Friday, April 30, 2010

One Small Step...

Jon took me down to the medical supply store today and I got a walker. It was a frustrating experience, to say the least. For one thing, I had to suffer the humiliation of sharing my weight with the owner so that he could help find a walker that can support my size. And even then, he had some doubts that their biggest one would be able to hold me. It seems like no matter what I do, I just can't escape my weight!

Once I actually tried the walkers, it wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. Jon kept pushing for me to try this one that has a knee rest, where you kind of wheel the bad foot and then walk normally with the good leg. I didn't like the lopsided feeling of it, though, and wanted something that gives me full support in the front. I then tried a couple of regular walkers with the bars in the front and was able to hop around a bit -- but the walker kept kind of sliding from side to side, making the owner nervous.

Finally, I chose a rolling walker wih two large handles and a built-in seat. It's easy to grip and because it has wheels, it has less friction that the standard walker. It's definitely better than the crutches, but I still have to hop on one leg -- which given how much weight is coming down on it hurts.

Right now, I can do about five steps with it. I was really proud of myself because while Jon was chatting with the owner, I managed to lift myself up off of the bench I was sitting on, grab onto the walker and pivot myself into my wheelchair. I did this without any help or support so I guess it's a big deal. Still, the idea of walking long distances with this thing seems impossible at the moment. My goal for today is to do five steps away from the bed and then five back. And then tomorrow, I'll do fifteen and then twenty. I'd love to reach a point where I can actually get around our apartment with this thing, but it's going to require a lot of upper body strength and practice on my part. I know that I'd be able to use it with more ease if I weighed less, so it's extremely frustrating. I don't wish a broken leg on anyone, but if there ever were the wrong person to break her leg, it's me.

I wish that they made some kind of mobility device for injured obese people. Everyone is saying that there's an "obesity epidemic" in the United States, so surely I can't be the only fat person with a broken leg, right? I'm not an inventor so I can't really think of what this device would be like, though I'm envisioning something where you can kind of rest your leg on a low platform and then work the walker more like a scooter. It would be a similar set-up to that knee-rest walker, only it would look more like a standard walker where the rail surrounds you. This way, you don't have to worry about accidentally putting your foot down AND you'd have the support and balance, which is so necessary when you're overweight.

For now, though, I guess I'm just going to have to learn to get around with the walker I have. It's not the best for me, but thankfully, I do have the wheelchair so I can at least get outside. I suppose that hopping around will also give me some much-needed exercise on my good leg -- and it does feel good to be upright. I'm still not fully convinced that I'm ever going to walk again and this gives me a little hope.

I just hope that I don't end up injuring my good leg in the process.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Walls Closing In

I've been eating a lot of not-so-great stuff lately. This is really, really bad, especially since I can't move as much as I was before. I need to find a way to get my act together and stop.

A big part of this has to do with me being bored and lonely. When I first broke mt leg, it sucked and was very stressful, but there was a certain excitement to it. My friends were checking in almost daily, I had to make a million calls regarding my job and health insurance, and then there was the countdown to my surgery. Then, once the surgery was successful, I had our anniversary party to look forward to.

Now, however, things have gotten really quiet and I can't stand it. At first, Jon was coming home early so he could do some work from here and take care of me, but now he's staying later again. I don't blame him for this because I know he's giving up a lot of time to take me to doctors and such, but I'm usually here by myself until it begins to get dark out. I'm also not hearing from friends as much. I've tried calling several people and left voice mails, but, well, they're busy -- as it should be. Before I broke my leg, I was one of those busy people. I had a very active social life and went out with friends almost every weekend. Now I'm just in bed all day, with no one to keep me company but my laptop and the cat. I'm not angry at anyone for not being around; it's just that I look outside and see how beautiful it is and wish I can be one of them.

