Nov 2016 Health & Weight Loss Update

As I said in the other post, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted (April!), so I wanted to get a post done now before a bunch of stuff goes down and I’m out of commission for a while.

The cancer scare from my last post was thankfully nothing. God is good, and answers prayers from lots of family and friends. My numbers went right back down. Nothing on the scan.

I have probably mentioned this before, but I had testing due to my diagnosis with both ovarian and endometrial cancers, and my grandmother’s ovarian cancer. I tested positive with the MSH-6 gene mutation for Lynch Syndrome. After being told this, the testing lab recommended to my oncologist that I have a proactive mastectomy. Honestly, this was not what I wanted to hear at all. I was supposed to have moved in July, so my gyn/onc wanted me to have it done maybe at Sloan Kettering. Now that our move is delayed, we decided that since July had come and gone, I needed to have it done sooner rather than later. I was referred to a breast oncologist, who said that although I was not as high risk to get breast cancer as someone who had the BRCA mutation, I was still high risk enough with my mutation, and my two cancers, to proceed with the preventative surgery. She explained her end of it, removal only, and then referred me to the plastic surgeon for reconstruction. I met with the plastic surgeon that same week, and he explained my options. LOL Basically either get a reconstruction, or don’t. The second, I just don’t think I could mentally wrap my head around. In any case when the breast oncologist does the removal, the plastic surgeon does reconstruction at the same time. But here’s where things get a bit crazy….he puts in a spacer bag or sorts. The bag then gets filled gradually with fluid until it is big enough (on each side) and then is eventually replaced with the silicone implants. Then after than, there will be a series of like surgeries to contour and correct until everything is perfect. Because I had weight loss surgery, not everything is in the right place, so certain things need to be moved and grafted. *ouch* The whole surgery, filling, replacement, and re-surgery and healing process they said takes about a year. *whew* So, this is all being scheduled for…January.

Added to all that, I have been suffering these other health issues. I went in the ER last weekend with chest pains and was kept overnight for observation. I had to do a nuclear stress test in the morning. All was clear, but to be safe a baby aspirin was added to my meds list. No one knows at this point what caused the pain. And, also, I’ve been having severe dizzy spells that end up with me passing out. Yeah, seriously. And it happens every day. For the past like few months. So I went to see the PCP today (because the neurologist won’t move up my appointment) and she scheduled some tests, including a same day CT scan of my brain. I’ll have to get another test done, as well, and in the meantime, she is trying to move up my appointment for me. Hopefully it is nothing serious.

I am not the only on suffering issues. Pop Pop has been having a few of his own! Back in August, just before we left on our trip, he started acting a bit strange…off. After a day or two of this, it was finally decided to bring him to the ER. Brian and Sierra went with him. At first they were only going to diagnose with with an “infection” and send him home, but Sierra bullied them into doing a CT scan of his brain. It’s a good thing she did! The results were shocking…and showed a brain bleed, and a good explanation for the confusion. This put all the doctors and nurses in freak out mode (considering they thought he was a minor ill patient, and is now upgraded to needing to go to the ICU.) After being in the ICU, and then the regular hospital room, he eventually needed to be sent to the rehabilitation floor. There, he was essentially treated for the most part the same as a stroke patient. His memory had deteriorated so bad at his worst that he did not remember Brian’s (his own son) name. (He did remember Gizmo, our dog, who is his sidekick! LOL Go figure!) Eventually some names came back and some didn’t…by the time I was able to come visit him, he knew my name, and Brian’s, but not his grandchildren’s (Sierra’s, and Kenzie’s) It was so sad to see him at this point. He needed speech therapy, and physical therapy and occupational therapy. Even after he was sent home, he continued the physical therapy and occupational therapy. The ironic thing is, initially they thought they saw a mass on his brain, and then said no, it was just the blood. But they were wrong. It was blood in the one spot. And then a mass on the pituitary gland. The tumor is large, and has made the gland grow to 5 times its size. As a result, the gland and tumor are pressing on his optical nerve. He’s already suffering vision issues. The doctor said without surgery he will certainly go blind. So the day before Thanksgiving he will be having surgery to remove the tumor (which, thankfully, they believe is benign.) If he didn’t take this date, the next available for both surgeons would be after Christmas, (and probably resulting in blindness!) We will be celebrating an early Thanksgiving with Pop Pop since he will probably still be hospitalized then. As an added bonus, the early Thanksgiving is on his birthday, so we have a double celebration!

