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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is this WLS Journey Political?

I have a dilemma. I am a news junkie, and this year, that means being a political junkie. At least, it does to me. What could be more important to Americans than the decision we are to make on November 4th?

More and more I feel the urge to blog about my thoughts on politics, but I don't. This is a WLS blog, and while it's also about my life--school, marriage, etc--I don't necessarily want to alienate my readers who come here for thoughts about lap bands and WLS and non-political thoughts. And I don't want my blog to attract internet trolls or spark any nasty flame wars or any nonsense that has no business being on this friendly little blog.

So...what do you all think? I don't think I have time for two blogs--I barely have time for one. Do you see the dilemma? I'm just not sure what's best for this little blog.

I have one fairly non-partisan thought on politics to share. I hate that with every election there is a growing war against intelligence. Voters are expected to follow the feint and whim of each campaign's obvious attempts to manipulate and distract us. Citizens seem more and more willing to accept candidates (and I'm not just talking about presidential candidates) who are average (or less than) in intelligence but, they hope, have impressive moral standing (until the inevitable sex scandal or the unfortunate lapse in judgement from the past is resurrected--this happens to politicians of all breeds). Most importantly, we want our candidates to be "just like us". But not me--I want someone who is better able to lead the country than I am. All the talk of elitism is ridiculous smoke-and-mirrors to me. Politicians want us talking about anything but the issues, because the issues no longer decide elections. And you know what? Not voting on the issues that matter to this country has already gotten us in a lot of trouble.

I'll stop there.

I should really start thinking about how politics and bariatric surgery intersect--things like how image and weight impacts how we are valued as citizens and as media personalities, or the impact of changing our health care delivery system on the obesity problem, and how poverty and class intersect with obesity and other health problems. This might keep Gwen's WLS Journey on a more pertinent track for the interwebz.

Thoughts and comments are welcome! And not just the American readers; what do my non-American readers think of American election talk on this blog?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Farewell summer

Ahh, the wind, the bite in the air. The rain. The first day of fall. For me, it just marks the beginning of 6 months I spend waiting for the first day of spring.

Why did I move to Eastern Washington again?

I love summertime. The cold months are my least favorite. I hate being cold SO MUCH. Even when I was obese, I hated the cold. I was never one of those who longed for my sweaters and bulky clothes--I love the sunshine. There are a few summer days in the year that I do get overheated, but they are the exception rather than the rule for me. I'm happiest at about 80 degrees.

Anyway, back in the real world, it's rainy and chilly. I have to start wrapping my brain around running in the rain and cold, because I plan on doing it through the winter. I might have to break down and head inside to the treadmill, ultimately, but lots of people run through even worse winters than we have here, and I don't want to go back to the gym if I can help it. (nothing against the gym, but I prefer running outside, and I want to stick to it.) So, it's time to embrace the elements.

I'm so overwhelmed already by schoolwork, I can't see how more weight loss is going to occur this semester. I can barely get done the schoolwork that needs doing. Right now I'm feeling like if I get to December without gaining, I will have succeeded. Hopefully it won't be that bad, though.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Return of Squawker

She's back. At least, I think only a momma squirrel can get this angry. I came home from class at 12:30 (our second class was cancelled, yay!), sat down to the computer with the back door open, and there she was in about 10 minutes. This time, my cat got interested enough to watch the show. She couldn't have cared less yesterday--not much of a predatory instinct in her. But today she is watching intently through the door. She doesn't seem to want to be any closer, and isn't making any sort of indication that she would attack--in fact I'm pretty sure she'd run away if the door wasn't between the two.

I love animals, but I think squirrels are kind of gross. They remind me too much of rats. I heard an old phrase once, "Squirrels are rats with better PR." I don't think this is the time of year to have a nest of baby squirrels nearby, but I'm no squirrel expert. So who knows, perhaps this is a momma who has built her nest near my kitchen door, and is warning me not to get any closer. She gets points for being gutsy, that's for sure--she's clearly willing to take on people, cats, whomever gets near her.