Even worse is that when I do hear from or see people, everything is compromised. Before this, I almost never used my cell phone to call people. It sucks! The reception is always going in and out and half of the conversation is spent going, "Hello, hello, hello." It's so fucking annoying and I want to throw the damn phone out the window. I just had to abruptly end a conversation with my grandmother because the reception and her hearing issues made it nearly impossible for us to talk. I was getting exasperated going, "Hello, are you there? Hello, hello, fucking HELLO," every fucking minute, so I finally lied that my phone was dead and hung up. And whenever I make plans to go out, it's a fucking obstacle course. At the anniversary party, there was a step into the restaurant so I had to be carried in. That was fine, but for every social situation I have to worry about the layout. My friend has a housewarming party coming up and I'm concerned that there will be steps or bumps in the home that will prevent me from getting around it. We have another friend's graduation party coming up and she says it'll probably be on the roof of her building. This means that there might be a flight of steps that I won't be able to climb. Other friends are having a joint 40th anniversary party and want to go dancing at a club ... which I obviously can't do. The list goes on and on.

Even if I'm in a walker soon (which I hope to be, but again, I'm depending on someone for help -- I need Jon to get one for me), my mobility is still going to be limited and I'll still be stuck in my house for the most part. I've been spending a lot of time writing and watching old TV shows online, but there's only so much I can take of having myself to talk to. I feel terrible for thinking this, but I can't help feeling a little resentful of everyone for moving on and feeling like I'm just being left here to rot. I want so badly to be able to meet up with friends or just DO something, anything, but this means people have to come out here to see me or Jon has to change his schedule or we have to make sure that the place we go is accessible for someone with a disability. I never thought I'd say this, but I really miss going to work. My job drove me crazy and I came close to quitting last year, but I miss having a place to go and a purpose -- and a reason to wake up in the morning. I'm starting to lose that and am instead filling my day with food.

I know that I should be grateful that this is just a broken leg and not something worse. I could be seriously injured and stuck in a wheelchair for life, like one of Jon's clients who is paralyzed from the neck down. I could have a fatal disease. I know that it's JUST a broken leg and that in a few weeks, it'll all be over and I'll be on my way to recovering.

I have about six weeks left until I return to work, though, and I'm losing my mind. I don't know how much more I can take being by myself all day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Great Expectations

One of the weight loss blogs I read frequently is Jennette Fulda's Pasta Queen ( The author weighed close to 400 pounds at one point and dropped down to about 180 through diet and exercise. Aside from the fact that she managed to accomplish this, she's a wonderful, witty writer, who is very honest about the ups and down in her weight loss journey. It wasn't an easy road for her -- and still isn't, even though she weighs less now.

Recently, she was featured in an article about the expectations that come with losing weight (, and how many people are disappointed when their thinner selves end up not being so different from their fatter selves.

This has got me thinking -- what are MY expectations for when I'm thin? Do I really think that my life will suddenly be better and I'll be more confident and better loved than I was before?

Well, no, not really. Ironically, I'm actually much more social now as a fat person than I was when I was thin. I'm not the life of the party, but I do have a lot of good friends and an active social life. And come to think of it, I'm not sure that I even WANT to be the life of the party, because I have friends who are and it's a lot of work!

As for the confidence thing, I definitely could some more of that and think that losing weight will help. But it's not because I believe that being thinner will suddenly make me more likeable and desirable. The big thing that it will do for me, however, is give me more mobility. It'll be easier for me to run and jump and climb stuff and not have to worry about my body getting in the way. I've always been a fraidy cat, even when I was thinner, so I'm not planning to jump out of planes when I get down to my goal weight. I would love to do something like scuba diving, though, which I can't see doing at this weight because I'm not sure they'd have a suit my size. I'd also be nervous about being able to pull my body back up into the boat. Another thing I'd like to do is to be able to climb a glacier. We went to New Zealand before -- and this was after I'd lost quite a bit of weight -- but I still wasn't in good enough shape to go on a glacier climb, which is something I really want to do. We walked along side the glacier, but it wasn't the same.

