Ten Months!!!

It has been FAR FAR FAR too long since I have updated this blog. I have had MANY requests for updates from friends that haven’t seen me in a while so I figured I would put this out there and finally let you all in on the current progress!

 

I am down SIX pants sizes in a short 10 months!  I have hit a major plateau with my weight loss but thanks to Jillian Michaels, kettlebells and a lot of hard work and dedication to being healthy, I am still losing inches (no matter how slowly the progress seems to be coming along these days).

And if I still wasn’t able to see the results looking in a mirror, every time I see friends/family, I am reminded just how far I have come and how recognizable my weight loss is these days. I truly feel like a completely different Nikki, and I’m OK with that!

I still sometimes look in the mirror and see the same face staring back at me but its hard to deny the weight loss when I pick out new clothes or see muscle in places that used to be occupied by fat. My best friends Bill and Ted (boobs) have decreased some in volume but thankfully, not much!  I’d really like a small lift after all is said and done but that is another issue for another day.

Ok, so pictures are the real reason we are all here reading, and in my case- writing, this blog… so here you go!  From day one until now!

5 months                                                                                        10 months
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And just for comparison sake… here are my day one pics (OMG its mortifying to see these and post them for the world to see)

 

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Thank you all for the wonderful support from my family and friends!  I couldn’t have made this whole journey possible without all of you!

 

xoxo

Five Months! Before and After

I know I completely missed my 4-month surgiversary but in my defense, I have been busy working my ass off… I work my full-time job Monday-Friday and have been picking up most weekends at my other job in an effort to save up some spending money for my upcoming trips to Vegas and Rehoboth!

A brief update on my current situation:

I have completely stopped taking my vitamins (will be starting them up again soon though) because they were making me sick to my stomach. I got reprimanded by one of the PA’s I work with about my lack of vitamin absorption so I am going to be starting those up again within the next couple days.

I also have slowed down the protein shake intake. I am able to get most of my protein from food sources these days and to be honest, the only thing I was worried about with protein was hair loss, and since the protein didn’t help in the slightest with that, I am not worried about getting over 70 grams of protein a day anymore.

HAIR LOSS SUCKS! I started losing hair like clock-work, right around my 4-month post-op period. It was coming out in clumps and I am not a happy camper. However, I found a wonderful product called Pizzaz (or something like that) which is basically a hair fiber filament that clings to your hair and makes it look fuller. It has been a life saver! Now, at my 5 month post-op period, I have dramatically slowed in hair loss, which is fantastic. I have really short hair to begin with so I am not sure if my results are typical but I am elated that I only had one LONG month of hair loss… I know many others who continued with rapid hair loss well into their first year post-op.

Ok, why you are all really here… PICS!

I am officially down FIVE PANTS SIZES! Incredible!

 

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Hair before Pizzaz!

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Hair after Pizzaz!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Months!!! Before and After

It’s officially 3 MONTHS since surgery!  I have a TON of changes in my weight (obviously), my body (obviously) but most importantly, in my overall health and well-being. I feel fantastic and happier than I have been in a very long time. And coming from someone who was always generally a pretty happy person, that’s saying something!

The pics are from the day before surgery and today!

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Bad feet…

So as you all are aware of at this point, I am in the midst of training for my very first 5k.

The road has not been kind to me thus far and I am sad to relay some bad news. I went to the Ortho Dr. last week after experiencing pain in both of my feet and ankles. I knew I had a bone spur on the top of my right foot, but I was unaware that I also had one on the right (just a bit smaller).

The Dr. told me that basically my bones were fusing together and I was forming bone on top of bone, hence the spurring. Also, I mentioned to her about how I always felt off-balance when running on the treadmill and I explained how my ankles seem to always turn in on me. After some films were taken, we sat down to discuss the results. Aside from the bone spurring which is causing the most pain, I also have extremely limited dorsiflexion in both of my ankles. This, combined with flat feet and over-pronation, is causing all of the stress and pain in my feet. She advised me that running was probably not the best thing for me considering all of this however, I intend on doing this 5k regardless of the pain.

dorsi

She suggested I take up swimming so I can work on getting some more flexibility in my ankles, although she did tell me there wasnt much I could do to improve them because my bones are already fusing together and it will always be a problem for me unless I want to undergo surgery every few years to shave away some of the bone…. OUCH!

She also told me biking was a good activity to do, as long as I use the ball of my foot to pedal instead of the arch. I am planning on getting a bike when it warms up. Swimming is also on the list in some capacity…but my gym doesn’t have a pool so I think biking is more reasonable as far as goals are concerned.