So today we got the rundown of our first class--went through the syllabus and all the assignments that will be due this term. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by the expectations in this program. We have to just slow down and take one day at a time. It really helps to not think about any assignment but the next ones due--I just plot them all out in my calendar, figure out at the beginning of each week what I will have to turn in, decide ahead of time when I have to start studying for the next exam or researching any big projects, and be diligent about time management. But it was really nice to get to sleep an extra 30 minutes this morning (I did have to be in the SAU to start IVs at 5:45 this morning, but I didn't have to set up an OR, which normally would start at 5am). And tomorrow we don't start until 11:30--heaven! One day a week that we won't have early (before 7am) starts is fantastic.

I ran 4.5 miles yesterday. I'm experimenting with doing some short runs on what have been "non-run" days--1 or 2 of those days a week that I normally wouldn't run, I've been doing shorties, like 1.5 miles. I'm just interested in seeing if it helps me or hinders me. So far it's been going fine and it takes the pressure off me (that I put on myself) to make my minimum mileage goal for the week (I'm still only running 12 miles/week, but want to work back up to 15). My weight is back up a smidge, but my period is coming so that is to be expected, and I can comfortably wear my size 6 jeans again, so that's great! It's funny how 4 lbs makes no difference in how clothes fit when you start out, but the closer you get to goal, the more it affects everything.

I'm off to the library very soon, to work on tomorrow's presentation. Enjoy a little video of our visitor. I didn't get her at her noisiest, but you'll get the idea, I think.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I have an angry squirrel on my deck. I've never heard a squirrel make the kinds of noises and squawks that this one does--and he's done it before. He runs right up to the back door, looks in at me from the railing, and squawks for 20 minutes. Doesn't move. Nothing around. It's weird.

Back to life...it's hard to believe we are halfway through September already! I finally got back down to 167 yesterday. Whew, that was a relief! Nothing else of particular interest to report there. I couldn't call my surgeon today, but should have time tomorrow. Still, only 7 lbs to go.

I feel like a terribly boring blogger lately. I want to keep this on the WLS topic, but WLS has been pretty far from my mind lately, with my days spent in the OR, and evenings spent preparing for the next day in the OR. And now with classes gearing up again, I already have a queue of presentations to get ready, and after tomorrow will have a schedule of papers that will need writing, teaching projects that will need preparing, and lots of reading that will need...reading, I guess. Losing weight isn't really the main goal right now, I guess, and thinking of interesting thoughts about it doesn't seem to be on the docket either. So hopefully, things will get more interesting around here, but it might be a long semester on the blog. Sorry.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Checkin' in

Oy, sorry kids. Every day I come home from clinicals and plan on blogging. Every day I surf the web a little, check my email, eat dinner, write a care plan, and go to bed. Sorry.

Busy, busy, busy. I've lost 2 of my 4 bonus pounds from vacation. I'm back in the 160s. I'm trying to increase my running mileage a little bit, and I still have to call my surgeon and schedule a fluoro. (Or talk him into doing a fluoro, anyway.) I'm dealing with a UTI this week, so have been a bit under the weather, and it made yesterday's run very sluggish. Ugh.

Next week we start classes again--semester 3 of 7. We're still in the OR every day until then. Tomorrow I am in the outpatient surgery center, which doesn't open until 6am, so I get to sleep in--only have to get up at 5:15! My usual wake-up times are between 4:15 and 4:45, so this is a treat.

Nothing salient to WLS to post today. Haven't really been thinking about it much, actually. I guess Saturday is my official 18 month date since my surgery. I'm still 9 lbs from goal. I'm not sure I'll get it off by December, but I won't stop trying.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Stop the snacking

It's very interesting to me how a couple months ago, when I was this weight last (still hanging onto those 4 lbs), I felt thin. Now that I've regained them, I feel fat. That makes no sense. But there it is. I feel like it all went back on my face and belly. Ahh...this journey can't be simple, now can it? I had 33 years to get to the point when I had surgery. Why do I expect to fix my brain in just 18 months?

