Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Easy, Perfect 2 Ingredient Parmesan Eggs




My day usually starts with a Premier Protein Shake (Chocolate, Caramel and Cookies and Cream are my favorites!) or a protein shake I whip up in my blender— simply because I need all the help with reaching my exorbitant protein goal as a weight loss surgery patient. It can be really difficult (for me, at least) to reach my protein goal simply with protein found in food especially since my day consists of meals with very small portions. I’ve found I just feel really good about the rest of the day if I start out with a high protein breakfast. 

But on the days where I want to actually CHEW my breakfast, an egg usually does the trick. And while it definitely doesn’t pack nearly the amount of protein that my trusty shake does, it’s so nice to change it up! I have to admit, a scrambled egg with cheese is usually my go-to but with my husband working from home on his half day Fridays, I was on the hunt to find something a little more special than just a basic egg and also something I could enjoy and these are just the ticket! He LOVES them with a piece of the Dave’s Killer Bread (we like the Good Seed Thin Sliced kind) and turkey sausage. While I just like them plain, as-is, no funny business. Cook these on the stove and your kitchen will smell like a fancy brunch spot and I promise you, these could not be easier or make you look more like Martha Stewart. Who can be mad at that?!

There are many recipes for this dish online and different variations of it but this way has worked for me & I’m telling you.. they’re such a delicious change up if you’re looking to add a little variety and fun to your breakfast! 


Easy, Perfect 
2 Ingredient Parmesan Eggs 
Ingredients:
  1. 2 eggs 
  2. 4 tbs shredded parm cheese 
  3. Any seasonings you like, I love Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning on these 

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick pan on the stove over medium heat  
  2. Scoop 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese and place in the pan in a thin circular “nest”
  3. Repeat on the other side of the pan. 
  4. Crack one egg over each of the Parmesan nests
  5. Cover the pan with a lid for about 8 minutes until cheese is bubbly and yolk is cooked
  6. Using a spatula, carefully move Parmesan eggs to a plate. This can be a little tricky so be patient. The cheese will crisp up on the plate so don’t worry that they’re a little hard to move. 
  7. Season with Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel seasoning or whatever you prefer on your eggs and enjoy! 

Start with 2 eggs

Of course, Costco comes through with the best deal for shredded parm! Do yourself a favor and just don't even bother with the small containers at the grocery store. This keeps so well in the fridge and is just really nice to have on hand

Look at those perfect cheesy nests for the eggs!

Lid on. Leave on. 

I mean.. how delicious do those look straight out of the pan?

#getinmybelly


Cook these up on a slow Saturday morning with your family, a holiday morning with all the family in town or just for yourself on a Tuesday because hey, you're worth it! And these bad boys will be a hit. And nobody will have to know how incredibly easy and fool-proof they really are. Enjoy, friends! 

And if you do make them, post them on Instagram with #bluebonnetbites so I can see your re-creations or leave a comment below. 


Happy Wednesday, friends! 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Part Three: Go Time

If you haven't read my pre-op journey up to this point, make sure to read part one here and part two here before beginning this post!
***
 The days leading up to November 2, 2017 were a blur. An excited, nervous, happy little blur with all the anticipation and hope in the world that this road we'd been down for the last several months was finally veering off on to a beautiful new little path we'd been hoping and praying for. The first time my surgery was denied by insurance felt like (and still feels like) 100 years ago and yesterday all at the same time and by the time late October had rolled around, I was ready. We were ready. And we just wanted so badly for me to have the surgery so we could start this next chapter. 

