Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Aerobics Class

I like to brag that I love to exercise now. It's a major change for a former couch potato whose most strenuous exercise was lifting a fork to her face. I exercise 6 days a week - I'm actually trying to cut back to 5 days because my aging body appreciates the rest. Every week I look forward to my Wednesday morning step aerobics class. It is just the most fun I've ever had while exercising. I love the instructor, who is young enough to be my daughter and is also my hairdresser, manicurist, and town gossip & info source. I love the music - very loud, upbeat, fun. I love the moves - kind of dancey - and surviving one of those classes makes me feel like Superwoman.

But not today. Oh, no.

Because last night when one of our dogs was licking my feet (I absolutely HATE foot licking - I don't care if it's Goober the mutt or Richard Gere doing the licking), my husband of 24 years, the man I (previously) trusted with my life, said, "I know just the thing. I'll cut open one of these hot peppers, rub it on your feet, and the dogs won't go near your feet."

I said, "But won't it feel hot on my skin?"

He said, "Naw," and proceed to rub the pepper all over my feet and toes. And BETWEEN my toes (I think he actually had another agenda in mind, but we ain't goin' down that road anytime soon, oh no no no). And sure enough, the dogs sniffed my feet, wrinkled their noses, and found something else to lick. Good going, Mr. P.!

But what Mr. P. had NOT told me is that as soon as my feet were inside socks, inside sneakers, and doing some major sweating through a 50 minute aerobics class, they would feel MORE than hot. More like, ON FIRE! At the end of that hell-fire class, I ripped off my shoes and socks and saw huge red splotches on my feet, as if I'd been scalded. Which I had. In the shower, I tried to scrub the hot pepper off, but my feet hurt too much for scrubbing. I very gingerly dressed and slipped my burning feet into my sandals, wondering if I could get away with calling in sick due to hot pepper foot injury (um, no). Thankfully, my feet felt almost normal by noon. Of course, I did remember to mention all of this to Mr. P., who giggled the whole time. Mr. 59-years-old-going-on-9-years-old. But at that point in the day (6 pm) my feet felt fine, so I let it go. Now it is 8:20 pm and the toes on my left foot are burning again (why?). Mr. P. went to bed at 8:00 pm (he gets up at 3-4 am) but I'm thinking now that he needs to get up and apply ice cubes to those burning my mind, I tiptoe into the bedroom, gently shake his shoulder, and dump a 5-gallon bucket of ice cubes on him...but then the bedding would be wet...not sure how to proceed now...suggestions very welcome!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the 16th fill

16 fills in three years? That sounds kinda scary, doesn't it? But it doesn't scare me. The port is designed to withstand thousands of sticks when the fill person uses a non-coring Huber needle - and even the necessity for a Huber needle isn't proven. And optimal band restriction requires fine-tuning. It is not a one-stop shopping experience. And thank goodness for that!

My first dozen or so fills and unfills were done in my surgeon's office without any numbing medication, and none of them hurt. My new surgeon always administers a lidocaine (numbing) shot before doing a fill. The lidocaine stings. But since many of the fills (or fill attempts) I've had in the past year required a lot of poking (because my port flipped), I'm glad for the lidocaine.

While sitting in the waiting room, waiting for my turn, I listened to 3 other patients talk about their WLS experience. Were all AGB patients, and all 4 of us were delighted with our surgery.

Success is making me dizzy

Bandwagon's success is making me dizzy, and I'm already a dizzy blonde.

The book is already back-ordered on Amazon. Its popularity rank is 72,908 – compared to my novel, No Ransom, at 2,702,854! The fulfillment house that processes my shopping cart orders is sold out and has 23 copies on backorder. I’m down to my last book here at 9 Dogs Howling Publications. More will be printed this Thursday or Friday, and my customer service rep at the printer/fulfillment house, who was the one who persuaded Amazon to take 20 instead of their usual 2 to start with, thinks that in another week or so, they’ll come back and order 200+. The rep is delighted about Bandwagon’s success. I get the feeling she’s used to talking to academics who publish arcane textbooks and sell 20/year. I know she’s been reading Bandwagon herself because in our recent conversations, she’s using terminology that she only could have picked up from the book and has mentioned that the book is funny as well as helpful.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I still cannot figure out why I can’t upload the book to Amazon’s Search Inside The Book program, and I didn’t get a chance to call Amazon today after I got back from Memphis (where I had my 16th fill). And more bad news: our clothes dryer died on Sunday afternoon. But there is other good news. Mr. Parker figured out why the dryer wouldn’t start (a little actuator arm broke off) and fixed it with Superglue and a popsicle stick (we do live in the South, after all), thereby saving us a $129 service charge. And other bad news. Trudy (the most recent arrival here at 9 Dogs Howling) now has these strange bumps, like brown moss growing in spots all over all 4 legs. I have never seen anything like it before. It could be a reaction to insect bites, but maybe not, and we don’t want it to spread to the other 9 dogs, so she’s off to the vet on Friday. She’s not in pain or scratching at the bumps, and the other day had enough energy to steal the foam pad out of one of the cat crates and shred it all over the back yard. Let me tell you, if that ever happens to you, don’t laugh out loud. Husbands who have to clean up the mess don’t think it’s nearly as funny as their wives do!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inspiration from Nelson Mandela

Recently I wrote to an old friend about how overwhelmed I feel about the fantastic response to Bandwagon's publication. I knew when I wrote it that it would be a success even if only one person bought it and benefitted from it, but I guess I didn't dream big enough. The book is selling five times faster than I had forecast, a bariatric surgeon has asked me to do a workshop based on Bandwagon, a dietician has asked me to speak at a support group meeting, and an editor from Rodale Publishing (health books, magazines, & web sites) has asked me to help her with a special project developing recipes for bandsters. This is all wonderful, but I'm beginning to feel like I've created a literary monster, kind of a Frankenjeannie who's taken over my life and is heading out to terrorize the neighboring villages!