Gentle reader, I am a snacker. I didn't used to be, when I started out with this surgery a year and a half ago. But slowly, my meals have turned into snacks spread over the day--or evening, on days I am in the OR all day. When I have clinicals, I may or may not get a real break, depending on the case(s) I am in on. Sometimes, like yesterday, I might get 10 minutes to wolf down my yogurt in the morning, and 15 minutes to eat my lunch (spinach salad, veggie patty, and a plum), and no bathroom break at all. (No water, either.) That's just how it goes--my case lasted from 7am until 3pm when I dropped off my patient in PACU, and I didn't want to miss certain vital parts of the procedure that I'd never seen before (aortic cross-clamping, which has significant implications for anesthesia)--so not much eating, and certainly no "pea-sized bites" or "chewing 20-30 times" involved. More like, get some glucose into my blood so I can last the rest of the day! Luckily, I'm not a PB'er. My band is pretty open, and I can eat food quickly if necessary. But then, I come home and graze for an hour or two while checking my email and unwinding. Not so good for weight loss, even if the food I'm eating isn't "bad" in itself.

So, I need to work on eating more meals and less "snacking". I also need to stop visiting Great Harvest bakery and buying their delicious Lite Wheat bread, which I love. And I need to see my surgeon. But what I want there is a fluoro to make sure the band is where it should be, and my surgeon believes in not doing fluoro unless there are symptoms. My understanding is that early band slips are frequently asymptomatic, and they can be detected on fluoro before they get serious. An esophageal dilation is an early form of a band slip (the band doesn't actually slip in a "slip", it's really the stomach that slips up through the band). It can be reversed by going on full liquids for a period of weeks, and unfilling the band partially or fully. If not treated, it can get worse, start causing symptoms, and eventually can become an emergency. The only reason that I think a fluoro might be in order is that I can still eat way too much, and I ate more than usual during my vacation, enough that I think it's possible I could have dilated things a bit. Since I'm not losing weight now (despite my continued running), I think it's a reasonable thing to rule out. But I don't want to fight the surgeon about it. My surgeon in Portland does routine fluoro every 12 months, to evaluate position, and she wanted me to have a 12 month fluoro with this doctor when I switched to him for follow up. I asked him about it and he told me that he only does them if there are symptoms. So going back to see him means a lot of money out of pocket and possibly a battle to get the fluoro, which is a lot more money out of pocket. Hence my hesitation--but yes, I will schedule all of this, and I will go. I promise.

Meanwhile, I should start recording what I eat in Fitday.com again, stop the grazing/snacking, and bump up the exercise a bit more. Right? Seems like a plan. Even with the weight gain, I am only 11 lbs from goal, and I want to get there!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I Digress...

Things are back in full swing at the hospital. We start fall semester next week, but we are there every day in the OR until then. Some days are good, some days--like today--I feel like a fool.

Weight-wise, I am stalled. I am hanging onto those 3-4 pounds I put on over vacation. I am toying with the idea of going back to see the surgeon. The thing is, I would like a fluoro to see if the band is still in place, since I can eat way more than 1.5 cups, and did so while on vacation. I don't have other symptoms, but that doesn't necessarily mean all is well. My surgeon only does fluoro if there are symptoms (i.e. reflux, barfing, etc). I don't want a fill unless I know everything is where it is supposed to be. So I guess one of these days I'll call and figure this out. For now, I have so much else on my mind...like school, money, doing my homework for the OR the next day, studying, getting enough sleep...

I have been following the recent political developments with great interest. I don't want to get too political here (and attract the wrong kind of Google keyword searches) but I do have an observation to note. There is a lot of misplaced indignation over the fact that the governor of Alaska/VP candidate has been criticized over her daughter's pregnancy out of wedlock. And many women are coming to her rescue, saying that she is a working mom, who shouldn't have to turn down a great job opportunity because she has a family, and this wouldn't be happening if she were a man. And some or even all of that may be true. But people aren't seeing that that kind of indignation is part of what the GOP wanted with this pick: for women to see her as just like every other working mom, not as a woman who is running for one of the most demanding jobs in the US and who has some very pressing issues at home, including a very young infant with special needs who is going to need a lot of attention from both of his parents in the coming years. Getting women voters to see her as "just like me" distracts them from seeing the issues: that she is less experienced than their opposition, whom they criticized for lack of experience, and she stands a very good chance of having to replace the prez at some point if elected. I don't really want to get into the actual politics that much here (maybe I should start a political blog for that, just like millions of other people do)--I don't want to debate which candidates are better or worse--but I just had that observation, that what many see as a setback to the campaign might be a bit more calculated than previously thought.

Sorry about that. I don't have much else to offer today. Hope everyone is having a good September so far.