The 10 days leading up to it I started my liquid diet-- for the third time-- so I had it down pat. All the times before, it was incredibly frustrating to be slugging down broth and Jell-O all the while not knowing if my surgery was going to happen the following week or not. So the knowledge that this was ACTUALLY happening made all the difference to me during that time. And side note- when we called my doctor's office to tell them we were officially approved for surgery, they were just as shocked as we were (because the insurance company hadn't notified them at all) and then they asked me about 4 times if we were sure that's what they said for fear that our hopes were up for nothing. You guys, NONE of us were prepared to deal with this insurance insanity! To this day my surgeon says he's never experienced anything like that before. #yourewelcome #thisismylife 

But everything from then on out went smoothly and seamlessly. I went to the hospital a few days before surgery to get my pre-op lab work drawn and on my way out the door, I stopped at my OB-GYN's office to leave her a letter letting her know how much I appreciated her and all she did for me and that this long anticipated surgery was finally happening in a handful of days.. and that because of her wisdom and heart, hopefully one day soon she'd be delivering our babies and literally bringing our wildest dreams to life. (Still makes me tear up thinking about how that all went down). I met with her a few months prior to this particular day and she was in awe of my news and everything we uncovered through meeting with my surgeon and having the EGD. "I just felt it in my bones that I had to talk about all of that.. something in me just told me loud and clear that there were things we needed to explore and I'm just so grateful I was able to be of any help to you," she said. And, my goodness, I could never be more grateful for that woman.

As I worked through my liquid diet, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my sweet mama who made countless batches of homemade beef and chicken broth, homemade Jell-O and loaded my freezer with all the sugar free popsicles my little heart and not so little belly could handle! Side note: the sugar free Popsicle brand Tropical Popsicles were and still are LIFE. So much better than the regular flavors! I still adore them even post-op. It wasn't that I wasn't capable of making my own broth or stocking my own fridge, but the fact that she knew the depths of what was ahead for me and the act of taking things off of my plate without me even asking that was a Godsend. It all reminded me of a mama's love and there's really no mama like mine. And as I went through Halloween night with our big bowl of candy in the house ready for the neighborhood kids, I was beyond grateful for a broth I didn't have to prepare. Because more than just being physically exhausted at that point, I was starting to get nervous in anticipation of what was about to happen and in typical Liz fashion, my throat was hurting, I felt like I was coming down with a cold and I just felt like junk. Nothing ever materialized and looking back I think it was just all from stress and nerves but man, it was REAL. 

A few days before my surgery, Ben and my parents asked me how they could help, if there was anything they could do, and my answer was simple: words of affirmation is my love language and as I was about to embark on this new journey, I really wanted a letter from each of them that I could read moments before going into surgery that would give me the last little bit of encouragement I needed before going under. And it would also be something I could read down the line when things were getting hard or if I had forgotten what I was capable of. Nobody builds me up and supports me quite like my people and I'm grateful for the words each of them hand wrote for me. To this day, those letters are read and cherished more than they probably realize. 

The night before surgery, I took my Hibacleanse shower and went through my hospital bag. (More on what I packed in a later post!) And set my alarm for 5am. I didn't sleep so well and was awake for large chunks of time just thinking about what was finally happening and hoping and this was everything we'd been praying for. The next morning, I took another Hibacleanse shower and we drove to the hospital in my husband's car in near silence as my nerves were starting to get the best of me. He held my hand and sweetly told me this was finally the day we'd been praying for and how proud he was of me and how excited he was to start this next chapter by my side. I mean, you guys, everyone needs a Ben! That man just knows my heart. We parked in the parking lot a little earlier than we thought and he turned on my surgery anthem that had gotten me through the last several months- Glorious by Macklemore. I turned it up and it slowly pumped me up enough to get me out of the car and through those steps to the doors of the hospital.. and really, every step until even today. I ADORE that song and every time I hear it pop up randomly on my iTunes playlist, I'm reminded of how far I've come and that there's really nothing that I cannot do. 


Everything went seamlessly that early November morning. I read my sweet letters from my family moments before they wheeled me off to the operating room. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears just out of fear of what was about to happen as they laid me on the table and got me comfortable. Side note: WHY didn't the Anesthesiologist put a little something in there for nerves before taking me back to the OR like I've had in the past? Because that was STRESSFUL! But I was surrounded by the best family in the waiting room and in the hands of one of the most trusted and valuable bariatric revision surgeons in the country and ultimately, I knew that God had me. Four and a half hours later (it was that long because of all of the scar tissue from the previous surgeries) I was awake and in recovery and wheeled up to my room. My family loved on me, one of my best friends visited and made me laugh through my groggy, exhausted, drug-induced stopper and all the people that had rooted me on through the pre-op fight showed up through texts, calls, flowers and pure love. I was and am so grateful.

