Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Life Changing Decision

I wasn’t going to post this, in fact, I thought that other than sharing with the people who are in my life on a regular basis, that I wouldn’t talk about it at all, but I have changed my mind. I’ll explain why I changed my mind later. 

For now, I want to share with everyone that in January 2021, I came to a long overdue decision to do something drastic to change the life trajectory I was on – which was to die early due to obesity related diseases. This was not an easy decision to make, and from the moment that I finally accepted that it was the only hope for me to regain my health, it has been a long journey. Over a year later, on April 26th, 2022, I finally had Bariatric Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) surgery at St. Joe’s in Hamilton. 

The procedure is invasive and forever changes the stomach anatomy. My experience at St. Joe’s was outstanding. I had an Angel of a Doctor, Dr. Vanessa Boudreau. She and her surgical team of caring and friendly professionals met with me outside of the operating room to answer any questions I had and to assure me that I was in good hands. Any anxiety I had that morning slipped away immediately and I knew that everything was going to be okay. 

There are two types of procedures that can be performed and you don’t know until after the surgery which option was chosen. It depends on the circumstances of your internal organs etc., which surgery will be safest for you. I found out when I was in my room later, that the Roux-en-Y was performed. 

You might be wondering why I am telling you this and there are a few reasons: 
  • I have always been open, honest and transparent 
  • It is something that I can’t hide – if and when you see me, you will notice a difference 
  • I want to assure everyone that does see me in the future that I am ok and not losing weight involuntarily due to a disease 
  • To encourage others that may be suffering to know there are options available. 
Obesity is a chronic and often progressive disease, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. 

For those of you who have read this far, please share with others you know who may be suffering and also have some compassion in your heart instead of judgement, the next time you see an overweight person struggling to live their life. You don’t know why they are in this situation and your judgement does not inspire or help others.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy new year! 2016! I haven't posted in 3 years. Hard to believe but it's true. I've missed it so I'm going to try to get back into the swing of things and take some time me to write about what is exciting to me at the moment.

The thing that has been holding my interest the most is yarn. My fascination was rekindled when I was taking care of my mother during her cancer battle. The hospital, Juravinski in Hamilton Ontario had knitting needles and yarn in all the waiting rooms so that patients and visitors could knit while they wait.

If you have never knit then you may not be aware of the stress relieving qualities of knitting but it is true. Knitting can be a stress reliever. A conduit for your mind to escape to a lovely place of colour and texture. The best part is at the end you have an object to wear or use.

I am obsessed!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Walking To School

Memories are a funny thing. They can come to you in a foggy, blurry recollection or present themselves in vivid colours and sharp edges as if the event just happened a few moments ago. I experienced both of these yesterday, June 7th, 2013. I was chauffeur for my daughter who was modelling for Pennington's Style Study with Susan Moses. She had to be at a Scarborough location in the morning by 8:00am and the event started at 10:30. I would have two and a half hours to kill and I had prepared myself for waiting with my knitting bag and my daughters IPAD, I was sure that the time would pass by quickly.

Neither of those items were utilized, instead I decided to look up my old school. My first school to be exact. Churchill Heights Public School in Scarborough. I attended for 1/2 of my Kindergarten year before we moved. It was one of the most exciting times of my life. I had yearned to go to school with my older sister. I cried everyday that she left begging for my Father to let me go with her and I couldn't understand why I was left behind. My sister is two years older and when you are young, two years is a huge difference. I looked up to her as a wise, all knowing individual who protected me and tormented me all at the same time.

I had no idea where the school was located but thankfully, my trusty Poyntz application on my BlackBerry showed me that it was only 4 miles away. I was just as anxious to see our old apartment building as I was to see the school, but I couldn't remember the name or crossroads of where the apartment building was located, so if I could find the school, I knew I would find my way home.

The map told me to go to Markham road and head north. Between Lawrence and Ellesmere I would be turning East and following a road with a curve and my destination was just at the end of the bend in the road. I vaguely remembered a curve, but it was pretty foggy.

