Monday, August 29, 2005

Notes During Hurricane Katrina

Posted 8:30 a.m.
Don't worry about me and baby, we are fine. Please pray for our neighbors to the immediate east of us. It's bad, but it could have been lots worst if things had not shifted a few miles eastward.

We have some intense wind and rain where I live which is 70 miles from New Orleans. NOTE: We are not in a parish that evacuated. I've never been in danger by staying here and it's much better for those of us in Baton Rouge not to congest the highways for those who HAD to leave. My area will see power outtages and flooding and the entire southeastern part of the state is still holding its breath until the storm's eye leaves the state in about four hours from now.

I'm going to get some "protein first," but I will try to post in a couple of hours if I still have power.

Noon on 8/31/2005
My little girl and I got our power restored late Tuesday. I got out into the more "city" parts of Baton Rouge today and heard my first newscasts since the first hours post-landfall. I've shed a lot of tears today and I know for every heart-breaking story broadcasts, 10 others exists. The level of human suffering within an hour of me becomes quite difficult at times.

At one point last night, I left my house with my baby in a wagon and one flashlight. My car stopped on me through all this and the thought of being in a slightly rural area with no lights, phone or car was overwhelming.

I've felt what seems to be panic attacks all day and my blood pressure is in the clouds. I plan to see my PCP tomorrow.

There's no witty or inspiring twists. Life down here just got 100 times more difficult and we all need your prayers. Thank you all for the kind words and prayers.

Written to "Dee" on 9/02/05

I've never met you, but I feel we are more kin than we ever have been. We are bandsters battling the storm after the storm. Most of the people complaining can't begin to understand how our lives have been totally changed by the storm -- even or especially our lives as bariatric patient.


  • The day of the storm, I was wandering around looking for "hot" food because I can't eat sandwiches and cold anything (except yogurt)
  • La. bandsters searching for aftercare now that four of the few centers in Louisiana are closed (washed away).
  • A preop in Metaire who lost everything and her/the kids are separated frpm her husband.
  • A postop lady who fled to Texas and is now dehydrated and losing protein levels because she doesn't have the products she tolerates. She's losing weight at an alarming rate.
  • Several preops who were finally approved and scheduled and now their doctors and centers are no longer operational.

Those of you with the "constitution" to read this far, bear with us. My posts aren't "OT" because they aren't.

Thursday, there will be a meeting of bariatric patients from anywhere in the state who need support, nutritional supplies and medical care. There will be at least one surgeon there who is offering aftercare and adjustments for displaced patients or those from other areas who were just treated in New Orleans and Covington. We have bariatric supplies and nutritional products being shipped in from vendors all over the country.

I realized the day I searched for something that would sit well with me that people were going to be in trouble. My angellette just had surgery in N.O. and she still had drains and staples. I felt people would suffer and possibly died if something wasn't done to meet OUR specific needs.

Operation Katrina is being spearheaded by ObesityHelp Inc. Just that in itself makes this effort very un-"OT."

If you can't feel you need to avoid the posts, I fully understand. But we in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi are part of the family and the family is hurting and suffering beyond compare.

Those of you who don't understand, I hope you never have to.


Saturday, August 06, 2005

Reality Check: What I Can and Can't Change

It's been almost a year and I think it's time for some aggressive action and a little less feeling sorry for myself.

"I'm not losing weight quickly any more, I hurt all the time, I need to get back to work, boo-hoo, boo-hoo ..."

Sometimes, you just come to the realization that some people care, some people don't give a rat's hindy and, in the end, sometimes neither will make a difference in one's fate. It's August 2005 and I have to decide how much "I" care and if I can step up one more time.

Let's review the last 11 months:

I must say, for a person who never liked to pose for pictures, I've done a good job at getting on the other end of the camera. I still hate what I see, but I've learned to use it as motivation and assessment of progress.

My favorite is still pictures with my family, like the one on the right in our WalkAmerica T-shirts. For more information about our "walk" activities, click HERE.

I wish that I could have lost more weight, but I didn't expect 6 surgeries, a major staph infection and months of wound issues all in one year. Some people might think I'm lucky just to be alive. They are partially right, I just know that "luck" had nothing to do with it. I can look back and see how blessed I have been. \0/ (my code for "praise the Lord!")

