The Day I Lost an Organ

**Cross-posted from my newer blog, FoodieReset**

As you may remember, my track record with Spring Breaks hasn’t been great. Back in 2009, I came down with a wicked stomach flu the week before Spring Break and did next to nothing for that break. Then, in 2012, the week before Spring Break I came down with severe bronchitis and ended up in the hospital for 8 days, and had to cancel my vacation to Oregon. Here I go again…

Monday, March 17 was an ordinary day.

Ok, that’s not true. It was the first day of a new term, so I had an entirely new batch of students in my class, and I’d had a headache for going on four full days. I figured that it was due to the constantly changing weather, the end of the term, the stress of doing grades and my general malaise thanks to this eternally gray and cold winter.

I’d made this delicious Mexican crock pot pork dish which I’d planned on eating atop giant salads for the course of the week. A bit of relaxation had made my head stop hurting, so I made my salad, and decided to go to bed early to hopefully avoid a fifth day of a headache.

Fast forward to 12:30 a.m.

Have you ever wondered what Iron Man feels like? (I swear I’m going somewhere with this) I’m not talking about his cool gadgets or suit or anything, but that whole “messed up heart so there’s a machine cutting through the front of his chest almost through his back” thing? I woke up feeling like that. There was this intense pain in the very center of my chest right under my sternum straight through to my back. I initially thought it was horrendous heartburn, but then next thing I knew I was sweating, exceedingly pale (according to Adam) and throwing up all over the bathroom (sorry for the visual).

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Adam convinced me that I needed to go to the ER. Pain like that wasn’t something to mess around with. Apparently, I’d picked the “perfect” time to go to the ER, as I was the only one there and seen right away. Within two hours, I’d had pain medication, anti-nausea medication, an ultrasound, CT scan, and more pain medication. They’d determined that I had gallstones which were causing gallbladder attacks, which explained the pain, vomiting, and possibly the general feeling of ick I’d had over the last few weeks.

But, because my blood pressure was super-low (I’m talking 76/54 low) they wanted to admit me for observation before I could be assessed for possible surgery. So up to the 6th floor I went, drugged up for pain and finally slept.

At 8 a.m. I was woken up by my wonderful nurse, who explained that before they would make any decisions about the next steps of my care, I would need to get a HIDA scan performed. There was a catch though: the scan couldn’t be performed until I’d been off of all pain medication for 8 hours. This meant that I had to be pain med-free (as well as food and drink free) until 1 p.m.

I don’t do well when I’m hungry. I’ve eaten every 3 hours like clockwork since I started my OptiFast plan… so seriously? 8 hours without food? It was really good that I wasn’t dealing with too many people. 1 p.m. turned into 2:45, and then the test was an hour (in which I was radioactive!) They determined that it would be in my best interest to have my gallbladder (and its stones) removed. After a major panic and lots of tears, I made the decision that I would rather deal with the surgical recovery than EVER have to deal with the pain and discomfort of another gallbladder attack.

Adam went with me into the surgical prep room, and the anesthesiologist explained what she would be giving me and how anesthesia worked since I’d never had it before. I remember being wheeled into the operating room, then next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery. I asked for Adam and my sister, and they were there in a minute.

So now, I’m sans gallbladder. I have four holes in my belly, one of which is in my belly button and is annoying the crap out of me. I’m sore in my muscles too, as if I’ve done about a million crunches. Apparently they had to shove my muscles around in there when they were removing my gallbladder through my belly button.

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The upside of all this is that I know that I won’t have another gallbladder attack, and it’s in my best interest to continue eating a low-fat, low-carb diet to avoid the side effects of not having a gallbladder.
The downside? I had to cancel my trip to Arizona for spring break. I’ll reschedule I’m sure, but I’m still beyond bummed. The surgeon and general physician both suggested that flying might not be in my best interest. At least I’d thought ahead and bought the travel insurance…
What’s interesting is that when I first signed up for my OptiFast program, I signed paperwork acknowledging that gallbladder problems are a possible side effect of rapid weight loss. I was asked if I regret doing the program and losing the weight so quickly. My answer? Absolutely not. I’m relieved that, if this had to happen, it happened now when I’m in the best physical shape I’ve been in years, and not when I was 70 pounds heavier.
I’m on the mend now, and I feel significantly better than I did even 24 hours ago. I’m lucky I have the most understanding principal on the planet who instructed me to stay home for the week (even though I was worried about it) and that spring break is this coming week, so I’ll be up to working once that’s over.

I’m off to rest and recoup… I’ll check in next week!

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Six Months

**This was posted on my other blog, Foodie Reset, earlier this week. I wanted to update you, my loyal readers/subscribers on what’s been going on over here!**

Six months ago, Adam and I went to the gun range after my very stressful weight loss doctor’s appointment and followed that with a “last meal” at Red Robin. A Banzai burger, regular soda, and french fries laid heavy in my gut when I went to bed that night, anxious about what the next days would bring. One day at a time… that’s what I’d committed to do.

Day 1 was not easy. Believe it or not, Days 2 and three were harder. On those days, I was so out of it (more than I would’ve admitted at the time) that I taught my sixth graders the same lesson twice… and no one said anything. It was 90 degrees outside, I had all sorts of lovely skin issue from the heat/sweat/friction…I won’t get too into it.

By the end of the first month, I was in shock at my own success. Yet I was still apprehensive. I still had SO FAR to go. Sure I’d lost 20 pounds, and my clothes were fitting better, but I was still solidly in the same clothes I’d been wearing. Nothing really new, no size changes, and I was still in the state of disbelief in myself. 20 pounds could be an accident. Or water weight. Surely it couldn’t have been what I was doing.