Before I knew it, the apartment buildings appeared on the right. I quickly turned onto Brimorton Dr. and entered the driveway to our old apartment building, Meadowglen Place #2, my first home that I can remember. I was just under two years old when we moved there and we left when I was 5 (halfway through the school year).

I drove slowly along the drive, looking for the sandbox that I fell asleep in, but it wasn't there. The swing set was, most likely a newer model and our balcony was now completely covered by the tops of a tree. I don't remember a tree growing there, most likely there wasn't. My mother told me that when we moved in, the buildings were brand new, owned by Ontario Housing and she and my father were very elated to be selected for a unit. I remember picking the still soft putty off the first floor windows of the adjacent building, thinking that it was a form of silly putty. I do believe that is what my sister told me. It wasn't long before the building superintendent yelled and chased me away, while my sister giggled uncontrollably and then promptly ran upstairs to tell on me.

The stairs leading to the parking lot at the side of the building are not nearly as high as I remember. A horrific memory quickly surfaced - Debbie and I coming out that door, each of us pushing our carriages and babies to show them to our friends. I was instructed to stay at the top until my sister could help me. I stood and watched in horror as she tumbled down head over heels, her carriage and baby bouncing along beside her. I was sure that she was dead. Frozen at the top with my carriage I didn't know what to do so I did what any other level headed 4 year old would do, I started to yell and cry at the top of my lungs. Then I ran upstairs to get my mom who helped us bring in our carriages and fix Debbie's scrapes and bruises.

I was overwhelmed by the memories and nostalgic feelings. It was too much and I needed time to take it all in, so I parked in the visitors parking behind the building and watched as tenants went about their day - many of them climbing the stairs from the parking lot to make their way to the street (Markham Rd) and perhaps to the corner Mac's milk. Still there after so many years. I'm not certain that it was a Mac's Milk when we lived there 1963 to 1966 but I know that I walked to that same location to buy milk, bread and cigarettes for my Father. Yes, back then it was not uncommon for young children to run to the corner store with just enough money in their hand for the purchase and sometimes, if you were lucky, a penny candy. People left babies unattended in carriages outside stores, while they shopped inside. Children waited in cars for their parents instead of trailing beside them in and out of stores. Normally, my sister would go to the store with me, but when she started school and I was left at home, my father would often send me out on an errand. My instructions were always the same, take the stairs, stay off the elevator, don't speak to anyone, go right to the store and come right back, only buy the bread or milk and nothing else, bring home the change, I'm timing you so don't dilly dally.

For the most part I was obedient and followed the rules, but one day I decided to break them all. I'm not sure why, but I started out by taking the elevator instead of the stairs, and while on the elevator, I talked to an older man who was already there when the doors opened on my floor. I answered all of his questions, giving my name, address, where I was going etc. As we walked out of the building, he offered to give me a ride. I politely declined just as I had been taught, I was already fretting about taking the elevator and speaking to a stranger, so I'm not quite sure why I got in the car, but I did. He promised that he would take me right to the store and home again. He did stick to his promise. He drove directly to the store, which in hindsight is ridiculous because of its close proximity to the building, its almost obscene to drive a car there. Once in the store, I started to panic. Worrying about the trouble I was going to be in when my parents found out that I had disobeyed them; I checked to see where the man was, quickly grabbed the bread, ran to the cashier, paid and hightailed it out of the store running all the way home and taking the stairs. Once safely inside the apartment I started to cry and blurted out all the things that I did wrong on the way to the store. Of course I was in big trouble, but not nearly as much as my Dad was when my mom found out. She was the cautious one of the two. My Dad was Mr. Carefree, don't worry, be happy, kind of guy that trusted that everything would be OK.

