Monday, January 30, 2006

You Heard it Right, I Don't Care

It's been nearly three weeks since my last surgery (seven in 16 months) and I'm trying to convince myself that I don't care.

I lost Reality Doc today.

For those of you who read the blog, Reality Doc is my internist and SupaDoc is my weight loss surgeon. I adore SupaDoc and his skills are unmatched, but it takes a village to keep me alive and Reality Doc has always been the "face reality" part of the team. He's not a big advocate of the lap band, but he's always been a big advocate of Frances. After the staph infection, I couldn't see how I could continue to fight all my health problems and still struggle to lose nearly 200 pounds.

I liked the challenge of one day showing Reality Doc that the lap band could work for me. In the meantime, he kept me alive. My blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety (hang nails, you name it), didn't go away like wimps after weight loss surgery. They put up quite a fight and I always felt I needed a good PCP (personal care physician) to help me see the "big picture" of my health.

The staph infection marked a big change in my life and health. I lost my insurance between surgeries to open and debreed my wound and I've been at the mercy of a public health plan ever since. Medicaid assigned me to a doctor who has decided to stop taking new patients and the plan won't pay for visits to Reality Doc.

A few weeks ago, I had multiple hernias repaired in my abdominal wall. The pain and complications were getting the best of me, so I decided to throw up the white flag to get my blood pressure and anxiety in check and make sure a gash left in my mouth isn't becoming infected.

The doctor’s a pretty cool dude, but he’s surrounded by the “hounds of hell” masquerading as clerks, receptionists and nurses in his office. I’ve never had a “hello” or any greeting since losing my insurance and the loud whispers usually start while I’m in the waiting room. I got called back today before the inquisition started, but apparently the “free-loader” alert sounded right after and I was surrounded by three hounds who seemed puzzled why I had “no” insurance. “We can’t accept your Medicaid and we can’t accept your cash,” they protested. I assured them that the doctor knew this, but agreed to see me because I was having a problem. “That would amount to a ‘free’ visit,” shout whispered one of the women. I insisted on not leaving, so they put me in an open room to see what the doctor’s wishes were. The uproar in the office continued at a low roar and if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought a serial killer was visiting.

“He’ll see you,” the nurse said, “but just this one time,” she warned. She listened to my issues and complications after surgery and then said it would take her a while to find a cuff large enough for my arm. Mind you, this office sees weight loss surgery patients and saw me when I weighed 350 pounds. Bat wings aside, I’m sure my arms should have shrunk some with the rest of me, but the “large enough” cuff never surfaced.

I sat in my little room (with the door open) and watched a parade of patients go by and the office chat actually moved off the free-loader at spitting’s distance of the desk. I never got weigh and my blood pressure was never taken. I became “Large Invisible Black Woman.” After this continued for 45 minutes, I was certain that this wasn’t going to change unless I created a scene and thus farther elevating my blood pressure and anxiety. The lap band surgery must work miracles because no one blinked as “Large Invisible Black Woman” just slipped away, passed the desk and left the office.

I still appreciate all Reality Doc has done for me, I just realize that's not a good environment for a patient suffering from high blood pressure an anxiety.

I don’t feel like binge-eating or drowning my sorrows in chocolate sauce. Until I can see past the pain, I just don’t care about pounds, inches and cute little blue jeans. That may seem like blasphemy to the weight loss faithful, but when my journey to wellness gets tough, I refuse to just lament on the usual “fat-girl” issues. Wellness is still a goal, but I feel the need to focus on non-scale issues.

Eating is very painful right now. I can only chew on one side of my mouth and every bite swallowed is often followed by pain and discomfort. I’ve had at least two people tell me that on the bright side, I’m losing a lot of weight. Nope, it doesn’t work that way. I retained after the last surgery and I’m just standing still for the most part after that water weight is balanced. Hey, I forgot, I really don’t care. (Right now. Smirk)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Coconut and Chicken Soup: Test Kitchen Series

I’ve been experimenting again! Scott and I found ourselves with a free evening in Natchez, Miss., lately and took an evening stroll looking for some inviting grub. I’ve been on the “All Sushi” diet for quite some time and we found a sushi and Thai place called Planet Thailand.

Not only did I find a nice selection of sushi rolls, but we also had a bowl of warm and inviting Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup. I was so intrigued by this “gumbo of the East,” that decided that I had to bring it home to my little Louisiana kitchen.

I did my research and found a recipe and then went on a search to find the ingredients. While getting the fixing for sushi ala Spencers, we also got a few items for the soup. The following recipe is slightly altered. First, I’ve not found lemon grass, but I have found a Thai curry paste that contains lemon grass. I felt like the one I had before had a rich, fresh, green taste, so I’ve added fresh chopped parsley and cilantro (Thai gumbo, here we come!)

This isn’t a rich, thick soup. It’s incredibly thin considering the punch it packs. It fits my taste and soft, thin food needs right now. I hope you enjoy a bowl of your own soon.

