The "skinny" on our family's journey from FAT.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's the little things..

It's been 1 week since my life changed forever. The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions but I think things are starting to quiet down. I am now able to start introducing more foods into my diet and today I tried scrambled eggs, tuna and refried beans with success on all three! I am also doing better with my water intake and the cravings are not quite as bad (except for when I watch T.V. damn commercials). I've lost 20 lbs this week and I'm almost out of the 300's WOOHOO!
Earlier today I was thinking about all the things I am excited about pertaining to my weight loss and it occurred to me that most of them were little things that most people probably take for granted. Of course, the big ones are being able to be more active with my kids, feeling incredible and, well, living another 50 or so years, but there a lot of other things that I've never been able to do that I'm looking forward to. For instance, sitting down in a chair and crossing my legs, wearing boots, riding the white roller coaster at lagoon (I cant fit in the seats), being able to find clothes in any store I walk into, painting my own toe nails, not having to track down a chair I "fit" into at work, running, not having to use a seat belt extender and swinging with my kids. There are more but you get the idea, it's the little things and I can't wait!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leave it to Hannah...

My daughter Hannah is the most amazing child in the world. Honestly, I'm not even being biased, strangers with children of their own tell me this constantly. She has the ability to brighten any room she's in and make everyone around her feel loved, included and comfortable. I don't know where she came from, well actually I do, it was straight from Gods arms to mine and I would not trade her for all the money on the planet. One of the things I love most about my daughter is the way she can find the positive in any situation and make me laugh like I'm watching a paid comedian. Yesterday was one of her greatest performances and I needed it more then she will ever know.
After my wake for the pizza on Saturday, I woke up Sunday and decided I was going to try to have a better day and not let the demon food pester me so much. I got up, took a shower and while I was air drying on my bed nekked (to help the incisions and the staples in my belly button) my daughter came in to visit. Now, we are a naked family, so this wasn't a shock to me or Hannah that I was just hanging out naked. Hannah asked me if I needed anything and I asked her if she would mind fixing me some breakfast. She squealed and, in typical Hannah fashion, jumped up, thoroughly excited to take on this task. She carefully measured out 2 oz of yogurt like I had showed her the day before and brought it in to me. Then the fun began. I will now share with you almost word for word the 30 minutes I spent having naked breakfast in bed with my baby.
Hannah (in an English accent): Ladies and gentlemen, I now present for your viewing pleasure, mommy eating breakfast naked.
Me: really?
Hannah: yes really, this is fascinating mom and our viewers want to tune in.
Me: (giggling) Well do I look ok?
Hannah: You look naked mom. (again in the English accent) We are live in mommy's bedroom where she is about to eat her delicious yogurt made especially by her adorable daughter.
Me: (taking a spoonful of yogurt)
Hannah: watch as she lifts the spoon to her lips, doesn't she look super excited to be eating that fabulous yogurt?
Me: (laughing hysterically) I can't eat when I'm laughing!
Hannah: (giggling herself) just go with mom.
Me: stop! let me just eat.
Hannah: (in the English accent) we are experiencing technical difficulties folks, I think we need to give mommy a minute to calm down.
Me: (still laughing) ok I will try to eat, but you're not making this easy!
Hannah: no, I'm making it fun!
Me: wow. incredible."
Hannah: (in the English accent) Ok we're back! Mommy seems to really be enjoying that yogurt, probably cuz her daughter made it so perfectly! (we both start to giggle) Look at how full that naked tummy is getting. mmm mmm good!
At this point we are both in hysterics (maybe ya had to be there) and she ended with "This has been eating breakfast with mommy naked, stay tuned for our next show, eating lunch with mommy naked. This is Hannah Michelle Sneddon signing off"
As I watched her skip off to take my empty bowl to the kitchen I felt so overjoyed, even though my stomach hurt (literally) from laughing so hard. I decided that, instead of crying over the things I could not have, I needed to count my blessings and remember everything I do have, and my daughter Hannah (along with her silly little brother) is the greatest blessing in my life. Thank you for breakfast baby, you will never know how much it meant to me. I love you more then you can imagine. -mommy.