Walking the halls with my hubby
I was up and walking within a few hours and making (slow) laps around the floor by the following day. My trainer visited to entertain my mom and I as I started on 1 oz water cups before they would let me be discharged. Y'all. I sat there with 12 little cups in front of me and nearly cried because I just couldn't imagine how long it was going to take to get through them. But I got through them and although I was in pain- just feeling like my mid-section had been run over by a truck- it was managed and I was able to head home to recover in the comforts of my home. But in this case-- my parent's home-- because I was not ready for primetime with stairs and our master bedroom is on the second floor. Ben and I moved into my parent's house for a week or so and took over their downstairs guest room area. It was the best thing we did for ourselves at that time-- I was in the care of Ben and also my mom (a retired nurse) and my dad (a practicing physician) so it worked out nicely. And, let's be serious, the sugar free popsicle stash was on POINT! Hah. 

In the days ahead, I charted my clear liquids in a notebook and walked through the gas pains and weakness I felt through my recovery and little by little, I found my footing in this new normal. I followed my surgeon's instructions to the letter and I laugh looking back remembering how that folder literally went EVERYWHERE with me! So much information. And there was just never any time where I wanted to veer off and make a bad decision or test the waters. Every question I had was directed to my surgeon and not some stranger on the internet and that was the difference in this time vs. every other and also why I feel I've been so successful with my weight loss. Plain and simple. In the first month after surgery, I met with my surgeon twice in his office to start my post-op appointments and every time I was met with so much encouragement and support. AND.. a lot of excitement because a week out and my surgeon was ecstatic that my weight loss was already ahead of schedule! 
#canigetanamen 


Slowly but surely, I recovered and was walking further on all of my walks in our neighborhood, we returned home and for the next 29202 weeks, that red folder was the statement piece on our kitchen island- forever in the middle of my new little world as I treated it like the bariatric bible that it was and still is. It has since found a new home among all of the other bariatric binders and folders I acquired during that time but I still open it every few months to check in and remind myself of what I'm doing. What I'm working towards. And it helps me focus and look ahead. I'm constantly checking myself, always measuring my food, and just trying to live my best, most successful bariatric patient life on the daily.

My pre-op journey was nothing I ever thought I was prepared for and my post-op journey is completely that: my own. Since this isn't my first surgery, my weight loss is a little slower (which was expected and told to me at our first initial consult) and my stomach doesn't handle things that other WLS patients can handle.. and that's okay. I'm now down to my lowest adult weight ever and have lost almost 130 pounds---which is baffling to even type. Every day isn't puppies and rainbows, it's WORK. And I have to consciously put my whole self in the game daily as I chip away at this journey. But at the same time, every day has been a blessing as this tool has truly changed my life from the inside out. Together, we're doing the hard stuff and my life has never been more filled with joy and excitement as I look at what we've done together and the road that lies ahead.

At first it overwhelmed me to know that I had to have 75% of my stomach cut out of me to finally have true and lasting success and oh, how I wished I could have done it without surgery. But I truly believe that this was the road I was put on for a reason and I find strength in remembering that I had exhausted every other option. I had literally tried everything, done all the diets, met with all the doctors and followed their wild plans and every single one of them have made me more successful in this journey than I would have been without them. And I truly mean that. Had I not driven 2 hours each way twice a week to a doctor who put me on basically a glorified Keto diet a few years ago, I would have zero concept for what it's like to cut things so drastically out of my diet and learn to find other healthier alternatives that still made me feel satisfied. Or what it's like to learn my body's natural signals: hunger, cravings, and how to manage them. 

