can you hear me now?

For the last few months I have had a lot of pain in my hands and fingers and my feet and toes. It seemed to come out of nowhere and I assumed it was that I was sleeping funny, or driving more or not getting enough exercise. So, I got a mattress pad, changed my vitamins, doubled up on my iron supplement, drank more water, added turmeric to my diet, soaked my feet in epsom salt, googled all things rheumatic and arthritic, and at least a handful of other things.

I also went to my doctor who ordered blood work and x-rays and questioned my low iron (full disclosure that’s when i realized i had missed it way more doses than i thought!). My primary doctor is a wizard; he basically saved my life on two occasions, so when he calls me and says “Uh, this all looks good” I’m deflated.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want anything to be wrong, but something IS wrong, I’m not making it up, it’s obvious to the naked eye that there’s some swelling and redness, and sometimes the fingers and toes are tender as shit. Like bump a knuckle on the handle of the kettle and sob tender – wake up and wobble to the bathroom like a penguin tender. He refers me to a rheumatologist, who can see me this year but not for weeks.

I made the appointment and had a follow up with the wizard today. He started the visit like every one has stated in the last five years, “What do you want to talk about regarding your health today?” I start to tell him about my low iron probably being my fault, about my vitamin change and no longer taking gummy supplements. “Interesting” he stopped me, “Let me tell you my theory here”. He goes on about recent link in low iron and colon cancer “I don’t think you have colon cancer” (ok, good!) He says thee screening age has been lowered from 50 to 45 recently and “You’re pretty close to that” – I don’t think in the moment to say that I’m just as close to 35 as I am 45 – but he’s the wizard so I let him continue “let’s just get it off the table so we can focus on your other complaints”.

I’m not afraid of the endoscopy and colonoscopy that he wants to schedule – I get the itch for surgeries and procedures like other people do for tattoos (I’m aware this is weird). It’s that it’s not one of my complaints – hands and feet, let’s talk about my hands and feet! – when I googled (and you know I did) colon cancer and the risks, I don’t have a single solitary one of them except for this low iron bit. It’s also that it seems too thorough, even for him. He sent me for a head CT because I had several headaches in a short period, one of which lead to a fall – but it showed nothing. He also was very thorough about a lump in my neck that I thought was a swollen gland and ended up being a 3 cm nodule that needed an ultrasound and needle biospy (I’m fine) so his old school thorough approach isn’t silly. I agreed to go along with the tests, scheduled an appointment for April and left after what was only a 13 minute visit.

I got in the car half mad, half sad. I furiously texted Steve a novel about the appointment, I then texted a lot of the same info to a girlfriend. Why was this bothering me so much – why did I feel so frustrated when I left there. I drove to the grocery store and sat in the car trying to process the whole thing. Both Steve and my friend say better safe then sorry, humor him blah blah blah. And yea, of course they’re right. But, then what’s the problem ….

I ruminated …

One of my favorite things about my doctor, the wizard, is that when I first met him five years ago he was the first doctor in all of my then thirty-five years of living that truly listened to me. He didn’t dismiss my concerns or reduce my experiences or feelings down to my weight or high blood pressure like so many others had, he heard me, and he helped me. Today I felt like he was only listening to what I was saying so he could respond, it felt very much like an ‘Okay, but I’m the expert here’ moment – especially when referencing my tight weekday schedule and him saying ‘it’s one day out of your life, your health is the most important thing’ – when I’ve spent years making my health the most important thing. (It was reminiscent of the lady who tried to shame me into paying a shit ton of money for personal training by saying I didn’t want to invest in myself when there were still visible scars on my body from having more than half my stomach removed)

I got home still feeling UGH about the whole thing, I could feel it starting to seep its way into my mood and potentially my whole day. I just felt like some fat lump who couldn’t possibly know what was best for myself so I should just nod and agree and do what I was told. Maybe I should consider finding a younger doctor, or a doctor who sees more younger patients, or maybe, it’s not lost on me, that I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Either way, I still have plenty of hours left to enjoy the day, so I am going to.

