Monday, August 17, 2015

Surgery Day!!!

I'm 6 days post op but I want to write about the day of surgery before it all becomes a blur.  I want something to remember and maybe encourage others.

Tim and I had to be at the hospital by 6am.  I was the first on the schedule! That was a huge answer to prayer! My surgery was scheduled for 7:15am.  I was checked in on the 7th floor, rushed to the back, changed into my gown and there was a lot of hustle and bustle. IV inserted, blood thinner given, nurse giving me the upcoming events.  Meet with the surgeon.  He prepares me for what is next and what he expects.  He was in a great mood and that helped relieve my anxiety some.  Anesthesiologist met with me.  Tim came back for a few minutes before I was rushed off to the OR.  Tim kissed me and before I knew it I was in the OR.

It was cold and there were people everywhere! I was moved to operating table and lots of warm blankets were put on me.  They immediately put a mask on me that was filling my lungs with oxygen. There was one nurse who was so sweet and awesome.  She grabbed my hand and said "Ok so what are we going to dream about?  Should we go somewhere tropical" it made me smile real big.  She held my hand and kept talking to me as they administered the first drug that would relax me and make me sleepy.  I closed my eyes and I was out....

The next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.  I had extreme pain right in the middle of my upper abdomen.  I mean constant throbbing pain.  I remember saying to the nurse who was trying to get me to wake up that I needed meds.  She had a morphine pump and she would push the meds for me.  I remember saying it a few times that I was in pain.  Once the pain meds kicked in I was extremely nauseous and she started giving me meds immediately.  Once I was more comfortable they got me up and put me in a chair.  I was so exhausted.  It took everything in me to open my eyes.  I remember them saying my husband was waiting to see me that he was really anxious which was not Tim at all.  That was when I asked if they had done the surgery laparoscopic or open.  The nurse kinda laughed and said "Oh honey it was laparoscopic" I smiled real big! another answer to prayer! I remember Tim came back and held my hand.  Asked me how I was doing and it was so tired I could barely answer him! I remember the nurse came back and said that they had a room for me so they needed me to walk the hall and then I could sit down in the wheel chair.  I was so nauseous when I opened my eyes or stood up.  So I walked and then sat down and they wheeled me to my room.  Once I was in my bed (which felt like heaven) and comfy I slept....

The nurses would come in and check on me and I would try to wake up as much as possible but I was just so tired.  My parents came around 2:30 and my mom really made me feel so good.  She reassured me that I really looked good.  I struggled to keep my eyes open while they were there but they were understanding.  I just listened to the conversation as my eyes were closed.

My monitor kept going off.  Apparently I wasn't taking deep enough breaths.  It was going off so much I asked the nurse to turn the sound down since I couldn't sleep lol.  In all reality it was good that it was waking me up because then I would start breathing deeper lol. The anesthesia really did a number on me.  My parents left an hour later and then my Mother in Law who works right down the street came to visit after she got off work.  I still could barely keep my eyes open but I was glad she came to visit.

I slept the rest of the afternoon on and off and it wasn't until about 9pm that I finally felt more like myself.  Around 10pm I was getting sleepy and asked Tim if he was ready to head to his parents house for the night.  Poor guy had been up with me and had cat napped through out the day.

I just have to stop right here and praise the Lord for giving me such an amazing husband.  He literally hasn't complained one bit about helping me this past week.  He was there every time I needed help getting up and or adjusting in bed.  He would randomly grab my hand and tell me he loved me.  He's just the most loving man I could ask for.  Thank you Tim for being true to the vows we made 14 years ago.  I love you!

Tim headed home and though my first night alone in the hospital wasn't horrible it was pretty tough at times.  losing your call button when you gotta go potty is not a good thing lol.  By the next morning once I was rested I felt soooo much better!

A friend of ours, Stacy, came to visit. She had the sleeve 2 years ago and she looks amazing! She also works at the hospital that I had the surgery.  So she came and chatted with me until I headed to have the swallow test done.  Let me just say, it was not nearly as bad as I had read about but it wasn't pleasant either lol.  The gas you experience after this surgery is just so painful.  You are trying to move and get it it out and it just seems to not want to budge.  I burped and burped and burped and burped and I would feel a little better and then there would be more pain.  So when I had my swallow test I had passed the first part of the test no problem.  I then waited 30 minutes so they could make sure the lower connection to the bowels was not leaking.  They couldn't see after 30 minutes so she said I needed to walk for another 30 minutes to try and move the gas around.  So that is exactly what I did....I walked for 40 minutes and then took another picture.  I passed my swallow test and was finally sent back upstairs to my room.