It’s been interesting to look back and read my old posts, for a multitude of reasons. Some days, when I feel like saying “screw it” and eating a giant cheeseburger like I would’ve 6 months ago, I read those first few days and remind myself how horrendous that detox was. I never want to do that again. Some days, when I want to see how far I’ve come, I read the posts from a month in.

At first, I didn’t want to take pictures of myself. I thought it was weird, I thought it was vain…but in reality, they’ve been the biggest help to my own intrinsic motivation. I bit the bullet and started posting progress photos on Instagram and Facebook, and every “like”, comment, and “thumbs up” boosts me up a little bit, especially on days when I really need it.

I’ve had an amazing external support system: Adam has been beyond supportive, my mom and sister have been my biggest cheerleaders, and my friends at work are more motivating than they will ever know. But in the end, it’s in my own head. And I’m really glad I have photos to look at.

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August ——————————————————————————————————October

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November ————————————————————————————— February

Six months in, and I know I have a long way to go. But, instead of it being this incredibly daunting task that I had no idea how to conquer, I’m learning how to make it manageable. One day at a time, one meal at a time, one minute at a time. Choosing to eat my OptiFast bar instead of the brownies in the lounge. Choosing to have four ounces of grilled salmon and roasted veggies instead of a giant burger and fries. I’m the same person that I’ve always been… yet I still feel like I’m completely different.

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Recently {Eats and Pics}

Well, life is a little different around here in What’s for Dinner-ville.

Since I last checked in with you all (my loyal readers, and I thank you!) I had lost about 40 pounds and was eating and preparing only my OptiFast products and drooling over the low-carb deliciousness that awaited me.

The strangeness of camp photos is nothing new to you all, so this before/now comparison will make sense. The before was taken in early August, after an embarrassing moment when I was unable to truly participate in the giant inflatable jousting match. I was mortified but brushed it off by laughing. The “now” photo is from yesterday, where I wore a new outfit from New York & Company, complete with pointy heels ALL DAY… down from a 22/24 and 3XL to a 14/16 and XL. (please excuse the clutter in the background)

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I feel like a different person. I know people say that all the time, but really, I don’t recognize myself in many different ways. Sure, I look different. But I’m not exhausted all the time. I’m not forgetful like I used to be, I can walk and talk at the same time. I’m enjoying *gasp* physical activity! Boot camp twice a week, plus the Couch to 5K program are keeping me busy, and I start Zumba this week! WHO AM I!?!? It’s a far cry from the cupcake-loving girl that I used to be.

I’ve also started eating one meal a day. I have 350 calories and >20g digestible carbs to work with, and within that I need to have 2+ cups of vegetables and 3-5 ounces of protein. Just a few things I’ve had as of late:

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Lots and lots of brussels sprouts, cucumber-wrapped rice-free sushi, sashimi, different preparations of chicken, and beautiful vegetables at Eataly. The lower left corner is my favorite dinner so far: spinach salad, sautéed mushrooms, baby pepper slices, a medium-rare burger, a runny egg, and 1/5 of an avocado. OMG. Just delicious.

I’m relearning to cook, without the starchy bases I relied on for so many years. Most things I eat are vegetable based with a side of protein. It makes eating out simple as well. Not to mention, a dinner out is actually 2-3 meals now since I physically cannot consume what I used to…and I haven’t had a drink since August. I’m a cheap date!!

In about 4 weeks, I get to start adding in a second meal a day, and I’m really looking forward to packing lunches again. There’s something about a giant salad or warm food midday…

I’ll stop rambling now. I ramble enough on my other blog, and you all don’t come here for my weight loss ramblings. Once I’m better at cooking the way I’m eating and have recipes to share, I’ll begin posting again. Thanks for sticking with me!

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Big Changes: UPDATE!

Oh hey there!

I know, it’s been a LONG time. 12 weeks to be exact.

I’ve spent the last 12 weeks NOT cooking, NOT making dinner, NOT grocery shopping, and instead, doing a doctor-supervised liquid diet program called OptiFast.

It hasn’t been easy by any means. Do I want to cook? YES. Do I want to eat delicious things like buffalo mac and cheese? YES.

But here’s the thing. This is working. I’m down over 40 pounds so far. I feel better than I have in years, I have more energy, my skin has cleared up, and I’m back into sizes that can be purchased at a “regular” store.

I posted this picture on Facebook and Instagram and had inadvertently put the year as 2014…guess I was looking ahead. I fixed it to share with you all!

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I’m sure that once I start transitioning back to normal food, I’ll start sharing recipes here again, but for now, my life is kind of boring.

6:30 a.m. – OptiFast shake made with hot coffee and sugar free syrup

9:30 a.m. – OptiFast bar

11:45 a.m. – Ready-to-drink OptiFast Shake

3:30 p.m. – Either a powdered OptiFast shake or another bar

7:00 p.m. – OptiFast soup, either chicken or tomato, made with a few herbs and spices

Throughout the day – approx 96 oz. water

Physical activity – Walking, and recently, I’ve been taking Pilates classes.

My life is so significantly different than it has been in previous years that I’m really making a new normal.

I’m chronicling my journey/adventure at my new blog, FoodieReset

Thanks for sticking with me!

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Big Changes

There are big changes happening here in Dinner-land…

I’ll be taking a break for an undetermined amount of time (12-21 weeks I think) but you can follow my changes/journey here: http://www.foodiereset.com

Hope to see you over there!

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