Tuesday, June 29, 2010

10,000 hits...oh my!

Checking in on the blog this morning, I noticed that my counter had hit over 10,000 views! I felt so honored and stunned by this early morning surprise!

Thank you so much to all the people who read, forward, and comment on my blog. Looking at how far I’ve come in these past 5 months, I realized just how much your support has helped me through the highs and lows of my time post-op.

I know I wouldn’t be where I am at this point without all of you! : )


Hair update!!!

I love being a nurse.

One of the many reasons is because whenever I have some sort of weird medical issue, I can just talk to one of the several doctors I work with and get some quality free medical advice.

So, when one of my favorite dermatologists saw my blog entry about my hair loss, he gave me a brief consult…through faceboook. Awesome.

This is what he said. It seemed to calm me, so for all you post-ops out there who were as scared as I was about the hair loss, read on.


Hi Kristen,

I hope you're well! You don't know this but I have an RSS subscription to your blog and I read it all the time. It's truly fantastic--you have a talent. And it's wonderful to see how great you've been doing!

I read your post about hair loss, and you don't need to be concerned. Beyond nutrition, your hair loss is at the time that is classic for something called telogen effluvium-- a sudden loss of hair that occurs at three months out of a physically or emotionally (or in your case both) event.

To get nerdy about it, hair goes through 4 different stages. The longest stage is anagen, where your hair hangs out for years. Right before it falls out, it turns into a stage called telogen. Normally about 10-15% of your hair is telogen at any given time.

People who go through the stresses I mentioned have their hair covert from anagen phase to telogen in large amounts. 3 months after you convert to telogen hair starts falling out, which is what you're noticing now. It's not pathologic, just a premature aging of the hair.

Your hair will come back, but sometimes it takes up to 3 months for the telogen effluvium (the falling out of all the telogen hairs) to occur, then 3-6 months afterwards for people to feel that they have their whole hair density back. Usually you forget about it after a while and nobody other than you notices that your hair is thin.

There's nothing much that you can do to change this so don't waste your money on anything expensive. If you're concerned, volumizing shampoos change the electric charges on the hair to make them repel one another and seem larger, but based on the pictures of yours that I've seen you don't need it.

So relax, forget about it, and find something else to worry about.

You look wonderful.



Like I said, I love this guy. He is a fantastic doctor, but more importantly he is a wonderful friend.

Does my hair still come out in clumps? Sure. But now that I know there is really no “cure” for this, I’ve decided to save my money and just chill out about the whole thing.

Thanks, A!!!! : )

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where have I been?

You may have been asking just where the heck have I been…and the answer is back in NJ, welcoming my new niece into the world! Miss Ella Violet. This little girl just melts my heart into a sweet little puddle. I just can’t get enough of her. So for being so patient, I will reward you all with a post full of pictures.

Let's start with the cutest, shall we?

So yes, I was back to visit my best friend and help her out a little as she transitioned from a mother of one to a mother of two. Well...at least I tried to help. It was hard to not snuggle this little bundle all day long.

Chasing her big brother around makes my guilt about not going to the gym just float away. Kinda. It’s fun to play with him and I feel sooo much more active now than I did before my surgery. But still, I think she deserves a big gold medal every day…attached to a very fancy new coach bag.

Anywhoo…while I was down there I discovered a few things "gastric bipass-wise." Let me share.

First, I hate the fact that I cannot eat and drink at the same time. Its annoying. It’s frustrating. And it’s the one habit I have from my pre-surgery brain that I just can’t seem to shake. I literally have to remove my cup from the table when I’m eating or I will still drink, just out of habit, and will certainly pay for it afterwards. It really friggin’ hurts.

When you eat and drink at the same time you feel full (and queasy) quicker while also allowing your food to move through your pouch quicker, making you want to eat and drink more. A “catch 22.” My new found solution?


You can’t not eat and drink at the same time when you are eating watermelon. It’s fantastic. As you are chewing the fruit just disintegrates and the juice explodes from it. It’s like it’s own little cleansing sip of liquid deliciousness with every bite…unlike any other fruit I’ve tried.