I decided to leave my car in the visitors parking at the building and walk to my old school. It would be fun to see if my mind would remember those steps I had taken 46 years earlier. At the end of the driveway I turned left on Brimorton. Continued until I felt compelled to cross the street. Could this be the spot that my Father had instructed me to stop, look both ways, listen, look both ways again and when it's all clear, cross. Not sure, but I decided to follow my instinct. I debated at the next corner on whether I should turn right or go straight. In my foggy memory, I should turn, but something kept telling me I was wrong. I turned anyway, and walked, and walked. This couldn't be right. What kind of parents did I have anyway, to send a 7 and 5 year old out into the streets to walk this distance to school. My own child never walked to or from school until she was pretty much a teenager and even then it was a big deal.

The sidewalk took me in a half circle and I came back out onto Brimorton directly across from my old apartment building - right where I started. An example of the mind not being as sharp as it once was. Worried that someone would have my car towed away, I decided to get back in it and drive to the school. It was on Brimorton, around the right hand curve in the road (maybe that was my juvenile mind turning a corner). It sits back from the road, but the walkway to the front doors is not quite as long as it was as a five year old. The property is massive for a school yard. I marveled at the large green yard with pretty trees, this I did not remember at all. Probably because as a child in Kindergarten, I was not permitted to run on the grass. We were quarantined to the pavement, to play hopscotch or just stand there staring at the big kids running around wildly.

The school itself looked vaguely familiar. I remembered exiting the side door to the playground but other than that - I had no idea if it was the same size that it was back in the 60's or if it had been enhanced at some point since.

It was time to leave, but not before I drove back towards the apartment building and turned right at Clementine Street to see if I could figure out what house belonged to my parents good friends, Pete and Marg. We spent many a Saturday night at Pete and Marg's, my parents dancing and me sleeping on the bed with the coats. House parties were the norm and the children went along for the ride, saving the parents from hiring a babysitter. I spotted it right away - it still looked the same. White brick and a nice black driveway. Fourth from the corner.

I looked at the clock on my dash the second time past Pete and Marg's old house and was shocked to see that I only had 25 minutes until show time at the Pennington's store, so leaving my memories behind, I drove back to reality.

Goodbye Old Home - Six-storey apartments to be demolished near Markham and Ellesmere

Six-storey apartments to be demolished near Markham and Ellesmere

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Paradise Found!

Last week was disappointing as far as my weight loss is concerned.  I lost 1 pound the week before and then gained it back last week - so basically I've stayed the same for two weeks.

I sometimes wonder if I am subconsciously sabotaging myself.  This isn't a new concept to me. I've wondered this more than once in my life and I've thought about it in-depth but still do not have any answers for why I would do this.

A quote that I read recently seemed to resonate - I'm including it here.

"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 frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' 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 people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Maryanne Williamson quotes

I know for a fact that when I get close to leaving one "tens group" and am approaching another, such as moving from the 80's into the 70's that I choke.  I start to worry that I won't make that goal and then things seem to crop up that slow down that achievement such as a night out with the girls or lunch out with my co-workers - you get the drift.

This shouldn't have an impact on how I do, it is part of life and I am trying to find balance.  I've been an all or nothing girl all my life and it has not worked out too well for me.   This journey is about learning how to do things in moderation, the way I believe people without weight issues live.

After I weighed in Friday morning and was disappointed, I made a bad choice at lunch.  I had taken my lunch to work but was asked by a co-worker if I would like something brought back from the Italian restaurant they were going to.  I am a huge fan of their Italian Rice Balls - something I had never had before last year after tasting my friends.  It's a deep fried ball of rice with gooey mozzarella in the middle and pasta sauce poured over top.  I had no idea how many points they were and did not bother to figure it out before I said, "sure, I'd love a rice ball"!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sleepy and Grumpy Rolled Into One!

It's been quite a week.  A sleepy week.  I'm not sure why but I can't seem to keep my eyes open.  I thought that perhaps it was a virus because my throat felt sore one morning, but I really think it's because my CPAP machine needs to be adjusted.

I went for a sleep test a couple of weeks ago and I will meet with the Doctor on Tuesday morning, but in the meantime, I have been struggling to wake up and stay awake.

