Friyay!

Some days are better than others.

Lately, most days have pretty much sucked. Too much stress, too many deadlines, too many things on the to-do list. But today was freaking stellar.

So Fridays, otherwise known as Friyay, are the day I work at my other job. That’s right, I am reserving Friday for clients, business development, blog writing, social media and strategery.

This morning kicked off with an amazing chiropractic adjustment. Bye bye migraine.

Followed by a meeting with my first official paid health coaching client, which went amazingly! I ran into 4 people I knew at the coffee shop and it just made me feel so good.

Next I went to pick up my migraine prescription and ran into the owner of the pharmacy — I love living in a small town! Got a big hug and went on my way to the post office, where I picked up my new Fitbit, a bunch of protein, vitamins, and my first Stitch Fix Box!

I have posted before about my anxiety about shopping. I hate trying clothes on. My self talk is horrendous and I need to knock that shit out. But this box was full of clothes that fit me perfectly and that fit my style even better! And yes, I am still a solid size 6. That was such a relief to me!

The last few months have been truly funky, but if I have more days like today, things are looking up. I am so incredibly blessed to have the support of my family and friends and to have achieved this goal of losing and maintaining my weight. Makes a big difference in my outlook when I feel like a success.

So yeah, life is pretty damn good.

Peace.

Shhhhh….

I haven’t posted since August? Where did September and October go? I promised myself that I wouldn’t let myself be a gastric bypass blog that stopped after reaching goal. 

In fact, I don’t want to be the weight loss surgery blog that shares the sunshine, rainbows and unicorns but not the ugly stuff.

So let’s get real.

I was on a roll. And then insert kidney drama. 

I was maintaining my weight up until then. And then I couldn’t exercise at all for 6 weeks while my body healed. And it was all good for a while then the number started inching up. So I was 7 pounds over my high goal range. And stuck. I started back working out after I was cleared. And I was still stuck. I had to go all the way back to basics and scale back to 3 mini meals and 2-3 protein shakes. The truth: it’s hard. Even though I had gastric bypass, I still am in the same boat where I need to eat 900 calories a day or less to lose. 

The good thing is that being strict helped me to reset my hunger impulses. I’m working my way back down. I will not let obesity win! Being 4’11”(ish) you just can’t hide 7 extra pounds. 

My message: don’t give up. Every day is a new chance to start over. I have tapped into my network of amazing support peeps, some from my Bariatric Support Group, and some “regular” folks. My health coaching program is the best opportunity for me to practice what I preach. I’m getting focused on balance, sleep, stress reduction, and nutrition. 

I’m building up my health coaching business which is incredibly exciting, so that’s where my focus has been. I will make an effort to check in here more frequently as I have a lot to share about my experience. Life in maintenance is a whole different game. And one you don’t read about that much, so I need to change that. 

✌️ 

Pressing the reset button on life

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I am just over 2 weeks post-partial nephrectomy and starting to feel like a human again. I think getting back into a routine has been helpful. The past two months have been a blur full of so many emotions.

So let’s get the drama out of the way. I had my post-surgical appointment with my surgeon at UCSF on Monday (gosh, that was just a few days ago but feels like forever!). She walks in the exam room all smiles and hands me the pathology report and she says, “I have great news! It wasn’t cancer!” Imagine my dumbfounded look.  I have spent the last two months waiting to have a cancerous tumor removed from my kidney, so this was the best possible news, yet it’s still sinking in.  In my last post (almost a month ago), I mentioned that there was a 75% chance that my kidney mass was renal cell carcinoma, just like it said on my MRI report. Turns out after the pathology, it was something called an angiomyolipoma, which is a benign tumor made up of vascular, muscle, and fat cells. The short story is I didn’t have cancer, I don’t need to be monitored for cancer, and I’m basically done with anything over at UCSF!

I did, however, have a chunk of my kidney removed, so I still have a bit of recovery to do from that. No lifting anything more than 10 pounds until after September 3 (6 weeks post-surgery), so my workouts are on hold. The whole experience was a bit traumatic. The hospitalization was difficult. I was in so much pain, even for a few days after I was released, and then the pain meds made me dizzy and nauseous, so I discontinued those as soon as I could. I’ll spare the details but let me just say I no longer take the simple act of peeing for granted. Ugh.