‘surgiversary’ is a made up word, but here we are

To be honest, I didn’t even think much about the anniversary of my vertical sleeve gastrectomy yesterday. Previous years have been loaded with comparison photos, follow up appointments and little celebrations treating myself to smaller size things or bites of foods I don’t indulge in often.

I woke up on December 1, 2014 and headed to the hospital with my boyfriend and parents. I remember weighing myself one final time before heading out (two seventy something) and being nervous we would hit traffic or something would derail my scheduled procedure. I can’t tell you much else. I remember waking up very tired, there was an incident where my catheter betrayed me and I wet the bed a bit, I barfed some black colored shit after my swallow test and I could barely stay awake any time Steve or my parents were visiting. I don’t remember any pain, and I left on the third day, but not until I could drink some sugar free carnation instant breakfast with a room temperature skim milk. I remember it was vanilla (yuck) and I waited until I could ask someone to track down any other flavor. Oh, and the drains were removed – weird (like, really weird) but not painful.

On this particular December first in 2018, I can’t tell you how much I weighed, I haven’t stepped on the scale in at least a week but my weight has been the same, give or take five pounds for the last few years. I had coffee and some bacon and a cheesy scrambled egg covered in everything but the bagel seasoning with a blob of ketchup. I did some homework, stayed in my sweats until late afternoon and then headed into the same area of the city for a comedy show. I had a cider, most of a slice of pizza from some joint on the corner of the steeet where we parked and then ate a piece (okay, two) of peppermint bark when I was back in my sweats. We stopped to look at Christmas trees because our prelit one ( also 4 years old!) moved to the dumpster after a few hours of tinkering with the lights. I didn’t really do anything special, and to be frank, that’s the very best thing about the whole process.

The one intentional thing I did was decide to revamp my Instagram account. For the last four plus years it has been riddled with comparison photos, nonscale victories, and all the weight loss surgery things. How many photos do I need to hold on to comparing a me that doesn’t look like me now, to another me that doesn’t look like me now? Or wondering if I would have lost the last twenty or so pounds I’d like to, if I kept doing Zumba like that post, or yoga poses in the other post. I can’t discount the role it (and all the people!) played in my journey and the success I’ve had but it just can’t be all I talk about anymore.

I was never trying to “get skinny”.  I wanted to be thinner, healthier, feel better, have more energy and be more active but I was so tired of obsessing over it for what equaled most of my life. I am all those things now, without having to drive myself mad and I still got to eat pizza. That’s something to celebrate.

forty.

In little more than twenty-four hours I will turn forty and I don’t give a fuck.

When I was turning twenty-five, I had only been transplanted in Wisconsin for a year or so from New Jersey and I remember panicking about that big fat scary number. I was sad about leaving my friends behind, about a new place, about everything. A few months before the big day I started seeing a therapist for the first time; I was terrified about getting older, having moved away from my then boyfriend, my parents getting older, finally finishing my undergraduate degree … I was thinking about all of us dying, about what I was doing with my life about how we even got here and everything getting scarier and closer to ending. I was a sad sack who did a lot of talking and only half the doing.

It’s laughable now because at twenty-five the worst things that had really happened in my life were some shitty friendships, less than stellar boyfriends, a series of years where I was starting college (again) and being fat.

I was almost twenty-seven when I thought I met the guy of my dreams and talked about marrying him. I was two days from twenty-seven when I drank entirely too much at a wedding after taking some pain reliever that caused a breakdown that landed me laying on the driveway, sobbing and that guy of my dreams and I breaking up on my birthday.

The rest of my twenties were only slightly tumultuous with a graduate degree, another half-assed relationship, a waitressing job I couldn’t stand but wasn’t ready to leave behind and happy hours and movies and lunch dates.

I panicked about my thirties which were kicked off with another waitressing gig, poor sleep habits, the deaths of my grandparents, the scale creeping uncomfortably over the 250 mark and plenty of other sad and anxiety producing things that I can’t even recall right now ….

because there are so many excellent things that happened ….

