Friday, April 30, 2010

A warm fuzzy...

Whenever I get a nice e-mail or card that really makes me feel good about myself, I keep in a file in my desk called "warm fuzzies." A lot of them are from my patients telling me how wonderful their birth experience was. Some are from different administrators from when I went to college, writing me congratulations or recommendation letters. A few are funny or touching letters from my family.

When I have a bad day, or just need a pick-me-up, I go to this file and read them all. It ALWAYS makes me feel better.

When I started writing this blog, I was showered with a lot of e-mails, phone calls, and faceboook comments. They were all very sweet and supportive; just what I needed at the time. I couldn’t keep them all in my “warm fuzzy” file, but receiving them was so pivotal in my continued success. I can’t thank everyone enough.

The past few weeks my weight loss has begun to slow a bit. Even though this was an expected part of the process, I still got discouraged thinking “THIS IS IT?!?!?” After losing 5-10lbs a week, it is a scary thing to think it was over. I have lost a lot of weight in the past 10 weeks or so, BUT I know I have plenty more weight to lose.

A few days ago, I received a touching e-mail from a friend I went to college with who I haven’t seen in years. It was unexpected, but just what I needed…the perfect e-mail at the perfect time. I was reminded that weight is a continuing struggle for a lot of people who chose to lose weight in different ways. It also reminded me that I need to keep writing, not only for myself, but for the people who read this blog. It brought tears to my eyes and pushed me out of the slump I had been in for the last week or so.

With her permission, I would love to share it with you now.


Hi Kristen,

I know we haven't been in touch much since the Simmons days, but I really felt like I had to send you a message. I have been thinking about writing you for a while, but until this point hadn't really felt like I "should" or had the courage to, ha ha.

I have been reading your blog, and have been incredibly moved and amazed by it. Not only are you a great writer, but your honesty and openness in your writing is courageous, inspiring, and beautiful, all at once. It is truly refreshing to read words about a person's relationship and battle with food that I could relate to. Because that's what it is - a relationship. So many times while reading your postings I found myself nodding uncontrollably... other times laughing out loud, and still others, tearing up.

My own personal "issues" with food have been extensive since junior high, and I have been both unhealthily under- and (most recently in the last few years since college) over- weight, but I feel like I am finally getting to a place where I am learning how to form a new and different relationship with it, and look at it in a different way. It is, as you know; quiet a struggle, with ups and downs (both on the scale and emotionally) along the way, but definitely worth it in the end.

While I know I do not have an identical story to yours, and would never claim to, there are definitely parts of it that strike incredibly close to home and that I can relate to and see myself in.

Since the fall, I have lost 43 lbs so far. I have hit a plateau, and am very frustrated at times, but I am still determined to keep going. I want to be at a place where I am healthy, in body and mind, and with food.

I know we were not super close in school, and I'm not even entirely sure why I am writing all of this to you, especially because it can be such a personal and emotional thing, ha ha, but I guess it's mostly to say thank you for having the courage to be true to yourself, and to share that with others. I also wanted to congratulate you on your amazing successes so far - both the actual weight loss, and the very apparent personal struggles and growth you have gone through in getting here.

I sincerely apologize if this seems like a really random "why the hell is she writing me and telling me this stuff" message, or if I have over-stepped in any way, but I really felt like I wanted to write.

Keep up the good work! You look sensational!!! As I know you know, the process of losing weight and becoming healthier comes hand-in-hand with emotional growth as well, and so I congratulate you on that as well!


Yesterday, I stepped on the scale and saw I had finally reached another milestone I had been anxiously waiting for. I had finally lost 60lbs.

Those last 5 pounds were the hardest to lose since I had my surgery. I realize now that I need to continuously remind myself that this is an 18-month process and more weight will come off. But when it slows or I get discouraged, I’m really glad I have this e-mail in my “warm fuzzy” file!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

My "uncommon" cold

Right now I have a cold. Or maybe it’s allergies. I don’t really know…but whatever it is, this nastiness has come straight from the devil himself. I’m sure of it.

I am so congested that I cannot currently breathe out of my nose, which (whenever I'm not sneezing...which isn't very often) is draining some sort of occasionally, yellowish goo….constantly. I have a headache and a sore, scratchy throat. My eyes are puffy and I have a deep, hard cough. So much so, in fact, that whenever I do have a coughing fit, I feel like I’m going to pee my pants.