So here’s the path forward: I’m still on leave from work for one more week but have been logging a few hours a day to catch up and figure out what I missed. I’ve been dealing with migraines for the last 10 days which has been a bitch, so I am off to my primary care doctor to see what’s up with that (since I’m out of my meds that I only get 12 of per month!). I have been working my way up to walking a couple of miles a day on the treadmill. I was so exhausted and realized I needed to push myself a bit to get my stamina back. It’s amazing how quickly you can lose it! I’m a bit out of sorts with food. Nothing has been sounding awesome and I’ve been slacking on food prep (I have an excuse, I think), so this week I will be doing some planning to get back into that routine too.

There’s so many lessons to come out of this ordeal. Believe me, I know how lucky I am and will never forget that. 

The master plan

I am the queen of the “stay tuned” post with no follow up. Of course maintaining 2 blogs, 3 Instagram accounts, 2 twitter accounts and Facebook may have something to do with it. I forget where I have made my updates. 

I feel like I have pulled myself together a bit. My consult in San Francisco definitely put my mind at ease to a certain extent. I loved the surgeon and her staff, I got my two pages of questions answered and I got scheduled for surgery. It’s next week. Yikes. 

Fun fact. I have beautiful kidneys. The surgeon pulled up my CT scan and walked us through the slices to show me where the mass was located. It’s on the top front of my right kidney. That’s when she remarked I had beautiful kidneys. It does not appear that the mass has gone into any of the collection systems of the kidney so it looks like it can be removed cleanly without impacting kidney function. Good news. 

They won’t be able to confirm Stage and grade until after surgery. At this point she says it’s a 75% chance it is clear cell renal cell carcinoma. There are a few other type of RCC and a few non-malignant things it could be but she feels pretty sure of what she will find. Hopefully the pathology comes back quickly. 

The plan is that she will do the surgery with the Da Vinci robot which will be minimally invasive and a faster healing time. I should be in the hospital for 2-3 days. However, since I have a history of adhesions from my 2 prior abdominal surgeries, there is a chance it may be an open surgery. I won’t know for sure until I wake up. Yikes. 

Knowing I will be at UCSF is a relief. That place just inspires confidence. And the services they offer are amazing. The consult I had with the oncology nutrition department was really interesting. That’s just a free service they provide that will be available to me now that I am a patient. The good news is I don’t have to change much. I eat really well in general and I have started the shift towards plant based. The dietician basically said she didn’t have a lot of suggestions of things to change and that I would be in great shape for recovery. She did offer a few suggestions. 

  • Go whole food plant based. So not necessarily 100% vegan, but reduce the amount of animal products and focus on non-processed whole food fruits and veggies and grains to the extent I can with the Bariatric diet. ✅
  • Reduce sodium. They recommend this for all their cancer patients but controlling blood pressure is important with compromised kidneys. My hope is I don’t lose any function with a partial nephrectomy, but I do have to take good care of them. I never ever ever want to be on dialysis.  My blood pressure pretty much runs low and with the lack of most processed food in my diet, I should be good. ✅
  • Add pre-biotic food and lots of veggies for probiotics. Gut health is still kind of a mystery to me too. Must do more research. She recommended additional flax seeds to my protein ✅ and adding food with live active cultures like fermented foods and yogurt. So kim chi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, etc. And eat more cruciferous vegetables to the extent I can with my protein first rules and tiny tummy. ✅ She also recommended a probiotic called VSL#3. Need to research. May add that down the line. 
  • Keep the protein supplements going and stay at the high side of the 60-80 gram Bariatric requirement. ✅

It’s comforting to know I don’t have to change much and since it’s anticipated that surgery and removing the mass will be the cure for me with no follow-up treatment, life should continue as normal after I recover. They will follow me for 5 years which is typically the timeframe for recurrence. There’s a 5% recurrence rate based on what the surgeon told me — much better than the 80% I’ve read from the National Kidney Cancer association. Stupid Google. 

So it’s all good. I just want to put this surgery behind me. It’s going to be a long recovery. So I’m putting together my Netflix and Hulu playlists and nesting in the house. The worst of it will be over in a few weeks. 

Thursday we get to go down to SF for all of my pre-surgery tests and meeting with the anesthesia team. Those peeps need to be my friends. So another crack of dawn drive to the beautiful bay is in store in a couple days. Have I mentioned how amazing my husband is?

So there you go. Now I am off to make lists. 