But more than anything, my pre-op journey and the road to me getting my surgery, difficult and trying as it was, has become the fire underneath me that ignites me in fully putting myself in this journey, keeping me accountable and living this lifestyle as I push forward towards my goals every. single. day. Because honestly, I'm just truly in awe that this was all able to happen. Every door closed in my face over and over again and I learned to be relentless in my pursuit of what I knew I deserved and what I needed. And for that, I'm just SO grateful. Truly, I just have the most grateful heart through it all, beginning to end. While I hate how my story began all those years ago with a botched surgery and years of shame and doubts-- I can't help but just be thankful for the journey in its entirety because every single step has led me to the joy of today. And how BLESSED am I to be on the other side?! It baffles me daily and I just feel so lucky. 



So if you're stuck in your middle and nothing is making sense, just put one foot in front of the other and keep pushing. Because what makes no sense all around you at the moment will be crystal clear when you're on the other side, friends! However, let's not forget that this all started because I put myself in a VERY uncomfortable situation. I opened myself and my heart up for extremely hard conversations because I was desperate. I was tired. And mostly, I needed answers. My hope for you is that if you find yourself in my position, you bravely arrive to that point. You open your heart and your mind to the potentially hard, awful conversations because they could very well uncover LIFE. And when you feel that something just doesn't seem right with your health or your body, you act on it. You put away your pride and you seek the help or the very thing that could change the course of your life. Because you are worth it and beautiful and there could be a whole, entire, beautiful new chapter yet to unfold on the other side. This I KNOW to be true. 

Happy Friday, friends! Thanks for hanging with me. I love being able to share my journey with you all and am so thankful you're on this road with me. And if you need a pick-me-up, listen to my surgery anthem. I PROMISE it will leave you feeling like you can do all the things. And if you're sappy like me, will also leave you misty eyed and grateful as you remember how far you've come and what incredible things lie ahead. I can't listen to this song and not think about the days I listened to it a year ago-- not knowing where this was all going but pumping myself up to keep pushing through every barrier. So on that note, have a wonderfully fun weekend! Be kind to yourself. 

XOXO





Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Part Two: A Trip to the Fair

Welcome back to part 2 of this little pre-op series! 

That little seed that was planted grew legs and roots and limbs and all of a sudden, that fear and shock turned into action. I wanted to get as much information as I could and in doing so, my husband and I looked into different bariatric programs in the area, went to an information session on Good Friday and did all the things we possibly could to arm ourselves with as much information as we could as we processed this potential next step. 

And as uncomfortable as the thought of calling the hospital bariatric coordinator was, I did it anyway. I was terrified. But I told her my story, she said she hears it more than I would ever comprehend and that I was not alone. We went over the surgeons and their experience and ultimately, I made another phone call to the surgeon's office who specializes in revision surgery. Since I previously had bariatric surgery and we were looking to "fix" it, any potential surgery in the future would be a revision. 

A week later and we were in the surgeon's office and one of us #guesswho was so nervous she could have thrown up. Regardless, it meant everything to me that my husband went to that first appointment and every appointment I've had since- because we truly embarked down this road from the beginning and are still going through this journey as a team. And that's pretty dang special. In any case, the surgeon took an in depth look at my history, my prior surgeries, who performed them and then did something pretty remarkable as I finished my word vomit that was strewn with tears and anxiety and me talking a million miles a minute out of sheer nerves: he picked up his pen and he drew a barbell. "I've spent the last 10 years of my career revising and re-doing your surgeon's work and without even going in there, I'm 98% sure that this is what your stomach has looked like from the time he sleeved you. He was notorious for taking a tiny bit off from the top and bottom, leaving you with a sleeve that resembles a barbell and not an actual sleeve. "(a sleeved stomach is straight up and down- kind of like a test tube). I just sat there staring at it and he kept talking, saying things like, "he was notorious for a 20 minute surgery, not actually doing the actual procedure, taking the tiniest bit off the stomach and leaving the patient with no restriction, a failed surgery and no results. But we should schedule an EGD and get the ball rolling so we can get in there and see what exactly you were left with." 

I'd be lying if I said I could walk straight to my car as we left his office. Instead, I made it out of the office and stood with my back perched on the wall in the hallway before we left the building as I took my breath and had a mix of emotions that I can still feel today if I think about that conversation. And I just looked at Ben and kept saying, "I feel like I waited my whole life to hear those words.. this hasn't been my fault." 