I was told that a good portion of this journey would be psychological and boy does that hit the nail on the head. On Saturday a sweet sister from my ward brought over dinner for my family and, while I was  thoroughly grateful for the gesture, the meal had me facing a reality that I didn't want to face quite so soon. Those of you who know me, probably know that one of my all time favorite "comfort foods" is pizza and Saturday night I was face to face with the sights and smells of my biggest weakness.  I'm going to be totally honest, I cried. It might sound trite and silly and stupid but it was one of the hardest moments of my life, and it sucked. That right there is how much food had control of my life. Tom, being the super sweet, sensitive and supportive man that he is, offered to throw it out, but money had been spent on my family and there was an even bigger reason that I just needed to deal with. I made the choice to have this surgery, nobody forced it on me, I did it, and now, I face the fire or, in this case, the food. I have to learn to live in a world where food is everywhere, and deal with the fact that, for quite awhile, I can't have most of it. In a weird way it feels like I'm mourning a loss and, darnit, I'm going to cry if I need to. So the pizza stayed and was eaten by my family while I ate my 2 oz of yogurt in my room as the tears flowed freely. I will never regret making the decision to have this surgery, but this isn't magic, it's hell and it's going to be a rough road to paradise.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sip, sip, sip

The #1 key to a successful GB is HYDRATION. 64oz of water a day minimum. Really? You make my stomach big enough to hold only 2oz at a time and you expect me to drink 64 friggin ounces of water a day? Sure thing. Sip, sip, sip the gastric bypass patients war cry. I've been home now for 3 days and I still have not been able to swallow more than 48 oz at most. Oh well, I guess I'll just keep sippin away. Helpful tip, the camelbak water bottle is the best choice for gastric bypass patients. The patented design of the straw keeps water in the tube at all times so you don't ever suck any air (which could be disastrous to a 2 oz stomach) when you sip. You can purchase them online, or I got mine at Smith and Edwards. I love it!
So, yeah, I've been home for a few days and so far it hasn't been too bad. The pain is minimal, although I got up too quickly a little bit ago and now I have a really bad pain in my side, hope that goes away soon. I didn't experience any nausea from the anesthesia and I have tolerated everything I've tried to eat very well. Granted, that's only been jello, cottage cheese, yogurt and cream of chicken soup (strained by my awesome hubby) but so far, so good. I am on a full liquid diet until Tuesday but that can include the above mentioned foods and some skim milk if I wanted also. On Tuesday I get to start introducing new foods (much like starting a baby out on solids) to see what I can and cannot tolerate. Still, these foods must be soft, and only two ounces, but I'm excited to get "real" food in my body again. I was told that the cravings would be minimal for quite awhile and it would be an effort just to want to eat. This does not apply to me. I don't know, maybe it is totally psychological, but EVERYTHING sounds good right now. It actually sucks. I think I'd take pain over this cuz at least I can dull that with liquid loratab. It's not that I'm hungry, cuz that's not the case, it's just like that old saying, you always want what you can't have. This is truly going to be a tough journey. Another thing I didn't think of but is becoming quite apparent is how often I lick my fingers after preparing food for my family. Like, for instance, the other day I made a pb&j for Hannah and I went to lick the knife off before putting it in the sink without realizing that I was doing it. Luckily I stopped myself but I really wanted that dang knife! Today I opened a pudding cup for Hunter and realized that I always licked the lid off before throwing it away, and, no matter how hard you try, you always get pudding on your fingers trying to open those suckers and what is the natural response? (unless you're a germ freak) you lick your fingers, and then wash them after the child is happily eating their pudding. No more licks, no more tastes, no more food. I guess, that is the whole reason I became fat in the first place. Today was hard, although it brightened a little with the visit from mom, Ash and my crackerjack (man I love that brown baby). I know some days will be harder then others, and hopefully I will adjust but, in the meantime, I'll just keep sip sip sipping along.

Friday, June 24, 2011

She's ALIVE!