It was lunch time at this point and Tim went down to grab so lunch while I waited for my nurse to bring me my first cup of water! I was so excited to start my water challenge.  Oh my drink mouth was so dry! I had been sucking on ice chips but you could only have so much lol.  So she brought in my first big cup of water and said I had 6 hours to finish one liter of water.  I was game.  I started sipping like crazy.  I'd get up and walk and walk and walk and then go back to my room and sip and sip and sip.  I'd walk and walk and walk and sip and sip and sip.  I was burping up a storm but I didn't care.  I was getting this water in! I finished my cup by 4pm.  I was so excited.  Until the nurse came in and gave me another big cup half filled and said "I know you thought you were done but this last cup will equal a liter" oh kill me now lol.  So I got up and walked and walked and walk and sipped and sipped and sipped.  I was so tired and just wanted to sleep.  I had hit my pain button a couple of times just because the pain from the gas was so bad.  Well the pain meds would make me so tired! By 7pm I finished my water challenge and was finally told I would be discharged!

It took another 3 hours for that to happen due to issues and orders and what ever. I was finally home and in my bed by midnight :)

I would say my surgery went perfectly.  My stay at the hospital was great and I have the greatest husband in the world.

I blog more on the last week tomorrow. I'm tired and need to go nap lol

What an experience....

Ann Marie

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The easy way out...

In my previous post I talked about how I got to where I am today.  Where am I? 10 days away from having gastric bypass surgery.
I went through this entire process in 2008 and when my information was submitted to my insurance, the insurance found a "flaw" and would not allow us to correct it so I would have started my whole process over.  I was so heartbroken and devastated but I understand today that it was best that I waited until this time in my life to have this surgery.
Today I am much more prepared for this life changing surgery.  I have a lot more knowledge of how my body works and how food affects me.  I feel I make much better food choices and I am much more active.
I know there are some who consider this type of surgery "the easy way out".  I guess in a way for a long time I kinda felt that if I went through with this surgery I would be giving up on myself.  Both of my parents have had this surgery and many friends who have had this.  Some have been extremely successful and I have watched others put the weight back on.  I see both sides of this and I have to tell you, it is far from the easy way out.
I am still pre-op so I don't have the "actual" experience" but let me share with you why this is not in any way the easy way out...
For the rest of my life, I will be limited to how much food I can consume at one time.
 I will most likely have certain foods I may never be able to eat again.
 I also will experience "dumping syndrome" which is very unpleasant.
I will have to take vitamins/calcium/iron for the rest of my life.
I cannot simply just go to a restaurant and order anything from the menu.
My stomach at first will be the size of a thumb.  Once it heals and the swelling goes down it will hold maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup of food at a time.
My taste for food will constantly change.
Most people who have this surgery are unable to eat leftovers.
If I do go out I'll probably be sharing with someone lol
Our society of fellowship and hanging out is centered around my life will be so different at these moments.  I have read people who are asked several times at restaurants if the food was ok because they could only eat a couple of bites.  I have also read of people who ate out and ended up in the bathroom having a "dumping" moment.
If the Lord allows me to become pregnant I will have to be closely monitored and have bloodwork done often to make sure the baby is receiving the appropriate amount of nutrition.
I will deal with lose skin....not just normal flabby skin but pounds of lose skin that I will most likely have to pay out of pocket to have removed.
I may lose a bunch of hair (not that I have a lot to lose :( ) in the first year.

I know this may not sound much of a problem but when you consider that I have to literally change the last 35 years of how I thought of food its going to be quite the journey!

As much as I am nervous and even scared of how this will affect me, I am looking forward to it all at the same time!
There will be something freeing about being able to kneel down on the ground, or squat down to reach something.  To not struggle to put a seat belt on or have to shop in special stores for clothes.  To not think twice about booking a flight on an airplane or even going for a hike and not having to worry about if I can make it.  I have many, many things on my "when I'm skinnier" list.  Some things most people take for granted, others are things I've dreamed of doing.