My 3-month mark is coming up soon (WHERE DOES THE TIME GO). I can’t wait to take my 3-month pics and post them for you all. I am feeling great and healthy and every day I am amazed by how much I can feel my body changing. The compliments I receive from friends have been amazing…and they mean even more coming from those friends that aren’t really the “hey, you look amazing” kind of people. Is it weird that I still wonder if they are being honest though?  Part of me wonders if anyone can really tell a difference in my appearance when I am standing in front of them instead of seeing it in pictures…  I guess that’s just the little remainder of insecurity I have lingering around inside of me.

As always, thanks for reading and STAY TUNED for the 3 MONTH update coming in 5 SHORT DAYS!!!

 

xoxox

-Nikki

A new birthday and a whole bunch of non-scale victories!

Well I just turned 31 on February 12th and I can tell you already; this is/will be, one of the best years of my life.

I have always known how lucky I was to have such amazing friends and family but going through something as big as this has really opened my eyes to just how many people have felt the impact of me being in their lives and vice versa.

I never really thought about how my decisions and life choices would affect others. I think it would be kind of narcissistic to think of your life in those terms but I am finding more often these days that my life is becoming a motivator for friends and family alike…and thats both amazing and frightening at the same time. I don’t want to disappoint anyone if I fail, and I know that is an inevitability at some point. I also take great pride in the fact that my road to health is helping to motivate those around me. I knew from the beginning I wouldn’t be able to do this alone and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be in my life and to help me reach my goals.

I started training for my first 5k and for someone who hasn’t really run since high school, it is coming along slowly. But coming along nonetheless. 🙂

I have run into a few hiccups as far as the running is concerned.

  1. My knees:  The irony is not lost on me that I was diagnosed with ‘runners knee’ 4 years ago. I can barely bend my leg without my kneecaps feeling like they are about to pop off, so needless to say, running isn’t doing much to help in that capacity. I know I shouldnt push myself harder than my body can handle, but I set this goal and intend on seeing it through to the end, even if that means walking most of the time.
  2. My lungs: I never really had an issue with asthma but when it’s really cold out and I am walking a lot I notice that my lungs burn and it almost feels as if my lungs are bleeding…gross, I know. However, during my training for the 5k I have noticed that after running I am suffering from hours of wheezing and coughing afterwards. Exercise induced asthma perhaps?  I have an appointment coming up with Pulmonology to find out… stay tuned!
  3. My feet: I have always had pain across the tops of my feet but the added stress I am putting on them is making it really painful at times. I sometimes can’t sleep at night because of the throbbing. Ortho appointment is also coming up soon…stay tuned here as well!

My first 5k will be the Pittsburgh Foam Fest 5k in June. I am elated to be able to run with one of my favorite people on the planet, Heather. She has been a tremendous force in my life for as long as I have known her and her constant support and motivation to be better is helping me to see this goal to the end. I am pretty concerned about my knees and the obstacles but that doesn’t mean I am giving up. One lesson I am learning over and over is to TRY!  I never know what I am capable of unless I TRY!

My regular gym-buddy and all-around amazing friend, Stacey, has also been a huge factor in my ability to stay true to my fitness regime. We are great at holding each other accountable and it is comforting knowing there is someone out there that is going through the same kinds of struggles and understands, first-hand, the difficulties I face when it comes to pushing myself.

Without these two women, in particular, I know I wouldn’t have made it this far. So thank you! 

Moving on to more non-scale victories!!!

For my birthday, I decided to go play paintball. I was scared at first about my ability to endure a paintball welt and the overall ability to sustain enough energy to play for 4 hours straight.  I am happy to announce however, that not only did I manage to play without tears or complaining about my wounds, I was able to play the entire day without missing a single game. I consider that a major victory!  I just wanted to give another shout out to my amazing friends and family who came out to the event and shared in this momentous occasion. What may have just seemed like a day of fun for everyone was really so much more for me and I am so happy to have been able to share in that with all of you!  Love you all!!!  PICS TO FOLLOW!!!

Also, I am officially able to fit into new pants I bought a while ago. They are THREE SIZES smaller than I wore when this journey started!  That is AMAZING!  I also have an official inch-count… I have lost a total of 38 inches from my body (give or take). That’s like a whole person missing from my body! 