Wednesday June 22nd started out pretty good! I was starting to come out of my drug coma and I slept well, even though I was in a hospital bed. My nurses were really good at keeping me up on my meds and heparin shots and my mommy got there around 8. Dr. Smith came in to see me and he again told me that everything went very well. As he was talking about my hernia he was tapping the spot where he cut me open and I about screamed in pain but luckily he saw the look on my face and realized what he was doing and apologized profusely lol. He told me that there is a small chance that the hernia could open up again, but that they would monitor it periodically.  The staples would remain until my post-op visit on the 11th and I cannot lift over 15 lbs for at least 6 weeks. The Gastric went perfectly and the staples from those incisions would be removed before I left the hospital. Before he left he told me I was golden and that he had so much confidence in me and was glad to be on this journey with me. Awesome! If anyone is ever going to consider having this surgery, I HIGHLY recommend Dr.Sherman Smith with Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians
After a nice walk and teeth brushing, I felt wonderful. I had a flower delivery from a sweet friend I haven't seen since high school (Thanks Shellie!) and a visit from my beautiful cousin Teah! At around 2 Tom, my sister in law Kathy, her bf Dustin and my baby girl came to see me! Hannah was super excited, as was I. She brought me gifts (a beautiful sun-catcher with purple flowers and a wall plaque that looks like a stepping stone and says love.) Daddy said she picked them out all by herself. I love that amazing little person and was so happy that she came down with Tom. Kat and Dustin stayed for a few but they had other business in Salt Lake so they took off. Hannah got me up and we went for a walk together. She was so cute holding my hand and told everyone that we passed that I was her mommy and she was very proud of me for having surgery.  Hunter stayed home with Grandma Lynda, who I am SO GRATEFUL for, for so many reasons.  My sweet mother in law is an amazing person and I have relied on her so much throughout the last few years and she always comes through for me no matter what. I am truly blessed to have her in my life to help us raise our kids and to just support us in all that we do. I am lucky to have a mother/daughter relationship with her and I am honored to call her my mom and my friend. Words can't ever express the gratitude I feel towards her and I hope she knows that I love her with all my heart. Even though I missed my buddy, I knew he was being very well taken care of.
I started to get a little tired after our walk and I knew they were going to take away my morphine so I punched that button and took a nap. While I was sleeping, Hannah and Grandma Sally went to lunch and then she and Daddy went and explored the hospital. When I woke up I had some broth, which I tolerated well and then it was time to start getting ready to GO HOME! Hannah wanted to watch them take out my IV and my staples (she's such her mommy's daughter) and held my hand the whole time. The staples did not hurt at all coming out (unlike the ones for my last C-section) and after a final heparin shot and some paperwork we were ready to rock and roll.  We got out of the hospital around 5:30 p.m. and the sunshine again, felt warm and comfortable. I didn't know if I would make it up into big truck, but my husband, always the gentleman, shoved my butt up and in (I actually think he just wanted to cop a feel). We lucked out and didn't hit traffic until about Lagoon and then it was bumper to bumper. It was a miserable, long ride home but finally we made it!  Kat and Hunter were home when we got there and with a "mama you home!" my little boy came running into my arms. Heaven.

Surgery Day!

Tuesday June 21, 2011, the day my life forever changed.
It's crazy to think about everything I went through to get to this point. All the classes, the research, the doctor appointments and the hoops made it seem like it was going to be almost impossible to even have this surgery. But I did it! I stuck with it, did everything they asked, had a little patience and on a beautiful Tuesday morning, my dream came true!
We had to check in to St. Marks in SLC at 8:30 a.m. Tom and I left around 7 after a pretty decent night's sleep (I was shocked, it was like Christmas eve!). We stopped and picked up mom, she was eagerly waiting on her front porch (I don't think any of us were excited, nope not a bit) and we headed down. Traffic wasn't bad and the weather was going to be perfect! I was more excited then nervous at this point.