I know it will be a long and at times tough journey but so has living the life I have.  I think for me the hardest part has been dealing with people who judge me because of my size.  Even in the church.  I have had people watch what I eat and make comments to others about me.  If I have learned anything over the last few years its....Just because you may be skinny doesn't mean you are healthy.
On Tuesday I sat in my pre op appointment and the doctor said to me "So you have no issues other than PCOS, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, no high cholesterol,..." and my response was "I'm the Healthiest fat person you will find!"
The more I research, the more I change my diet the more I see changes.  This surgery is a tool.  Tim and I were talking about this on our way home from vacation and he made a really good point.  He said "People who have cancer go and have radiation or chemo.  People who have diabetes take insulin, people who have any type of issue go to a doctor and are prescribed medicine or therapy of some sort.  You have PCOS and weight is your problem so this surgery is just like those other things." That gave me so much more peace.  I don't care what others think of what choices I am making.  They have not lived a day in my life so they cannot make any type call of what I should or should not be doing.
I sat in the office of my surgeon and had to get him to understand that my weight is a reflection of PCOS not because I indulge in food.  Every other doctor I have been too has agreed with me and though my surgeon has not had to deal with many people with pcos he cannot group me in the same category.  I still chose him because he's one of the best.
My goal with this blog is to help others who have PCOS to have a voice.  There are many with PCOS who do not have the weight as a symptom but that doesn't mean they don't suffer.
I'm beyond thankful for the many who have encouraged me along the way.  In 10 days my life will be so different.  I'm looking forward to getting healthy and living.

Until next time...

Ann Marie

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Journey of a lifetime...Under Construction

In September of last year my husband and I had a conversation concerning my health.  As many of you know I have struggled with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome since puberty.  They didn't have a name for it back when I was 11 but as the years have gone by and more and more research is done they are starting to narrow down the cause of this.  A lot of it has to do with the types of food we eat.  As food evolves and becomes more and more genetically modified the more we, the people, will suffer with many new illnesses but that is for another post at another time...back to why I'm writing this.
I was a pretty healthy kid.  As a baby my mom found that I was lactose intolerant and allergic to chocolate (yes please feel sorry for me.  Go head...take a moment....just know I still eat it but I suffer with a burning throat and have to drink a ton of fluids to make it feel better lol) and in my early twenties I found out I also am allergic to latex! Explains why I had such sore and swollen gums for a week or two after every single dentist visit! Other than those moments I was pretty healthy.  Once puberty hit I began experiencing new things that were painful and would make me extremely anemic and tired all the time.
Nothing against my family, but we just don't talk.  I mean, we do now but growing up we just never really talked about how things change as you become older and what you will experience.  I did go to public school until 9th grade so I had the "sex education" classes and anatomy classes and such so I learned about a little about what girls will experience as they become a teen and such.  I also never really talked about that kind of stuff with my friends.  Really, I only had a couple of close friends growing up and we were boy crazy and into movies and being...well kids. So with all that said it wasn't until I was 13 or 14 that my mom realized I was having some serious issues.
After several doctor appointments and testing the end result was "well if your daughter would lose the weight then she would not have these problems."  Let me just say....teenagers are already going through one of the most difficult times in their life and when a doctor throws in there that they are fat and need to lose weight, any ounce of "self worth" is squashed.  It still brings me to tears when I think of those moments.  Moving on... what they didn't know at the time was my increasing weight gain was a symptom of something seriously wrong.  Due to female issues my doctor decided at the age of 14 that I should be put on birth control.  So here I am about 50 pounds over weight at 14 and my doctor puts me on a pill that will "help" with one area but will make me gain even more weight. The cycle just gets worse from there.
Here I am 21 years later and this past Wednesday I was approved for Gastric bypass RNY by my insurance. When we started this process I was determined not to share that we were going through this.  I have had many who have loved me no matter my size but I have had a lot who have judged me because of my size.  Of course I am guilty of the same thing and I always try to remember that people just are not educated.  Our society is all about looks and of course when they say a heavy person they automatically assume they are binge eaters and lazy.  Food is why I am heavy but not because I am a binge eater....
When one is extremely anemic, passing out and having to go in and out of the hospital it is extremely difficult to cook, clean and exercise as well as hold down a 40 hour job.  I remember in the very beginning of my marriage I would work, and sleep.  Literally. I was so exhausted I could barely move.  Tim and I struggled so much and in the end we just really had no idea what was wrong with me and the stress of bills, newly married and life almost ended us.
There was one doctor in Michigan who invested time in me and my situation.  I remember after several appointments he told me my husband needed to come.  He sat my husband down and explained that if we don't get control of this situation he would lose his young bride,  It was then Tim realized that things were really bad.
So here I am with 24 days before my surgery and I am having all kinds of mixed emotions.  This would explain my first post concerning this surgery being pretty scattered.
I want to start blogging so I can share my journey with those who may come before me.  I want to talk about some of the things I was scare of.  How I sorted things out in my head.  How it took me 7 years to finally make this decision.  As my new journey to a new me begins I want to be able to put into words what I go through, how I deal with those who are uneducated and how I overcome what some have called the impossible.
My goal is to blog at least once a week on a specific topic.  My next blog will be about how having this surgery is NOT the easy way out!
I'm looking forward to this journey....please pray for me, my family and my surgeon....God is so good to me!
With Love
Ann Marie

