Saturday, January 28, 2017

Repurposed Em - God's Perfect Timing!

RepurposedEm #4

Happy Saturday.

I meant to get this up yesterday, but I really have a lot to do before surgery.
Tomorrow, I am subbing in a CCD Class (2nd Grade). The lesson is on forgiveness.  Fun, right? And then I get to come home and finish lesson plans, or else my student, whom I dearly love - will not do his work.

My week has been pretty good. God has really helped me be able to be around food and not cheat. He's also calmed me and reminded me HE was leading my life, and I could let go....

I baked bread, cooked for my family, and even went out to eat with friends, and had decaf tea and brothy soup.  I'll admit that this has been a rough day. It's not easy to only have liquids. And today, started clear liquids.

Let me make you laugh. I tried Pacific Brand Bone Broth. Ya'll... Marque thought I was being a baby, but then I said, "You taste it". He nearly vomited. So that's out. Keep in mind, clear liquids are decaf tea/coffee, diet juices, broths of any kind, sugar free jello and popsicles, protein drinks (clear) and Powerade zero, water, you can put Crystal Light-type things in it... but you get the point. Sigh.

Then, I decided to just have chicken broth for breakfast... While I was doing that, Marque mixed unflavored protein powder with jello. Um - it was very foamy looking but I vowed to try it when it congealed.  It tasted ok this evening - BUT it was sandy tasting. Bleck. Tossed all that. NEXT!  

Then, I tried to make Unjury Chicken Soup. It's a powdered mix that you have to mix with WARM water. Let me tell you.... it helps to follow instructions. NO clearly I did not. The water I used was too hot, and ya'll that powder puffed up to look like watery eggs with foam. Sigh. I tossed it and read the directions. The next packet was good. BUT we will just stick with chicken broth. I will get my protein from Protein waters/drinks this week. This other stuff is no bueno.

Now, onto my post about God's Timing. Do you ever feel silly when you talk to the blogosphere about miracles and just how God really works? I sometimes feel that others may not believe. But I've come to the conclusion, many do... 

With that in mind, there have been many times in my life that I could literally feel the hand of God. This is one of them. 

I may have mentioned before that the first time I saw my doc was November 3rd. Usually, the wait time is six months for testing and prep, etc.  They wanted to do my surgery December 16th, I had met all the requirements by then. But I told them they were moving too quick and pushed it out because I had just lost my dad and wanted to get through Christmas, and some travel my husband did. I chose the date. Still less than three months after we met. It's crazy.

Here are some examples of God's hand in it all.
  • I am usually the biggest chicken in the world. And I've been calm.
  • My docs know each other and are working together.
  • I was afraid to not stay the night (it's considered out patient), and was told that my insurance company is requiring an overnight stay.
  • We were worried about Christopher and not impacting his life too much. My bestie (an RN) is flying in from Washington State, to care for me so that my husband can care for him. 
  • The nutritionist told me that usually insurance doesn't cover certain meds and that it could be $200 for the anti-nausea pill. Um, for that pill PLUS five other meds, it was less than $26. Seriously. 
  • Additionally, I was concerned about long-term nutrition. I found a group and am learning so much. It's such a blessing. Plus, these people - they know the ropes and have given such great advice. We pray for each other. It's like family!
  • The hospital called about money and payment plans. And I was concerned we would have to postpone. NOPE. The co-pay is $11. Yep. ELEVEN! 
My point is, everything that I thought would be a problem, GOD has fixed.

Patience is a hard-earned virtue. God knows how impatient I am, by nature. If I hadn't learned patience, I believe, I would have had this surgery with the wrong doctor five years ago... but my insurance didn't cover it. Now, the research shows this is the favored surgery.  My husband was not at a place where he wanted to get back into shape and lose weight, and now he is.  I feel like we are a team, and I haven't felt that for a while. It's so nice.

God knew I needed this help and HE wanted it to be when I was ready, my family was ready, and the right doctors and things were onboard.  We could not be more thrilled.

You know, if God's hand was so prevalent in my weight loss surgery, imagine how much he touches every little part of our lives!! He's there for you... call out to Him! Trust HIM!

I am two days out from Surgery. I'm starting to get a little anxious and weak feeling (um my calorie intake is PRETTY low which may have a little something to do with it. So I decided that next Friday, I will tell you all about what I am looking forward to after surgery.

There are a few of us from my bariatric group that are having surgery Monday. Pray for us.

Until next week...
Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CWBN BlogHop - Why I blog?

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Feast Day of Saint Frances de Sales.

