Friday, August 29, 2014
I adore the internet!
I was planning out my exercise routine for the next two weeks, getting ready for the San Antonio Spark team's "Streaking into Fall" challenge. While my back is "some" improved due to the nearly 40 pounds I've lost, it is and will remain a "fragile back", due to spinal stenosis, lumbar degeneration, neural foraminal narrowing, etc. So I researched, researched, and researched some more. So much good information out there if you take the time to weed through some nonsense. I eliminated several types of exercises from my routine that are not back friendly and added many exercises into my routine which will help strengthen and/or alleviate or not aggravate a bad back.
I am determined to do this right and without injuries which may sideline my journey. In the event it might help someone else, I am listing exercise to avoid if you have a bad back. This is information gleaned and combined from at least 8 different sites, all of which are medical sites or sites that specialize in back disorders. I am a bit bummed that some of my favorite weight lifting exercises have to be eliminated, but I can still lift and still get some good iron pumping in, so I have to be satisfied with that. Hope some of this information makes a difference for someone. I know it will for me!
Exercises to AVOID:
ANY EXERCISE WHERE YOU ARE LEANING FORWARD AND PULSING
FULL SIT UPS
DOUBLE LEG LIFTS (too much strain on lower back)
LEG LIFTS WITH LEGS STRAIGHT OUT AS YOU LIE FLAT ON THE FLOOR
LIFTING WEIGHTS ABOVE YOUR HEAD
BENDING OR TWISTING WITH ANY TYPE OF WEIGHT IN YOUR HAND(S)
ANY EXERCISE THAT JARS OR TWISTS THE SPINE INCLUDING SOME DANCE ROUTINES.
TRY THESE INSTEAD:
PARTIAL CRUNCHES: Feet, tail bone, and lower back stay on the floor. Cross arms over chest, lift shoulders as you breathe out. Hold for 5-10 seconds and slowly lower back to floor.
HAMSTRING STRETCHES:Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pick up one leg with both hands placed behind your knee and then straighten your lower leg. These stretches should be held for about 20 seconds and repeated five times.
ALTERNATING LEG LIFTS WITH ONE KNEE BENT: Try lying on your back with one leg straight and the other leg bent at the knee. Slowly lift the straight leg up about 6 inches and hold briefly. Lower leg slowly. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
WALL SITS: Stand 10 to 12 inches from the wall, then lean back until your back is flat against the wall. Slowly slide down until your knees are slightly bent, pressing your lower back into the wall. Hold for a count of 10, then carefully slide back up the wall. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
PRESS UP BACK EXTENSIONS: Lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Push with your hands so your shoulders begin to lift off the floor. If it's comfortable for you, put your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders and hold this position for several seconds.
BIRD DOG: Start on your hands and knees, and tighten your stomach muscles. Lift and extend one leg behind you. Keep hips level. Hold for 5 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each leg, and try to lengthen the time you hold each lift. Try lifting and extending your opposite arm for each repetition. This exercise is a great way to learn how to stabilize the low back during movement of the arms and legs. While doing this exercise don't let the lower back muscles sag. Only raise the limbs to heights where the low back position can be maintained.
KNEE TO CHEST: Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Bring one knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor. Keep your lower back pressed to the floor, and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Then lower your knee and repeat with the other leg. Do this 2 to 4 times for each leg.
PELVIC TILTS: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Tighten your stomach by pulling in and imagining your belly button moving toward your spine. You’ll feel your back pressing into the floor, and your hips and pelvis rocking back. Hold for 10 seconds while breathing in and out smoothly.
BRIDGING: Lie on your back with knees bent and just your heels on the floor. Push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until shoulders, hips, and knees are in a straight line. Hold about 6 seconds, and then slowly lower hips to the floor and rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 to 12 times. Avoid arching your lower back as your hips move upward. Avoid overarching by tightening your abdominal muscles prior and throughout the lift.
SWIMMING (NO TWISTING STROKES)
So remember: PARTIAL SIT UPS, NOT FULL SIT UPS!
A few other good illustrations:
Wall sits are highly recommended!