The waiting is the hardest part

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Tomorrow is my consult with the urologic oncologist at UC San Francisco. I found out on June 6 I have kidney cancer, on June 7 that I was being referred to UCSF, and on June 19 that the appointment would be tomorrow. Waiting almost 3 weeks knowing you have an evil entity inside you is not fun. I’ve spent way too much time being angry about the wait, and even worse, looking up stuff on Google.

The good part of that is there is a lot of information, and much of it comes from authoritative sources. The bad part is I have some unique things in my health history that I have questions about and I’m just not going to find the answers online.

For example, the post-nephrectomy diet seems to be in direct conflict with the post-gastric bypass diet.  I have a consult with the UCSF nutritionist on 7/7, so I am sure I will get my questions answered, but am hoping I don’t have to do a lot to reconcile the differences with the nutritionist in my surgeon’s office. Some of the recommendations I have seen are really similar to the renal diet my dad was on with his dialysis. The irony of it all! It leaves me wondering what I can eat if I can’t have most of the things that are currently staples in my diet. Again…I just have to wait.

In the meantime, I have been making a move towards a more plant-based diet. I’d say 85% plant based.  Most nutrition recommendations I have seen lean towards an inflammatory diet, which is probably what all of us should be eating anyways. I’m sticking with my bariatric protein and following my doctor’s nutrition program.

My appetite has pretty much sucked but I have been eating enough to maintain at the low end of my goal range.  I lost 4 pounds that first week I found out, but that seems to have leveled off.

I worked from home all of last week, mostly due to the heat, and partially due to pain in my side which is either completely psychosomatic, a muscle strain, or stress.  I don’t know if my tumor is big enough to cause pain, but I guess I will find out that too.  I think the heat may have had something to do with it too.  I also took the week off of Kaia, as it just hurt too much.  My body was telling me to rest (which I did with plenty of naps!).

My plan is to get the whole story tomorrow, and then go from there.  My guess is it will take me some time to get scheduled for surgery, so I plan to go back to work to try to be a productive member of society and save my leave time.

I feel like today will be a long day but I am filling it with lovely things like laundry, journaling, meditation and some movement. And gratitude. I am so grateful to my friends and family who have been checking in and offering prayers and help.

Updates to follow…

Moving forward – an update

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I have a bit of an update. I am scheduled for a consult at UCSF next Monday. I’m glad to just have a date. I am completely nerding out about being sent to a facility that has modern technology: full access to my chart, all patient forms can be filled out online, I watch a 30 minute patient orientation video, and I have been sent probably over 200 pages of information to review before my appointment. I was also able to generate a list of questions for the doctor from another online app they referred me to. I have no doubt that the standard of care at UCSF is going to be beyond anything I’ve experienced so far.  Here’s hoping.

I plan to provide updates here from time to time and am still thinking about using Facebook groups to get info out to everyone (family and close friends).  Stay tuned as I work through all this…

Thanks to everyone for the overwhelming support so far.

Just call me #asskicker

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I am many things.

I am a rule follower.

I am a complete nerd.

I am a worrier.

I am a hard worker.

I am a wife.

I am a dog mom.

I am a sister, an auntie, and cousin.  And all the rest of those things.

I am a writer(ish).

I am a Kaia girl.

I am a gastric bypass patient, and therefore an obesity #asskicker.

Last week, I became something else when I learned that I have renal cell carcinoma.

I became a warrior cancer #asskicker.

Well, that all sounds super good and brave and kick ass, but the truth is I am terrified of what’s next.  And I am waiting to find out what that is.  I have been referred to the urologic oncology department at UC San Francisco and waiting to get scheduled.  And like Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

So this blog started as my weight loss journey story, and I guess in a way, this is all part of the journey.  Had I not had gastric bypass, and my little complication in September, this would have never been caught. Or at least not until it was too late.  I am hopeful this was caught early enough that they can just remove it and I can move on. I have a bit of a rough road ahead but I am positive I will come out of this even stronger.

Meanwhile, if you see me crying in the corner, it’s nothing personal.

All denominational prayers are gladly accepted. I will be counting my blessings while waiting for the path forward.

Love to all.

And in the words of Syrio Forel (Game of Thrones), I say “Not Today.”

 

Practicing self-care through grief

One of the drivers for my recent lifestyle transformation journey was the death of my father on June 9, 2015. The minute the calendar changed to June, all of the feelings came rushing back. I’m in a funk. 