Sierra is still having major issues with her Fibro, as usual. Hopefully her disability case will settle soon, and she will have that to fall back on. It’s been a while, so she would get instant Medicare, since the retro benefits are now more than 2 years. It works out great, like it does for me, because it means no co-pays or out of pocket expenses (except at the beginning of the year when you have to meet the deductible.

Things have been great since the last update in regards to the my weight loss. I have lost 110 pounds to date! (From 297 to 187.) The doctors claimed that I’d “probably never get below 180”,  but I think I’ll beat that one very soon. To make me even more proud of how well I’ve done, I started with a size 24 clothing/pants size, and I am now down to a 14! It is so great to have dropped 10 pants sizes.  My one major hang-up is the loose skin. *ugh* It’s hanging on my arms, and on my belly, and a little bit on my thighs. Thankfully my breasts are not going to be a concern because of the proactive mastectomy…it’s covered because it is for a medical reason. But the insurance does not cover plastic surgery on the other stuff because it is considered cosmetic. The only exception may be my belly, because there is redness and chafing under it, and that is a concern that the insurance will consider when deciding whether to cover skin surgery. My thighs I might just hide indefinitely. But…I’m not sure if I can live with my floppy arms. They just bother me a lot and make me really self-conscious *sigh* I a sick with the thought that I might be sucking it up and financing a plastic surgery to fix it.

Brian joined a local gym hoping to get in shape, and start losing weight as an alternative to the surgery. I know it is a struggle to do it without the surgery, but he is determined to do so, hoping to try and catch up with my success. (And considering he only has the one insurance, and not Medicare to back up as a second, the surgery is an expense. Actually even with the two insurances it’s an expense…the 3 required classes weren’t covered, costing $175 each!)

Kenzie joined the gym as well, not so much to lose weight (because she is more on the underweight side) but because she wants to keep in shape and do the kickboxing classes. She recently left Tiger Schulmann’s mixed martial arts school because she was just tired of going so much. She wanted a more relaxed schedule. This offered a better solution. At Tiger’s you pay a monthly fee for your schedule set whether you went to the classes or not (and the price was steep!) At this place, you pay $19.99 for the unlimited use of the gym, and the price includes kickboxing, yoga, zumba, and insanity classes! Much cheaper, and allows her to go on her own terms, and not worry about getting a worried phone call when she doesn’t show up.

Well, that is all I have to update, for now. Hopefully, I will have more soon. I will try to post, at the very least, after Pop Pop’s surgery!

knarrly

2016 Black Friday Crafting Deals

I know it’s been a while since my last post. (I will post a separate one with medical updates shortly after posting this.) As is my yearly tradition on this blog, since I frequently showcase not only my own crafting projects, but crafting news in general, I like to let everyone know where to find good deals on papercrafting tools. I typically feature Cricut, but I also post Silhouette, as well, for the ladies who like those machines, too. I will try, this year, to also list a few of the embossing machines if they list them. This post will update as more stores list their deals!

Michaels:

  • Cricut Explore Air 2: $249 (Thursday and Friday)
  • Cricut Explore Air : $199 (Thursday and Friday)
  • 40% off all Cricut accessories (Thursday and Friday)

 

Joann’s:

Ad not posted yet

 

A.C. Moore:

  • Gemini die cut and emboss machine (exclusive bonus bundle with 16 dies, 3 embossing folders, 6 plates, plus folder, 3 bonus dies and DVD) – $159.99

 

Walmart:

  • Cricut Explore One Special Edition Bluetooth bundle – $169

 

More to be updated soon!

knarrly

Verizon Strike Rant

Yes, yes, I’m sure those of you on my personal Facebook account have seen me posting about the Verizon strike by now. I mentioned it only briefly in my last health update. But it has gone on for a while now. (5 weeks!)

