Some of you might have noticed I have been less chatty and less “around” since sometime in the middle of 2009. Now that I am starting my travel schedule for 2010 and almost back into a regular life again, I figured I’d better let you know what has been going on, so when you see me on the road, you recognize me.
Six months ago, I had a surgeon rearrange my guts. Extreme body modification; a procedure called the RNY, a form of bariatric surgery. The reasons I did this are varied; no, I wasn’t in terrible health, and absolutely no, I wasn’t pining away to be a size 8. (Or any particular size for that matter.) But it did occur to me, after years of hearing it from doctors and years of watching personal friends and family members struggle with weight related health issues, that if someone told me at age 55 I needed to lose 100 pounds or suffer a life threatening condition, I would regret not doing it at an earlier age, when my ability to recover would have been better.
So, I did it.
I've lost a total of 95 pounds since last July; 75 of it post surgery. I am...nearly unrecognizable, at least to myself.
I have not only fulfilled a silly goal of fitting into Levi's 501s again, I have had to downsize them - a pair I bought in December is already loose on me. I lost about 8, 9 inches around my waist; since I never measured anywhere else, I have no idea, but there are times when I look at my new neck and think it's downright scrawny. Other than my boots, I have no leather or fetish gear that fits. I found an old suede vest I bought in High School - complete with the Wilson's label - that I used to wear when I went out to the old Hellfire/Vault? It was already too small on me then; I removed the buttons to pretend it was like a bar vest.
If it had buttons now, it would close. Naturally, this is the year I am judging IML and I have NO LEATHER. I will be doing a general call for donations and loaner items sometime in April when I know what size I will be. (Right now I am 16, edging to 14.)
So, that's how my SIZE has changed. Naturally, tons of people have told me how much better I look, blah, bah, but I expected this. It's not like that many people you are friendly with will often say things like, "Jeeze, Laurie, you're a fucking whale, lose some weight," - or at least, saying such a thing would have taken them off my friends list fast anyway. But now, everyone feels free to tell me how much *better* I look. Well, I was prepared for that, and I try not to be too snarky with people who mean well.
How I feel has changed, too. I no longer get winded at a two block walk, or one flight of stairs. On the other hand, my stamina and leg strength still haven't recovered as much as I'd like. I often go to sleep at ten pm and if I need to bend my knees way down to pick something up, it is sometimes iffy whether I can get back up without something to hold onto. I no longer have daily back aches, and for some reason my doctors cannot explain, I have not had a single migraine since I left the hospital. (All we can figure was that maybe they were triggered by sugar.) This has been the coldest winter of my life and it has nothing to do with the temperature - I have lost my padding!
Things I have taken for granted for years have changed. I fit in public seating - on airplanes, not only can the arms come down and the seat belt get fastened without the extender - but I have ROOM. I shop in regular stores, in the regular departments. One size fits most? I am now "most." The magic word "medium" has taken over my very limited wardrobe. I walk faster. I had to learn not to buy clothing bigger than I was, but to buy it to fit me. Weird, weird, weird.
But it's not all tweeting birdies and hearts and flowers. My recovery was rough. No, that's an understatement, my recovery sucked rotten donkey cock. I didn't eat for - literally - weeks. I survived on water, sugarless popsicles, chicken broth. (And occasionally, avgolemeno soup, when Karen could find a diner that made it.) I threw up constantly; had no energy for months, no drive, no interest in living. There were times when I literally was losing a pound a day; where it was going was a mystery. I fell prey to something called "hibernation syndrome" in such a classic way I get embarrassed when I read the description of it online. I was re-hospitalized once, with a plummeting potassium level and all sorts of nutritional deficiencies. (And for a really amazing experience in pain, try taking a couple of bags of potassium through an IV. At one point I screamed at some poor doctor, “Isn’t this a HOSPITAL? Can I get a fucking TYLENOL?”) But eventually, they set me right, sent me home and sometime in late November, after a trip to Toronto, the corner turned and I began to finally heal,
I visited my surgeon yesterday and got the news that I am right on track. I should lose another 10-20 pounds and then see if my body is done with that. I expect to then put about half of that back, and reach what he calls a maintenance weight; a comfortable and healthy place to stop and try to eat sensibly and continue to exercise, well, for the rest of my life. I take a multi-vitamin, iron, calcium and B-12 daily. I gave up my muscle relaxers (for spasms I no longer get), my migraine and back pills. I've also given up sugar- I am a big fan of cooking with Splenda when I need to. I am no longer addicted to caffeine - giving it up for so long has left me with the ability to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning with no withdrawal symptoms if I forget to or choose not to. That's weird, too.
I can eat almost anywhere I like, as long as I am careful. The amount I eat looks ridiculous - I have learned to hide how little I eat when out with people who don't know. Mostly, people don't notice, and when they do, they often supply their own story. One guy who saw me picking the sandwich filling out of a Subway 6-inch, asked, "Oh, are you doing Atkins, or some kind of low-carb thing?" Easier to say yes! It does take a lot of thought and planning to have the right food around; but I have some of my favorite foods, like nice cheeses and roast beef and great stews. The oddest thing is craving a salad - since I now have to eat protein first, always protein - a salad of lettuce, tomatoes and assorted other good things like that is NOT on my approved list! They say maybe in a month or two, IF I am otherwise getting my meat, fish, dairy, eggs and/or beans, I can try a salad as something more than garnish.
Pasta is still a very small part of my eating plan, as is rice and bread-like foods. The thin sliced diet breads seem suddenly very tasty to me - and when I go crazy and make myself a sandwich out of one slice and the proteins of my choice I can usually manage two bites. Then I give in and eat the fillings. It's a weird way to eat, but I am used to it now. I don't miss sugared things at all, which is sad because I now have a shelf full of no sugar jello and pudding boxes.
So...do I regret it? Hell, no. True, it was a fucking AWFUL recovery, I wish that on no one. But there is no denying that I am already healthier now and stand to be healthier by a long shot come my one year anniversary. I sometimes walk up to 3 miles a day - that would have been impossible back last summer. My blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels - everything is absolutely normal, even on the healthier side of normal now. While they were not BAD per se when I went in to this - now I am much less worried about them getting worse as I got older.
For such a public person, some you know that I am really rather private, which is why I didn't talk about this on my blog and fetlife and facebook, etc, etc. I have zero interest in discussing it now; if I want therapy, I’ll do it privately, and if you want advice, see a doctor. I also don’t want congratulations – this is not something I did for approval. I’m just sharing because as I go back out and people see me and new publicity photos appear, I didn’t want you to think, OMG, wtf happened to Laura, is she dying?? No. In fact, I am getting back to living.
And, well, if you know anyone who has some spare leather in men's medium or women's size 16, could ya let me know? Sheesh...maybe I'll try some LATEX now that I will look less like the Michelin girl...