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. 🎵🎶

Educate yourself

When I was preparing for surgery, I did a ton of research using resources provided to me by my surgeon, and my friend, Google. One of the best resources I found is the Weight Loss Surgery Podcast hosted by Family Nurse Practitioner Reeger Cortell. I listened to almost every episode available before my surgery, and it gave me great foundational information about nutrition, lifestyle changes, vitamins, current research regarding obesity, and interviews with a variety of guests ranging from bariatric patients to surgeons. I continue to listen to every subsequent podcast, as I find it reassuring that my experience is normal (whatever that is).

Reeger just published the latest podcast which is her Bariatric Surgery Seminar which she gives at her practice. It’s geared for people who considering surgery and spouses of people who want to understand more about the surgery.  There is a lot of great information, presented in a straightforward manner. Science made simple about things like set point, causes of obesity and the changes that happen with bariatric surgery.  It’s long, but I highly recommend listening to it if you are pre-surgery, and even if you are post surgery.

I realized while listening that I got a lot of my ideas about transformation from Reeger.  Taking care of body, mind, and spirit. My rituals include daily gratitude log, identifying a daily affirmation, journaling all my food and exercise, and of course my social media stuff is focused on self improvement or self awareness too. Positivity is key, and removing negativity and negative people has been critical for enabling transformation. 

Listen, enjoy, and let me know what you think!



Let them eat cake

So now that I have made myself an open book regarding gastric bypass, I have to say I have had nothing but positive feedback. But there are people who don’t quite understand this simple fact: this surgery is not a cure for obesity. I still have to fight that demon every day. 

“So you can’t have cake? Not even a bite? Note even once in a while?”

The super short answer is no. I cannot. 

I chose gastric bypass over gastric sleeve specifially as a deterrent for eating crap that is too sweet or too heavy. Everything in moderation does not work for me. It will not ever work for me. My metabolism is broken and I don’t expect it to get fixed. 

However, there are tons of recipes on Pinterest for various bariatric friendly versions of pretty much anything. I am debating making a crustless pumpkin pie custard thing for Thanksgiving in fact. 

This week I made a recipe called Egg Roll in a Bowl. It’s super easy…basically ground chicken cooked with a bag of coleslaw mix, soy sauce, garlic and ginger. I tend to adapt my Pinterest finds a bit. 

So I am not deprived. I put a lot of work into make by my tiny little meals tasty. I have to downsize most recipes though, or make some, portion them out and then freeze them. 

Tomorrow I go for my visit with the nutritionist and my definitely want to talk about adding more food or maybe a small snack. I am starting to get hungry. I am trying to figure out the pattern. Is it when I use certain protein that might not be holding me over between meals? Is it because I’m running now and definitely exerting more effort in my workouts? Hoping she will shed some light. 

And as a bonus: tomorrow is monthly support group night! I am sure I will have tales to tell from Mr. Lapband or the Lollipop girl. 

The cat is out of the bag…

Well, I did it. I told my story on Facebook to my 500+ friends, some of whom I actually know, some just virtual acquaintances. The response was remarkably better than I expected. I know I was looking for support, but I als felt like if someone could learn something from what I am going through, I’d want to help them. 

This is the picture I shared, which is dramatic enough to begin with. 

And here is the post. 

Thanks to everyone for the overwhelmingly supportive comments on my new profile picture. I have written this post in my head a million times, and even needed to start a blog to figure out how to start. So I’ll just do this: on July 5, I had gastric bypass surgery. There’s a growing number of my friends and family that know, and with a couple of exceptions, the support has been amazing. Weight loss surgery patients commonly hear comments like, “you took the easy way out” or “couldn’t you just do it with diet and exercise?” Well let me tell you, nothing about this has been easy, and no — my body doesn’t understand diet and exercise. It was defending a weight and would do everything to stay there.  