It is the first time I’ve had a cold since I’ve had surgery. It is also the first time I am not armed with my go-to-cold med: Advil cold and sinus. (no ibuprofen allowed post-op) I was so tempted to buy it and take it anyways, but since I already have a tiny ulcer, I really don’t want to make things worse. I also wanted to get some Sudafed, but I wasn’t sure if I could crush it. I looked like death and didn’t feel like explaining my story to the pharmacist, so I just skipped it.

It is really frustrating to me sometimes that I can’t just take whatever pills I want. Being a nurse, I like to diagnose and cure myself with the meds I can easily get over the counter. But now, everything has to be crushed, chewable, or in liquid form. Half of things don’t even come this way, so sometimes I feel like “MacGyver” when I go to CVS.

Today I armed myself with children’s Benadryl, Nyquil, Dayquil, infant’s Tylenol, chicken soup, and anti-viral tissues. Nothing seems to be working as well as my ibuprofen/Sudafed, but I’m trying to make do. I'm not eating much, but I am making sure that I get those fluids in. God help me if I get dehydrated as well.

This whole thing has been going on since Sunday, but I’m hoping to cure myself by tomorrow night when I have to work. I don’t really have any sick time to call out, so everyone needs to say a little prayer for me and my congested nose! ::sniff sniff:::

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Workin' hard for the money...

I love my job. I love the people that I work with. But going back to work after being out for over 7 weeks was terrifying.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that I legitimately have the coolest job on the planet. Busy? Yes. Stressful? Sure. But there is just something about becoming a part of someone’s life story that really gives me a high that I can’t even describe. I mean, I would love to be independently wealthy and just shop for Coach bags all day, but since I do have to work to pay my mortgage- there isn’t another job I would want.

I wanted….no….I NEEDED to go back to work. When you are a single person, who lives alone, work is where you’s what you do. Sure, it’s fun to be out for a few weeks…but by week 4 and 5, I was losing it. I really missed everyone. I missed being amongst the living. Plus, I was developing a really unhealthy relationship with my cat, Gabriel. I would talk to him….and then I would answer for him….to myself. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to get back.

Monday was my first 12 hour night shift back at work. I was nauseous all day; I couldn’t sleep or even nap beforehand. The fear of harming someone or their baby can really be paralyzing. But, there was no avoiding work, so off I went. When I walked into the locker room, I had a sudden and unexpected realization.

I had no idea what size scrubs I wore.

I was in there alone, So I figured I would just try some on until I found something that fit. I started with a large. (2 sizes smaller than I was wearing before) I held them up, shrugged my shoulders and slipped them on…totally not expecting to make it past my hips. But up they went, and they fit just fine.

I almost died.

After several hugs and plenty of people telling me “you look great!” I got down to business. Besides the fact that I was exhausted and a little out of practice (or “a hot mess” as I like to put it) it was a great night. Everyone was so supportive and helpful, it really makes me realize how lucky I am to work with the people that I do.

So, tonight I’m going back…and I’m a little less nervous. But, when the anxiety does creep up a little bit, I just remember that when I get there…I’m only wearing large scrubs. And everything seems a just little bit better.

OH…and if you can even believe it, today I am 8 weeks post-op…and I am down 57lbs. Here are some pictures from a wedding I went to last Saturday. I just showed my friend, and she responded “Holy mother, batman!”…so I guess I’m looking pretty good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The big "five-oh"

So, yesterday I went to my parent’s house for Easter dinner. The first family holiday where I wouldn’t be eating like I used to. It was interesting….for several reasons. (Most of which I really can’t go into yet)

I know I have mentioned it before, but food is a big deal in my family. And this was the first time most of my family members and friends would be seeing the new way I eat. I knew some people there didn’t agree with my surgery. So, the anxiety about being judged was almost unbearable.

My parents are the cutest people alive. Since my surgery, they have really been awesome. My mom has always checked with me before I come over, making sure she has different soft foods around for me to have. We must have gone over the menu for Easter dinner a million times, until I felt comfortable. So, when I sat down to eat yesterday, I knew I couldn’t have everything, but I had enough to make me happy. And after dinner, when I felt a little uncomfortable but didn’t want to show it, my dad could tell. He came right up with a big hug. Funny how things like that just make you feel better.

But the big news, and the real reason for this post, was that I hit a big milestone yesterday.

Every fat person has a weigh-in routine to make the lowest number possible come up on the scale. Mine has always been very complicated. I must weigh myself in the morning, after going to the bathroom, but before eating or drinking anything. I am only allowed to be wearing a pajama top and bottom…no slippers or socks. Oh, and it must be done before showering, because wet hair adds extra water weight. I know because I’ve checked. Yeah…I’m kind of insane.