A week later, I was suited up and taken back into the operating room for my EGD (endoscopy) to be scoped. It was quick and painless and I woke up 45 minutes later next to my husband as the surgeon held my hand and said the best words I think I've ever heard: "It looks exactly how I thought. You never had the surgery. It looks exactly like the picture. You were never meant to have restriction. It was never going to work. It was never your fault. Let's proceed with the road to the gastric bypass and my office will call you tomorrow and we'll start the process and get you booked for appointments." I walked out of that hospital room feeling like I was on top of the world and also walking on clouds. I will truly never forget that feeling.. And then the adventure really started. 
May 8, 2017 All kinds of excited before my EGD! 

Without boring you with every tiny detail, since we have bariatric coverage through my husband's job, we started down the road to approval via insurance and I did all of the necessary things they required that are very standard- an echocardiogram and stress test with a cardiologist, a psych evaluation with a psychologist, I met with a (my now) trainer who specializes in working with bariatric patients for a fitness evaluation and a nutritionist at the hospital who works with bariatric patients, as well. The doctor's office submitted my paperwork and we had a tentative surgery date set for July 18. In the meantime, I saw him every few weeks for weigh ins as we prepared for the potential surgery and he said that he wanted my weight to either stabilize through the pre-op process or go down, but that I couldn't gain any weight. And honestly, with all of the new knowledge I had about what happened all those years ago, I felt like I could do anything- including not gain any weight for the next few months. 

We were denied by insurance 7 days before my tentative surgery date as I was on my (first) liquid diet gearing up for this potential surgery. We travelled for a weekend to see family who was visiting west Texas and we spent the weekend on a boat, at restaurants, surrounded by my favorite little nephews and I was eating chicken broth and protein shakes. When I got word from my surgeon's office about the denial, they walked me through what we would do next and I wanted to arm the insurance company with as much information as I could. I tracked down my medical records from the botched bariatric surgery in 2008  and every single doctor visit I had since high school and their records of my weight. We sent off an even bigger file of paperwork including everything they could ever want from me regarding my weight history and I called our insurance company daily. It was a mess. The weeks were long. My anxiety was at an all time high and by this point only a few close friends and family knew about the excruciating process we were going down and they asked constantly what the news was, when we'd hopefully find out, what in the actual world was going on.. And it was just HARD. All of it. And the hardest part was that I was fighting this fight, we were fighting this fight, but life was still happening around us that we had to show up for. 

Eventually, we set another date for September, I was denied again and at this point, my husband and I were going up the HR ladder at his job to get the help we needed. We sent more paperwork, had more conversations, fought with insurance on the daily until one Friday afternoon in October we were heading to the State Fair of Texas with my mom. I mean, y'all! If you're not a Texan, I would tell you the only acceptable time to visit the state is during the state fair. 

We were all in the car excited for her to have her first Fletchers Corny Dog when my husband got a call from the insurance rep who worked with his company at the insurance headquarters. "I can't believe how long this has taken but I finally got the  paperwork in the right person's hands and everything she's experienced and what she's trying to do makes total sense. I can't say it officially but, it's looking like she's approved. We'll work on this through the weekend and I'll call you early next week when I know something." And then I passed out and died. #justkidding. But SERIOUSLY.. that phone call was everything (it was on speaker) and as we parked our car in the state fairgrounds, the three of us got insanely excited at this news while I also remained uncertain. I mean, who knows? It'd been months since we started down this road and at this point, I was working out with my trainer for a few months a few times a week and I had finally gotten to a place where I said to my trainer, "Regardless of if this surgery happens or not, I'm moving forward. It's not going to make or break my road ahead.. it will just look a little different." And I think it's important to note that I finally truly had a team of professionals around me and felt completely and 100% supported. So, if this didn't work out, I was still gearing up to losing the weight. I was still going to be okay. 