I reconnected with an old crush who kicks that dad jean wearing dream guy from my twenties ass, I moved (a thousand miles) away from my parents for the first time,  I had weight loss surgery and lost (& kept off!) over eighty-five pounds, I had some parts nipped and tucked, I got my shit together and applied to counseling programs like I wanted to do in my twenties, I fell in love with Vermont, I started going to rallycross events, I started buying myself flowers every week, I stopped over-explaining myself, I got over my fear of horror movies and am now obsessed with all the scary things, I learned how to make a killer latte, I embraced minimalism, I became obsessed with Zumba (I gotta go back!), I stopped saying yes to shit I don’t want to do, I went from making tacos without seasoning to having a slew of my own recipes, I started journaling, I started going for walks and hikes in the woods, I got better at following through on what I say I’m going to do, I took a week long vacation with my parents, I started this blog, I went to Colorado and cried when my plane landed and I saw the mountains (MAJESTIC!), I ate good food, I stopped apologizing, I laughed often and never passed up a craft cocktail. I learned things about myself (and others) that helped me grow and change and live what is in retrospect, definitely my best life.

I worried about all these milestone birthdays or getting older and it was for nothing. I can’t control getting older, only how I react to it, and if the next ten years are half as fulfilling as the last ten, I don’t give a fuck about turning forty.

have a seat.

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I sat down to share anything here. If it isn’t the email from WordPress to remind me that my annual billing was coming, it was definitely a conversation last night that brings me back.

We like art around here. Not mass produced posters from IKEA or Bed, Bath & Beyond or the generic bowls of fruit and flower arrangement art; creative, funky, dark, and let’s be honest, horror themed art. We have an acrylic Marion Crane piece and a canvas of Michael Myers in our bathroom and an amazing (almost complete) gallery wall of the best movie related art.

If you’ve known me for a while you might remember a story about a one-of-a-kind airbrushed welcome sign that has a skull and spiderwebs and a rose on it that used to make the old lady who lived upstairs cry every time she saw it. We took it down and it floated from room to room for awhile before landing itself in our storage closet.

I didn’t buy the piece, Steve did long before I even came to this apartment as a visitor and at that same time, or not, he also purchased an airbrushed toilet seat cover from the same artist. It was awesome. It was black and sparkly and the coolest thing in the then white bathroom with faded pink and white linoleum. The toilet seat itself cracked years ago and we couldn’t find one to match the cover, which ended up in storage and then eventually the trash. (Who keeps a toilet seat cover they can’t use?)

It was a mystery, the cracked seat. We had gone out somewhere and when we came home it was cracked and ready to pinch our thighs until we replaced it.

Every time a conversation comes up about Ruth (the old lady) we laugh about the crying from the skull sign, and then talk about the sign in general and Steve brings up the toilet seat. The mysteriously cracked toilet seat and how cool it was and what a bummer to have to have gotten rid of it.

Last night we were putting some things in storage and brought it back up to hang in the kitchen. Steve gets it up and we talk about how cool it is, and laugh about crying Ruth and the time my parents visited and it was on the bathroom door, clinking a bit every time you open or close the door and my mom saying at least a dozen times “you should put some tape on that!”. Then, inevitably he says “Remember that toilet seat cover I had? Man that was fucking cool”

And I cringe.

Silently.

I take a deep breath and then say the thing I had not said for the last six or so years since it had cracked.

“I broke it!”

“What?”

“I broke it, I was in the bathroom before we left and it cracked and I didn’t tell you”

He stares at me, kind of stunned

“Why wouldn’t you tell me? Why would you keep something so stupid from me?”

Silence… us staring at each other.

“I can’t believe you wouldn’t tell me, it’s like you lied for years about it, what the hell?”

I actually got tears in my eyes

“I feel so bad every time you mention it but I couldn’t ever say it, I never told anyone it even happened”

Now, he looks at me more quizzically

“You went out to the car ahead of me because I was in the bathroom, and it cracked … …. ….  I was too embarrassed to tell you that”

He laughs a little, “How did you break the seat though? Did you stand on it?” (so sweet!)