We checked in to the hospital, I got in my lovely paper gown (at least it was purple, my favorite color) and I settled in to be "prepped". In typical fashion for my family we were joking and laughing the whole time, and, of course reading the obituaries, to make sure I wasn't there... yet! Finally it was time to head to the OR! I still wasn't too nervous as I had my little ride down to the 2nd floor.  Mom had to leave us at the waiting room and I didn't say good-bye to her which still bothers me a little cuz.. what if, ya know? Luckily, I was still around to say hello, so it didn't matter but we'll get to that in a minute. The hallway that you get wheeled down on the way to surgery is amazing. The ceiling is all windows and I could see my beautiful Utah mountains and the sunshine on my face made me feel warm and comfortable. My dad was there too.
In the OR prep area, I had my IV placed by a sweet lady who got it on the first try! Then Dr. Smith, my awesome surgeon, came and talked to us for a second about how everything was going to be totally fine. For a surgeon, Dr. Sherman Smith's bedside manor is amazing! After our pow-wow with Dr. Smith, the anesthesiologist came and talked to us for a sec. I had made the comment that it kinda sucked that I wouldn't be leaving this hospital stay with a baby and he told me that he would totally steal one for me (cuz he had the creds to get into to nursery!) Sa-WEET! I talked music with the assistant RN who had an incredible south African accent, he plays guitar in a little jazz band and I told him I play the clarinet, we bonded over that and then it was time to head back to the OR. Tom had to leave me, but he did so with a kiss and look that made me know all would be well. Once in the sterile, cold operating room, I had to slide onto the table. I hate these tables. These are the tables that doctors are referring to when they say, we lost her on the "table". Now I start to panic. I don't want to be lost. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my babies faces, which helped a little. The anesthesiologist gave me a shot of something, I said, "it feels heavy" and then I was out.
I don't remember much about the rest of that day, but I will fill you in on how I was "told" it went.
My surgery was only supposed to last an hour and a half at most but when they got in there they found I had a large hernia in my belly button. This wasn't the type of hernia that poked out, but instead it went in and the hole had filled with fat. They could not fix this laproscopicly so an incision had to be made in my belly button to repair the hernia. I now have a wicked bellybutton held together with several staples. Nice. So, due to the hernia repair, the surgery lasted a bit longer and freaked out my poor mom and husband. My mom said Tom was pacing the floor and checking the board with the stats like every couple of minutes. I'm glad they had each other to lean on during that time. The bypass surgery went perfectly, according to Dr. Smith, best one he'd ever done on someone my size. That made me feel good. He did say, though, that if I had been 50 lbs heavier, it would have been a much different story so I'm glad I kicked butt and lost that pre-surgery weight! It took a little longer then normal for me to come out of anesthesia but finally they took me back to my room and Tom and my mom were able to come see me. Honestly, I have no recollection of our first encounters, I was pretty doped up and floating somewhere in jenniland. Here are a few things I remember from that day... I fell asleep talking to my mother-in-law (which, sometimes can happen even when I'm NOT doped up lol, just kidding) My mom told me she was going to stay the night and then told me she was not going to stay the night. I think I got up to pee a couple of times and that's about it. Fuzzy memories by Jenni Sneddon. I did walk a couple of times also. The first time I only made it a few steps out of my room, the next time I made it to the nurses station (a few more steps out of my room) and later that night, by myself, I made it to the end of the hallway. This made me feel very good and impressed the nurses too! I had heparin shots which have now made my belly look like a warzone, a morphine button that I wish I coulda come home with, and those cool leg massagers and I pretty much stayed in my little drug induced coma for the duration of the day.
All in all, everything went as well as it could possibly have gone. I am grateful to Dr. Smith for his skilled hands and friendly bedside manor, to my mommy who is always there by my side and would have stayed the night if I had asked her to, to my husband who is my comfort and my protector and to all my family and friends who sent me well wishes on Facebook and text messages throughout the day!  I love you all and now the fun begins!