The other day my Loot Crate came in the mail (my fellow geeks need to look this up!) and this months package included a tee-shirt. The shirt was an XL and usually I can wear an XL but it’s ALWAYS tight around my boobs and my hips. I do the whole stretch maneuver thing where you take your elbows and push out until its stretched enough to fit (you know what I mean lol). But this time, I lifted my arms, slid it down over my chest, looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe that it fit!  Like actually fit…with room to breathe!

This has been a month of many firsts and I am anxiously awaiting many more!  I have been asked recently if I still regret surgery and although at times I struggle with the diet (I never really want to eat anymore and I am rarely getting my protein in) I find it hard to deny the fact that I needed this. I know I could have lost weight on my own but the little push was exactly what I needed to jump-start the process. I don’t regret it at all and I would recommend it to anyone that shares a similar struggle and needs that tool to help them with their weight loss goals. It’s not all rose-colored glasses though. It has been hard, very very very hard at times and I have regretted it at certain points but when you get to this point that I am at, and the big picture finally starts to come into focus, you realize the struggle is always worth it. The juice was definitely worth the squeeze! 

 

Some pics from Paintball!

Me, officially 31!

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Me and my cousin Dan!

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Me and the other birthday boy, Bryan!

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The whole gang (minus Natalie and Nicole)

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Me and Stacy!

 

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Me and Ashley!

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My battle wounds!

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Before and After…2 months

 

 

 

 

I could always see and feel the changes in my clothes and in my overall health, but until I put these pictures side by side, I didn’t really see how much of a difference there was.

Holy SHIT!  This is great motivation to keep going!  Thank you all for your wonderful words of encouragement and support. I love you all and your kind words mean more to me than you will ever know! xoxo

 

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Two Months!

It’s officially 2 months since I had surgery. I am not going to lie, I spend a lot of time wondering if this was the right decision for me.

When they say it is a HUGE life adjustment, they aren’t kidding. I did all of my research yet don’t really feel like I was as prepared for the changes I am going through as I should have been.

Lets go over some of the changes I am talking about:

  • Intolerance to certain foods.

                   It’s weird that I can eat certain kinds of chicken (chicken salad, chicken nuggets, shredded chicken) but when I try to make a marinated chicken breast for dinner, I get sick. I can’t explain it. Its moist enough and yet it always seems to make me sick. I wont give up on chicken though so stay tuned to see if I can fight my way through this.

  • Changing taste buds.

                 Before surgery, I LOVED cottage cheese, greek yogurt, crystal light, Gatorade, iced tea… Post surgery, I can’t stand most, if not all, of these. Some are too sweet, some just don’t have the same taste as they once did. It’s a very weird thing to experience but my body is benefitting tremendously because all I really want to drink these days is water!

  • Weight loss stalls.

           These are the WORST!  Before surgery, I couldn’t have cared less what the scale said. Now I find myself obsessing over the numbers. It is how I am basing my progress through all of this, in addition to my many non-scale victories (which I will get into soon). I lost a good deal of weight before surgery and one week post surgery I was well above average for weight loss (like 30lbs over the average). I was told the first couple of months to expect to lose about 1lb a day. Well since my last appointment with the doctor, at the 1 month mark, I have only lost an additional 13lbs. Not bad at all, but I am worried it’s not on par with where I should be at the moment. I have lost a TON of inches and my clothes are all falling off of me, so I guess I should stop worrying and complaining and learn to listen to my body, not the scale.

  • Dehydration is NO JOKE!

        Nobody told me how hard it was to be sick after surgery. I ended up getting a stomach virus, I assume from my many trips to the gym, and was sick for 3 days straight. I ended up being admitted to the hospital for 2 days because the virus caused me to become SEVERELY dehydrated.  It was terrible and I don’t ever want to be back there again. I cannot stress this enough, even if you’re nauseated, KEEP DRINKING. And if you cant get your fluids in, go to the hospital and get an IV sooner rather than later. Trust me, after 6 bags of Potassium, I learned my lesson (and holy hell does that shit burn).

Moving on to some upsides of surgery and weight loss…

Some of my favorite non-scale victories have been being able to find clothes in my size and style preferences and being able to fit into things that have been in the back of my closet for years!  Also, its incredible to be in the gym during the week and feel so strong and energized instead of lethargic and weak. I am in the midst of training for my very first 5k. I will be running/walking the Foam Fest 5k in June!  I have been starting with walking and have been integrating various inclines for increased cardio output. As of next week I will be starting to integrate running into my training. I am anxiously looking forward to getting my ass moving again and cannot wait to get my first 5k under my belt.

For my fellow weight loss surgery people out there, did you experience a stall in your weight loss this early on after surgery? Any suggestions?

