November, 2016 Archive

Basket Case

I’ll take “Unrelated, but related things” for $1000, Alex.

A Green Day song and how Alison is feeling.

What is a basket case?

ding ding ding!

I know, a very obscure reference, but underneath this set of Broadway show tunes ears is a 6th grade girl with a big crush on Billie Joe and useless knowledge about Green Day (Extra trivia: Sublime would become my next favorite band because that was what was necessary for cute junior high skaters to give me the time of day). So anyway, “Basket Case” is a song about Billie Joe’s panic attacks. And that’s basically what I’ve been experiencing all day. Where are my five Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction?

Oh, instead of those accolades, I get a new tummy. Totally fair.

Really, though, panic attacks all day. Bryan has been out of town this week so I’ve been trying to carry on like business as usual around here, but it’s kind of hard to do when you can’t help but count down every hour and say things to yourself like, “Three days from right this moment, I’ll probably be waking up and I better not be nauseous and puke and say embarrassing things.” I’ve also been tidying up the house and redecorating. It’s like I’m nesting, but instead of giving birth in the near future, I’m getting sliced and diced. In my experience, it’s sort of the same thing, actually.

We are on the final day or so of our upstairs remodel so that’s also been taking up a lot of brain space, which is mostly a good thing. That’s the rule, don’t you know: You remodel your house and then you remodel yourself. Naturally. But now that it’s nearing the end, it’s the signal to me that my surgery is next. At least we have two brand new bathrooms and a newly created upstairs laundry room, a great improvement from sharing space with spiders and crickets in the garage. The irony is that in a couple days, I won’t be able to stand up to brush my teeth at my new sink or wash clothes in the new laundry room.

The greatest tease of all is that I’ve been working for months on a leaner and stronger body. Today was my last day of Pilates with Maya until after the surgery. Now that I’m finally so much stronger than when I started to see her, my body is about to become super weakened. I know that working with her to prepare my body for surgery was the right thing, and I can’t wait for my six weeks to be up so I can resume workouts with her. Private Pilates classes two or three times per week made such a difference and I missed it on the days we didn’t meet. In addition to exercise, Maya has been a solid ear for talk therapy, a fountain of knowledge about how my body works — or, really, doesn’t work, and a wonderful cheerleader on this journey. We joked today that we’ve done everything we could and it’s out of our hands now, probably similar to how most of America felt after casting their votes last week. (Sorry, too soon?)

After my final session with Maya, I made her extend her lats or delts or whatever in order to take a selfie. Payback, man.

After my final session with Maya, I made her extend her lats or delts or whatever in order to take a selfie. Payback, man.

I left her studio around 11, got in the car, and cried. I cried because I’m scared. I also cried because I accomplished a goal I never thought I’d complete or even enjoy: consistent exercise and body change. I took before and after photos last week. The internet will not see them because the photos from July would turn all viewers to stone, sorrynotsorry, but the photos helped me realize that I’ve come a long way and, more importantly, how much I really do need this surgery. It’s clear I slimmed down in so many areas, but the belly remained the same: out, round, and pregnant-looking.

My wonderful friends have been so supportive because they know I am scared out of my mind. Last night, I should’ve gone to bed early to get rest (I never go to sleep early when Bryan is away), but my mind was racing and just as I was about to start looking at tummy tuck videos because I am masochistic like that, a wonderful new friend I’ve made from Madelyn’s school messaged me on Facebook to check on me and we ended up chatting for an hour and a half about all sorts of things. She saved me from a panic attack alone in my living room. And today, I talked to two friends, a nurse and a recent rockstar tummy tuck patient, and they attempted to talk me off a ledge as well. Last week, one of my best friends gave me a beautiful quartz crystal for optimal healing. I don’t know what I believe in, but I know it’s pretty, it feels smooth to hold and rub my fingers on when I get nervous, and the most warming part is that it was a gift from a true friend who cares. I am lucky that my friends continue to be there for me even though I sound like a psychotic person right now. I am looking forward to feeling calm and feeling the anxiety disappear once I’m on the other side of this nonsense.

Not going to lie: I like holding bling, and if it helps me heal, then I like it even more!

Not going to lie: I like holding bling, and if it helps me heal, then I like it even more!

The second time I cried today was when I picked up all of my prescriptions. I really played up the easily nauseated part during my pre-op appointment, so that won me three meds to combat nausea. Of course the real prize is the Percocet which I plan to swallow round the clock, inhale, inject, and rub all over me. Seriously, I am so not too proud to take pain medication.

I went through the pharmacy drive-thru (god bless you, Walgreens) and was so shaky when I paid for the prescriptions. My hand dropped the credit card between the seat and middle console and I stuttered badly when the tech asked for my address. She could tell I was so nervous about the surgery for which her magical bottles would aid in my recovery. She gave me sympathetic eyes and then I asked her to hold my hand on Friday morning. Sorry, Walgreens Tech Michelle, for being the crazy lady in the drive-thru tonight. I hope you at least had a good laugh about me in the break room because I’ve really lost my marbles and there’s nothing anyone can do but giggle about it. When I drove away, I cried because it all became real again.

More exciting than a Vegas buffet.

More exciting than a Vegas buffet.

I can’t truly articulate what it is I’m so afraid of. I know I’m not going to die. I know I’m going to love the result in six weeks. I know I’m going to feel so much more comfortable and active in order to keep up with my girls. I suppose I’m afraid of the pain, but I’m mostly afraid of the unknown. The unknown leads me to research and well, we all know we’re not supposed to Google anything, but why would I follow that rule?