Those of you who have known me for a while know that I have struggled with my weight for my whole life. In 2009, I did a medically supervised weight loss program and lost 75 pounds and was able to maintain a good chunk of that weight loss for about 5 years. Various medical issues like a pituitary tumor, sluggish thyroid, medications, stress, lack of sleep, depression and anxiety, and a range of metabolic issues made it an uphill battle to maintain, let alone lose. My metabolism is shut down. I was referred for weight loss surgery in November of last year, right before Thanksgiving. I was upset, embarrassed and felt like a failure.
I did months of research, stepped through a lot of hoops with the insurance company, and talked to friends who had the procedure and decided that this was the best option for me. I’m about 2/3 of the way to my goal, and it’s very slow, but that’s okay. It’s a huge lifestyle change and there’s a lot of rules. But hey — I am a rule follower. I’ve had great support from friends (and my bosses) at work. But you can read more about that on my blog, and follow the rest of my journey. Visit
The pictures here are from a trip to Mexico in 2008, 3 days before my surgery, and then today. It’s been a long road, and there’s more to go, but I invite you all along with me.

In addition to the supportive comments, I’ve also received a few private messages of encouragement and of thanks. People who were at a crossroads in their own journeys who may have needed a push. 

I feel a sense of relief now that this is out there. Since privacy settings in Facebook and Instagram are so unpredictable, more and more people were solving the mystery of why I eat 1/4 cup of food at a time. 

Feeling supported, grateful, and a little bit teary eyed. I have some amazing people in my life. 

You are Fabulous!

I was going through my Pinterest account for some inspiration for daily affirmations and gratitude and found this photo I took at the Sacramento Pride Parade. I was taking photos for the animal shelter I volunteered with, and the support of the community was overwhelming. Even tear-inducing.

Looking at this out of context I realized this is something everyone needs to hear and remind themselves daily. I mean look at those expressions.

We need to remember to be kind to ourselves. It’s so easy for me to doubt myself and that negative self talk sneaks in. Yesterday’s dressing room victory even had this underlying doubt. We don’t have a full length mirror at home. Not sure why. Even though I was pulling on normal sized clothes, I looked at myself in the dressing room mirror and said to my husband, “I don’t look as good as I thought I did. I have so much more to go.”

When I came across this picture this morning, it was a message to myself.

Part of this process is stalls. I have been floating between 142 and 143 pounds since mid October. I know it will come at some point, but that self doubt hit me this morning when the scale showed 144.2. WTF? I even ran yesterday! I know it will get harder as I get closer to my goal, but this is frustrating. What do I do? Gonna change my protein sources to lower calorie and lower fat content, add more water, and back off the intensity of my exercise and see what happens. Clearly my metabolism isn’t revved up since I am still eating 700 calories or less.

My progress looks like this:

I’ll just bounce around until my body or the scale decides to do something. So, thought for the day is that I am fabulous. It’s a process.

“Support” Group 

Before my surgery, I had to sign an agreement to go to the monthly support group meeting for a minimum of 6 months. I had every intention of checking it out before my surgery, but for whatever reason didn’t make it. 

My first time at support group was about 16 days after my surgery. I was leaving my house in actual clothes for the first time since my surgery follow up. 

The group was so unbelievably negative. One lady said to me “you don’t even look like you needed the surgery.” The last people I expected to judge were baritric patients. I remember this other lady walking in and talking about hot guys at her gym. I didn’t make it to the next two sessions…wonder why. 

The October meeting was different. I received an email, in advance, about the meeting and there was going to be a new therapist facilitating. I decided I would give it another go. Aside from the fact that it took me 90 minutes to drive there due to an accident and 5PM traffic, I made it. The meeting had already started when I got there and I guess they were doing introductions. There were two women who hadn’t had their surgeries yet so they were looking to hear about the experiences of the “veterans.”  This was hilarious. 

There was a guy, who I will call Mr. Lapband, who interrupted to throw in his completely unsolicited 2 cents providing horribly wrong information and the facilitator let this go on a while. My favorite input from him was about how he eats to much and throws up all the time but got used to it and it doesn’t taste bad. OMG — what kind of advice is that?  Then comes the woman who had gastric bypass and discovered she doesn’t get dumping syndrome while trying Halloween candy. Why would you do that???  

What’s my point? There are a lot of options for support in the bariatric community, including Facebook Groups where everyone is an expert ::sarcasm::  

You have to figure out where you need support and seek it there. I wouldn’t seek medical advice from anyone in these groups although it is interesting to see what other people are experiencing. And to hear how people who have been successful at maintenance have managed their lifestyle. 

Now I am curious. In November I am going back for more!