Three days later it was Monday morning. Ben called me from work at around 9 a.m. Not totally unlike him but I had no clue what was coming. "BABE! Are you sitting down?" "umm, no.." I said. "YOU'RE APPROVED! IT'S BEEN APPROVED! IT'S ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN! We're on for November 2!" And I LITERALLY fell to the floor. Literally. I was shocked. And what I remember most about that moment was that I let out the biggest sigh as he said those words, it was as if I could finally take a breath. Months of anticipation, worry, doubt, frustration and fight and I could finally take a breath. 

And isn't that how it always happens? I fought this beast for so long every.single.day all the while just assuming at the beginning that this would pan out as perfectly as I pictured in my mind. But if I could go back in time and tell myself anything, I'd shake myself and remind that girl gently to just be in the moment. That God had this. And He had me. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, I always have, and in this case I had finally gotten to a point where I realized that the knowledge of my botched surgery was going to be enough and also be the fuel to the fire in me finally losing this weight. If the revision surgery wasn't going to happen-- I was going to be okay. I was still going to make it work. It was just going to be a slower road and that was okay. And then God shows up with 4 seconds left in the 4th quarter and throws the hail mary. (Look at me being all sports ) and it all makes sense. 

If anything, those several months taught me more than I ever imagined. That I was stronger than I ever thought I was and that knowledge was power. And to be honest, looking back, the months of fighting for this dream made the news of getting the surgery a true GIFT to my life. And that gift is still something that I hold on to nearly nine months after my surgery. and hope to never let go of. I had to work tirelessly for that gift. I fought over that gift. Prayed over that gift. Worried endlessly over that gift and (bonus!) I had my first experience fighting a long, hard battle without using food to cope, so I was kind of ahead of the game. And wouldn't you believe I didn't gain an ounce during that whole process, which I'll go ahead and chalk up to a win right there. 

So with that, I'll leave you there. One minute you just think you're going to splurge at the fair on a corny dog and a funnel cake and the next, you're too nervous to eat one because you're convinced that if you eat all the fair foods, it will send too much bad juju into the universe and the surgery wouldn't come to life because you stuffed your face with fair carbs (the best kind!) after what was later a pretty significant phone call. What can I say? I never said I was a rational thinker.. 

And 9 months later and I still think about that day at the fair and every moment leading up to it and I'm insanely proud. And I don't feel that often. I pray that anyone else looking to get bariatric surgery has a different, better, EASIER experience but if the road is long and timultious, I promise you can do this. And it's worth it. You are worth it. And months after your dreams come true, I hope you'll look back with such a grateful heart and look ahead with more excitement and joy than you've ever experienced. 

Happy Tuesday, friends! Stay tuned for part 3! 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Part One: Just a Little Trip to the Doctor

Welcome back, friends! Today begins part one of a three part series talking all about my pre-op journey. I've received a lot of messages about what it all looked like, how the insurance pre-approval process was for me and many other inquiries over the last several months. My hope is that there's a little something for everyone included in these next three posts, whether you're seeking bariatric surgery or not. Happy reading! 

It had already been a beast of a year. I herniated a disc in my back moving a trunk full of my collection of candles in February and underwent two steroid injections that didn't relieve any pain. I added a Neurologist to my growing list of doctor referrals because of potential nerve issues, a Chiropractor and also physical therapy to get any relief I could. Nothing really helped and I was in so much pain I could barely walk or sit comfortably.. long story short, it was pure agony. But what nobody told me about steroid injections is that they can completely throw off your cycle. I already had PCOS, making my cycles irregular and funky on their own. But with the addition of the two back injections, I didn't have a period for months which meant that our trying to conceive journey came to an abrupt halt. In the months leading up to my back injury, we went through two early miscarriages and had started to talk with my doctor about our options and potential barriers that were in the way of us growing our family. Ya know, completely overlooking the fact that my weight was high up on that list of potential barriers but who really wants to face that music? I had been on every diet. Started, stalled and put the weight back on on repeat. Over and over again. 


