem people are spending less time at home cooking meals.

With all of this in mind, how important is it for a child to learn about the food pyramid and healthy eating habits? Over the last couple of decades as I've been an adult, I have really noticed that people do not cook in the home and sit down with their families to supper after cooking a healthy meal. There is such a variety of restaurants available on almost every corner of every city that no one needs to cook for themselves anymore. I personally believe this coupled with sitting on our butts in front of TVs, computers and video games have helped lead us to a world filled with obesity. People have become less active and more prone to eat food filled with too much sodium, sugar and things we cannot even pronounce; and for when we are at home cooking, there are too many processed foods filling our pantries and not enough fresh vegetables and fruits. I believe that learning something as simple as the food pyramid would help people understand more about what is healthy and lead them to keep healthier food in their homes so that we can live longer lives.

Another thing I have noticed is how things are processed differently in the United States and Canada. I'm an American; born and raised in Louisiana. However, I married a Canadian and have lived happily north of the border for over 10 years. I love it here. When I first moved here and I went grocery shopping, I noticed that certain things tasted differently. One example is the cereal Fruit Loops. That is something that I grew up eating. But, the Fruit Loops in Canada tasted different; very different. My husband thought I was crazy and was just being a food princess. LOL But as I bought more things that I was used to eating, I noticed that nothing tastes the same even though it's supposed to be the same product. More recently, I read a story about a Canadian woman who had weight-loss surgery and on Saturdays she liked to get an egg breakfast from McDonalds as her weekly treat. It had never given her a problem since she had her surgery. However, one Saturday morning she found herself at a McDonald's in the States. She noticed it tasted a little different...more salty or buttery. She got sick after she ate it and I can't help but believe she may have gotten dumping syndrome because the ingredient contents are different from one country to another.

So what does this mean? It is definitely something I am going to investigate. I think Canada has different guidelines for sodium, sugar, etc. intake than in other countries. I do know that overseas a variety of different countries DO use less salt, sugar, etc. in their foods than in the United States. One good thing that has happened most recently over the last couple of years is that restaurants are having to make nutritional information available to patrons. I think this is a good thing for those of us who are on special diets so that we may continue to eat out with our families every now and then and make better choices as to what to order.

But wouldn't it be nice to get back to having dinner with our families after having made a healthy homemade meal in our own kitchens? This is something that we practice in our home. We eat supper together 5 or 6 days a week...sitting down at the dining table together and discussing our day and just enjoying each other's company and we ALWAYS sit down together for Sunday lunch/supper. I believe this is one way to instil good family values in our kids. But I also hope that it gives them good memories so that they may continue the tradition when they have families of their own one day.

Cheers and Much Love! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Weigh Into My 30s

I was a skinny child. I never worried about my weight; other than maybe needing to gain some.  I was also raised by a mother (may she RIP) who had a very small waist and was just a beauty in her own right. I was born and raised in the great state of Louisiana; a place known for it's food and southern hospitality. Food is what brings most families together and my family was no exception.

My Mother and I in the mid-80s...

My mother loved to cook. I have early memories of her canning and putting things up for the winter. Growing up we farmed and picked most of our vegetables as well as some fruits, corn and potatoes. My summers were usually spent shucking corn or hulling peas. It seemed as if my fingers would be permanently stained purple from all the purple hull peas (my favorite)! I remember sitting in the middle of the living room floor with a huge blanket filled with bushels of peas to be hulled. While I hulled them, my mother was in the kitchen blanching and canning. Anytime family would get together, she always had food. She could cook just about anything. She cooked for family. She cooked for friends and near the end of her life she spent a lot of time cooking for the elderly from our local churches. She was loved by many.

Growing up, I never really learned to cook. My mother did not allow anyone in the kitchen when she was cooking. I understand now what she meant when she said she had a one-track mind; I have it too. One might think that since the majority of what we ate was farm-grown and healthy that we would be healthy eaters. However, this is not the case. I grew up putting gravy on everything; brown gravy, white gravy, tomato gravy. We put it on anything from biscuits for breakfast to fried steaks or chicken for supper. We put it on potatoes; all potatoes. One of the most popular breakfast items that I remember was homemade biscuits smothered in tomato gravy or sugar cane syrup and cup of strong hot chicory coffee. Besides gravy always being readily available, bacon grease was another fixture in many kitchens! I remember many southern cooks would always have an old coffee can filled with bacon grease sitting on the stove. It was used for a variety of dishes. The most popular use that I remember was heating it up to FRY eggs for breakfast. Bacon grease and lots of butter, sadly, are staples in a southern home! A southern saying that comes to mind is, "Everything is better with butter." Gravy was not the only thing we poured over our food. We also poured a variety of sauces over many dishes; ketchup, bbq sauce, butter sauces, salad dressings. You name it, we used it! Our healthy dishes didn't have a chance in hell by the time we got through pouring the "unhealthy" on them.