At work I have resorted to having lunchtime naps in the car or my boss's office.  Closing my eyes during meetings and conference calls.  That works except when my head starts to nod and I scare myself.  A couple of nights I went to bed as soon as I got home from work and slept for 2 to 4 hours and then turned around and went to bed for the night a few hours later.

It's not a good feeling.  I have no patience and that shows in my face, which is visible to everyone, so then I get questioned about why I'm so grumpy.  I don't mean to be a grump, I just want to curl up in the corner somewhere and sleep.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that when I meet with the Doctor and get the results, that it will mean some adjustments that will bring me some relief.  I was diagnosed with sleep apnea 5 years ago.  Not long after obtaining my CPAP machine, my mother and I moved to Burlington and the sleep clinic lost touch with me.  So I didn't realize that I should have been going for annual check ups and tests which may have led to minor adjustments in the amount of pressure being delivered.  I was well overdue for a test by the time I spoke to my family Doctor about going to a new clinic in Burlington.

It was the best sleep I had had in a long time.  They hooked me up to a new machine and pumped the air out so strong and it felt absolutely wonderful!  In comparison, my machine dribbles the air rather than pumping and sometimes, I'm not even sure if it is on.

I guess I've pretty much diagnosed my tiredness.  In spite of the sleep issue, I managed to get out on my bike twice last week.  Not as much as I had planned, but my rides were much longer than the anticipated 30 min workouts. Instead of 3 -30 min workouts, I did 2-55 min workouts.  I was further ahead even though I worked out less.

This week I will try to do better in that area.

I also had two eating out challenges.  One dinner with co-workers and a lunch out with another peer.  They weren't supposed to happen all in one week, it just worked out that way, back to back.  Wednesday night I went out with the girls to Montana's Cookhouse.  Prior to going, I printed out the nutritional information and made an informed decision on what I would order.  My top three choices were the Apple Pecan Harvest Salad, the Southwest Salad and the Cedar Smoked Salmon.  I finally decided on the Salmon and was very happy with my choice.  I LOVE salmon and it had a Cajun seasoning that was delectable.  It was served with a small bowl of rice and broccoli with carrots.  It was a nice serving size - bigger than I would cook at home, but that didn't stop me from eating it all.  I already had the information I needed to know that I was still within my plan points.

Lunch was more challenging.  We were going to go to Turtle Jack's but they were too busy so we ended up at Shoeless Joe's instead.  I wasn't really unhappy about the shift because I couldn't find any of their nutritional information online and I was apprehensive about making the right decision.  Since I didn't have a chance to peruse the nutritional data prior to ordering, I kind of flew by the seat of my big ass pants and ordered what I thought would be OK.  I chose the Blackened Sirloin and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing.  Absolutely delicious!

I could estimate the points value on Weight Watchers with the calculator but I know it is high because on the Weight Watchers plan you don't have to assign points for fruit or vegetables and lets face it, most of a salad is vegetables.  I started to also track what I am eating on a free website, My Fitness Pal.com and on that website it tracks 4 categories for me, Calories, Fat, Carbs and Protein.  I started to use it in conjunction with Weight Watchers because it has lots of nutritional information to help me track and I was curious to know how many calories I am consuming each day.  Too much information is not a bad thing, in this case.  I love the site.  You can print out reports that track your progress for your weight, activity and nutrition.  It's very interactive.  So with the two sites, I can't help but succeed.

And I do feel very successful right now.  I lost 3.7 pounds last week and am now down a total of 16 pounds.  I've lost a dress size and a bit.  Some items are two sizes smaller than I was and some are just one - depends on the make.

Happy weekend, here I come!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Taming Lucy!

My relationship with Lucy has not been smooth going.  She has resisted and fought me every step or should I say pedal of the way.  She resists my butt to the point that it aches the day after a ride and now she insists on creaking and rattling the whole trip.  She only shuts up when I stop pedalling to catch my breath now and then.