Most important, with or without a bad back, KEEP MOVING AND KEEP ON KEEPING ON!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
This has almost nothing at all to do with weight loss, but it does have something to do with health. Why? Because this will make you laugh and laughter is healthy, and it uses up calories.
My husband Charles does a pretty decent Steve Urkel. If you don't know who Steve Urkel is, you are either very, very young, or very, very reclusive and television phobic. 'Nuff said about that.
He was challenged to do the ALS ice bucket challenge and to make a donation. We sent a check and he wanted to make his video of the challenge fun and interesting to watch. He also wanted to nominate a lot of influential people he knows (we aren't influential, but we know folks!), in the hopes of getting more donations. So, he decided Steve Urkel would do the challenge for him. He nominated former mayor of San Antonio Ed Garza, former mayor and now HUD secretary Julian Castro, and his twin brother and our Congressman Joaquin Castro (all of whom went to high school with him). He also nominated his little brother Marc, who is a Via Transportation board member, and Cary Clack, who is a very popular San Antonio journalist and P.R. rep for our current mayor, Ivy Taylor. Oh, yeah...and my little brother Woody, who is well...not influential at all unless you are a kid and like fart jokes. Lastly, he nominated Jaleel White, the actor who played Steve Urkel on TV.
I hope you like the video I made of him doing his challenge. It really is funny!
Sigh...I"m not sure the links work on here. If they don't, go to youtube.com and type in Pseudo Urkel takes the ALS challenge. It will come up. Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
As I sit sipping 4 ounces of tomato soup for breakfast (I moved from clear liquids to creamy liquids yesterday), thinking on how quickly the last 8 days have gone by. Despite the monotony of 7 days of clear liquids, this has not been an unpleasant experience at all.
I was at the hospital by 8:00 a.m. on Monday, the 28th of July. Our morning started out kind of funny. The ladies in registration were double, triple, quadruple checking every single thing on every single paper. I was thinking they were just being super cautious, rather than with the usual caution I've experience in hospital admissions before. It became apparent in the waiting area why so many precautions were taken with my paper work. I was talking to my family about how I was listed as my married name at the doctor's office, but the hospital insisted on listing me as my maiden name hyphenated with my married name because that was what is on my driver's license (you really do need to read carefully before signing those things at the DMV). A voice behind me said, "So YOU are the culprit!", and started laughing. It turns out that my maiden name is the same as his first name, and we both have the same last name....and we both were scheduled for surgery with the same doctor that morning! He arrived first and was accidentally given MY armband until his wife noticed he was listed as female. Everyone from admissions, to pre-op prep, to the OR staff were taking so many precautions with us - it became a joke. It was a serious situation to be sure, but we all made it funny with jokes and what not. They even marked my arm in big letters with the word SLEEVE and his with the word HERNIA so as not to allow the confusion to follow us into the operating room.
Here's a rather unflattering picture of me after getting my arm marked:
The surgery went on without a hitch. The doctor told my family I came through with flying colors. Doc told me the day after surgery that there was surprisingly little fat on my liver which was proof positive I had been eating relatively healthy for quite some time.
BOOYAH! - to those who didn't believe me and to the insurance company who denied me benefits for the surgery because they thought I could lose weight on my own, no matter what metabolic testing showed. The nurses at Foundation Surgical were top notch, as were the techs, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, and all of the staff. I was treated with so much respect and dignity. I was up and walking within hours of surgery. My husband, children, grandkids, friends, and other family members popped in and out over the three days, which cheered me up so much. Here are pictures of my husband and my grandson, and of my granddaughter, taken the evening after surgery. I don't look great, but I felt pretty good, other than weak and sore.
By day 2, I was looking and feeling a bit better. This made Robyn smile!
Speaking of weak and sore, that about sums up how it feels when you have a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. I've had pulled muscles that hurt worse. If you have a c-section or hysterectomy, you know what I am talking about how it feels like your guts are falling out when you stand up. None of that with this procedure. You feel sore, you have "twinges", but that is about it. I had 6 small incisions that each had about 4 staples. I was bruised, but not too bad except for one incision which bruised up pretty good. I had a morphine drip I used twice the first day and wouldn't have used at all after that except they gave me a potassium drip the second day since I was low and OUCH that burns like crazy!