These are the types of things that I feel like I'm missing out on -- having the confidence to try something new with my body without worrying about it getting in the way or me getting hurt. One of my friends is also an avid traveler and was able to climb a glacier, as well as hike through the Andes. Both were extremely difficult, she says, but she was able to do them, which at the moment, I'm not. Even without the broken leg, walking was getting difficult for me, so the idea of being able to hike seems almost impossible for me at this point in time.

That said, I do think that losing weight will drastically change my life -- not in a fantastical, "everything will be better," sort of way, but I'll be given more freedom and ease to enjoy life and do the things I want. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Monday, April 26, 2010

To Lap Band Or Not To Lap Band? My Thoughts On Bariatric Surgery

I'm feeling rather prolific today, hence the back-to-back posts. Anyway, this morning, a very close and well-meaning friend asked why I don't consider getting Lap Band surgery. I've also been asked why I don't consider getting a gastric bypass.

Before I answer this, let me just address this very controversial subject in the overweight community and state that I am not against the idea of bariatric surgery. For many, it's a lifesaver. I also do not think that getting weight-loss surgery is "cheating," by any means. In order to undergo a gastric bypass or Lap Band procedure, you must begin with psychological testing, then lose a portion of weight on a liquid diet, then get surgery which can be painful during the healing process, and then live a life where you eat extremely small portions of food and take vitamin supplements. Along the way, you can also suffer from things like malnutrition, hair loss, stomach problems, etc. This hardly sounds like cheating to me! Patients who undergo bariatric surgery have to commit to changing their lifestyles, just as those who don't have surgery do. But the benefits are that you can lose a lot of weight fairly quickly and avoid (or improve) health issues that come with being morbidly obese, such as fatty liver or sleep apnea. I've heard of many success stories involving people who've had bariatric surgery and I applaud them. If they've found a way to lose weight and be healthy and perhaps add years to their lives, I think that's awesome. I really respect anyone who wants to make a change for the better.

For me, however, I don't think that getting a Lap Band or a gastric bypass is the way to go. For one thing, I hate hospitals. I was freaked out getting my broken leg fixed last week, to the point where I was seriously questioning whether I really need two legs (my parents and husband convinced me otherwise). I can't see myself ever CHOOSING to get surgery of any kind, especially one that's pretty invasive. I'm a wimp, what can I say? I have to go to the orthopedist today to get my hard cast and I'm kind of nervous about that!

I also can't realistically see myself sticking with the program that needs to be followed once the surgery is completed. Gastric bypass patients have to eat food in really small quantities post-op. This takes a huge amount of discipline, which I just don't think I have. I like food. I love going to the many different types of restaurants here in New York City and trying all types of cuisines, spicy and otherwise. Frankly, I don't want that option taken from me. I know myself too well to acknowledge that I'd never stick with measuring out every portion. People do gain back weight from gastric bypass surgery and I can totally see myself being one of them.

Plus, for me, I don't think that making my stomach smaller will help me overcome my psychological issues with food. Yeah, I may feel fuller sooner because there's less room in there, but I can't see it preventing me from wanting to binge when I'm angry or upset. That's in my head, not in my body. It's the reason that I've gone from being anorexic to bulimic to morbidly obese. The issue for me isn't just knowing when to stop eating or what I should eat; it's knowing how to stop myself from reacting to the triggers that make me want to binge (or in the past, purge or starve myself). My goal is to change my relationship with food for the better, not just lose weight. I just don't see myself accomplishing this by putting myself in a situation where I have to eat tiny amounts.

This is why I've been a fan of Weight Watchers or diets like it. I like the idea of moderation - of being able to eat anything, provided you don't go overboard. I'm still working on avoiding binges, though. I've been pretty good, as of late, and didn't go crazy at the party yesterday. But then when I came home, I ate through a box of chocolates. Looking back, I guess I was excited and reacted. This is the sort of thing I need to stop doing. In the future, I'll put the box away or give it away or something.