So I've talked about the gravy, bacon grease, sauces and butter...but what about the fact that many foods in the South are fried?! Southerners can fry up anything...right down to some desserts. I grew up living on fried chicken, fried steak, fried seafood, fried fish; anything fried. One of my favorite dishes was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and white gravy, green beans, corn and oh yes FRIED okra. This is a basic food plate at many southern "hole-in-the-wall" cafes. There is nothing more comforting than a dish like this. It's like being wrapped in happiness...even if only for a little while. Meals were always followed up with a big glass of very sweet brewed tea. We have two ways of making tea where I come from...either by a coffee pot or boiling in a pot on the stove or by putting it out into the sun in a glass pitcher. There is nothing more refreshing than sweet tea that has been kissed by the sun. Generally a gallon of tea required 2 cups of sugar. TWO CUPS! I know now that is too much.

This should give you an idea of what I grew up thinking "good eating" was. This is how I have spent the last 39 years of my life. It wasn't that bad when I was younger. You would think that I would have had a weight problem with all that food I was being served. However, I did pretty well keeping my weight pretty normal. It probably helped that I was an active child/young adult. I was always on the go or playing a sport or running around outside. Those were the days of no computers and technology that would keep us inside sitting on our butts. When I graduated high school at the age of 18 I was 5' 6" and weighed 105 lbs.

Here come my 20s. Luckily during the first half of my 20s I continued to be active...sometimes working two jobs, dancing, playing softball; generally keeping it together. I did put on a little weight and by the time I was pregnant with my first child when I was 25 years old I weighed 125 lbs. I put on 35 lbs with the pregnancy and lost it all within a few weeks of his birth. I was pregnant again before I was 28 and after he was born I began to show struggles with my weight. It fluctuated and I weighed approximately 160 lbs. It was at this point in my life that I joined the Navy and by the time I completed boot camp I was back down to 135 very healthy pounds. I stayed at that weight until I was discharged a few years later after being injured during my time in the service.

Unfortunately I was a cigarette smoker until I was 30 years old but within a year of leaving the Navy I stopped smoking cold-turkey and I have not smoked since. As healthy as it was for me to stop smoking, it was the start of an uphill battle with my weight. Hence the title of this blog..."Weigh Into My 30s." There are many battles that I have faced during these last 10 years and in the following postings, I will begin to document them to show what I have had to face and learn during this decade of my life.

Cheers and Much Love! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Future Goals

I think for those of us who have weight-loss in mind we have many of the same goals. Some of these goals range from being able to walk again without being winded or playing with our children. There are also the vanity goals which, let's face it, we all think about at some point. But what else do many of us think about when we think of losing weight and taking our life back? I'm going to dig into this subject in today's post.

For me, I realized about two years ago how difficult certain things had gotten in my life. I live in a city that is filled with waterfalls. We are actually known as
The Waterfall Capital of the World
. I love going to look at waterfalls. We also live very close to Niagara Falls and we go there very often in the Spring and Summer. But sometimes it's nice to check out things in our local area. However, to enjoy the vast array of falls in our city requires one to go up and down a mountain of stairs or steep inclines. Now, the going down is not that bad...but then you have to travel back UP. I literally had gotten to a point in my weight that I felt like I was having a heart attack while doing this activity. It made me very sad because this can be a very fun and healthy activity to do with our children. There is nothing more fun than enjoying a picnic and seeing some beautiful waterfalls while hanging with some of my favorite people in the world; my husband and children. I cannot wait to be able to do this with ease in my future.

Now, I'm the mother of three beautiful children. At the time of this blog, they are 6, 12 and 13. I am also the wife of a very fit and healthy husband. So to have gotten to a point where I can't be active with them is hard on all of us. We live in Canada which means when Spring/Summer/Fall is here you need to get out and enjoy the weather; especially the summers! However, the last couple of summers, most of my days are spent sitting at our home while my kids and husband go out and talk long walks, ride their bikes or go to the park. We live on a "mountain or escarpment" so where one goes must come back up. So on the days when they ventured out on their bikes to "explore," I would stay home. However, on days when they would go to the park, I followed them in our car. So last year I asked my husband to buy me a nice bike for my birthday in May. He was so sweet and bought me a really nice one in my favorite color; PURPLE. I rode it maybe once or twice and the pain in my back was so awful I couldn't stand it. All of the extra weight was too much on the bad disks that I have in my back. It has since been sitting in the shed collecting dust. This is another change I would love to see in my life; being able to ride my bike with ease.