First of all, some people want to ask why they’re striking. Are they looking for more pay? (This is where the “union thug” mentality comes in.) But in this case they are partly looking to keep what they already have. Namely, benefits. Verizon wants to drastically make cuts in that department. They will become more expensive for us per pay period, meaning more of a financial burden. Then, we need to start paying a deductible. THEN, the benefits themselves are cut, too! So, we will be paying MORE, for WORSE insurance.

Besides the insurance issue, Verizon also has a bunch of unreasonable demands that pushed the two unions (CWA and IBEW) into going on strike. One is that they can move a worker on a tour out of state for up to two months without seeing their family! Can you imagine how anyone could agree to that? They want to close centers, and more them…and if you still want your job, you have to move with practically no notice, and no moving expenses! They also want to close call centers and such and move them overseas where they can pay workers a small fraction of what they pay here! (For a horrifying read, click this link on their overseas location in the Philippines, paying their workers $1,78 an hour. They chased a group of investigating union reps from our country out of there with guns and a SWAT team! Way to go, Verizon! *sarcasm*) They want to freeze pensions. You get the idea…there’s a REALLY good reason the unions are on strike. NO ONE would want to work under these conditions.

Verizon dropped another bombshell on us, because of how “bad” the workers were being on strike. The medical, vision, and dental insurances (and life, as well, it turns out) would be cut off if they didn’t come back to work by May 1st. An agreement couldn’t be reached, so sure enough, we lost it all. This was a really low blow for us, because of all my health issues. (My CA125 is on the rise, so my cancer could be coming back, so REALLY REALLY bad timing. Thankfully I still have Medicare from my SS Disability, but that only covers 80%.) In the meantime I’ve had to literally cancel all non-essential appointments (i.e. regular dental check-ups, etc.), but we’ve also had to cancel more crucial appointments like Kenzie’s psychiatrist, because she has no insurance at all to pay for it. And, since there is no prescription coverage, either, as our medications run out, if they are too expensive, we have to pretty much not take them. (I’ve been off my migraine preventative for weeks and am absolutely miserable!) My asthma inhailer, which I had no choice but to refill (or it could cost me my life) cost me almost $60 with a prescription discount card…instead of $9 with a copay on insurance. Verizon has not done this to us before during our other strikes.

The thing that should be scaring the the general public is this: the workers on strike, those in the unions, had to get background checks before coming in your homes to do repairs to your phone lines. That is a good thing. I mean, you wouldn’t want a convicted murderer, or a child molester coming into your house and coming in contact with your family. BUT, the scabs that Verizon hired to fill in during the strike (the UNTRAINED SCABS, mind you) have not had background checks! You do not know who is coming into your home! Some of them aren’t even technicians… There was one report of an untrained scab dropping a pole on someone’s house! (See report here.) One scab in Massachussetts, who was driving for Verizon on a suspended license and intoxicated on the job, ran down a picketing striker! (See article here.) For the safety of all customers, everyone should have a background check! It’s just common sense, so they know who they’re sending into people’s homes unsupervised.

Hopefully we’ll see an end to all of this madness soon, as the union leaders and company heads are in Washington DC with Labor heads to hash this out with mediation. I could see Verizon claiming poverty and wanting to cut back on benefits and pay and such if they were floundering and needed help. They’re not. They’re making 1.8 billion in profit (not revenue, profit) a month. Their CEO, Lowell McAdam is making $18 million a year in salary! Other heads in the company are making similar high figures. The past few years they received special tax breaks. These tax breaks actually caused them to have a NEGATIVE income tax owed. (Some of those tax breaks, I believe have been from promises of installing FIOS everywhere….empty promises, as we are still waiting on that to happen.)