Monday, June 20, 2011

T-minus 12 hours....

8:30 p.m.Holy crap! Literally, that's what I've been doing pretty much non stop for the last 3 hours. But let's back up a few hours, well, about 15 to be exact.
5 a.m. Butterfly scale about a 2.
Rise and shine! Now, to most of you, 5 a.m. is an ungodly hour but, for someone who's days typically start at 3:30 a.m., this was sleeping in! To my poor mama, however, this was a sacrifice to which I am again indebted to her for.
6 a.m. Butterfly scale only 1 cuz the beautiful morning made me forget just a little bit.
Ready to go get mom and head to SLC.
6:30 a.m. Butterfly scale back up to a 2 (seeing my mom made me nervous for some reason)
Finished getting mom ready to go, hugged my baby sister and off we went.
7:30 a.m. Butterfly scale up to a 5 due to arriving at the hospital.
Here's where the day starts to go a little south.... I was supposed to have 2 procedures done this morning before the last class with RMAP. First an ultra sound of my liver (to make sure it is not too large to do the bypass laproscopicly) and my gallbladder (in case they need to just take that out while they're in there) and 2nd, an upper G.I. of my esophagus to check for any scar tissue due to the fact that I have acid reflux. Well, when we checked in they told us that they only had me scheduled for an ultra sound even though I had the paper from RMAP stating both procedures needed to be done. They looked at me like I was insane and told me I had to just wait and talk to the surgeon. Whatever. So I had the ultra sound, which incidentally, is NOT as cool as a baby ultra sound and then we were sent upstairs to RMAP. "You're a bit early", the nice lady behind the counter said and I was all, DUH, I was SUPPOSED to be having a stupid UPPER GI right now! What the HECK!? Ok, so actually, it was "My paper says I'm supposed to have an upper GI but the folks downstairs don't seem to have the paperwork." She told us we'd have to wait for Kathy the scheduling lady who wouldn't be in till later. Great. So we wait, yet again. After more paper work and a test (for real, I had to take a multiple choice test on everything I have learned about the surgery and post-operative lifestyle! I got 100% cuz I'm just THAT awesome!) I had my "before" picture taken (I looked hot, seriously I don't know why I'm even doing this..) and it was time for the class. The class was long but informative about everything that would happen at the hospital tomorrow and basically everything that we would need to to for our bodies and minds for the rest of our lives. I was given a binder which I consider my instruction manual (my mom was wondering where that had been all my life lol) that is filled with everything I could possibly need to maintain myself physically and emotionally.  I love that binder.
11:00 a.m. Butterfly scale back down to around a 2 due to my awesome binder.
Ok, so now it's getting to be lunch time and i have not eaten or drank anything since last night because of my 2 procedures and my blood labs that I also still needed. Kathy, the scheduling lady, found the faxes that she sent to radiology a week ago and showed me that it was their mistake and that she got it straightened out with them and all was right with the world. Not really, because I was starving, thirsty, tired of sitting and pretty much ready to just be done for the day but we headed downstairs again. 
11:30 a.m. Butterfly scale back to a 5 when barium entered the picture.
The upper GI was miserable. Lots of sipping chalk, rolling like a beached whale on the table to "coat my stomach" and to top it off, unbeknown'st to me, I had a huge hole in the back of my garments so every time I rolled over, the x-ray techs got quite a show! Good grief.
12:00 p.m. Butterfly scale a 0. I just want to GO HOME!
Now we wait, yet again, for the blood work. They SHOULD have put me at the front of the line because it was THEIR fault I didn't have the stupid upper GI 4 hours ago, but the girl behind that counter, had absolutely NO customer service skills and acted like we were asking her to cure cancer instead of finding out if we were next. I'm hungry.
1:00 p.m. the butterflies are out to lunch WITHOUT me.
FINALLY we are called back and the nurse goes over all my medical history with me. Then they ask me to pee in a cup and I was like, uh I haven't had anything to eat or DRINK since yesterday, that might me kinda hard, but I gave it the old college try and managed to produce a small sample. Then, surprise surprise, we were once again waiting.  Labs. Fabulous, except much like the lines at the grocery store, I ALWAYS end up behind someone with a coupon for everything, or in this case, a lady with collapsed veins. Seriously, they had ALL the flabotamists in there trying to get blood from this poor lady and they tried for almost 45 minutes! AHHHHHHHH!
1:45 p.m. butterflies are hiding cuz I've got a flyswatter and I'm pissed!
Blood drawn. The end.
2:00 six and a half hours after arriving, mom and I finally get to leave! We almost got stuck in the rotating doors but luckily they knew that they probably would have rotating doors anymore if that happened so we made it out into the sunshine! Butterflies are flying free!
5:00 pm Butterflies are back and setting up camp.
After a wonderful lunch (finally!) and a stop at my sweet Grandma Carol's for a quick visit, I made it home to my hubby and the babies. I drank down the awful magnesium citrate and a half an hour later the crap hit the fan. Gross.
9:30 pm Butterflies are going crazy.
Now the house is quiet. Tom took the kids to his mom's to spend the night and it's just us. I am so thankful for such a wonderful man in my life who has supported me in everything I have ever wanted to do, this surgery being no exception. I want him to know that I love him beyond words and that, well, I'll just tell him the rest in a minute. I can't type and cry at the same time.
So there it is. Tomorrow is the big day and I am so ready. I have the support of so many people, family and friends, ward members and co-workers, it's an incredible feeling. Thanks to you all and I will continue this journey in a few days! Wish me luck!
Here are a few "before" pics. Gross.
My and buddy April 2010 (I hadn't weighed myself but I would not doubt it if I was over 400 lbs at this point)

Wow, again, so hard to look at. October 2010 (395+ lbs)

June 2011 a few days before surgery.
320 lbs.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A letter to my mother (even though it's fathers day!)

Dear Mommy,
I know today is fathers day but since daddy is in heaven, I want to take some time to write to you. I need you to know that words alone can ever express the feelings I have for you, so although I will try my hardest to convey some of those feelings in writing, it will never be enough. Mom, I would not be here today if not for you. Yes, you gave me life, but that was just the beginning.  I know we always joke about how dad was the "good parent" but honestly mom, none of us, including dad, could have survived without you for SO MANY reasons.  I could always talk to you, about anything and I knew you would listen and not give me that "disappointment" glare that dad would. You were always in my corner, on my side, ready to take on anyone who hurt me or made me feel bad for any reason. You told me I was beautiful and talented and that I could be ANYTHING I wanted to be.  You taught me to be a good mother and that a mothers love is unconditional and you've shown that every day of my life.  You taught me that women can be just as strong and independent as men and that everyone deserves to be treated equal no matter their gender, race, religion or lifestyle. You taught me to rely on my family and that, with love and support from that family, I could get through any trials in my life. You taught, through example, to also rely on my father in heaven and, even though some Sunday's of my youth I cursed you for it, you instilled the necessity of church, prayer and values. You are my rock, my best friend, my hero, my biggest fan and the one person on this planet that I KNOW for a FACT will never give up on me. Thank you so much for everything you have done to help me become the woman I am and for still being in my corner, fighting for me, loving me, supporting me and, well, just being my mom. This journey I'm about to start will be full of ups and downs, like most journeys are, but the greatest thing about it is knowing that you will be by my side every step of the way and I couldn't hope for anything more.
I love you mama.