“Dude, I was almost 300 pounds, I had to lift my leg like this (lifts leg and adds in wiping motion) to wipe and I put all my weight to one side and it fucking cracked UNDER THE PRESSURE!!”

He laughs again. Kind of.

He walks over and hugs me. I’m half crying, thinking about all the times I’ve told a story about shitting my pants or the time I threw myself behind a boyfriends car so he couldn’t leave, or barfing on the altar in church. I never told anyone I broke a toilet seat. It wasn’t funny, and I like to make everything sound funny even when it was sad or painful … just couldn’t spin this one.

A weight has been lifted, literally! We joked about it the rest of the night and it still isn’t funny (yet) – but at least now I’m just a person who was so fat they broke a toilet seat, not a liar.

 

 

i don’t start fan clubs.

For a long time it could be said that I didn’t like anyone. I mean, that could still sort of be said I guess. Anyway, my reputation of not liking anyone sometimes made it seem like no big deal when I would actually speak up about a person.

If I commented that a new coworker seemed lazy or wasn’t up to par, it was brushed off as “Well, you don’t like anybody” or if someone was dating someone and I saw things about them that they didn’t see “Of course you don’t like them, you don’t like anyone!”

Commenting on traits that people have or had that seemed odd or suspect to me just seemed to others that I didn’t like anyone, or was being critical or judgemental.

Someone’s new boss a dozen years ago that was overly religious and hug-y and I said something seemed fishy, but was “wrong” because how could a man of god giving this opportunity be a bad guy. Fast forward to him reorganizing his company and milking that guy for all of his knowledge and experience and then letting him go without much of a warning.

The friend who meets a guy on the internet who is living with an ex girlfriend and something seems off to me, even more so when he proposes a few months later – but when I bring it up I’m accused of being unhappy for her since I had just gone through my own breakup. Naturally you can’t say anything after the fact when he leaves her and causes nothing but turmoil, because it’s insensitive and more than that, not helpful.

High school friends who like someone I don’t and then end up in a feud with them at some point in those four years. Co-workers who think I am too judge-y of new employees and end up bitching about them over drinks within months. My mom thinking I am too critical of someone before I get to know them – Steve thinking I’m being silly when I comment on seemingly disingenuous models and photographers looking to connect.

There have been a slew of incidents like this in my lifetime, so much so that I am sure you could poll everyone who I have ever known and they can recall a time when I cautioned against someone or expressed disinterest in a friendship/acquaintance. I’m not proud of the fact (okay, I’m a little proud) that I have been right more than I have been wrong.

I don’t know everything, or everyone, obviously – but – I do get a pretty good read right off the bat. It takes a few runs before people get it sometimes, though. Make no mistake, it’s a good feeling to be right about things, but not when it’s people causing drama or pain to others.

We can’t make other people see things or people the way that we do, no matter how much we think it might help in the long run. Everyone has to get there at their own pace, and despite my opinions, I am a firm believer that not everyone is for everyone, so it’s possible I’m wrong on occasion for any number of reasons.

The most recent disdain of a person I recall is someone who married into my family, and I didn’t want anything to do with her the minute I met her. Sloth-like, lackluster personality, I assumed she would eventually die off and be replaced by someone more fitting to my liking, and to what I considered the vibe of my family. I wasn’t completely quiet about it, but I kept it mellow, only really expressing my vehement dislike to those who had a touch of that same dislike, or no real opinion.

I spearheaded the planning of a bridal shower when none of her family or friends seemed to step up (should have been a clear indicator of her fan base, in retrospect) and I played the game – but not without “accidentally” dropping my bridesmaids gift on the way out of said shower where I clarified to someone that she had been a bit of a cheat, and donating my dress and gifted jewelry to goodwill the day I returned from the wedding (I’m bitchy, ask my mom!) I also snapped at both my mother and my boyfriend in a diner the morning of the wedding before crying about how not right this whole thing was.