Thai Coconut and Chicken Soup

1 14 oz. can of coconut milk
10-12 ounces of chicken broth
½ pound diced chicken
½ cup chopped parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp. cayenne or crushed red pepper
1 tsp. Red Curry Paste (or lemon grass and more pepper)
1 tsp chopped ginger or powdered ginger
3 green onions
Salt to taste
Veggies (lots of room for your taste):
1 can whole baby corn
1-2 cans of mushrooms (I liked straw mushrooms, but small caps OK)

I made my own chicken broth, so I let the parsley and cilantro cook down with the chicken.
When the chicken is cooked and herbs are tender, add coconut milk, red pepper, curry paste (or lemon grass) and ginger.

Bring to a roaring boil, then add the veggies of choice and chopped green onions. Lower heat and slimmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring just cause it smells sooooo good. Add a couple tsp of salt, taste and then adjust for your preference.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Test Kitchen Series: Oatmeal-Yogurt Crunch

My oatmeal breakfast dish usually makes 5-6 servings for me. I make it early in the week and eat on it all week. I use fruit that doesn't turn brown and mushy, so it looks good for a while. I've had it with bananas and the problem is it's brown after the first day.

Here's how I usually make this stuff:

Oatmeal-Yogurt Crunch
2 cups plain, low-fat yogurt
1 cup plain, rolled oats (raw and toasted if I find them)
1 can of mandarin oranges
1 can of pineapple chunks (tidbits, crushed -- depending on what I can process)
1/4 cup of almond slivers
1 serving of protein supplement per serving *right before* serving

I mix the yogurt, oats and fruit in a big bowl I purchased just for this purpose. I left it sit overnight. In the morning, I add the almonds and fold them in the mixture. I put a scoop of vanilla protein powder in each bowl right before serving.


  • I sometimes have to loosen the protein powder so the dish can be smooth and soft. I've made a protein paste out of more yogurt, milk or even water on different occassions.
  • Other fruit I've used includes peaches and bananas.
  • This keeps very well in a sealed container for a week.
  • When I'm having trouble with "chunky" stuff, I just keep taking stuff out. Without the fruit and nuts, this is actually a great mushy.

Depending on what type of yogurt and nuts I used, this full recipe is made to include about 230 calories a bowl and can have from 25-35 grams of protein. It's gotta a lot of fiber ... a lot of fiber. There's protein all the ingredients except the fruit. I use fresh fruit or fruit packed in water or juice so it's a good source of vitamins.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

State of The Frances Report

It seems like forever since I've posted a State of the Frances address. Ok, here goes:

I survived my second Christmas with the band with no major overeating because I threw up twice during Christmas dinner. This Yakfest didn't surprise me. Eating has been difficult and sometimes swallowing is like taking a jab from a bull elephant. After everyone left my parents, I got into the leftovers, found two baked potatoes, mashed and creamed, skins and all, and mixed my brother's shrimp Alfredo remnants to make shrimp and potato soup. Got some protein and it stayed down.

I'm 16 months into my lap band surgery. I'm stuck on about 70 pounds lost and having my sixth hernia-related surgery a week from today (Jan. 11). I love the band and the lifestyle agrees with me, but when I started going on the surgery/swelling roller coaster, the scale wasn't very kind. Whatever!

I don't think I should change my eating habits or start starving myself. I'm concentrating on recovering from these recurrent hernias (***Not related to weight loss surger ***) and when that time comes, I'm sure the weight loss will continue.

I wasn't able to exercise much my first year, but I've been on my bike regularly since October and I take my preschooler to daycare 4 miles RT about 2-3 times a week. My bike has a trailer, the kid is 40 pounds and the abdominal hernia is quite noticeable. (Hint: That's it on the exercise folks; I tried a crunch in the doctor's office and that's OUT!).

For those of you who don't know the story, I was banded in August 2004, had a hernia repair in November and had two surgeries to debreed a staph infection in late February. I had two open hernia repairs in March and May. Next week, I will have my fourth hernia repair and sixth hernia-related surgery.

My attitude is chemically adjusted, but still ranges from "I'm OK" to "COULD SOMEBODY JUST SHOOT ME, ALREADY."

All my clothes are way too big and then sometimes snug around my tummy. I'm always packing at least one huge fluid collection near my mid-section, so without all that swelling, I'm not sure if I've lost weight or not. My pre-surgery clothes were 26-30 and now I'm in 22s with a cute little pot belly. (not!)

I do know that I hurt and eating is extremely difficult with abdominal swelling. I would love to have a panni removal now, but we all know that's reserved for people at or near goal. So, until then, I will continue to carry it around in a wheel barrow.

Good news: The lap band has survived the surgeries, infections and swelling and should be able to continue its job when my body is really to work with the tool.

I have a ton of stuff to add to my blog, so I think I'll take a second to do that also.

Lucky Surgery Seven (with the same loveable SupaDoc--pray for him) is Jan. 11.

I'm already riding my bike and I WILL play tennis before 2006 is over.