I will be posting some before and after pics later tonight but for now, here are some recent pics 🙂

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Before and After

ONE MONTH POST OP

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ONE WEEK POST OP

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PRE OP

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One month…plus a week!

This month flew by! Started off a bit rocky right after surgery. The pain, at times, was unbearable. When week 2 finally came around, I started to feel human again, which was great!

My niece came in from Michigan for a week after Christmas. The 10 hour car drive to Michigan and back was probably not the best thing for my healing stomach. I ended up spending the whole week in pain because of it. When the doctor says to relax, you RELAX!

I also got a little carried away because I was feeling so great. I was in the grocery store with my mom and decided to lift a huge bag of dog food and a huge bag of rock salt. I must have pulled a muscle in my side because I couldn’t bend over for the next week. I still have some lingering pain from that so I am trying to take it easy from here on out.

I’ve had some trouble with some foods along the way as well. I should note that I am not really following the diet as prescribed. I eat the correct measurements, but I am experimenting with all kinds of different foods. I get bored easily with food so it’s almost a requirement or I would starve to death.

I can eat scrambled eggs but a fried egg from an Egg McMuffin made me gag and throw up. I used to love my protein shake before surgery and now, they make me sick to my stomach. I found a great pre-made protein shake from Premier Protein (boasting a fantastic 30grams of protein in each serving). I seem to tolerate that one just fine. The Boost shakes with protein however, are a recipe for disaster. I had one this afternoon and within seconds of finishing it, I was in full-on dumping syndrome. Light-headed, nausea and vomiting, upset stomach…the works. I laid down for about an hour and started to feel better, aside from the persistent headache that comes and goes most days.

I am only able to eat about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup of food at a time. They want me to eat 3 small meals a day but I have yet to meet that goal. I am never hungry and when I do eat, I get so bored with the food or full so fast its crazy.

In terms of weight loss, I am down another 16lbs since my last appointment (4 weeks ago). I am not sure if that is above average or below average, so I would be interested in hearing from anyone with experience here. I’m down two full pants sizes and I seem to be losing most of my weight in my upper half, boobs included (unfortunately).

I have my one month appointment coming up this Wednesday, January 15th. I expect to be released to go back to work full-time. I am beyond excited to get back into my daily routine and to start back up at the gym. In an effort to jump-start the exercise, I am starting to walk the nearby trail with a good friend tomorrow. Then once I get my treadmill in the house, the 5k training will start.

Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I am beyond thrilled to be on this journey and look forward to 2014 and all of the wonderful memories it will bring.

PS: I never anticipated how much it would suck to not be able to drink a beer when I wanted one… July cannot come soon enough lol

Me, my niece, mom and brother making a gingerbread house

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My brother, mom and me during Christmas

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I will also add another series of before and after pictures tomorrow 🙂

 

 

One-Week Post-Op

 

I’m Alive!

I guess that is the first thing I should get out there since it has been so long since I have posted something.  I know a few of you out there have been waiting *patiently* for an update. I apologize it has taken me so long but after you read, you will understand why it took so long for me to get on and get writing.

 

Rewinding time a little bit… Last week, Tuesday December 10th, I was scheduled for surgery at 10am. Like most other things in my life, the road there wouldn’t be easy, figuratively and literally. It snowed the night before and Pittsburgh drivers, no matter how much experience they have driving in the snow, still somehow drive as if its their first time on the road. A trip to the hospital which normally takes me a maximum of 20 minutes, took me nearly 2 hours. I ended up arriving late to my pre-op time (@1030am) and was almost immediately taken back to pre-op. They had a hell of a time getting an IV started on me and laughed when they asked if there was a chance I could be pregnant (to which I replied: I’m a lesbian, so I doubt it).

After 3 tries at getting a line started, I was finally ready to go back for surgery. Only problem was that apparently everyone before me was late as well so I ended up sitting back in pre-op for nearly 2 hours before being wheeled back to the OR.

I remember waking up after surgery as they were taking the tube out of my throat and thinking I was dying. I remember waving my arms frantically and feeling like I was choking to death. I wish I could say that this was the worst thing I experienced, but it’s not.

