I want to begin with a heartfelt apology for going so long without an update. I really have no excuse other than life got in the way. Rather than list all the things that have kept me from updating, I’ll just dive right in with the update.
The title of this update is an accurate reflection of what is currently happening with Valerie. As her sister, Leanne, suggested…Valerie has become the “Incredible Shrinking Woman”. I really dislike the word “literally”, but in this case it’s very appropriate. As we approach the 4 month mark – according to our home scale- Valerie has hit……Drum roll please…….. 72lbs. WOOT WOOT!!! We saw Dr. Landerholm Friday and the official “medical scale” results showed 60lbs but that was the “before surgery” weight and our scale is the “after surgery” weight when they had filled her full of liquid before sending her home. Either way this is definitely great news. Shouting from the rafters news!!! Jumping on the couch like Tom Cruise news!!! At this point the change is seen in her hands, shoulders, elbows and face. I told her the other day she needs to call the cops because someone stole her chins! I do believe Valerie is looking younger every day. She is actually smiling more, which is wonderful to see.
At least two clothing sizes have gone by the wayside and a third is very close. She has shot right by some of the clothes in the closet that were a bit too small before surgery. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of Valerie and the progress she has made. It hasn’t been a walk in the park, but she’s also been fortunate enough to not have suffered any sort of major setback. Her spirits are high as is her determination. There have been a few missteps along the way as she learns what she can and cannot eat, and a few life lessons involving eating too much and / or too fast.
Of course, all this positivity is not the only side to the story, but the positives sure outweigh the negatives. Actually, we try very hard not to use the words “negative or “difficult”. “Challenges” is the word we focus on. The biggest challenge thus far has been food, as you might imagine, but not for the reason you might think. The amount of food consumed at a time is a bit of a challenge to comprehend. Each meal is about 1/3 to a half a cup of food. At first, Valerie would look at the plate and think “Really? Is that all there is?” But now, when we are eating at a restaurant and we see a bowl or plate of salad come by, she thinks “Really? You’re going to eat all that?” It has been a very interesting paradigm shift. I struggle with the shift in terms of how much food to put on her plate. I am afraid of giving her too much food. One of the concepts Dr. Landerholm shared with us is, when eating at a restaurant for example, the wait staff may come by and see that the meal is only partially eaten and ask if everything was ok and maybe even note that the food doesn’t look like much has been eaten. At this point a person may eat more to make sure the waitperson doesn’t get the wrong idea. The consequences of those actions can be very uncomfortable. I won’t go into details. Weight gain could ensue, causing depression and, boom, the cycle is perpetuated. Luckily, Valerie’s fear of becoming ill or stretching and gaining weight is strong, (“the force is strong with this one!”) which will help avoid those consequences. MY fear is becoming that “waitperson” and dishing up too much food at a time. While Valerie is very good about stopping when she is full, I just don’t want to provide the temptation to “clean her plate”.
In the meantime I have discovered that I cannot become a contestant on “Worst Cooks In America”. I really thought I had a good chance too, but whaddya know?! Turns out I know my way around a kitchen. AND I’ve actually created different ways to prepare fish and chicken. I don’t know that I will make it to “Chopped” or “Iron Chef”, but I am feeling better about my abilities.
April 1st marks four months since the surgery. At times it feels like just last week and other times it’s like the surgery was a lifetime ago. In many ways, we are in a new lifetime. A parallel universe of sorts. Everything is the same yet everything is different. Valerie’s counselor, Mimi Rubenstein (a fantastic help in this whole process) has coined a new term “the new norm”. The life before surgery will heretofore be known as “Before Surgery” or B.S. This is particularly appropriate because the factors that led to the need for this procedures can be categorized as B.S. The factors, the reasons why food became an issue that contributed to the “condition” of obesity, shouldn’t have happened. Yet it did. The surgery is but a tool to help shift the paradigm to a more positive life. It’s a circle. We’ve all heard it. If you feel better, you do better. Once you begin to see the results you are motivated to do more. Continued progress leads to empowerment.