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has shown his support at the CWA rally, accusing Verizon of corporate greed. (See video and article here.) Hillary supports it, as well. Other celebrities have shown their support. Senators have pleaded with Verizon on the union’s behalf, You’d think that with so many people criticizing Verizon, telling them to end this nonsense, they’d be ready to do it. You’d think with their sales down due to the picketers blocking Verizon Wireless store locations in certain markets where the strikes are happening, they’d be just as anxious to resolve this. Call wait times for customer service are upwards of 5 hours. I’ve heard of scheduling for installs or repairs for landlines starting in July. They can’t keep up business like this, scabs or not.

If you’re still reading, and wondering why people like my husband are still wanting to strike after 5 weeks with no pay (IBEW, my husband’s union, has no strike fund) and 3 1/2 weeks with no insurance…big corporations need to know that they can’t treat their workers like they do. And remember, all the rights everyone enjoys in their workplace today wouldn’t be had if it weren’t for unions fighting for them!

knarrly

Weight Loss Journey Part 3 and other updates

I know I haven’t posted about anything at all since November, and there was a reason why: the blog broke! In fact, most of the websites on my hosting plan broke on me and I painstakingly tried to fix them all. Most were fixed, but a glitch remained on the blog. It was readable, but I could not post, and could not edit posts. Well, as soon as the brand new update came, it overwrote the blog software and fixed the glitch so I am back!

Since it has been since August of last year that I’ve given a medical update, this will be a big one.

As mentioned in the previous medical update, the bariatric surgery was halted when I saw the surgeon last summer. The GI doctor was baffled. I was sent for the egg sandwich test I mentioned. Nothing. I was sent for yet another upper GI study. Nothing. I was put on medicines for the stomach, and although it helped a little, it still did not fix the nausea and vomiting completely. (And the surgeon said the procedure was a “no go” without an answer to the vomiting,) Months passed. I saw the GI multiple times with no answers. Finally I went to my pain specialist in November on an unrelated incident, and was not getting enough relief from my pain meds any longer. (I had built a resistance up to them.) So I was switched from the pills I was on, to a trans-dermal patch. Two days later, I realized, I wasn’t nauseous. I decided to test things out, and sure enough, I could eat sitting up, and was able to hold the food down! For the first time in 2 years! Luckily my appointment with the GI doctor was that week, so I saw him and told him the symptoms were completely gone. I explained that I suspected that I think it was the painkillers the entire time. He agreed with me. He was also relieved…because he was running out of ideas on what could be wrong with me. I finally had my clearance to go back to the surgeon!

The bariatric surgeon saw me a month later (long wait list) and I was approved for surgery. (Despite having a very bad cold, since mid-November….the thought being it would surely be gone by surgery, right?) My surgery was set for February 10. Unfortunately, with no immune system that cold just never ended. I didn’t kick it until 3 weeks into January. 2 weeks leading up to surgery was my pre-op diet. It still consists of your 6 meal a day plan, but it’s pretty much a protein shake for breakfast, a greek yogurt for morning snack, a protein shake for lunch, a greek yogurt for afternoon snack, a dinner (6 oz chicken, measured veggies, and potatoes), and a protein shake for evening snack.

The day of surgery was so stressful. I got to the hospital, in a gown, with in IV in me, and Brian noticed a message on his cell phone. It was from my surgeon’s office (the surgeon had just seen me, so apparently he had no clue what was going on.) They called me to tell me my insurance decided NOT to approve my surgery, so don’t bother coming in to the hospital. WHAT?! I’m already there checked in! So my nurse called the doctor back, and the nurse called the office and the doctor was furious with his staff for doing this to me on the day of my surgery. I was not going to take no for an answer, so in a gown, I called my insurance and stayed on the phone for 3 hours with customer service. I finally found out from the last person I spoke to that the real reason I was denied was because I hadn’t established failed attempts at weight loss for at least 6 months prior to trying the surgery. I was so mad. I practically yelled at the agent. I said, if that’s ALL you want, call my PCP. They can document back to 2009 that I’ve been eating low carb, sugar free, whole grain. The asked for the doctors’ name, and phone number, put me on hold, and came back and gave me an approval number. My husband had to run with the number to the nurse because they had already pushed multiple people ahead of me and were about to cancel my surgery. By that point they had to put a mild sedative in my IV to relax me, because I was just wracked with nerves from the whole ordeal. On the bright side, the whole hospital had to change their protocols because of me, and make sure approvals are set in stone at least a week before a surgery now.