The surgery itself normally takes 3 hours. It took them five hours with me. Also, there are normally 5 incisions… I have 7. Apparently, my liver was too close to my stomach so they needed to add two additional robotic arms in order to retract my liver so they could staple off my stomach pouch and re-route my intestine. They used extra gas to pump up my stomach as well, which sucks major ass, as I will explain later. After surgery, I was sent to the PACU (post-op) and I wasn’t producing urine. So that resulted in another 2 hour hold. FINALLY, after what seemed like forever, I was sent to my room. When I arrived on my in-patient unit, it was after 9pm. I was exhausted and in an indescribable amount of pain. I was given a morphine PCA pump which I used to the point of being partially comatose, if only to escape the pain momentarily. Then around midnight, my nurse woke me up and informed me I needed to get up and start walking.

Umm, what?!  Clearly you’re mistaken???

Unfortunately, they weren’t kidding and at 12:30 am, mere hours after surgery, I was up and moving (if that’s what you can even call it). Sitting up took 10 minutes and I think I said every swear word ever created and even some I made up on my own. I am not pleasant when I am in pain…and boy was I in pain. I made it halfway down the hall before turning around and heading back to my room.

Good, now maybe they will leave me alone….   But no…

This “you need to get up and walk” bullshit continued every few hours. If I had a weapon, someone would be missing a limb at this point. I was in so much pain I didn’t want to try to drink the 30ml’s of water they wanted me to drink every half hour and thus resulted in me becoming dehydrated. They gave me a huge bolus of IV fluids, which just resulted in pissing me off because I dreaded getting out of bed again to urinate. I was still not producing the kind of urine output they were happy with so I lied. I told them I accidentally flushed and missed some urine collection.

I was hell bent on getting out of the hospital by the time Thursday rolled around so I forced myself out of bed and into the bathroom where I proceeded to brush my teeth, put on my discharge clothes and my shoes. I climbed back into bed and waited for my Dr. to arrive. My plan worked like a charm!  When the Dr. came in he saw I was up and dressed and looked like I was in no pain. He told me I could go home later that morning.

The truth is, the gas pain was horrendous. My back hurt to the point that I was crying (from sitting in the bed all the time). My incisions hurt so bad when I got up that I wanted to curl up and die. Needless to say, I was 100% regretting the surgery.

 (and a special shout out thank you to my wonderful and amazing mother, Darlene who stayed overnight in the hospital to help me out and has been a saving grace for me throughout this whole process…my best friend Timmie who helped arrange a seamless discharge and transport home and my wonderful friends and family that took the time to call, text and stop by to wish me well. I am sorry I didn’t get back to most of you, but it meant a lot that you cared!)

After discharge, I came home and put on my own version of Goldilocks. I went from bed to bed-to couch-and finally to chair, where I stayed for pretty much the entire week. I couldn’t lay flat as the gas in my stomach made me nauseated and laying on my side was out as well for the same reason. Laying on my stomach was complete misery, so sleeping in my recliner was my only salvation. My dad, step brother and grandparents stopped by shortly after I got home to see how I was doing and I think I frightened them more than anything else because I was pale and kept saying over and over again how I needed a bucket to puke in.

Turns out, I was dehydrated again. After getting some more water in me and getting up to take short walks around the house, I started to feel somewhat better. Over the next few days I definitely started to feel better but was still unable to sleep anywhere but the recliner. As soon as the pain started to subside, the level 10 back pain started and has yet to cease. Also, as if I haven’t been through enough already, I started to develop an allergic reaction to the surgical prep used on my abdomen. I broke out in a horrid rash all over my abdomen and incision sites and was beyond itchy  (picture below, don’t look if you are easily grossed out)

rash

I am currently finished a steroid pack that will hopefully start to reduce the inflammation of the rash and I am investing millions of dollars into the makers of Cortizone 10-Maximum Strength.

I had my 1 week post-op appointment today. I lost 14lbs since surgery which is incredible and I feel fantastic, finally. (minus the horrid rash and my back pain). I am happy to report that I was able to successfully take a nap this afternoon, IN. MY. BED!!!

Also, I am able to finally eat again!  Just pureed foods moving into soft foods for now, but for someone who hasn’t really eaten in the last month, I am elated. Cottage cheese is my new bestie!

I’m sure there are a million things I am leaving out but I think this post is getting a little long. I will post more about the post-surgery diet as I progress and as always, if you have any questions, let me know!

Thank you all for reading and keeping me in your thoughts/prayers throughout my surgery. I appreciate each and every one of you.

Some pics along the way:

After surgery:

Forcing a smile post-op

Forcing a smile post-op

Discharged home:

discharged home with a gift from my gram so I can envision what my body will look like in a years time lol

discharged home with a gift from my gram so I can envision what my body will look like in a years time lol

 

pre-op:

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1 wk post-op:

 

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