I am joining up with Allison Gingras and crew for the CWBN Blog Hop. It's a monthly, blog post geared toward a pointed topic. And it's awesome. This month's topic... Getting to Know You ~Why We Blog. Please go to Allison's blog and check out all of the other bloggers. There is so much talent! And leave people comments. Comments are validating and uplifting to a writer.

Get to know me...

What do you want to know? Ask and I will answer. Here are a few things most people don't know (or forget).

Before I was officially Catholic, I thought I was. Yes - it's a great story. HA
I have lived in eight different states and one other country. My dad was a Naval Officer and my husband is Retired Army.
I wore braces on my legs as a child.
I met my husband at Best Buy.
I cheered in college at the age of 26 even though I went to school late.
I performed in the California State Fair at age 5 - a tap routine, in a chartreuse leotard with white daisies on it - you're welcome.
AND - I was on a kids show when I was little. Dancing and singing. Texas. UHF. That's all I'm saying.
I'm introverted.
My being alive is nothing short of a miracle... and I'm so blessed.

Why Do I blog? 

I've always been a writer. It was how I survived my childhood.  I have relatives who can't believe I've not written a novel or two. It's quite a compliment. 

In the beginning, circa 2006, when I started blogging, my husband and father were both in Iraq, and communications were such that it was easier for them to get to a website than it was for them to get to personal email. Further, we have literally NO family here and knew no one when we moved here.
So I shared tidbits about our days, plenty of pictures and the occasional video of my child saying hello to them or singing a song.  He was two at the time, so it was fun and we were busy doing FUN things (you know instead of school... haha).

I was very active back then in the craft world, on a couple of Design Teams (which just means I made a lot of cards and blogged about companies I used in exchange for free craft things) and had a very active craft blog too. I have a blogging style that is conversational, therefore I like to speak to people as if I am having a conversation. It's just my thing.

There was a time that I aired neighborhood grievances on my blog. I thought it was ok, and what I was saying was not untrue - but in the end, it wasn't the right place.  It was certainly not a "loving my neighbor" thing.  As I have grown, my blogs have changed... I have gone back and forth from Blogger to WordPress to Blogger... and have had a few names over the years.  

Several years ago I began blogging about my faith. But when I made my last move back to Blogger, I lost a ton of pictures, and didn't have the time to redo, so I just deleted everything older than a year... which is invigorating - because now, I can really do good things with it - I hope. I can retell stories in a way that make a bigger impact. 

The truth is, there was a time that God wasn't REALLY present on my blog. I was just yakity-yakking. And now, I have purpose. In the end, I rested on Mary's Mantle as she is my guide and that is how my blog got it's name.

Hmmm.... well, My husband still travels, most of my family and friends live elsewhere, and my father has since passed, but now I blog because I love writing and hope to grow this blog into a very inspiring place.

I blog because I have a lot to say. Ok, this is partly true, and I hope you found it funny. BUT truly,
God has lead me here to this blog named after the Mother of Our Lord.  He's completely taken me from a blogger about silly little things to a blogger with purpose. To be honest, I'm still working on finding time for all. I have so many God-lead ideas, I just need to put my ego and will aside and let Him guide me. I'm sure it would go better if I actually wrote it all down. Sigh. I'm a work in progress. You know what that is like, right? I hope so.

I blog because as a Catholic Blogger, I find it's strengthened my faith in so many ways. I have learned so much from my fellow bloggers. ! 

I blog because I get to review Catholic Books.  That sounds wrong. But it really is awesome to get to talk about a book or trinket you love and support fellow Catholics. I get to read wholesome and meaningful pieces that other writer/bloggers write. A seasonal friend lead me to the world of reviewing books, and that has opened doors to spectacular Catholic Books that are in my family's library and in my heart. All have touched me very deeply. 

I blog because I am a survivor. I'm a survivor of tremendous abuse and neglect, and so much trauma ... and I'm still standing because of God. He and I are working on a way to share it without it scaring anyone or further scarring me.  I know, in my heart, that my stories give people hope.  I have had the privilege of sharing my story, in person with people who needed to hear a part of it. God has put me in that position because He is keeping His word. That EVERYTHING is for the good of God, even the horrific. 

I blog because I'm Catholic, Imperfect and Forgiven.  And I think it's important to share little stories about family and mistakes and things I know make a difference. To comfort, guide and lead God's lost sheep back to Him. I know my little blog doesn't have that kind of reach yet. But I do hope it will some day.This love of writing has lead me to a world where other women (and men) state they are not perfect and don't have to be, but that God loves us all, just the same. It's taught me so much about my faith that I love.