After my surgery, I had complications. My one night stay turned into a 4 night stay. I could not hold anything down: the clear fluids diet items like jell-o, broth, water, even ice chips. Everything came back up. at one point I spiked a fever, and they couldn’t give me Tylenol pills because of all this, so they tried Tylenol syrup. It came back up like 30 seconds later. The nurse freaked out. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get out of there! But, I woke up on the one morning, and I just didn’t feel sick really anymore. I ordered a tray of clear fluids, and it stayed down, so they sent me home.

Everything has been going well since! Before the surgery, I lost 30 pounds, after the surgery in February, I lost 40 pounds. So I am down a total of 70 pounds at this point!  And counting!

Of course, I guess I can’t have all good news like with my weight loss, unfortunately. I visited my gyn/onc this past week. My CA125 (ovarian cancer number) has been completely steady for 6 years. It hasn’t budged through a bunch of things that happened to me. Well, now, it almost doubled. It is not a very good sign for me with my personal history and the way my numbers ran very low anyway. I was sent for a CT 2 days later, and the test went unusually. They did a lot more scans than they should have, and were whispering and talking a lot, and kept shutting the machine off for like 5 minutes, then powering it back on to do more scans. (I’m a CT scan veteran, and know how the tests usually run.) When the guy finally came in, he was very nervous and asked me if I had any questions about the test. (I’ve NEVER been asked that before.) I simply said I would talk to my doctor. He was trying to make eye contact with me, like he KNEW something. So it’s all making me all the more nervous right now. Just not looking forward to the concept that my cancer could be coming back, and I’ll have to go through this all over again.

While all this stuff was going on with me, Pop Pop was having his own health issues. He started having problems breathing, and ended up in the ER. They found out that he had a problem in his heart call mitral valve regurgitation. It required surgery. His surgery was 2 weeks after mine and was called mitral valve clip repair. It was a less invasive version of the surgery, and went in through the groin, instead of full open through the chest to the heart. (Incidentally, they found two hernias in the groin area while prepping him for the surgery!) All went well with the surgery, and he was ready to go home the very next day! With his health issues, we moved him and Tufu the cat in with us now.

With his health issues, we moved Pop Pop and Tufu the cat in with us now. Buddy moved out of the house, and moved with Eric to rent a room elsewhere. With his room empty, Sierra moved back in. With all the moving back and forth there was a lot of aftermath of the moves left behind in the upstairs that we ended up cleaning up, and I messed up my shoulders and back pretty bad. I think Sierra is pretty messed up from it too, plus from all her moving in general.

Brian, on the other hand, is having back pain from working hard on the Maywood house. It doesn’t look like we’re going to hit that July deadline at this point, and will have to extend the lease here. On a side note, his union for Verizon is on strike, so that’s another mess we don’t need. If they don’t settle soon, we will lose our medical benefits at the end of the month! That is bad timing if I do happen to have a cancer recurrence.

Ah well, I think this update has gotten long enough. 

knarrly

Black Friday 2015 Deals

As always, I like to help everyone get the good crafting deals out there for scrapbooking/papercrafting. I trying to usually point out Cricut, but I also do Silhouette for those who are fans of that system. I will also point out anything else interesting or trendy that is in there. Michaels is up now, and this page will be updated as the ads roll out:

Michaels:

  • Cricut Explore Air with bundle by Lia Griffith – $229.99
  • Cricut Cartridges – $17.99
  • Cricut & Silhouette Accessories: 30% off
  • Silhouette Cameo Touchscreen Bundle – $229.99
  • Heidi Swapp Minc Foil Applicator – $79.99
  • Hello Kitty Instax Camera Bundle – $139.99
  • Fujifilm Instax (regular) camera – $69.99