On the 6 hour drive home, I know I ate at least half of a whole melon. It was heaven. Thank god I wasn’t pulled over. (I would have loved to see myself try to explain this to the cop)

Second, is that I am eating pretty much anything I want. (within reason…I haven’t tried sugar at all…I mean, do I even WANT to know if I can eat cake? No way. Too dangerous.) I have even conquered the dreaded lettuce that has been giving me trouble for so long. I still eat tiny portions and I always feel really full after I eat, but at least I kind of feel like I have a handle on it now. It really makes me feel less stressed when I am eating with people.

Or when people are cooking for me. Like my best friend’s husband…a professional chef. He is the second reason I want them to live closer to me. (His mashed potatoes could bring peace to the middle east….I’m sure of it.)

Lastly, I partook in my new favorite treat, Rita’s (sugar free) water ice again! This time, I had the pineapple flavor and it was equally delish as the mango peach. Please…I’m begging…someone bring one of these places to the Boston area!

Preferably, within walking distance to my house.

Empty closets...

I officially don’t fit into anything in my closet anymore. Anything. Not even one of the two bridesmaid dresses I bought for my sister’s wedding in the fall.


Since the surgery, I’ve gone down about 6 dress sizes and for the last few months I was living off the leftovers in my closet from the other diets I’ve been on. Now, I’m at a weight that I haven’t been at since I was in the 9th grade. And unless I want to be sporting fashions from 1997, I’m on my own. At this point, if I didn’t buy it in the last few weeks, it doesn’t fit. Great for me. Bad for whoever sees me out in the world.

The bras were the saddest thing for me to send to the ever growing “this no longer fits me” pile. I loved my bras. Loved them. But my once fantastic boobs have been slowly deflating and are now sad and lifeless. Some people have a breast reduction or augmentation post surgery because of all of the extra skin. I already had a breast reduction in 2003 when I was 22. I was a 40 I cup.

Yes, you read that right.

Yes they do actually make I cups bras.

No you can’t buy them in the stores.

They look something like your grandmother would wear, but the size of a parachute. Don’t believe me?? Ok…here’s a picture of me when i was a G cup:


So I went for a bra fitting, to try and perk them up a little with a little bra magic. I asked to be measured, thinking my DD cup would have shrunk to at least a C. I got measured from here to Sunday and do you know what the woman tells me? That I have gone from a 40DD to a 38DD. WHAT?!?!? No way. Not possible. But she made me try one on. So I did. And It fit perfectly. Apparently, to make myself feel better as I gained weight, I squeezed myself into bras that were waaay too small for me. And then, over time, I just stretched them out.


But on the bright side, I learned that unlike new shoes, bras were not supposed to be painful the first month or so you wore them. ::rolls eyes:: So, I love my new bras. They are comfy and do the “perking” job as well as can be expected.

Even though I have really been trying to keep the money spending on clothing to a minimum I need to leave the house in something that doesn’t require me to pull it up every 3 minutes. (“Pants on the ground…pants on the ground…lookin’ like a fool with yo’ pants on the ground!!!...ummm…sorry…that just popped into my head) So, I shop the clearance racks like a mad woman.

The newest store I have frequented? American Eagle. A store I was convinced was made for 14 year old girls/guys. Or at least that’s what I told myself when I went in there with my friends and didn’t fit into anyting. (a double zero?!?! That’s really a size?!?!? Come on!) Now I’m shopping their clearance racks for some great deals! OH- and I’m not wearing the biggest size in the store either.

Go me!

Here are some pics of me with one of my new shirts. And with my cat. (He just LOVES to get into these pictures.) I'm 18 weeks post-op today and 87lbs down. I'm happy where I am right now, but I'd love to lose about 30 more. We'll just have to wait and see... : )

My own little support group...

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not the only one in my family that had this surgery.

We weren’t planning it this way, but me, my aunt, and my cousin all had the surgery all within 6 months of each other. Strange, but true. My aunt had her gastric bi-pass in October and my cousin had his just 2 weeks before I did in February. Even though we all had things done around the same time, we never really talked together about anything. And I don’t really know why.

Well, last weekend I was at their house for a party and I got to see them for the first time. (and I got to wear those new jeans I was talking about in my last post…they looked phenomenal!) Both of them looked so good, but beyond that we got to sit down and talk. Really talk. And it was awesome.