I want this next day to go fast and slow all at the same time. I get bursts of energy and bravery where I just want to go go go and get it over with! And then I get a dip in blood pressure where I just absolutely dread what’s to come. I’m not really in charge either way. The clock is ticking and the sun will rise twice more before it’s go time. I’ve got to just roll with the punches. But I just hope those punches aren’t too hard because, ouch!

It’s Almost Showtime

When I booked my little slice-and-dice back in July, November seemed like a super long way’s away. At my initial consults, both doctors I interviewed stressed that any weight loss I could do on my own would help in the success of the surgery and in my recovery. That’s all I needed to hear to finally keep that yo-yo from yo-yo-ing.

The day I booked the surgery, I started my second round of the Whole30 clean eating program. It’s supposed to be 30 days of making smart food choices and my main focus was avoiding grains and added sugar. I had already done a Whole30 and it was much easier the second time. After the 30 days were up, I just kept going. I’d treat myself very rarely and never let myself spiral out of control. I noticed a change in my body and felt great, too.

After a couple months of eating super clean and seeing the pounds drop, I realized that my surgery homework shouldn’t be just about weight loss. I needed to prepare my body, especially my muscles, for battle. So, I started Pilates with my friend Maya and for the first time ever, I thoroughly enjoyed working out. My clean eating and leaning and lengthening were working in concert, and my body began to change before my eyes. It seemed like each session with Maya promoted more progress.

As of this week, I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel really great about going into my surgery next week with this success. There have been so many times in my life — since as far back as being a teenager — that I tried to lose weight and maybe a few pounds here and there would actually drop off, but I’ve never experienced significant weight loss that improved how clothing fit, my energy levels, and body confidence. All this without the use of a diet pill or shake or MLM is pretty empowering.

And yet, it’s now, more than ever, that I know I need this surgery. Fat has melted off of my sides creating a slimmer waist, I’ve lost a few chins off my face, and my Bubbie arms don’t seem to hit me in the eye when I wave hello or goodbye. Still, I appear to look 4 to 6 months pregnant in my belly! My muscles protrude out because they are broken and out of place; there is no way I could have dieted or exercised my abdomen to match the rest of my body.

Meanwhile, back in Overthinking Land, while I’ve been proud of my weight loss accomplishments, I’d been losing sleep and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel due to nerves and great anxiety about the surgery and recovery. My last blog post touched on this — how scared out of my mind I’ve been to face this procedure. Going under anesthesia and being hacked to pieces have been a major stressor for me, causing me regular waves of panic and butterflies several times a day.

A friend saw my post and offered her services as a hypnotherapist. I was skeptical because I’ve never done anything like that before, but I was also open to teaching my brain how to man up and find the positives in the days to come. Hypnotherapy was nothing like I imagined it would be. We had a very honest and candid dialogue like any therapy session usually contains. We discussed all my issues — real and self-created — and delved into my fears and areas of happiness. Then came the hypnosis.

I remembered everything after it was over and I didn’t say anything embarrassing. The hypnosis was relaxing and quieted the noise that was muddying up my mind. She equipped me with tools to make happier and healthier associations with the surgery. Am I still nervous? Yes. And I think it would be weird if I wasn’t. But I am feeling a little more at peace as the day looms over me. I highly recommend hypnotherapy if you’re stuck on an issue that seems to be consuming you. Cinda Roffman in Westlake Village was a great help to me and I am thankful for her compassion and assistance.

So all this hard work, all this preparation for the big day that is almost a week away became even more real and expensive yesterday when I had my pre-op appointment with my surgeon. We went over the procedure again (it had been a year since my consult) and discussed what recovery would be like. He didn’t mince words about the fact that it would be hard (I might be “miserable” and “experience depression” for about two weeks and then it will all lift away once I start to notice improvement), and he wrote my prescriptions to fill in advance. Finally, he took out his fancy camera and photographed my belly for my official “Before” photos. I didn’t mean to, but my belly saw the camera and I intuitively sucked in. I look forward to a day — maybe in December or January — when I won’t have to suck in. Actually, I won’t be able to suck in!


And then the most painful part thus far — the cha-ching! It’s really so nauseating how much of the surgery is not covered by insurance (only about 20% of the surgery, anything related to my hernia, is considered a medical issue, which makes no sense because the diastasis recti is the cause of the hernia and that is considered cosmetic. Major eye roll.) And an hour after we arrived, we were good to go. So simple for such a built-up date in my life.

I will take the next week to prepare. I have to make sure I have all the after-care supplies, practice my sleeping positions with all the propped up pillows, organize the schedules for the girls, and handle last minute errands I won’t be able to make once I’m recovering. I am not accepting substitute teaching jobs and have one day left of work to teach my regular Monday art class. I’m trying to keep my schedule light so I can spend time with my girls and make sure that Bryan feels appreciated before I become super needy and worthless. In the meantime, I need to breathe and think of my happy place.

Any other last minute tips about going into a big surgery? Toss ’em at me. I am feeling receptive to advice and been-there-done-that nuggets of wisdom. Excited to be on the Flat Side of this journey, and I plan to get there without hiccups. No really, hiccups are actually going to hurt! So will laughing and sneezing. Nobody is allowed to tell me funny jokes or wear perfume around me as of November 18th!