There are some days where I question whether I need to do something that will give me quicker results. When you have as much weight to lose as I do, five or ten pounds don't make much of a difference, and I wish I could wave a magic wand to make me suddenly lose 100. But I know that in order to accomplish this, I need to change my entire way of thinking, which no physical change is going to do for me. You can make my stomach as small as a pea, but unless I get a labotomy too, I think that this is going to be something I struggle with for the rest of my life.

Photos Finished

Yesterday, Jon and I had our 10th anniversary party. It turned out to be a really nice event, even though I had to attend it in a wheelchair. But the restaurant (My Kitchen in Forest Hills, NY) did an awesome job catering and everyone raved about the food. Plus, it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many people who love us. I think in some ways I enjoyed this better than our wedding because it was a lot more intimate and I didn't have to deal with all of the stressful preparations that come with planning a wedding.

The only bad spot were the pictures. I HATE having photos of me. I'm kind of like Chandler Bing from that episode of FRIENDS where he could just not smile well for his and Monica's engagement photos. It's also hard to look at a photo and see how fat I really am, especially when I'm surrounded by my normal-sized friends.

This is why I always take pictures of the sights on our trips, but Jon and I rarely get into any photos ourselves (even though he's not fat). This is also why I love to video people, but prefer to stay behind the scenes as the narrator. This way, I'm part of the action, but no one has to look at me. I'm kind of like Charlie from Charlie's Angels -- you know I'm there, but at the same time, I'm invisible.

Well, since it was our party yesterday, I gave in and let some friends take pictures of me. I wish I hadn't. It was exactly as I feared -- I resembled a huge, melting mound of flesh and looked so so HUGE. Plus, I haven't had a proper shower in weeks so my hair and skin weren't too great. I know that in my friends eyes, I was just me and they jut wanted something to remember the day by. But for me, seeing myself like that was a horror show.

I suppose seeing the truth isn't a completely bad thing -- maybe I need to see how I really look so that I'll do something about it and lose the weight. But the thing is, I have been trying to and would prefer not to look at myself until I lose some more pounds. I feel the same way about my broken leg; I refuse to look at it when the doctor periodically checks it until it's healed. I don't want to look at bruised flesh. I don't want to look at fat, melty flesh, either.

Now before you go on thinking that I suffer from some sort of body image disorder, I don't. There have been periods -- even when I was overweight --where I was fine with what I looked like. A few years ago, I trained for that 20 mile walk and though, I was still overweight, was toned and in decent shape. I looked big, but not all horrific and melty, and was OK with having my pictures taken. I went to Disney with friends that summer and posed for bunches of shots with them, even though I was the largest in the group. I even have one of those photos hanging in my office because I like it so much.

But for now, I don't want my oversized body documented. Perhaps when I do lose the weight (if I ever lose the weight, which as I get closer to 40 is seeming more and more impossible), I'll look back and appreciate these photos of me from when I was larger. Perhaps they'll remind me of what I've overcome and how I don't want to get back to that size.

While I'm at this size, though, I want to feel as normal as possible, especially since I can't even walk at the moment. I can joke about being in a wheelchair, but not having my legs back is slowly getting to me. Seeing myself looking larger than life AND in a wheelchair makes me feel even more like a freak than I already do -- and it gives me a sense of what my future could be like: me, ENORMOUS, stuck in a wheelchair because my weight is keeping me from walking. Ugh.

So for any friends reading this, I'd appreciate it if you'd respect my wishes and not take photos of me for now ... or at least strategically pose me and photo shop me so I look a lot thinner. I know that it's difficult to understand what I'm going through as a thin person, but this is a serious issue for me and I need to be heard.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Venting, Venting, Venting

Okay, that's it -- I HATE being immobile. Now I know that I HAVE to lose weight so that I will never come close to being immobile again.