We talked about food. What they eat, what I eat, what we wish we could eat. Then we talked about the actual surgery…complications or the lack there of. And we also discussed the mental part of the surgery and how we all felt great and would do it again in a heartbeat.

It was all great, but most importantly to me, we talked about how we dealt with the fact that some of our family members had trouble with or can’t accept the fact that we had surgery. It’s something that is a huge issue for me and something I choose to keep off this blog. Regardless, it was so comforting to know that they had this problem too and to get some pointers on how they dealt with it. The whole thing was like a little support group. I felt so good afterwards.

From now on, I hope we can stay closer in touch. Pointers, support, and yummy food? I mean…you can’t go wrong with that!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Polite wisdom...

It’s weird that strangers are suddenly treating me differently.

I am generally a nice person. No matter where I am, I am overly polite…to everyone. Even on the phone. (Actually, my “phone voice” has been made fun of on several different occasions) You will always get a please or thank you along with eye contact and a smile out of me.

Mostly, I think that I do this is because I have a paralyzing fear of being judged by strangers, so I will do anything to not make people think of me as the “horrible fat girl.” I guess it’s not the worst reaction to a paralyzing fear that a person could have…But I digress…

I pretty much thought I was the only polite person in the world left, judging by the reactions I usually got from people. But recently, people’s reactions have changed…a lot. I have been getting the eye contact and smiles back. People have been saying “hello!” or “have a nice day!” right out of nowhere.

It’s been really surprising….and completely infuriating.

I mean, what was wrong with me before? Now that I’m smaller, I’m suddenly visible to the world? Suddenly acceptable? I guess I just never realized how people were treating me. But, now that I can see the difference, I am completely disgusted.

Regardless of how thin I get, I plan on continuing to treat people the same way I have always treated them. But, from now on, I’m not going to do it because I’m afraid of being judged. I’m going to do it because I’m a nice person. To be perfectly honest, everyone deserves respect…no matter what they look like.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blue jean blues...

Yesterday, I went to the Wrentham Outlets with a plan to buy a baby gift…which, of course, I didn’t buy. Instead I bought a new outfit to give the gift in. I mean, priorities, right?

It was strange to buy clothes in a “regular” store. In fact I didn’t even go into Lane Bryant at all. (Start selling your stock now!....Seriously, I think I single handedly carried that company through the recession) Alone, I ventured into J Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Ann Taylor. Usually I avoided these stores because the employees looked at me like I didn’t belong in there. But not this time.

I found a pair of jeans on the clearance rack at Tommy Hilfiger. Size 16. They looked way too small on the hanger, but they were a great deal. I figured I’d try them on…if they were a bit small, I could keep them for later. So I went into the dressing room and my new friend, Janice, set me up. She stated the obligatory, “let me know if you need any help!” and smiled at me. I went in to the dressing room with my heart thumping.

Trying on jeans is like nothing else in the world. I have a ritual for this (of course) in order to try and absorb the usual emotional blow I get with this task.

First, I started to pray. “Jesus,” I said to myself, “please let these jeans at least come over my thighs…even if they won’t button...just let them come past my thighs.” I took a deep breath and pulled. And they came up…surprisingly easily. Over my thighs…over my butt…and they buttoned, without me having to practice some king of Lamaz breathing. But did they look good? A little tight? Muffin top? I was trying to figure it out when I had an idea…and I did something I have never done before.

“Janice,” I said as I opened the dressing room door, “do these jeans look too small?”

I was waiting for an awkward pause. Knowing she would need a moment to try to think of some clever way to let me down easy. But without a second thought, she glanced at me, smiled, and said, “No way, hun! They look great! We actually have some shirts on the same rack that would look cute with them…you should check it out!”

It was so liberating that it set me off on a shopping spree.

So yes, now I have a cute new outfit for today. And yes, because of the shopping I did for myself yesterday, I will spend the morning running around to get a last minute baby gift. But to me (and my self esteem) it was totally worth it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Becoming a bathing beauty...