This has got to be the only one I feel bad about being right about. I had hoped she’d prove me wrong, that I’d have to eat my words – years of scathing, dismissive and uninterested words that would taste terrible, but honestly, I would have been thrilled to be wrong.

I wasn’t. There’s a divorce in the making, she’s hacking into social media accounts, telling some tales and her true colors are shining through more than a Kodak commercial from the nineties.

I’ve mostly learned to keep it to myself, or a handful of people in that same circle. Smile and nod and let shit happen. Unfortunately that doesn’t help, either, so maybe my original approach was best.

Like I said, I’m not always right, so if I give you my opinion or impression of a person and you don’t want to take it, that’s no skin off my back.

I’m never going to say I told you so, but, chances are good that I told you so.

 

oops.

If you’ve done something recently that made you feel like an idiot, or as if you’d lost all common sense … allow me to share this gem with you so you know you’re not alone.

Last night around 5:30, I lit what was left of a candle in our bathroom. A nice blue-green candle, smellin’ like the sea, chillin’ in a cute metal holder full of various sized slits.

I forgot about it.

Like, really forgot.

Around 11, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and commented for probably the fourth time  “weird …the diffuser is making it sort of smokey in here tonight” as I walked through the kitchen.

The bathroom also had a nightlight on which is  why I hadn’t noticed the glow on previous trips… and the candle was on the top shelf… of a tiered and of course, grated etagere.

This poor neglected candle had burned down to its bottom, dripping a trail of its lovely scent and waxy existence through the holder, and through the grates of each tier onto everything in its wake before finally hitting the floor.

Also?

Black smoke on the white ceiling tile and all around the top of the room. I mean, ALL around.

Did I mention that the bathroom is like 25 square feet? With no ventilation?

Yep.

And we keep the door half closed  over so the AC doesn’t float in there instead of the good parts of our place.

Mmm. Hmm.

Oh! I almost forgot – I recently spent like 3 weeks of my free time patching, priming and painting those walls. And then scrubbing and updating that hideous linoleum with a (two actually) fresh coat of porch paint. Sacrificed a gel manicure, two t-shirts and a pair of sweats to this project as well.

All that work and it’s being threatened by some “garbage ass Target candle in an IKEA holder and how the fuck didn’t we notice this hours ago?”

So here I am at 11:30, feverishly trying to scrape the dried wax from the painted floor, without scraping the painted floor … and getting the wax off the metal shelving without scratching the metal shelving … and picking/rubbing/scratching it off the toilet tank, the hairspray, the handle of the hairbrush, a bottle of lotion and the bins these things are stored in.

I’m barefoot, stepping on hard bits of wax, forehead sweating from leaping up to wipe the tops of the walls, cursing myself for my love of ambience and hate of overhead lightning.

I used a butter knife wrapped in a baby wipe. Well, like 8 different baby wipes. I also used half a roll of paper towels and what feels like an entire bottle of multi-purpose cleaner.

I think I got it all.

I’ll be doing a thorough examination and bathroom cleaning after work, but man what a jackass.

So yea, chin up, I’m pretty sure whatever stupid thing you’ve done this week doesn’t hold a candle to this.

you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna jae

A few years ago, at least six or seven by now, while eating lunch at work, I found a bone in the tuna sandwich I had made for myself the night before.

Not a little teeny splinter of a bone, a full-on, looked like a golf tee, solid as shit almost cracked a tooth BONE.

I threw the sandwich out and when I got home I wrote an email to the tuna company and let them know this happened and while it was gross and unacceptable, I’m moving on and hey maybe just check your tuna better so some old lady doesn’t choke to death in the future. They reply and couldn’t be nicer, explain how tuna is caught and all that stuff I don’t need to hear if I have hope of ever eating it again. Then, the coupons. Scads of free cans, money off, all the discount tuna you could ever want.

The envelope of bargains arrives a few days later, and Steve comments that it came from a company that wasn’t the brand of tuna we had used. Umm, what?

Yea, I emailed the wrong company about my fish bone blues.