I have some restriction (Ok, a small fill) in my lap band, but it's more than enough to get me moving again. While I was unfilled, I stalled like a rock in pudding and then I had a 3-pound loss right before SupaDoc put a 1/2 cc in my lap band and we are hoping that will help me lose without aggravating the swallowing and eating problems I have when my abdominal area swells due to fluid collection.

So, what can I not change? There's no end in sight to my GYN-related problems. I had an ultrasound yesterday that showed my largest ovarian mass seems to have shrunk from 8 to 5 cm. The test, however, showed that I have numerous, but small fibroid tumors. All of those growths -- cysts, tumors, scaring -- are things which are slow to get resolved. I've seen two GYNs and one GYN oncologist and none were interested in getting rid of any of this. Now that the biggest mass is shrinking, I'm sure we are back to the "wait" phase. I'm actually Ok with that and I'm going to try not to lament those problems too much, try to get pain management under control and give myself several "cut-free" months.

What can I change? I've honestly been lax in my eating habits for about a month. I skipped meals, got into a Burger-quicky-meal mode at times and I've not walked because I'm hurting a lot. I gotta get back on track and keep a close eye on carbs and "cook" my own protein. My eggplant adventures are continuing and they make fancy low-carb dishes fun. This week, I made a seafood au gratin with fried eggplant medallions. The seafood was crawfish, crab meat and shrimp in a cooked-down Alfredo base. I let my eggplant sit in thin pancake batter before rolling in Italian breadcrumbs. I served it with a small portion of my Festive Veggie Saute.

I must get active again. It's going to hurt -- that's just life. I'm walking in another Walkathon next month and I gotta get back to being able to handle the occasional horrible pain and at least walking everyday. (Join The Walk From Obesity - Louisiana)

I'm also hoping to get back into a full-time working routine. I think eating well will be harder if I go back to work as opposed to working mostly home, but a stricter routine and that added discipline may be just what the doctor ordered. I do know one thing for sure: I'm so broke, my Bologna has one first name! It's time for less surgery and more work.

Click here for profile

Those of you who are fans of my writing and my work, can find my published work in the current issues of ObesityHelp Magazine and Refreschen Louisiana Magazine. You can also find a collaboration between myself and SupaDoc (Dr. Karl LeBlanc), in the current issue of Bariatrics Today. It was a lot of fun serving as the editor of his expository on Ventral Hernias and the Bariatric Patient. I have nothing but respect and admiration for this truly extrordinary human being.

Mixing an article on hernias and weight-loss surgery was not my idea. Props to Nikki Johnson, managing editor of Bariatrics Today/ObesityHelp Magazine. Nikki is another person who's helped turn my last year into a journey (with new professional challenges) instead of a nightmare. (Meow! to you, Nikki)

I'm going to try to keep this blog uplifting and informative. Ya know life isn't always kind, but I will continue to simply play the hand I'm dealt. My favorite word will continue to be:


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Armed And Working on 'Dangerous'

Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions and concerns yesterday. I know that I probably still shouldn't be so concerned with losing weight right now (with ovarian mass issues raging), but I thought getting a fill might help me concentrate on weight loss and not think about how I want to put a "hit" out on every GYN in the state of Louisiana.

In the period I was unfilled, I lost 3 pounds. yippee. But I had gained 10 total before, so I'm still 8 pounds away from my lowest weight. I'm about 70 pounds down instead of near 80 pounds. But I think I've seen progress in inches, but I'm not measuring, so I'm unsure.

My doctor was happy with the 3 pounds and wasn't pushing a fill, but I like to live dangerously, so I insisted and told him I would come back if I started to McPuke again and get an upper GI.

SupaDoc doctor had some trouble with the port and I could hear some popping as it flipped out of place. I think he got it on the third or fourth stick. I got my 1/2 cc fill back in my 4 cc band and I think that will be good restriction since I still had some restriction unfilled.

I've had one Juice Plus shake and I feel some pressure and discomfort, but nothing too bad. At least I know it's filled again.

I go for an ultrasound to measure my ovarian masses on tomorrow. Everyone (except GYNs) keeps telling me to push for what's right for me. (Thanks, Lilli, I hear ya shouting). This could be nothing or this could change my life and my family's life. If nothing else, I don't like being in constant pain. I like to go-go-go. With a healthy and more energetic body, I would be down right DANGEROUS!

So, don't worry that I'm going to take this lying down. I gotta life and I'm determined to live it!

Onward (where else?)