 

Joann:

  • Cricut Explore One – $149 **Black Friday Doorbuster**
  • Cricut Explore One Bundle (includes deep cut blade, and 10 12×12 cutting materials) – $179 **Black Friday Doorbuster**
  • Cricut Explore Air – $199 **Black Friday Doorbuster**
  • Cricut Cartridges – $14.99 **Black Friday Doorbuster**
  • 50% off all papercrafting suplies, dies, and Cricut accessories **Black Friday Doorbuster**
  • 3pk Cricut Cartridge Bundle – $44.99 **Saturday Doorbuster**

AC Moore:

Coming soon!

Walmart:

Coming soon!


 

Happy Shopping!

knarrly

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

I have not been feeling well lately, so September has literally slipped through my fingers almost without me making at least a minimal cancer awareness post for the month. It is a cause near and dear to my heart because I fought this cancer and am in remission currently.

ovarian Ovarian cancer is represented by the teal ribbon. It is a silent cancer, unfortunately, and its symptoms are vague and often explainable by other illnesses. (Read more about the signs and symptoms on my ovarian cancer awareness page on this blog.) Most women falsely believe they are safe, because they get a pap smear yearly, but pap smears only check for cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. The best way to fight back is to know your body! If you have persistent symptoms that are are on the list on the link above, and the do not go away, don’t wait for your yearly exam. See your doctor right away! In general, if you are not having yearly exams, start now! (Especially if you have a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine/endometrial cancer, or colon cancer, as these cancers have a genetic link to either the BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations or to Lynch Syndrome.)

In addition to Ovarian Cancer, I was also diagnosed with endometrial cancer. September is the month to highlight awareness for all gynecological cancers, in general. Endometrial cancer (a type of uterine cancer) has most of the same symptoms as ovarian cancer. In the same way, be aware of your body.)

Also, September is also Childhood Cancer, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Prostate, and Thyroid Cancer awareness month! (To read more about these cancers, please see my original September Cancer Awareness post.)

As always, know your body!

knarrly

 

New Puppy :)

As some of you might have seen on Facebook recently, we welcomed a new 6 month puppy into our home last month.

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We adopted him from a family on Craigslist who could no longer keep him in their apartment. His name was “Baby”, so as not to confuse him much, we changed it to a very similar “Brady.” He was listed as a Chihuahua, but he seems to maybe be a mix, most likely a beagle mix. (Cheagle?) His bark is definitely not a Chihuahua bark! Brady was nervous at first and didn’t want to get in the car. But we calmed him down, and he was ok. He’s very attached to me, and protective. He’s a very good boy though, and even though younger, he’s actually better behaved in some ways than Gizmo. (Though maybe that’s because he’s not full Chihuahua?)

We wanted to get another Chihuahua not only for us, but because Gizmo was so lonely for a friend. He loves playing with other dogs. Thankfully, Gizmo and Brady are like two peas in a pod. They play together, and they sleep together.

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The last few weeks though have been a flurry of getting him caught up. We went to Petco on the way home to get him a color and leash (because we lost his new set we bought him in advance in Philly somewhere. LOL) Since he had not had any shots done, we went on the Saturday that week to get him his first shots and microchipping. His boosters will be at the end of this month. Then to get him neutered. (He also has a hernia to get repaired, and a hanging dewclaw to get amputated during that surgery.)

Chihuahuas are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. 🙂

knarrly

Medical and Life Updates

Well, it’s been a rough ride the last few months. I have not posted because honestly I have been too stressed about stuff to tell more than the closest people to me.

For starters, my bariatric surgery has been put on hold. After all the money for the classes that were not covered by insurance that I paid for, it’s just a low blow that the surgeon will not do it just yet. Essentially, since I am still having the stomach issues, and the problem where I can’t eat sitting up, he won’t proceed until that problem is fixed. So I was sent to a GI doctor to resolve it. At first they thought it was gastroparesis, and sent me for a study where I had to eat a radioactive egg sandwich. It came back negative. They’ve adjusted some of my meds, and hopefully, they’ll figure it out soon so I can go ahead with the surgery.