The only thing to do? Email the right company and tell them what happened, leaving out, of course, the part where I blamed it on another company and made out like a tuna bandit.

You know what they say in their apology email?

Yea, you do …. LET US SEND YOU SOME COUPONS …

I decline, because I have plenty of free tuna coming my way, but they insist. So I express my gratitude and when the envelope shows up with an entire ocean of free tunas, I pack them and the others up and send them to my parents. Because honestly, I am never eating tuna again.

I think a year or so later I decided it was ridiculous to have given up something I ate pretty regularly because of a fluke. So, I go for it and make one of my favorite lunches; cucumber slices topped with tuna, bacon and a drizzle of Italian dressing. I got myself a plate of them made up, got comfortable on the couch for some trashy day time television and by the third one, I had forgotten all about the skeletal difficulties of the past.

Ahhhh.

I pick up the fourth one … mid chew, I’m like woah this bacon is over cooked.

NOPE.

FUCK.

BONE.

Not kidding, couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

I couldn’t get past it and I scraped the rest of it into the trash.

What are the odds of that happening —- twice?!

I really haven’t eaten tuna since. Don’t show it to me, don’t talk about it. It’s bony and gross and I just have to pass.

Fast forward to today;  it’s a million humid degrees and I am not turning on my oven, or cooking on the stove longer than I need to. Steve says, “We have everything for those tuna boat things, right? Why don’t we have that for dinner?”

I stare at him, into his soul “Really??”

“Yea man, they’re good. ..and we haven’t had them since you were fat” he laughs (we use this as a measurement of time around here).

“They tried to killllll me. TWICE!”

He stares back waiting for me to realize I’m a bit absurd.

Fine.

I make the bacon, I make the tuna. I assemble them and I fearfully take a bite of the first one. Well, I put the whole thing in my mouth because I’m a monster but guess what??

BONE FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

So was the second one, the third and the fourth one I had.

I didn’t have more than that, but I think I would have been in the clear if I did. Looks like I’ve got ninety-nine problems but tuna fish ain’t one!

 

 

stranger cake

I never met a cake I didn’t like; chocolate, marble, carrot, angel food, pound, ice cream, funfetti, crumb, yellow, cheese, vanilla … I mean, I really like cake. Double like if it has frosting. In the rare case when someone doesn’t like the frosting (hi, mom!) I am happy to save it from the a trip to the trash and plop it onto mine.

Yep, definitely never met a cake I didn’t like, except for stranger cake.

Stranger cake is a term I started using when I worked in restaurants and families or groups would offer their leftover birthday or celebration cake to the staff. My coworkers would flock to the free cake, but not me. Sure it’s cake and probably delicious, but it’s from strangers.

Not professional bakers who are strangers to me, or a food establishment where I don’t personally know the people.

Strangers who could have sneezed on it, not washed their hands while making it, or even worse, have half a dozen animals who climb all over their kitchen while that potentially scrumptious treat is exposed to cat tails and sandpaper tongues.

It’s a weird thing that has always been one of my hang ups.

Potlucks? Don’t invite me.

Leftovers from a dinner party my mom went to …Who made them? Have I met them? Do they have pets?

That Amish friendship bread that has to sit on your counter for a week – from a random customer who always talks about her cats and pet bird? I’m all set.

Church run spaghetti dinners and pancakes breakfasts? Happy to donate but skip my plate.

Full spread at a cookout or party? You’ll find me quietly asking who made what before I even know what the food is so I can decide what makes it to my plate (or not).

If you know me, you probably already know this weird thing. If you don’t, I may divulge it at a totally inappropriate time. Say, when you are out to dinner with me after only knowing me a few days and a kind stranger brings you a piece of birthday cake because your group sang to her daughter. I might, I don’t know, shout at you to not eat stranger cake, and say that could have been made with unwashed poop hands while you have a mouthful of it (sorry, Andrew!). Sometimes I get lucky though and someone else has an issue with community food too, and I don’t have to feel [so] weird.