There’s nothing like facing some scary medical stuff that makes you realize your parents are gone. I think it’s an innate thing to want your mommy when you are sick. And since my mom has been gone almost 17 years (wow), I’ve instinctively always called my dad when I needed support. 

I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, and what it would be like if I had known then what I know now. 

Self-care is something I did not understand until after my dad passed. I always put everyone’s needs in front of my own and I did not take care of myself. The last six months of my dad’s life, he was in and out of the ICU, I took weeks off from work at a time, and I completely fell apart. My nutrition was the worst ever. I have no idea what I ate during that time and I felt like crap. Comfort foods I imagine. I had major anxiety and couldn’t be around people.

I was constantly taking care of something whether it was medical appointments, grocery shopping, emergency room visits, wrangling caregivers, fielding complaints about him from his assisted living facility. Uh. Non-stop. 

After he died, I struggled with severe depression and anxiety. I was just not myself. I was stuck. It wasn’t until I was referred initially for weight loss surgery that I started researching life after surgery and the some of the methods for dealing with some of the emotional sides of this process. 

Journaling became a great outlet for all of these feelings and keeping a daily gratitude journal really helped to turn things around.  I have talked about all of my tactics for maintaining positivity. I am taking time this weekend to breakout that list and take care of myself through these next few weeks. I have more medical tests, doctors appointments and an ortho consult on the horizon. And I can’t call my mommy, but thankfully my brothers entertain me on the group text we have had going since June 2015.  

Peace and Love. 

Listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which like me, is 50. 🎵🎶

How do you feel now?

I am loving how the IIN Integrative Nutrition Health Coach program aligns perfectly with my own personal journey. I would imagine that’s the case for a lot of people. So many of the exercises and assignments are introspective and focused around personal goals and intentions, as you’ve heard. 

This week, there was a section called Simple Ways to Optimize Your Life. So many of them have become ingrained in my life already since I started making changes around this time last year in anticipation of my gastric bypass surgery. My gratitude practice is likely the one that has made the most impact. For this program, I have increased my daily gratitude acknowledgments from 3 to 5. And I’ve begun to articulate them to others, as well as in my journal. I have been particularly grateful to the coaches at Kaia Fit for helping me stay active and making modifications to workouts for my current knee situation. Just spent 20 minutes in a magnetic tube today and hope to have some answers soon about next steps for my knee. I am so fortunate to have people who look out for me. 

Another part of this section has to do with being in tune to how your body feels after eating a certain way or specific foods. This is something that came up in our weight loss surgery support group a few months back, aiming to help people connect with their emotional attachments to food. 

I feel like I have worked through my emotional eating issues since my primary cause of emotional eating was triggered by my dad. I have come to terms with so much of that since he passed, coming up on 2 years as of June 9. Heavy sigh. The fact that my appetite and cravings have been well controlled with gastric bypass is a big part of having this urge under control. But I have also practiced mindfulness in this area too. I took to heart the instructions about focusing on the taste and texture of food and listening to fullness signals after my surgery. I really do try to focus when I am eating. I enjoy my food and don’t pick anything that is just okay since I get so little of it. 

This week I have two things going on. One, I am experimenting with going more plant based in my diet. I have met some very passionate vegans who have been very helpful in identifying plant based sources of protein. I need to find a way to ensure I am absorbing sufficient nutrients because of my altered digestive system. I even asked my surgeon about it. I’m curious in general because there’s very little literature about vegan RNY patients and if I plan to be a health coach for WLS patients, I feel like I need more data. My surgeon said there is a medical grade plant based protein made by Unjury, but since the vegan diet is missing several essential amino acids, supplementation is also required in addition. 

I have been doing research about the inflammation caused by dairy and animal products and am seriously thinking I need to make some changes to see if they help with my arthritis and digestion in general.

So I signed up for Peel’d this week at Kaia, and will get soups, salads, juices, smoothies and quinoa bowls for next week. I will need to add whey protein shakes on top of that to get my recommended supplementation in, but otherwise will be trying to stick to plant based all week. I’ll be journaling throughout the process to document how I am feeling, whether inflammation and bloat are decreased, and my overall energy levels. It’s a great experiment and it ties in with my school assignments. I’ll be adding tempeh, fruits and veggies if I get too hungry. 

I am really starting to believe in the body’s capacity to heal itself if given the chance and using food as medicine. What better way to learn than through your own experience. 

So stay tuned for my food and mood report.