Last night, I thought enough is enough.  I am ready to tame this bike finally and show her who is boss.  I had a destination in mind; it was Shell Park, Oakville.  I live near the border of Burlington and Oakville so it was not out of the realm of possibility.

On my trip, I took a detour along a trail heading east.  That was my general direction so I thought it would be fun to see where it went.

It was like riding through the jungle.  Everything is so lush and alive right now.  I am sure that there were birds chirping and insects buzzing, but I could not hear anything except the rattling and creaking of my bike.  I sounded like a freight train rolling at high speed along the tracks as the noises bounced off the brush lining the trail.  I do believe that the folks I scared either thought it was a train or a bear crashing through the brush by the look of shock on their faces as I came hurtling over the crest of a little hill.  The woman tried to explain her look by telling me that they had been standing there looking at all the deer who were just hanging around.  I yelled, “Oh cool!” as I flew by.  I was too busy to stop to look, knowing that they must have long taken off when they heard the racket coming along the trail.  Deer are smart.  They would not wait around for a bear to attack them.

Lucy was good in the beginning, other than the noise, but while we were on the trail, she dug in her wheels at every slight incline so that I had to really, really pump to carry both her and myself up the hill.  It was brutal.  I actually had to get off and walk up a hill no bigger than an anthill, because I did not have the strength to get the pedal around one more time.  I should have felt defeated, but I did not.  I was even more determined to win this battle.  I jumped back on the saddle, blew out the other end of the trail, and found myself on Great Lakes Blvd.  I was not far from Shell Park.  Victory was almost mine.

My plan on arriving at the park was to find a nice quiet spot to rest and just think.  I like to do that sometimes.  Especially in a natural setting where I can enjoy the sounds of nature.

I passed another athletic person leaving the park who gave me a congratulatory look and smile.  He did not say a word, but I could read his mind.  He was thinking, “Good for you!  You have moxie, getting on a bike that is about to implode and wheeling around like your half your size.  Way to go!”

Rest was near and my butt was screaming from the pain of the seat.  This is in spite of my installing a new gel seat cover over the already supposedly comfortable saddle.  I cycled into the park on the driveway and followed it to the very back of the park.  I passed all four soccer fields, and followed the roadway back towards the entrance.  I was looking for that spot that was going to call out to me to stop.  I did not see it.  Then I came to the realization that stopping would probably be the worst thing I could do.  If my butt was yelling now, what would it be like to get off the bike and then try to get on in a few minutes and ride all the way home?  There was no way I was going to walk my bike back home.  That would be ridiculous.  So, as I rattled past the cool young men doing tricks in the skateboard park and the young families with their toddlers at the kiddie park, I made up my mind to ignore my derriere and head for home.

In my mind, I told myself to slow down that I needed to make the last half of this hellish tour a leisurely ride but my butt could not stand the pain and was pushing my legs to pump even harder so that I could get off this damned bike.

The heavy traffic on Lakeshore and Burloak was disconcerting.  I didn’t like seeing the small convertibles flying down the road in the opposite direction, the passengers with shear enjoyment plastered on their faces while I was struggling with the uphill grade (it’s not visible in a car or walking – only on a wretched bike) and trying to give the impression that I was enjoying myself.  I am certain that my face was portraying pain not pleasure, but at this point, pain was winning and I did not have the fortitude to hide it, so I needed to get away from people and traffic.

I shot down a westward road at the first opportunity.  I was smart enough to choose a “road” and not a “court”.  Even though I did not know where it was going, I was certain it would go “somewhere” and not bring me right back to where I started.  That is the problem with modern subdivisions.  They all have curvy roads to nowhere except where you started.

My plan did not quite work out.  Yes, I was away from the busy vehicular traffic, but now I was riding with other pedestrians, people who could actually speak to me and give me compliments on the pretty bike.  Little do they know, looks are not everything – she is mean.