In between all this, my brother and I became power of attorneys for my aunt. I am not going to get into all the stuff behind it. But we are in the process of trying to restore her houses. Her main house, we are going to get up to par, and move into ourselves, and take over her taxes and bills so they are not a strain on her finances. So, within a year, we will be moving back to NJ! Brian has been spending a lot of time at the houses and store, working on the landscaping, and working inside the houses, getting things done. So, lots to do there.

The biggest piece of news, the one that has hit me the hardest, was my trip to my oncologist. I mentioned in my last post that the genetic testing lab called me to tell me I tested positive for the MSH-6 mutation for Lynch Syndrome. (Which leaves you more likely to get ovarian, uterine, or colon cancers, among others.) Well, what I did not know, was that the genetic testing lab sent a report to my gyn/onc with recommendations, telling me what I should get done as precautionary measures. The physician’s assistant kinda dropped the bombshell on me that they wanted me to get a proactive mastectomy. *sigh* This was NOT what I wanted to hear. I know, when one has ovarian cancer, the chances of getting breast cancer are much higher. But having that recommendation thrown in my face made it so much more real. Having the physician’s assistant stand behind it and say that they agree with the recommendation, made it even more real. In the meantime, I go for a breast MRI tomorrow. I guess, for know, they want to know whether it needs to actually be a proactive mastectomy, or one being done because something is there. I am not handling the news so well. If something was there, I think I could have handled it better. You know, there’s a tumor, let’s get it out. But to just remove my breasts when nothing is there? I am having trouble wrapping my head around it. I will ultimately do what needs to be done, though. I think it makes me admire Angelina Jolie all the more for doing it proactively.

More updates will come soon!

knarrly

Weight Loss Journey Part 2 and Genetic Testing Results

Two months ago I posted about how I started on my journey to lose weight through bariatric surgery. (See post here.) I know I’ve kinda slacked off posting since then, but it’s been because I’ve been very discouraged. I’ll get to why in a bit.

I’ve completed the 3 month pre-surgical program, and was approved for the surgery through both the weight loss center and the insurance. All went well for that. I finished all the classes, as well, and had the appointment all lined up with the surgeon.

My first problem happened when the surgeon had emergency surgery and they had to cancer my long awaited appointment. So, it was rescheduled for like 2 weeks later. I finally went in, and thought I would be scheduling my surgery. Instead, the doctor said he wants to wait. He doesn’t think my hiatal hernia is causing my eating problems, swallowing problems, nausea and vomiting after all. Until I get cleared by a gastroenterologist, no surgery.

So, I went to see the gastroenterologist, who took me quite quickly. They thought I had a condition called gastroparesis. I was told that if I had this condition, it will be unlikely for me to get the bariatric surgery! I was pretty bummed by this announcement, because I spent all that time going to appointments and all that money on classes and food and supplies, which would be for nothing. And it’s definitely something they should have figured out before now, because I’ve been having these symptoms for 2 years now! Thankfully, without even seeing the gastroenterologist again, I know the results are normal, thanks to Lehigh Valley Hospital’s patient portal. (Test results are emailed to you!) So I’m guessing I can still have the surgery, although they still need to figure out what’s wrong with me.

Total weight lost: 22 pounds!

Other than that, the other big piece of news is the genetic testing came back. As some of you may have read, I found out my grandmother had ovarian cancer, just like I did. She kept it from everyone. Where I didn’t see a family link before, there is one now. Also, both of my grandfathers had colon cancer. (One was thought to have had lung, and the other intestinal.) Because we didn’t know this before, they only ran the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes mutations. Both were negative. With the new knowledge, they ran the entire rest of the list of anything related to ovarian or endometrial cancers. (I didn’t know I also had endometrial at the time of the last testing.) This time around, I tested positive for the Lynch Syndrome MSH-6 mutation, which is the 3rd most common Lynch gene. I also tested positive for 2 other really obscure mutations I don’t remember. But, the Lynch one gives me piece of mind, that there was a reason this happened to me so young.