What about the smaller goals that some of us never think of? One that comes to mind is being a passenger on an airplane! I don't believe this is something I would have thought of had I not had the experience in the last year. Ten years ago, there was a time in my life that I had to fly frequently. This was before my excessive weight gain and not long after having been discharged from the Navy (a story I will get to later). I never had any problems with fitting in the seats or buckling up. But most recently I flew home for my 20 year high school reunion and found out just how small those seats really are. I fit in the seat just fine. However, I had a hard time getting the buckle around me and I was too embarrased to bring attention to myself to get an extension or something. When I finally got it around me it was really tight in my belly and uncomfortable the while flight home. So, yes, it will be nice to fit on an airline seat without complications or feeling as though I'm making the person next to me uncomfortable.

I believe that some people take for granted just how easy it is to do some of the simple things in life. Riding a bike, taking a walk, swimming, running with my kids are all things that I look forward to being able to do with ease again. I know that my back disability is something that I will always have, but getting off the excess weight should make it easier to manage. To some people these may seem like silly little goals. For me, they are goals that say I've gotten my life back! :)

Cheers and Much Love! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Endoscopy Complete!

Good Saturday morning to everyone. Let me just tell you that we have had a serious wind storm here over the last 15 hours or so and we didn't sleep very well because of it! The wind has been howling all night and I just knew at some point we were going to lose our roof or that maybe our smaller tree in the back yard was going to bite the dust! But so far so good!

I haven't posted since right before my endoscopy on Thursday, but let me tell you, it was not that bad. I had an endoscopy about 7 years ago and it was a terrible experience for me so I was really nervous going in and just plain scared to death! Well this was a much better experience. I think the worst part of the day was when the nurse tried to put an IV in my hand. I have a scar right on the vein from where I broke a glass when I was about 12 years old so there is some scar tissue build-up and the needle couldn't get through. It was very painful and even now, two days later, my hand is still sore.

So after putting an IV in my arm it was time to meet the doctor! He was really nice and made me feel a little more at ease. He actually sprayed some really nasty tasting stuff at the back of my throat to "numb" the gag reflex muscle. This is not something that was done the first time around for me and it made the experience so much better. After this was done and the back of my throat was getting numb they put something in my IV to sedate me. Honestly, I wasn't as sedated as some of the others I had seen in recovery before they took me back for my procedure. Everyone I saw was out of it or sleeping as they recovered. However, this did not work the same for me. I was awake during the procedure and was able to watch the whole thing on a computer screen in front of me! It was really interesting to watch this done.

I should mention that I got my degree as a Medical Assistant right out of high school about 20 years ago and my first job was working for a Gastroenterologist. So I've assisted in this procedure on others, but so much has changed over the last 20 years for sure! So here comes the BUMMER news! After this procedure was complete, I was supposed to be able to make a date with the surgeon within a couple of weeks and get my surgery date which would probably be sometime in May. HOWEVER, it was not to be :( Turns out my stomach is not shaped like it is supposed to be. The doctor, wanting to be on the safe side, has decided that I need a barium x - ray of my stomach now before we can go further. I do not know what this means. But what I do know is it sets me back a couple of more weeks or so and that makes me sad :(  He said it should not be a problem and if anything they could probably just fix whatever the problem is at the same time as the gastric bypass surgery.

That should just about wrap up this segment of my blog! I will be doing some writings on what has led to this part of my life to help give some understanding to my background. I hope that you will stay tuned as I begin my journey and rebuild my life as healthy woman.

Cheers and Much Love!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Endoscopy Day

Well today is the day I go in for my endoscopy. I am more than a little nervous. I have such a sensitive gag reflex and I'm scared that I'm going to freak out! I have had this done once before and do not have good memories. I know it will all be fine. I will say I am starving...more thirsty than anything else because I have not been allowed ANYTHING since midnight last night. The eating part does not bother me as much...but I just really want some water. I really wish I could have been one of the first appointments of the day but it was not to appointment is not till 12:30. I have a wonderful husband who has been so supportive. He has taken the day off to take care of me and our kiddos.

Well, here's hoping that the results all come back fine and the surgery can move forward pretty quickly! Wish me luck!

Cheers and Much Love!