It’s a weird thing to be a foodie, such a lover of snacks and treats and have this barrier that sometimes keeps you from them. It was even more weird at almost three hundred pounds. Believe me the last thing I wanted to ever do was turn down cake.

brave-ish

A few months ago, after hearing my tale of woe as the struggling fat girl turned weight loss success story, the woman I was speaking to sat, mouth agape, finally saying “How brave!”

In my memory of this afternoon I cocked my head like a dog does and she clarified “to go through all of that, just to be happy in your body, that takes bravery.” I smiled and shrugged so I didn’t comment in a fashion that seemed ungrateful for her acceptance, or her pat on the back.

Brave is hardly the word I would use to describe my experience. Without sounding like a poor me, self-deprecating kind of gal, I have never walked into a burning building to save anyone, battled cancer or worked in a job where I put my life on the line every day in a way that would show some kind of bravery. I was fat and now I’m not, I don’t think there’s anything brave about that.

I forgot about this instance until recently, in two separate conversations with other losers who have also had plastic/skin removal surgeries, I admitted that not only did I not feel brave about the whole thing, but in fact, kind of sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to no longer be battling a weight nearing 300 pounds, or questioning every piece of food I put in my mouth. I don’t weight myself two and three times a day after eating or going to the bathroom, I’m more comfortable in my skin and body than I have ever been but I don’t see that as an act of bravery. Necessity, maybe. Cleaning up a mess, definitely.

In one of the conversations where I am talking about my occasional lackluster feelings toward my arm scars (and maybe, depending on the day, the results in general), I say – that in my frustration about this, I am more mad than anything. Mad that I was even in a position to need all the things I’ve done or had to do to have a “normal” body. Mad that maybe it could have been prevented some how, mad that obesity is a thing that happened, or I let happen to me. Mad that in the last four years I missed a total of  14 weeks of work to recover from surgeries. Mad about how many hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars disappeared from my bank account to fully cover one of those surgeries, and part of the others, and co-pays and pain pills and protein bars and vitamins. Mad when I think about what things and experiences could have taken place in those weeks off or with that money.

Maybe, swimming in my usual sea of unpopular opinions, I don’t think of the word grateful to describe how I feel now, but that doesn’t mean I am not. I see other weight loss surgery patients, or people who didn’t have surgery agonize over their loose skin and how they wish they could afford it, and I know that I am lucky I was able to do any of these things. I have gotten messages from people asking about the process for weight loss surgery itself, for the future, because they don’t have insurance right now, or a job that allows them time off.

I know that I am fortunate.

I revel in my size medium shirts, my ‘normal’ store clothes shopping, my belly fat and floppy arms not holding me back from things. I still do a double take when I see myself in photos taken by others or see my reflection in something new. I am proud of my transformation and the correlation between my confidence and accomplishments is not lost on me. The life I am living now feels like the one I always wanted to be living and I am in awe of that all the time.

I’m more than happy to field emails and phone calls from other patients going through the same program at my hospital, and I tell them in no uncertain terms that I would do this again and again to change my life for the better.

I don’t regret the decisions or the results, in any way. I just sometimes wish it wasn’t something that even had to happen. Who knows, maybe there’s a little bravery in admitting that.

I am.

I haven’t posted anything here in a few months, and I may not have written anything that wasn’t a paper or discussion board response in just as long. I am writing this from a dorm room in Colorado where I am for the week as part of my Counselor Education Program. One of my daily sessions is group therapy and today we were given prompts to write a “poem” that we shared and discussed, so I thought I’d make that the meat of this post, to sort of bring me back to this blog.

I am

I am open and strong
I wonder what comes next
I hear music everywhere
I see something good in everything
I want to be the best version of myself
I am open and strong

I pretend to know what I’m doing
I feel happy when I think about the fall
I touch the lives of others
I worry about everyone
I cry when I think about losing loved ones
I am open and strong

I understand that I determine my worth
I say that the time will pass anyway
I dream about everything
I try to make others comfortable in my presence
I hope that I give off the vibes i intend
I am open and strong

Goodnight.