*****WARNING FOR THE SQUEAMISH! WARNING FOR THE SQUEAMISH! WARNING! ******
PUT YOUR HAND UP OVER THE SCREEN AND SCROLL PAST THE NEXT FOUR PICTURES OF FOUR OF MY INCISIONS TAKEN BEFORE THE STAPLES WERE REMOVED. THEY AREN'T TOO BAD, BUT SOME FOLKS ARE SENSITIVE! DON'T SAY YOU WEREN'T WARNED!
HERE WE GO!
Pretty, huh? They looked a bit worse after staple removal, and with all the gluing and steri-stripping my tummy is now a mess of falling off strips and glue residue. Ick. Still too sensitive to scrub.
Walking, oh yeah....lots of that. As I said I was up and walking LOTS from day 1. Unfortunately, the hall I was allowed to walk in is only about 100 yards long, so it got pretty darn monotonous. Here's a picture of me all pretty in pink on the morning of day 2. I had them unplug the IVs from my arm so I could walk unencumbered. Walking with the IV pole on day 1 made me feel clumsy and a bit like an invalid.
Foundation is a very small, private hospital. The rooms are all private and have a little alcove "sitting area" if you don't want folks surrounding your bed when they visit. The love seat folds out into single bed, which my husband slept on the first night. He wanted to make sure I was okay. I was, so he got the luxury of our own bed at home after that. He is the dearest man on Earth, I tell you. I had a great view of grass and trees (and the side of the outer building). In the evening, deer came out to feed and a few came right up to my window. It was lovely, enchanting, and entertaining. None of the pics from the evening came out well, but this was my daytime view.
The worst and most monotonous part of the stay? The fact that they have real chefs preparing the meals at this hospital and I was on a strict all liquid diet from day one until yesterday. Foundation is a 20 bed hospital, so they can have more flair with cuisine than most hospitals. Chef Alan informed me on the morning after surgery that had I been on a regular diet, lunch would have been Chicken Pasta Provençal and dinner Veal Marsala. Apparently Tuesday was Italian fare. Instead, I got variety! The big culinary question of the day was, "What color will today's sugar free popsicle be?". Every meal had broth, hot or iced tea, orange sugar free jello, and a popsicle. Strangely enough, the popsicles were delicious. I had to ask to make sure they were sugar free, because they were so sweet. One of the techs told me that they had tried many types, but the ones the patients liked best were the cheap Budget Savers brand popsicles. They are sold in regular and sugar free form. We can get them here in Texas at HEB. I was fed six meals while there. Here's four of them.
I came home from the hospital on Day 3, Wednesday evening. I've been getting stronger and less sore every day. Now I am just a little sore when I bend, and I get tired easier than usual, but from what I've read, this is normal. I was able to go shopping at Burlington and a few other places on Saturday with my husband, and to the grocery store with him on Sunday. I've done some walking, and some strength training. This weekend I can go back to swimming if my incisions look good.
Yesterday I started creamy liquids. I swooned over cream of mushroom soup (4 ounces) for breakfast and lunch. I actually got teary-eyed when I got to eat a sugar free chocolate pudding cup in the evening...so good! I will be eating like this for two weeks and then move into the final two week phase of soft, moist foods like tuna with a little mayo, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, grilled fish, protein shakes, black beans and pinto beans. After that, starting on September 1st, I start my "new normal" eating of 3-5 small protein based meals per day. I'll be on a high protein, lower carb lifestyle from here on.
I'm working hard on the outside of me now that I am home. I've pledged to follow all the rules so that the inside of me gets where it needs to be. As to the outside, I've promised myself to keep my nails done, to take care of my hair and my skin better than I have been, and to love myself and pamper myself a whole lot more. I'm totally prepared for all the loose skin that is inevitable with rapid weight loss. The better I care for myself, the more I will come to terms with the other down side - looking older. Since I have lost 25 pounds (19 pre-surgery and 6 post) it is really showing in my face and most especially in my neck. My husband has pledged to have my neck and face taken care of (yeah, I am vain enough to have plastic surgery) for my 55th birthday next May. It means a WHOLE LOTTA savings and selling off some unneeded stuff and some creative money raising and side jobs for both of us, but it will happen. I'm hoping that insurance will pay for the skin removal on my belly so that after the face and neck we can start a savings treasure chest for my ...uh...treasure "chest" if you get my meaning.