Family ties

My Amazing Family

2 days to go! The butterflies are kicking in with a vengeance but writing is becoming very therapeutic.  Yesterday I also received some much needed family therapy in the way that only my amazing family can provide it!  I have been blessed with the most incredible family on the planet and I could not have even dreamed of this giant step in my life without their support, humor and love. We all make an awesome team and we are all so much better together (just like you always wanted, mama!) I've come to crave the company of my mom, brothers and sisters, and my favorite feeling in the world is how much my stomach hurts from laughing so hard after one of our get-togethers. Yesterday was no exception. Thank you ALL for taking my mind off of the surgery, for making me laugh and, to my sweet husband and brothers, for the blessing of comfort and health you offered me.  To Ashlee, my bff, my hero, my baby sister, thank you for the delicious "last supper" and for always being there for me whenever I need you and, of course, for your boobs. I can't wait till I can come steal all your clothes!!!

My beautiful sister and me. I made my mom promise to NEVER print this picture.
Wow, even  now, it's very hard to look at.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Note: Benefits are not available for commercial weight loss programs; see page 34 for our coverage of nutritional counseling services.) − Pre-operative nutritional assessment and nutritional counseling about pre- and post-operative nutrition, eating, and exercise − Evidence that attempts at weight loss in the 1 year period prior to surgery have been ineffective − Psychological assessment of the member’s ability to understand and adhere to the pre- and post-operative program, performed by a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, psychiatric social worker, or psychiatric nurse (see page 85 for our payment levels for mental health services) − Patient has not smoked in the 6 months prior to surgery − Patient has not been treated for substance abuse for 1 year prior to surgery
Benefits for the surgical treatment of morbid obesity, performed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, are subject to the following pre-surgical requirements: − Diagnosis of morbid obesity (as defined on page 52) for a period of 2 years prior to surgery − Participation in a medically supervised weight loss program, including nutritional counseling, for at least 3 months prior to the date of surgery. (

That is the list straight from my insurance book of everything I had to do before I could even SUBMIT anything to the insurance!  Now, I realize that I need to be grateful that I even have insurance that will cover this and I AM, TOTALLY, but, like I said before, once the decision is made, it's hard to wait.  The truly crappy part about it was that most of this stuff I had already done over the past 20 years but I was not medically documented so it doesn't count. Well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do, so I took the 2nd step (after the initial seminar) and made an appointment with my GP.  We set up a 3 month weight loss plan and he made sure to document every time I came in.  During this time I also saw a dietitian, Amy Cain, who was wonderful and very helpful. She gave me a lot of resources and had me keep a food journal for at least 2 weeks.  I highly recommend this for anyone trying to lose weight, whether you're having surgery or not.  When you write down everything you eat and keep track of calories (there's an app for that!) it really can help you pinpoint some of the problems in your eating habits. So, lets see, we've started the 3 month medically supervised diet, met 3 times with a dietitian, now on to the psyche eval.  THIS I was worried about! If they found out how crazy I was, they probably wouldn't let me do it! Really, I'm not crazy, in fact the shrink told me I was one of the best candidates he'd ever interviewed (not surprising, I always ROCK at interviews!) but, honestly I really was doing this for all the right reasons. Having this surgery will save my life. The end.  I'm not doing it to look hot in a swim suit (with all this skin, that will NEVER happen) and I'm not doing it to improve my self esteem (those of you who know me, know I already think I'm awesome) and I stopped caring a long time ago what people thought of me physically and I love myself. I'm doing this to see my children grow up and have babies of their own. I'm doing it to stop hurting all the time and I'm doing it to give my family the opportunity to learn, from me, the way to become healthy and happy themselves. Long story short, I passed with flying colors and was highly recommended for the surgery! Finally I had everything (except the last month of the medically supervised diet) and could make the appointment with the surgeon! My mom and I went down to St. Marks, had a little class a mini version of the seminar, and then met with Dr. Smith.  He was impressed that I had, at that point, already lost 50 lbs and said he was excited to see my further progress. I was impressed by his bedside manner, most surgeons are cold and indifferent, but Dr. Smith seemed to really listen to my questions and made me feel completely at ease. Yet another sign letting me know I was on the right path. That brings us to 7 weeks ago. Everything was complete (it only took about 4 months of agony) and lovely Paula, the patient advocate at RMAP, was ready to send my file into the insurance! WOOHOO! I was thinking, maybe a week or two and we'd be ready to rock and roll. I was mistaken. 6 weeks later after I called and harassed Blue Cross, I received the phone call from Paula. My heart started to race and all the hairs on my arms stood up, this was IT, it was HAPPENING! 3 hours later I got the phone call to actually schedule the surgery and it was in 2 weeks! It actually could have been sooner but I had stupid training at work and then Dr. Smith was on vacation but it was ok, at least I knew for a FACT that it was happening so the last 2 weeks have pretty much flown by! So, there it is. It's now Saturday, June 18th and my surgery is scheduled for Tuesday the 21st. 3 days away. All this waiting and now it seems to be going in high speed. I am ready. Bring it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Let the games begin