 

March 2, 2017 after my second and last steroid injection

I wrote a post a few days before undergoing Gastric Bypass surgery in November announcing to our little world on Facebook that in a few days, our lives were going to change forever. And while the rest of our friends were announcing their beautiful new babies, I thought it was just as important to tell the world about the road that we were about to embark on-- even if we'd been on the road and keeping it to ourselves since April. And that's really when it all started.. last April with a routine visit to my OB-GYN for my annual exam. 

I sat in her office last April 2017 and we had a very hard conversation in between all the other routine stuff. It all came to a head when she looked over my chart and said, "let's talk about your previous gastric sleeve surgery you had done in 2008. What happened? Who did it? Let's talk about it because it's been in your chart forever and it just doesn't make sense as I'm piecing it all together." So I proceeded to tell her everything. In 2006 I had a lap band put in, I did really well with it for a few years and saw results until the band slipped in 2008. My previous surgeon moved out of state and we met with a well known, prominent bariatric surgeon at the time in the metroplex and he said we had to get it out of there and he'd perform a gastric sleeve on me. I'd finally get to finish my journey in a safer way, he said. So, in December of 2008 we had the band taken out and allegedly he operated on my stomach and I had a gastric sleeve. We did it during my holiday break of my senior year of college so that I'd have plenty of time to recover but that also meant that I was on a liquid and clear liquid diet for my final exams. #whatwasithinking

All that to say, I never saw results. I never felt the restriction I should have felt for someone who had such a large portion of their stomach cut out. The doctor said to keep ratcheting down my portions and made it pretty clear that it was my fault that I wasn't succeeding. Which was excruciating. Years passed, I moved to Colorado to start graduate school, met my husband, made new friends and created a life for myself and it became the topic that I never discussed with anyone. Literally, it became my shame story to carry and I always carried with me the fact that life went on, years passed and if anything, weight was GAINED. Restriction was never felt and it was all. my. fault. 

I told her all of this sitting and crying on her exam table with one of those completely awkward and terrible paper jacket gown situations draped over me. Y'all, those things are terrible! Can we talk about that? Terrible. The worst. But she listened. Like, really listened. And finally said, "We need to get to the bottom of this and I know how much you want to grow your family.. but what if I could just have the bariatric coordinator at our hospital here call you?" I looked at her and said, "They'd never want to talk to me. What would there even be to talk about? In their eyes and in a surgeon's eyes my lapland slipped, I had a second, more invasive surgery and I failed it. They'd want nothing to do with me.." and she was INSISTENT. She said, "You don't know this. And they talk to people like you every single day. I'm going to give you her number and I really, really want you to give her a call or I can have her call you. I just feel it in my bones that we need to look into this and that we were supposed to have this conversation today, Liz." 

And so I got in my car afterwards completely shocked and confused as to how my annual pap smear had turned into my doctor reaching down to the bowels of my medical history and picking up the one thing that every doctor since 2008 has seen and ignored or just simply not cared enough to bring up. We had talked about the very thing that I hid from the world and y'all, I went through a two year Counseling graduate program where we talked about ALL of the things. Things you didn't even know where bubbling under the surface.. that's just how well I had wrapped it up and tucked it neatly away never to be talked about or thought of with anyone. Apparently I wasn't THAT good at it because it always stuck with me and through grad school, I gained more weight in that two year period than ever before. So apparently, your girl was wrestling with a lot that was under the surface and stuffing it down with food further and further to no avail. 

I'm going to leave it there because this story is a long one and I think it's probably best to be broken up into segments. It's a lot. But I'll tell you one thing- that doctor's visit shed some seriously needed light on the darkest part of my life and although we had no resolution yet, it was a relief to have it out there  and talked about. I had been through so much physical pain in the months leading up to this appointment and was so focused on how my back injections put a halt to our journey to starting a family. I remember just sitting in my car in the parking lot after this appointment feeling an odd sense of relief. Like a burden had been lifted off of my heart. I felt weird, no doubt, talking about this secret part of my life with my OBGYN. But a seed was planted that day that I'll forever be thankful for. 

I'll see y'all back here next week for Part Two! Have the happiest of Thursdays!
 
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