I got my hair cut yesterday. I can wear it down as in the picture or I can flip the sides and ends for a whole new look. My sister-in-law and I are giving each other highlights this afternoon or tomorrow. What do you think? Sassy was the look I was going for.
Well that is all the news that is fit to print. I'm doing great and I'm happy that the surgical weight gain from all of the swelling and IV fluids is gone and I can report a 6 pound post surgical drop. Next blog I will post some before pics taken a week before surgery in my bathing suit and bathing suit pics taken a couple weeks after. Going to work up my nerve and post them...really!
Life is good. Again and again and always and forever I say to you - Never give up. Never give in. As always, I love you all.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I will be having vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery. For those who don't know, this means my stomach will be reduced by about 80%. I elected to have this procedure rather than the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for a number of reasons, most prominently because I don't want to have a lot of re-routing of my intestines, making it much less invasive and easier to heal from. There isn't so much of that awful "dumping" syndrome you hear of with bypass, either. What differentiates a gastric sleeve procedure from gastric bypass is the nerves to the stomach and the outlet valve of the stomach remain intact to preserve the functions of the stomach while at the same time reducing the amount it is able to hold. There is no bypass of the intestines with the gastric sleeve, only stomach capacity reduction.
Basically they are going to make my stomach into a "sleeve" which resembles a banana or some folks say a hockey stick which will hold 4 or less ounces at a time. The area of the stomach being removed also produces Ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates appetite. My endocrinologist says I have high levels of ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, which seems to make high calorie and high fat foods look more appealing and draw you to them, even when you aren't truly hungry. You experience that false sense called "head hunger". I get that a lot! Here's a picture of what basically happens in a VSG procedure:
And here is the main reason I don't want the full gastric bypass; so much rerouting of my bits and pieces!
My appointment on the 11th with my surgeon went well, though he said he needed to see another 10 pounds off me by the 28th. They have you rapidly lose weight over a short amount of time to reduce the fat on your liver. If there is too much fat or the liver is too large, it makes seeing what they are doing inside you very difficult. So, 10 pounds off by the 28th or surgery is rescheduled. Not going to happen if I can help it!
I've lost almost 5 pounds since then, and have to lose another 5 in the next 12 1/2 days. I saw the nutritionist the same day. The general diet for two weeks before surgery is 2 meals a day consisting of liquid protein and 1 meal of about 3 ounces of lean protein and one non-starchy vegetable with no fat. Because I have to lose so much so fast, we opted to go with all three meals being liquid protein.
I also have to walk more, despite my bad knees, because the chance for a pulmonary embolism is increased with poor circulation and I'll be walking a lot right after surgery while still in the hospital. So, walking I'm doing. Slowly. Painfully at times, but it will beat having a blood clot any day of the week!
This isn't an easy path I've chosen, despite what some think. It's the path that years of attempts and failures and rapidly declining health has brought me to. I'm excited for my new, improved, healthier life to start. I'm also scared of complications, but the excitement is still the prevalent emotion here.
I'll post at least one more blog before surgery. After surgery, the blogs will mostly be updates with pictures of my progress. I hope some of you find this of interest and I hope all of you will wish me success.
As always, I love you all.
Sunday, June 22, 2014
east to raise money for me to have bariatric surgery when our insurance refused, despite letters of medical necessity from several of my doctors. Feel free to like the page, no one is asking for funds, it is now just a page to keep up with me on my journey before, during, and after my Vertical Gastric Sleeve surgery. It's a place to watch me bloom!
It was anticipated that it would take about a year to 18 months to get the money raised, starting this past January. It's been such a whirlwind of activity! There was direct gifting on one funding site in January and February, a humongous rummage sale that so many San Antonio sparkers, friends and family donated to and worked in April, and the selling of Save the She Beast t-shirts in March and June. One beautiful Spark member, GOLDENDOMER00, donated all of the profits from one very successful Premier Jewelry party in February to the cause. Another friend who sells Avon did a fundraiser. A local musician who went to high school with my husband donated all of the tips from one of his gigs to us. What took us to our goal in only five months were two extremely generous gifts from benefactors who wish to remain anonymous. All together it equaled us getting the $15,000 needed for the surgery.