Hopefully my next posting will be that my surgery is being scheduled!

knarrly

Weight Loss Surgery Journey

As you may have seen from previous postings, I am going through the process to get bariatric surgery. I wanted to go into this with a bit more depth, as everything has been moving so fast.

This whole thing really has been floating around in my mind for quite a while, even before my gyn/onc brought it up as something I needed to get done. I put on some weight after having had my three kids. The major chunk happened, however, between the hormonal imbalances from the cancers, and the medications that cause weight gain. No matter which diets I’ve tried and how much Diet foods and sodas I have consumed, it has not made an impact. Funny as it seemed to me, since I only ate two meals a day, and those meals barely contained much, it did not make sense that I was gaining even more weight. Doctors accused me of overeating, even though my family clearly saw that I wasn’t.

2 years ago, my health made a major turn for the worse. I became much more run down, and could no longer eat sitting up. Any time I ate sitting up, the food would reject out of my stomach, The doctors were baffled. I went for test after test, with no answers. My meals have been spent at home, mostly in bed or in my recliner. The one vacation I got to go on, I had to have special permission at an all-inclusive resort to have my meals brought to my room so I would not be sick the entire trip. Finally, my gyn/onc figured that perhaps if I had a gastric bypass, the reconnections in the stomach might correct the issue with the vomiting, as well as the obvious benefit of finally getting off the weight.

EDIT: Due to my previous abdominal surgeries, the gastric bypass is not an option for me. It will be too difficult for the surgeon to get in there to make the connections and whatever. Instead, I will be getting a gastric sleeve surgery.

I obviously also have other co-morbidities that qualify me for the surgery: osteo-arthritis in the knees, and pre-diabetes. My gyn/onc referred me to the weight loss program for the free seminar, which starts the process. They advised me to find out my insurance requirements. Besides the seminar, they require you to have a consult at a weight loss center, as well as 3 more monthly visits (some insurances require 6 months!), a support group session, a private dietician visit, a psychologist evaluation, a surgical consultation, documentation of at least 6 months of failed weight loss attempts in the last 2 years, a BMI of over 40 (or over 35 with co-morbidities) and a whole lot more. Basicially, the insurance wants you to be super committed to this before they will even think of paying for it. (If they will cover all of it, that is.)

In addition, the weight loss center requires you to attend 3 group classes, and these classes are NOT covered by insurance. To those who are low income, this surgery is definitely not an option. Classes cost $175 each at my hospital! In addition, you have to modify your eating habits both before and after surgery. New staples of your diet will include low fat string cheese and fat free greek yogurt which are rich in protein. After surgery, you will be consuming 2 protein shakes a day for the rest of your life! In addition, there are the vitamins, most of which either can’t be found in normal stores or are really hard to find.

Things I’ve had to modify so far:

  • No more soda! I survive on bottled water and Mio type squeeze flavorings.
  • All chewable or gummy vitamins
  • Changed my eating habits from eating 2 meals a day to eating 6 meals a day
  • Have started measuring the sizes of my portions at dinner for sides, and weighing my meat. (honestly, it seems that makes my portion BIGGER than I used to eat…but whatever.)
  • EDIT: Food journaling: I use a great native Samsung app called S-Health to log my food, water intake, weight, steps, everything.

So far since starting the food changes I have lost: 14 pounds!

My program ends on May 19th, so my surgery is probably going to come up fast!

EDIT: I should have mentioned that the bariatric surgeon sent me for testing to get to the bottom of the issues I mentioned above that do not allow me to eat sitting up. The two year mystery has been solved: I have a hiatal hernia! He will be fixing the hernia while he does the gastric sleeve.

knarrly

P.S. Just because I promised him I was going to do this, and he is going to cause a tantrum fit if I don’t, I am officially giving a shout out to Dakota, Sierra’s BF. See, you got your 15 seconds of fame!