I blog because I'm a Homeschooling Mama. Sometimes it felt like the blog was my only outlet and connection to other homeschool moms. This is our last year homeschooling. But I can not tell you what fun I have had and how much I have learned by reading other Homeschool blogs. AMAZING!

I blog because I want to touch Your Hearts & Minds. Truly, if I could hug each of you readers I would. I love the idea of touching people's lives. That is every writer's goal (or at least one of them). I love it when I get a comment that says, "thanks for saying that, I felt alone... or I felt less than because of .... " and you helped.  Sigh. It's the best.

I am sure there are many other reasons I blog, but one of the biggest is the sisterhood of Catholic Women I have "met". They have touched my life in so many ways and filled in the lonely gaps for me. I'm thankful to be counted amongst these women who have taught me more than they'll know.

I pray you found this post interesting and that you will leave a comment saying so (hint hint).

And please - read the other blogs. <3

Love, Hugs & Blessings.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Repurposed Em - Finding the Right Doctor & Prep Work.

RepurposedEm #3

Happy Friday All!

In 10 short days (ok, some might be long), I will be having bariatric surgery.

Yesterday, I went to the surgical center for Pre-Op. I really can not say enough about how fantastic they are. They poked and prodded me... you know - needles, EKG, Chest X-Ray... and PAPERWORK! haha That's the worst part. But they are so nice and so good at their jobs.

Today, I am five days into all liquids diet part of the prep leading to my surgery.  It has not been an easy week. Not bad, but not easy. I am giving it all up to God for the souls in purgatory and those who suffer with food issues, eating disorders and even cancer.

But before I yackity yack about the prepping of it all, I wanted to talk to you about choosing a doctor.

True story. Probably six or so years ago, our Primary Care doc referred me to a Bariatric Surgeon. I called the office and made the appointment. The whole time, it didn't feel right.  I asked if I could consult with him and ask questions. The answer was, not yet. So before this doctor will see me and even speak to me, I have to go to a presentation.  Ya'll, it was the most bizarre thing. He had on a green suit and looked like a bad preacher. They mostly talked about money. Frankly, my husband and I did not know what to think.  In fact, I thought if they were all that way, I'd just PASS!

So this year, when the podiatrist suggested a surgeon, I didn't like her. When I called the referral coordinator, it just so happens that she had something great to offer. She referred me to her surgeon. He has been nothing but nice to me. Truly. His whole team is awesome.   I met him November 3rd and I am having surgery January 30th. Want to know why? I told him I was a chicken. He knows my cardiologist and frankly they have fast-tracked everything. As I told you in my last post, God has had His hand in this. For sure.

How do you find a good doctor? 

-  Ask around. Join groups. Oddly enough the first Bariatric Support Group I joined on FaceBook, someone was raving about Dr. Smith.

- Interview Them. Be brave enough to talk to more than one doctor. You have the right to choose the one best for you. And in case you didn't know, you can have your referral coordinator send you to someone of your choice. You don't have to accept the doctor's choice. Trust me on this.

When you meet him/her, ask questions until YOU have your questions answered. If he/she doesn't answer them or acts in appropriately about your asking, you'll know.  In fact, take someone you know and trust with you. My husband really liked him. That did it for me. He answered both our questions.

- Ask the Staff Questions. When you have Bariatric Surgery, you meet with PA's and Nutritionists. If they are not kind and patient, and they don't help you, then this office and even the surgeon may not be right for you.

- Make Sure You Will Have Nutrition Appointments. If your Bariatric Doctor/Clinic does not house a Nutritionist that will share tons of info with you - WALK AWAY! In group, this is the biggest complaint. I am so blessed to have a great doctor's office.

Honestly if you read reviews, tempered with what you know, and you ask around, you will find a great doctor that fits your needs.

What is the Prep for Surgery Like?

Nutritionist Appointments! Well, since November 3rd, I have had three meetings with the Staff Nutritionist. She gave me a packet that went over how to eat, what to cut out, liquid phases of pre and post surgery, as well as what a great Bariatric Diet looks like.  Because of the meetings with her, I feel so prepared.

Two weeks before surgery is all liquid, with the last two being clear liquids. It won't be easy - but I am prepared. Monday the 16th - All liquids baby. I'm gonna nail it because my pantry is stocked. And my pantry is stocked because I have a good Nutritionist on my side. AND I belong to My Bariatric Kitchen on FaceBook!

Other appointments you will have = Cardiology Assessment, Psych Eval., EGD  (they have to look at your esophagus and tummy, Sleep Study and I guess there could be more if they determine it is necessary.

Additionally you have to start working out if you don't. I'm not great at this. But I am going to be more prayerfully purposeful about it. Pray for me. 