My friend's answer was to send me this quote from a Nelson Mandela speech.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" "Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does NOT serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure. We were born to manifest the glory that is within us. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our pressure automatically liberates others.

There's a message in there for you, too. Every one of you. God (or your Higher Power or whoever/whatever you believe in) not only wants you to succeed at weight loss, he/she expects you to succeed, not just for your own benefit but also for the benefit of your fellow human beings.

So let your light shine, OK?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My 3rd bandiversary

Today is my 3rd bandiversary.

In the past 3 years, I've had many gains & losses, ups & downs, and I'm STILL happy to have my dinky old 4 cc Lap-Band (with 2.7 cc in it today).

I lost: 90 lbs, 34.25", 3 shoe sizes, 6 dress sizes, my co-morbidities, my CPAP, my original bariatric surgeon (not my decision), my PCP (my decision), a closet full of fat clothes, one cat, my mother, my old job, approximately 50% of my fear of change, 6 band unfills.

I gained: a love of exercise, a new job, a closet full of cute small clothes, 7+ dogs (they come and go), 3 cats, a new bariatric surgeon, a new internist, many new friends & a great online community OH, 15 band fills, and the confidence to tackle new projects and activities I never would have considered before.

The downs: a band slip (probably caused by my hiatal hernia, quickly cured by an unfill), a flipped port (fixed with repair surgery), a year of undiagnosed & untreated chronic pain (with an eventual diagnosis of fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome), losing my mother, and pain when I sit for more than 30 minutes (so my reading hobby is pretty much gone).

The ups: overcoming the downs, writing my band book (Bandwagon), being offered opportunities to work as a band educator and cookbook author, a long life ahead of me with plenty of energy to devote to my writing, artwork, family & friends, a vacation in St. Lucia, 2 trips to Seattle to visit a special OH friend, meeting a dozen or more OH friends in person, treatment that reduces the chronic pain, and an improved relationship with my difficult (that's saying it mildly) brother.

Achievements: body fat dropped from 51.3% to 29% (or 20% by the caliper method), published my band book (Bandwagon), became a certified professional bra fit specialist at JC Penney (with lots of opportunities to help obese women), published 17 newsletters for my 9 Dogs Howling fans, created 64 art collages and sold 16 of them (room for improvement there!), and wrote 4 blogs.

The future holds: at least 2 more band books, a book about the life lessons I learned from my mom, a book about my world travels, at least 33 more years of healthy living with my husband, more travel, and participation in art shows, probably more cats & dogs (and food & vet bills), and…well, who knows?

On my first bandiversary, after 17 months of concentrating on getting and succeeding with my band, I asked myself, "What's next?" The answer for me (and maybe for you) was, "Life is next."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Expect the unexpected

From the moment I conceived the idea of writing a self-help adjustable gastric band book, I knew I would succeed. Previously I had written only novels, newsletters (personal & corporate), magazine articles & essays, and product catalog copy - but no self-help books. Looking forward, I could easily see myself doing the research, organization, and writing of Bandwagon. I knew how I would publish and distribute it. I knew I would have to find a bariatric surgeon to check the manuscript for accuracy and (hopefully) endorse the book. All of that worked out well (though more slowly than I would've liked). No surprises, really. I'm not even surprised that the book is selling so well. But the book is also producing some unexpected results.

Last week I sent copies of Bandwagon to several bariatric surgeons, including my own. Yesterday I received an e-mail from Dr. Weaver's office manager thanking me for the book and asking me if I'd be willing to do a workshop for them (based on the book) in January. They think Bandwagon will be a useful tool for their patients, and I agree! So I answered that yes, I'd be happy to do a workshop!

Fortunately I'm not afraid of public speaking, even though I'm a shy and quiet person in most social situations. I have my 7th & 9th grade English teacher, Mr. Zeitler, to thank for that. He insisted that every one of his pupils write and deliver a speech on a regular basis.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

You think you're hot, but you're not

Yesterday I wore a black & red print silky tunic and black leggings to work. Of course, my bra fitter apron covered up most of this outfit, but I thought I looked HOT. So hot that I took a (lousy) photo of myself before I left for work. All day long, every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror (lots of mirrors in a department store), I smiled because I looked so HOT. I was in a great mood that day, and one of our cutest young associates told me, "That tunic looks so cute on you, Miss Jean!"

During that afternoon, I was walking through the shoe department when a customer summoned me to help her find brown shoes. I haven't been trained in that department but since it's next door to lingerie, I help out there quite often. This customer was an obese woman, about my age, wearing a short leopard print blouse, dark brown leggings, and chunky gold jewelry. It was not a flattering outfit - nothing I would wear in public - that showed all her (many) fat rolls. I brought her 3 sizes each of 3 pair of shoes and after a lot of dithering, she picked out 2 pairs of shoes. All the time we worked together, she seemed very anxious and was babbling about how she had to have these shoes right now. At one point she said, "This has to be right, it's for a TV show in one hour, and I still have to eat lunch and do something about this hair (at that moment, styled in a messy I Dream of Jeannie updo). That statement brought me up short. I thought, "Please tell me you're not wearing this outfit on television," just as she said that this was the outfit she was going to wear on television. Eventually she paid for her shoes and left. I thought (as we southerners say of misguided acquaintances), "Bless her heart."
So, today I transferred the photo of me in that hot outfit to my computer, expecting to see Jennifer Aniston's body with my head on it. But what I saw was my same old body with my same old head on it, the head obscured by the camera flash. That was very humbling.