But yesterday, after the bathroom and before my shower, I saw the magic number I’ve been waiting weeks for. Yesterday, I was only post-op 6 weeks and 4 days. And when I looked down to the number on the scale, I saw that I had lost 50lbs exactly. This is my lowest weight in at least 10 years. I literally did the happy dance.

Thank god I live alone.

So, in celebration of this milestone (and because I looked just fabulous) I am putting up some pictures my mom took of me. They are kind of blurry because my mom’s camera is from the dawn of time, but I think it gets the job done.

Thank you everyone for continuing to read about my journey and for the support you give me! You can't even begin to imagine how much your support has helped me get to this point. It’s incredible.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

It is a gorgeous day here in Boston, Massachusetts. 78 degrees…not a cloud in the sky. So, I’m sitting outside in a lawn chair basking in the warm rays of the sun and listening to a little Michael Buble as I write this. There couldn’t be a more perfect day...and I have the happy tears to prove it.

Today, I realized that I’m pretty.

I’ve been pretty much hiding my fat ever since I can remember. Even after my surgery…20…30...40 pounds gone, I still stayed in my same clothes. Hiding. But today I am 6 ½ weeks after my surgery and I have taken a huge step. On an ordinary day at the gym, hair not done, make-up not on, I looked into the mirror and had a thought.

I look really cute.

Growing up, I think we are all bombarded with what society considers to be beautiful. But these same people tell us to “be yourself…be happy with who YOU are!” Yeah right. I can only imagine the people who came up with this plan were a size 4. Maybe a size 6.

When I was growing up it wasn’t ok to be fat. Not even a little bit. Lane Bryant was a store for old ladies. There was no plus sized section of Old Navy. It was IMPOSSIBLE to be fashionable and fat. So impossible, in fact, I could only find one store that really catered to my size and made me feel comfortable. The Disney Store. Yeah….I really don’t want to talk about it…

But I will.

I developed a rather unhealthy obsession with a small orange bear named Winnie the Pooh. He was cute, kind of shy, liked to eat, and had a rather portly belly. It was like we were made for each other. I hid all my fat behind clothes with this small bear on it. And it made me feel good. But today, I cringe when I think about how I am remembered by my high school class as “the Winnie the pooh” girl. You really can’t live that one down. Ever.

I have NEVER felt pretty. Ever. Sometimes I felt I could look less unattractive than normal, but I was always self-conscious of my appearance. Actually, it made me chuckle when, after my first post, I mentioned how ugly I have always felt. I received so many comments, emails, and faceboook messages about that one line. Saying how wrong I was and that I REALLY was beautiful all along. I wish I could describe how I felt. Kind of like when you bump into someone accidentally…and it’s totally your fault. But then they apologize. You are kind of confused, but you just say thank you and go on with your day.

So I went on with my life…losing weight, but never really seeing it. Everyone told me I looked good, and I would nod like I was supposed to. I believed that I was smaller….but good? Yeah…I was pretty sure I wasn’t quite there yet.

But, yesterday, I NEEDED to buy some new clothes. My trainer threatened my life when I continued to trip over the pants I was wearing to the gym that were 3 sizes too big. But smaller clothes, meant people would see me. And there would be nowhere to hide. So, I brought my mom to the store with me…and like a frightened little kid, I clutched to her as I picked out some new clothes.

When I woke up this morning (late of course) to get to the gym. I threw on the cute little Capri yoga pants and tank top I bought at Old Navy. I was surprised when they weren’t loose like the other ones. They were tight…like “spandex” tight.

Friggin’ awesome.

I didn’t have time to worry about it…I grabbed a hoodie to hide my huge bum and flew out the door, making it there just s smidge late. So I worked out...lunges…rows...some jumpy thing that really kicked my ass. (probably my punishment for being 10 minutes late) The hoodie came off about 20 minutes into the workout, figuring that passing out from wearing it would be way more embarrassing than anyone looking at my giant bottom. Honestly, I didn’t have the energy to care.

The last thing she made me do were bicep curls with a straight barbell…in front of the floor to ceiling mirror. As I was doing them, I was staring at myself. This is something I haven’t done since losing some weight. Really, not so much before surgery either. A quick glance to check an outfit, hair, or make-up? Sure. But REALLY looked at myself? The thought had never even entered my mind.

So standing there…tight spandex pants…sweaty tank top…hair in a bun at the top of my head, I really looked at myself. And for the first time ever, I liked what I saw.

I know I’m only at the beginning of this journey…and I have a ways to go to get to where I really want to be. But at least, now, I can do it with my head up and my eyes bright. So, look out world...because Kristen isn’t hiding anymore.