Jon has been great and very patient when it comes to taking care of me, but -- and I feel like such a traitor for writing this -- there are times when I'm becoming very impatient with him because he's not giving me what I want when I want it. This evening, he came home late so I was starving for dinner and sitting in the dark because I couldn't get to the light. If I want to brush my teeth, I just go and do it. But now I have to ask him to get me a cup and my toothbrush and am depending on his schedule. Right now, I just took a sponnge bath and want to brush my teeth, but he's finishing up something on the computer, so I have to wait. Yeah, I guess I'm spoiled and I know things can be worse, but I really miss the simple idea of just being on my own schedule and not having to depend on someone else to govern my every move. I also feel like a nag whenever I ask for something, especially if Jon is doing something or if I need something done that's inconvenient for him. We have our anniversary party coming up and my party dress is still in my office (I always have my online deliveries sent there). He works across the street so I keep asking him to pick it up for me. Now he's saying, "Maybe Friday," but the party is on SUNDAY. I WANT that dress! I want to dress up in it and feel pretty and well, human, after all of this. I'm on the verge of kicking and screaming and throwing a temper tantrum just so I can get my way and he'll pick it up for me. I also want a small vanity mirror so I can put on my makeup and tweeze my eyebrows after weeks of growth. I feel like I'm being such a diva -- wanting him to help me at home and then wanting this extra stuff. I'm trying to be grateful, but sometimes it's hard.

To top this off, our home is DISGUSTING. We're not neat people, anyway, but our house is awful. It's like we're living in Grey Gardens or something. This weekend, I am determined to get into my wheelchair and at least dust off the lower shelves and put some stuff away. I'm also determined to somehow get into the bathroom so I can clean up in there.

I can't wait until I can use a walker and plan for this to be sooner rather than later. I need to be able to move - NOW!

Making Strides

Yesterday was the most productive day I've had since my surgery last week. I wrote a couple of freelance pieces and Jon took me out to dinner in the wheelchair last evening. We didn't go far, just to the Italian place around the corner, but it was great to get out of the house and enjoy some fresh air for a couple of hours. It was nice to feel a little less slug-like and a little more human for a while.

One thing we both noticed is that it's not only gotten easier for me to lift myself into and out of chairs, but I'm now doing more work in moving the wheelchair itself. Before, when Jon would drag me in either the wheelchair or the computer chair (I move on a computer chair inside our apartment because it fits through doors more easily), he'd be doing all the work, especially when he had to pull it over floor moldings. However, I'm now helping him along by pushing with my hands and good leg and it's made things easier on him. Truthfully, I haven't worked out much in the past few days because I've been so exhausted, but the weight training I have done seems to be paying off. I'm definitely going to do 20-30 minutes of it today so I can get back into that.

Since I can't stand, I haven't weighed myself, but I can tell that I've lost weight. At the start of this blog, I complained that my wedding and engagement rings had gotten tight and I had to use cream to put them on. But yesterday, they slipped right onto my fingers! Then when we were outside and I caught my reflection in a window, I could see a difference. I'm a lot less "chinny" now -- I have only two instead of three!

A big change in my eating is that I can basically only eat what's around me. Each day, Jon leaves me a basket of food with yogurt, fruits, a bagel and some cheese and crackers. Yes, I probably eat more cheese than I should, but the limit on foods is forcing me to get some control. I can't randomly wander to the fridge and binge on something in there. I've been attempting to fill up on fruits and veggies (Jon makes a great soup with root vegetables that I love) because I have this idea that eating healthy foods will heal my body.

My appetite has decreased, as well. When we went to dinner, I was so hungry and ordered chicken parm with potatoes. But by the time we'd eaten our shared appetizer of anti-pasto and I'd had a slice of bread, I was stuffed. I took literally two bites of the chicken and had them pack up the rest. It'll probably be my dinner for the next couple of nights.

I know that a lot of studies have been done on sleep and obesity and I wonder if my lack of sleep really has affected my weight. Usually, I sleep 6-7 hours on a good night and I rarely sleep through the night. But these days, I'm sleeping almost all the way through and have the entire day to rest and reflect. Yes, I get hungry, but I feel as if I'm feeding my body rather than my soul.