Melissa (GOLDENDOMER00) and some of her gorgeous jewelry from the PremierJewelry Fundraiser, and Melissa and me!
We were invited to appear on a local tv show, Great Day S.A., to talk about the campaign:
Me and my daughter goofing on the set:
Our group of San Antonio Sparkers and family with some of the cast of GDSA:
Here's some folks in their Save the She Beast t-shirts:
Pics from the rummage sale:
These are some of the volunteers at the rummage sale: Debra (HEALTHYHABITGAL) holding my granddaughter, Heidi (HEIDIJUNEBUG), me, Sarah Marie, my son-in-law Colin, and my daughter Carly. There were a lot of other volunteers, as well!
As soon as all of the money was pledged, I got busy scheduling what I needed to have done before surgery could be scheduled. I got clearance from my cardiologist and my primary care doctor. Here is my awesome heart guru and life saver after my heart attack, Dr. Kuri, signing the release:
I think my primary care doctor was as happy as me to find out I would be able to get the surgery soon. He's by far the best PCP I've ever had. My husband and I went together to see him (we are both his patients). Dr. Jaafar told us the doctor who will be performing my surgery was THE man to do this particular procedure and that he was the best of the best. That was incredibly reassuring. Here's a pic my husband snapped of me and Dr. J.
Tomorrow I have the first of several dietary consults, as well as a bone scan. On Tuesday I have an endoscopy to ensure that I have no active ulcers, gastritis or H. Pylori bacteria in my stomach. I also will have a psychological evaluation so any pre-surgery psychosocial factors are identified and dealt with. A person who has bariatric surgery is going to face permanent changes in eating and dietary habits, altered body experiences, changing body image issues, new feelings and a new lifestyle. There are a lot of unexpected changes in relationships possible as well. This evaluation should help pinpoint both my concerns as well as what a skilled professional might see as areas of concern such as unrealistic expectations so they can be worked on.
After all of the testing, I need to pay the anesthesiologist, hospital, and of course the surgeon. When I take care of this my surgery date will be finalized. Surgery has been tentatively set for July 28th. That's just FIVE WEEKS AWAY! I'm excited, scared (which is normal), and READY. I have a lot of faith in the bariatric center I'm working with, BMI of Texas, and with the doctor who will perform my surgery. Dr. Duperier comes highly recommended, not only by my own physician, but by three people I know, one of whom is a San Antonio Spark team member! Dr. D's associate, Dr. Seger, did the procedure for another friend and fellow SA Sparker. All of these folks are doing well and their results so far are wonderful.
I hope everyone reading this understands and believes how grateful and appreciative I am for what I've been given. So many people pitched in with money, purchases, and their time, love, good thoughts, and prayers for this to happen for me. I will never, ever forget for a minute. When I struggle, I will remember how many people had faith in me and loved me enough to make this happen for me. When I am finally in less pain and able to move more I will feel the gratitude anew. As the amount of medications I take get less and less I will be giving thanks for all that has been done for me. When I climb the stairs to my bedroom at night and don't have to pause to catch my breath several times I will be mentally sending love and praise to everyone who cared. When I can finally get down on the floor and roll a ball back and forth with my grand baby, tears of appreciation for what was given will flow. For every milestone, big and small, I will remember and be grateful.
I am especially grateful for my beautiful, talented, driven, and dynamic little fairy princess hippie child, the mother of my two littlest grandbabies, and the force behind the Save the She Beast campaign. Without her determination and hard work, this wouldn't be happening. Thank you, Carly. I love you so very much.
Here's a picture of Carly at Halloween before she cut her hair short. She was a midnight fairy.
There are so many others I haven't mentioned who were so helpful and instrumental to the cause. If I didn't mention you, please don't hold it against me. You are so loved and appreciated!
Stay tuned. There is a new, improved, twice as loving and just as fierce She-Beast in the making! As always, I love you all.
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