I tried to feign enthusiasm and happiness as I struggled to get home.  Getting off wretched Lucy was foremost in my mind.  Before I reached my destination however, I did have a car slow down beside me and the driver, who I could not make out, yelled some greeting at me as his wife/gf smiled or laughed.  Thinking back to the look on her face, it might not have been a greeting, maybe it was an inflammatory insult like “Are you completely mad?  Don’t you know there is a noise by-law?  Get off the road, Fatty!”

It is a good thing I have a hearing deficiency in that ear.  I can choose to believe it was a greeting and continue oblivious to the mocking that had just occurred.  My destination was in sight now, so with victory salivating in my mouth, I focussed on my legs, push, push, push, come on, keep going, you’re almost there, push, push, push...

I deeked into the first entrance to my complex, so I could coast slowly to my door, just pumping enough to keep the bike upright and moving.  The last hurdle, the curb to the driveway was not happening.  I looked at it and could feel the jarring in my tailbone so I stopped short of going over and struggled to pull my leg up, over the seat, and off the bike.  It was all I could do not to throw her on the ground and yell, but I was too tired for that.  So instead, I walked her slowly into the garage and made sure she was standing solidly on her kickstand, and then gave her a dirty look while I watched the garage door close down locking her away until the next time.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Hurting Words

I have discovered that something that is important to my success with my weight loss journey is not only what I put in my mouth, but what comes out of it.

The things we say can have a huge impact on how we think, and ultimately on our success. Chocobear started a message board about daily affirmations and I agreed with her that I truly believe they work. I have, at different times throughout my life, used this technique to win a race, succeed at high jump and win a judo match. So I know it works.

I'm not sure why, if I know this, that I don't always think about the words I use before I blurt them out. Words are a powerful tool. They have the ability to comfort and wound.

Earlier today, I was sharing a story about my little trip to Costco last night and my mess up at the snack bar. My daughter and I had decided to go to check out a little water feature as soon as I got home from work. I was hungry and I had suggested that we eat first, but she was concerned that if we did, we wouldn't head out the door and go afterwards. 

So hungry and tired, we got in the car and headed over. I decided that we might as well eat at the snack bar while we were there. Their food is cheap and that way we wouldn't be eating too late. I had been dreaming of their hot dogs since I had been in the store the day before.

Since this wasn't a planned dinner out, I wasn't prepared. I didn't have any idea how many Weight Watcher points anything was and I didn't care. I wanted a hot dog. I also wanted some fries, but I wasn't going to have any. My daughter decided to get some though, so I gave into my desire and shared them with her.

I was elated when she also said she wanted an ice cream cone. I had no intention of getting one, but was more than happy to consume 1/3 of it when she got too full. 

Today I finally figured out how many points I consumed during this little "snack bar" meal, thanks to a new web site I found called My Fitness Pal.com. It has a huge data base with information about nutritional contents of many foods. I'm not sure but I believe that the members of the website contribute the information. No matter, it was a blessing to find the information and face the truth about what I had done.

I felt like I had totally messed up last night with my dinner. The guilt was driving me crazy and I felt like I was about to spiral out of control. The hot dog and roll was a whopping 16 points, half the fries were 12 points and 1/3 of the ice cream cone comes in at 5 points. So in one fell swoop, I consumed 33 points. 

I was telling my co-worker how much I had screwed up last night. I told her how I didn't have any discipline, about how I ate half the fries and some of my daughters ice cream cone.

She cut me off and asked me why I was looking at this as a negative experience instead of a success. I didn't understand at first, but then she pointed out that in the past, I would have ordered the hot dog, the fries and an ice cream for myself and I would have eaten the whole thing. But I didn't do that this time. I consciously decided to share the fries and have a tiny bit of the ice cream. I should be proud of myself instead of upset.

She was right. I was defeating myself with my negative talk and hadn't even realized it. She helped me see what I was doing and stop it before it got out of hand.

So instead of going on an all out binge, I came home tonight and rode my bike for a half hour, did a load of laundry, cooked a nutritious dinner and watered my flowers outside.