I think it would be funny and pretty cool if I end up losing a lot of weight during this time. I imagine that for most people, it's the opposite, but I'd like to be an exception to the rule!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I Feel Yucky

Or yukky in this case. Perhaps this is due to the many painkillers I've been taking or to the cabin fever I'm enduring since I've been in bed for the past few days. But the weeks of using a bed pan (yes, I use one -- I have little choice in the matter since I can't walk to the bathroom or wheel in there since it's up a step) and taking sponge baths (which get you clean, but not as well as a shower) are beginning to take their toll. The plan is for Jon to build a ramp so that we can get the wheelchair up the step to the bathroom and for me to soon get a walker, meaning that my shower woes should soon be over. But in the meantime, I present you this song in honor of my current state.

I Feel Yucky (sung to the tune of "I Feel Pretty")

I feel yucky
Oh, so yucky,
I feel slimy,
And grimy,
And gross,

And I pity,
Anyone who has to get real close,
La la la la la la la la la la!

I feel stanky,
Oh, so stanky,
I feel smelly and grungy and ripe,

And I envy,
Any girl who isn't me tonight,
La la la la la la la la la la!

See that dirty girl in the mirror now,
Hasn't had a shower for weeks,
Sponge baths go so far,
But are too sub-par,
And now this woman really reeks!

I feel unkempt,
Oh, so umkempt,
I'm disheveled, unraveled a fright,
I feel yucky,
Wish that I could take a shower tonight!

Long Overdue Update On My Life

Sorry for the long hiatus between entries, but I had a little, unexpected "adventure" a few weeks ago. On April 1, 2010, I broke my fibula and sprained my ankle as I was exiting the express bus -- about a block away from my apartment. I just had surgery on my leg, in which a rod and plates were inserted to fix the bone and reattach the ligaments. I'm a little sore, not to mention mentally and physically exhausted, but otherwise okay. I'm trying to take each step (no pun intended) of this journey one day at a time.

One good thing to come out of all of this was that it forced me to get some medical tests, which I'd been putting off for a long time. I now know that my heart rate and blood pressure are good and that my vitals are decent. My blood sugar is a touch high, but I am thankfully not diabetic. And my liver values are slightly elevated, but not so much that the doctor was alarmed. I know that both of these values will decrease if I lose weight. Seeing all of these doctors, getting needles and getting my bone popped into place (which hurt like hell) has made me slightly less wary of medical-type people. That said, I've vowed to see my doctors more regularly once I recover. The doctor who gave me clearance for my surgery was a pompous ass, but everyone at the hospital was kind and supportive. I've put off seeing a doctor because I was embarrassed about my weight, but I've found that most aren't judgmental and truly want to help.

As for my physical activity, well, it's limited. At this point, I can't even get up without help. I can't use crutches because of my weight and my back problems, so I'm using a wheelchair. But my orthopedist assures me that I will walk again and has suggested that I get my start by using a walker with a knee support built in.

I can sit up and roll over without help, so I can exercise my arms and my good leg (and my bad leg to an extent). I've been trying to do some range of motion-type exercises to stay as mobile as possible and build up my upper body strength. It's working, I think. At first, I could barely get into a car without being supported, but now I can do it on my own.

In terms of food, I'm trying to eat healthy, fresh stuff that'll help in my weight loss and healing. I've been having grapes, cheeses, bananas, yogurts, vegetable soup. I'm not eating as much because I have to depend on Jon to get the food for me. But I'm eating plenty and am not hungry. I know that I need to lose the weight because it'll help me walk again.

I'll admit, when I could walk, there were days when I wish I didn't have to because my back hurt from it. Now I miss it so much. It's hard to even contemplate being able to walk again at this point, but everyone promises that I will and I'd like to be better at it than I was before. I'd love to get into good enough shape that I can do another walking event.

For now, I'm trying to keep my humor intact and remind myself that things could be worse. I could've hit my head when I fell. I could've been injured a lot worse. I could've been paralyzed. I know that this is just a bump in the road and is perhaps my chance to start over.