In the fall of 2010, after all the research, the prayers and the discussions with my sweet husband, I had made my decision. I was choosing to live. I was choosing to raise my children to have healthy eating habits and I was choosing to be an active, healthy mom, a mom they could be proud of. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Let's get this show on the road! It's funny how it can take an eternity to make a life altering decision, but once you've made it, you want it to happen NOW! Well, with weight loss surgery, NOW just aint in the cards. I guess I'm glad they don't just cut you open, sever 3/4 of your stomach and send you on your way like they did in the early years of Gastric Bypass now known as Roux-en-y or RNY for short, but all the hoops you have to jump through can become somewhat time consuming. Lets rewind a bit, before the hoops and right after admitting to myself that "thunder cats are GO!"  I made the call to Rocky Mountain Associated Physicians located at St. Marks Hospital in Salt Lake. In my research, I learned that these guys were the best of the best in the Western U.S. and they were right in my neighborhood! Sa-WEET! The first step, according to them, is to attend a seminar at the hospital taught by a dietitian and one of the surgeons. I signed us up! When I ended that initial phone call, I felt a calm that I had never felt before and a true prompting that I had honestly made the right decision.  On January 13, 2011 Tom and I headed to Salt Lake. Tom had just bought a new phone and we used the talking GPS to find the hospital. I don't know why I mention that, other then it was super cool at the time lol.  We arrived early so we could grab some dinner before the seminar.  We found a little dive pizza place and it was there that Coke and I said our tearful good-byes. We (the soda and myself) reminisced about all the good time's we'd had together, we laughed as we remembered the first and last time we put Captain Morgan into the mix and, in the end, we knew we just weren't good for each other and we parted, as friends. On to the seminar.  The first thing I noticed was the HUGE chairs they had in the conference room and I thought, "wow! they really know their target audience!" #1 worst thing about seminars/meetings/conferences/dr.'s offices etc for a fat person, is trying to squeeze your butt into those stupid tiny chairs. If you want us to pay attention, don't give us donuts, give us some freakin wider chairs!  Anyhoo, these chairs rocked and so did the seminar. It covered all the different types of weight loss surgery from the Lap Band to the Duodenal Switch and all their risks and success'. As I listened to all the information (most of which I was already privy to due to my incessant research) I became more and more excited. Afterwards, as we were leaving the hospital I KNEW for a FACT that this was my future and when we walked out into the night air, I felt as light as the snow that was falling at our feet. I looked at Tom and said, "let the games begin." And, a game, is truly what it became.

Crunching the numbers

I'm a facts and figures kinda gal. I mean, I do work for the IRS so it makes sense right? I needed to know everything I could possibly know to make an educated decision. I hit the books, or, in my case, the blogs, the medical websites, I mean seriously, google started automatically popping up "weigh loss surgery" before I would even type a letter! I devoured websites, compiled all the pros and con's, and even sought out (whether they liked it or not) individuals in my life that I knew had gone through the procedure. It became an obsession, dare we even call it an addiction??...(hmmmm being addicted to consumption, who'd a thunk?) but I had to have ALL the information there was out there. The thing that was the most puzzling to me is that people didn't really want to share their stories, in fact, a lot of them were embarrassed that I either, knew about their surgery or, just plain brought it up to begin with.  I do not understand this concept. Ok, I know I sometimes share WAY too much personal information with perfect strangers, I have since I could talk (yes, that's where Hannah gets it from) but COME ON, if you've been overweight for any significant period of time, being FAT should be what is embarrassing, NOT deciding to do something about it! There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you need help, especially when your quality of life is at stake. I decided then and there that, if I did choose this path, I would shout it on the rooftops and tell anyone who would listen about my story in the hopes that it might touch someones life, or help with their own battles with food addiction.  Finally, I found someone willing to share her story with me and not only that, but I got to watch her incredible journey on a daily basis for an entire year. She became an invaluable resource and a good friend and I am so grateful for her willingness to be open and honest and put up with all my questions! I hope that I can make her proud over this next year and be the kind of example to someone else that she has been to me. She is my hero!  So, the numbers were crunched, the votes were in, and the facts, well, the facts were, simple. Either have the surgery or die young and leave two beautiful, amazing children without a mother. Not so hard to see the bottom line there, is it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hitting the wall.