So…a few weeks ago I went to the beach with some friends. And, although I am usually very good about putting on my 30 SPF, I made a slight error of judgment. I fell asleep in the sun.

Yes, it was a poor and extremely painful mistake that I won’t be making again, but it also left me with the wonkiest tan line ever. The tankini I was wearing had a halter top, which I figured I would untie when I was sunbathing. And, I still had my shorts on because I hated the way my bottom looked in the bathing suit I found in the back of my closet. All making for some awesome tan lines. I hoped I could pull it off this season, but no…definitely not.

So, yesterday, I confronted a fear every woman (who doesn’t look like Beyoce) goes though. And it’s something I haven’t done in years.

Yesterday, I went bathing suit shopping.

Finding a bathing suit that is flattering but also stylish, for someone as overweight as I was, is like finding a winning lottery ticket on the ground. Miracles like that just don’t happen. I have had my fair share of what I like to refer to as “granny suits.” Big awkward boob cups, horrifying floral prints, weird fluttering skirts. (::shudder::) I always did the best I could but, nothing looked good on me. Ever.

Yesterday was different. It was thrilling actually. I tried on a few different styles and everything looked pretty decent, but nothing jumped out as fantastic. It was hard for me to choose because I constantly see the loose skin everywhere... especially on my thighs and gut. I was hiding in the dressing room when the sales person, Pat, (who I had bonded with over buying new bras…more to come on my shrinking boobs later) brought me in this black bathing suit.

It was a one piece, which turned me off immediately. But she handed me the bottom of a tankini and had me put it on over it. “This will look good…I swear” she says. Ok, crazy sales person. Sure thing. But when I came out of the dressing room and saw my mother’s face…I knew. Bingo. I found a bathing suit that that not only didn’t look bad. It actually looked good.

Really good.

So here it is. I could have bought a nice coach bag with the money I spent on it, but I figure…hey…how often does anyone find a bathing suit that makes them look (and feel) this fantastic?!?! Right?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Letting my hair down...

In the past few weeks my hair has been falling out. In clumps. So, although this is an expected side effect of this surgery, and I know that it will grow back…I’m freaking out. Hardcore.

Before my surgery, my hair was something I could hide behind. Something I could control. There was no quick fix for fatness, so if I wanted to change my appearance, I made a trip to the salon.

Going to my salon on Newbury Street and seeing my stylist, Toby, to get a cut and highlight always puts me in the best mood. And (because I have the most talented hair stylist ever) my hair always looks fabulous. Well, to be honest...it should. I could feed a small village in Africa with what I spend on my hair in a year.

Before my surgery, I sometimes felt really intimidated. I hated that damned little black robe that never tied correctly (or even at all) around the expanse that was my gut...or how I felt when I squeezed my butt into the tiny hairdressing chair. When I walked in, I felt all eyes were on me…for all the wrong reasons.

But not this time! When I went a few weeks ago, I had my cute little robe on and tied it easily in the front. I even crossed my legs in the chair without issue. I got an adorable summer cut and a gorgeous blond highlight. I felt great while I was there. And when I left, I was just radiating sassiness.

Now that I'm dealing with the tactile reality of the situation, my irrational fear of thinning hair has made it seem like my worst nightmare has come true. The whole process seems like a small price to pay for the weight loss, but man….I just can’t seem to get over it! I know i won't be "bald" and I’m sure it could be worse…but every hair that falls out is a little twinge in my heart.

My doctors told me that the hair loss happens because of the state of malnutrition you are in and usually occurs at around 5 months. I think that because I’ve had more accelerated weight loss than expected, I’m dealing with this a little early…at 15 weeks. (I’m pretty sure that coloring my hair didn’t really help either, but it was totally worth it!) I’ve been told that a shampoo called Nioxin helps, so that’s on my shopping list for this week. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works once I get it.

The good news is that everyone seems to like the new 'do and have complimented it many times. I often remind myself that everyone is not as overly critical of my appearance as I am. (Thank god...)

So, I’ve decided that when I start stressing out, I’m just going to try to stop…take some deep breaths…and remind myself that: #1- I look and feel so much better now and would do it all again in a heartbeat…and #2- no matter how much hair I do lose, it ultimately will grow back!