These posts before surgery are not that exciting. But I hope they are informative. 
If you are on this journey, I pray you will learn from me. There are many horror stories. Don't be a part of one. 

I believe God is restoring me to the Best Emily I can be.

Until next week.... 
Hugs, Love & Blessing,

Friday, January 13, 2017

Repurposed Em - Why the Gastric Sleeve?

RepurposedEm #2
Happy Friday All!

I pray your day has been great. For me, laundry, cleaning, karate... and now my child has a friend spending the night. My husband is upstairs watching TV and I am here with you... though I really need to make cards as well. Sigh - I'm never done being busy. YOU?

Anyway... I ran across this quote. Saint Teresa of Calcutta is one of my favorite Saints. It is hard for me to NOT call her Saint Mother Teresa.

Everything we say and write is of God, if we do it the right way. We are broken sometimes... but if we are open to it, He will help us write a great masterpiece.  Amen!

To that end, if you are interested in Bariatric Surgery, I implore you to pray about it, and research it. Study it for a few years (more than five years) like I did. Write the positives and negatives of each type. Talk to people who have had the surgeries. Find out why it worked or didn't work. Join support groups and ask every question you can think of - I did and they still like me.

This post will help explain why I chose the Gastric Sleeve (VSG). Here are two links that will help you compare Bariatric Surgery Types and help you determine what is best for you.

Ultimate Bariatrics - Procedures. This is my doctor's site.
WebMD - Comparison Chart. This is a chart similar to one I found years ago. I like the succinct way it's all laid out.

I am going to concentrate on what I call the Top Three and help you understand how I came to my decision. These are my opinions as I am not a doctor. This is about what we decided was best for me... so please know that which ever option you choose with your doctors is not wrong for you. I want to make that clear.

Additionally, I also want to tell you that my insurance does not cover them all, but they do now cover these three. Since I don't have $10K - $20K to pay out of pocket, I'm working within these restraints. Some people choose to go to Mexico (apparently a mecca for Bariatric surgery) or pay out of pocket. Many doctors will work with you on this.

1) Lap Band - I have a friend who got one. For a long time, this was the only thing my insurance company would cover, but I knew I didn't want: 1) something foreign left in my body (it took me over a year for my body to accept a titanium marker in my left breast); 2) I knew I would not be able to handle the stress of monthly fills with big needles. Needles + Emily = high anxiety (and can I just say, it's like people who are afraid of heights. I can not look at a needle in a book/magazine. I can watch a person get shot in a cop show, but bring out a needle and I will turn my head). #thestruggleisreal.  And to top it off, having joined a few bariatric groups on FaceBook, I have heard countless stories about people who got the Lap Band and ended up having it removed and getting sleeved. No thanks! I mean honestly they lost me at lots of needles. Sigh.

2) Gastric Bypass - During my research, what I kept running into was the fact that they bypass the part of your intestines that absorb nutrients. I was at the hairdresser and out of the blue, someone tells a story about their mom dying of a heart attack because her organs were not getting nutrients. It was like God saying - Um - NO! And so I crossed this one off. I just feel like I want to be able to absorb nutrients.  I just felt it wasn't safe for me.

3) Gastric Sleeve - This is permanent and scary, but at the same time, it feels like the least invasive - TO ME! Yes, they take part of your stomach away. Yes, you are in the hospital overnight. Yes, you have to eat liquids and then soft/mashable foods and essentially it is about two months or so before you can eat regular food.... however - this really feels like the best tool - FOR ME! And, in October 2016, my health insurance started covering it. I couldn't believe it.

As a faithful woman, I believe that in a fantastic series of events, God has helped set this in motion.  I remember earlier this year, when my podiatrist said he was happy I'd lost seven pounds, but it wasn't enough... then dad got sick and I had chest pains because of the anxiety and the cardiologist did some tests and I have a genetic heart disease. It's nothing drastic, but it could have been had I not found out.

I was talking to our appointment scheduler  and for some reason I didn't feel comfortable with the Bariatric Surgeon I was referred to... well, she said that she had gotten gastric surgery by a great doctor, and I asked her to change it to him. Guess what, it turns out, he and my cardiologist are friends. Everything has fallen into place and I really believe this is meant to be.

My next post will be about choosing the right doctor and how much work is actually involved in prepping for surgery and living the bariatric life after surgery... which is WHY it's so important to choose the right doctor.

This Monday, January 16th, I will start the two week liquid diet to prep me for surgery. Pray for me.
If you like this series, I am thinking it will be every Friday's post, so check back.

Hugs, Love & Blessings,