395 lbs. Wow. Just say that. Three hundred and ninety five pounds. Can you even wrap your head around it? No, cuz it's freakin 395 pounds! You can't wrap ANYTHING around THAT! It was last summer, 2010 when my little 5 year old Hannah asked me if I would help her learn to ride a bike without training wheels. Holy cow! My baby was growing up! I was ecstatic. Daddy and I bought the bike, helmet, pads, ALL the gear and she was ready. I steadied her and counted 1, 2, 3 and let her go. She immediately fell over. "You have to run with me and hold the back of the seat mommy", she said with a "duh" tone to her voice. Run. Uh, really? Wall, Jenni, collision. I was too fat to teach my baby girl how to ride a bike. My heart died a little that day. I sunk into a pretty deep depression for awhile after that. Not only did I have the weight of the situation on my shoulders I LITERALLY had the WEIGHT of the situation on my shoulders.  With the depression came the pain. Not emotional, although there was plenty of that, but physical pain.  When you weigh that much, everything hurts, EVERYTHING. It's tiring to even get out of bed. I would become breathless getting dressed and sweating before I even left the house for work. Shortly after that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, for those of you who are not familiar with the disease, is where your airway becomes blocked (usually by fat) and you basically stop breathing during sleep. Fabulous. So now, I weigh 395 lbs, I am depressed, I hurt EVERYWHERE, and I get to sleep with a sexy machine strapped to my face to help me breathe! All this, and the voice inside my head telling me, "you chose this Jen, you totally chose this."
Well, bite me, little voice! I'm done. I started to tear down that wall, brick by brick.
In 2004, after 5 years of trying to get pregnant, I had decided that if I was not with child by the end of the year, I was going to have Gastric Bypass surgery. 12 months later Hannah was born. It was not the right time for the surgery, that became evident. Fast forward 7 years and two children and probably 100 lbs to July 2010, the time had come to revisit the idea.

The reality of the situation..

So, last time, we discussed the "f" word, the genetic curse and, of course, the fact that my brother Nic is not tall. Today I want to get to the heart of the matter. Whining about genetics can only get you through, oh, say about high school. After that, when you truly have control over what goes in to your body it becomes YOUR FAULT. The truth is that I, Jenni, being of sound mind and somewhat chubbified body, CHOSE to eat the things that made that genetic tendency spiral completely out of control. It was I who drank almost 2, yes TWO 2 liters of coke a day, had bags of mini candy bars in my drawer at work. Water? what is THAT? Vegies? I don't think so. Can you see the pattern??? Not only was it MY CHOICE to eat whatever tasted delicious, but it was also my choice to sit my (here comes that "f" word again) FAT butt on the couch, or my chair at work and consume, consume, consume. So one might look at me and ask, "how did this happen?" well, the reality of the situation is, I chose it. Plain and simple.

Now comes the happy ending, the stuff fairytales are made of.... I can CHOOSE to end this heavy lifestyle and start anew! Isn't that fantastic!? It's like that kiss from the handsome prince that makes it possible to beckon every little forest animal with a single song, it's like... magic. Ok, ok it's totally NOT going to be magic, it's going to be the hardest journey of my life, but when it's all said and done, I KNOW I will have that fairytale ending because I will have Chosen it MYSELF!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In the beginning...

In the beginning, God created... me, and although he created me with many wonderful atributes, he, along with my parents, gave me "the gene". Now, you all know what "gene" I'm talking about so don't pretend like you don't. We've all heard the terms, "pleasantly plump" "curvy" "husky" and my all time favorite, "big boned" but, honestly, lets just call a spaid and spaid and use the "f" word! Yep, you got it, FAT. I have been fat pretty much my whole life. I am the oldest of 5 children and, somehow, was the only lucky one in the bunch to inherit this genetic family curse. My three wirey brothers are tall (well, except for Nic, but he got all the brains so it doesnt matter) thin, and excedingly handsome. My little sister, although not a bean pole, has the body of a goddess with curves in all the right places. I, on the other hand, look like a weeble-wobble with a moon face, tree stumps for legs and a winning smile! To compensate for my outward appearance I did what all fat kids do and became "the funny one with the wonderful personality". This is fine, and in the grand scheme of things it's a much better quality to have, but growing up would have been a heck of a lot easier if I had just been thin. Looking back, I am grateful for the trials I had and I know I truly did become the person I am today because of them and I know God doesn't give us more then we can handle and he knew I was awesome, even if at the time, I didn't. I love my brothers and sister and what I love most is that, despite having a fat sister, they have always stuck up for me, supported me and, of course, always made me laugh at myself and for that, I am forever grateful to all of them. So, with that little glimpse into the past we can now venture forward in the journey.