Friday, August 22, 2014

Just being real...

I'm just going to be real here...I mean...really...real....

When I started whole30 on May 5 I weighed in at 414 pounds....

There I said it...and it breaks my heart.....

A person who weighs that amount is limited by many things.  I knew I had limits but I guess I just wasn't willing to accept be real with myself.  I wasn't willing because I knew if I was real I would most likely give up.  I remember at one point this past winter thinking "if I fall and break something (we had a lot of ice this winter) I am going to end up in a wheel chair..." I knew that couldn't happen but I had no idea how that was going to change...

I haven't worked in about 3 years.  Once we left Maryland and headed to Michigan for school I didn't really need to look for work because the church we were attending was in need of a full time secretary.  As my weight grew finding a job out in the secular world was going to be more difficult.  One, people judge you immediately by your weight. They think you are lazy, that you can finish a large pizza on your own and that you have some kind of food obsession.  There are people out there...I've met them...but I am not that person.  As the weight grew it became harder for me to do everyday things.  I struggle with other health issues so that would rob me of any ounce of energy I would come up with.  If I did the dishes I would be exhausted.  If I went up or down the stairs I was out of breath.  If i stood for a long period of time my back would be on fire and my feet would hurt.  These were all things I just...lived with....and then the most dreadful thing of all...going into a building and having to take a "seat" in a chair with arms...

I would get so nervous.  A lot of times I wouldn't even go places because I knew they wouldn't have seating for me and I was too embarrassed to ask for different seating.  Tim, being the most amazing husband there is, would go into a room ahead of me and look to make sure there was seating available for me.  That thought brings tears to my eyes.  My husband has given up so much so that I could be comfortable.  He really did mean "in sickness"...Thank you Tim.  Anyway, I would be terrified of going to an interview and not being able to sit in a normal office chair.  This is me being honest people... don't feel for me....just know the next time you want to make fun of a "larger" person...that they already struggle with insecurity...don't make it worse.

When I started whole30 I was desperate.  I needed something...anything to help me.  I wanted to live again.
So in the last almost 4 months I have enjoyed MANY non scale victories.  Clothes fitting, clothes becoming too big, going up the stairs with speed and not being out of breath, walking 5 miles without an ounce of pain, being able to put a seat belt on and have room to move. I mean the list goes on...

Today I had another non scale victory.  We went into a doctors office today and as I walked in I saw they only had chairs with arms.  Tim kinda looked at me and I just smiled.  I just decided I would sit on the end of I had too.  We walk over and Tim sits down...and then I sit the a normal person.  I look at Tim, he looks at me and we just smile.  It took everything in me not to show tears.

I am down 59 pounds.  I can fit in a chair.  Every single day the Lord shows me something else.  My life has been a whirlwind since the middle of July.  I haven't had a chance to breath, or focus fully on my health.  I have been doing the best I can to make wise choices but I will admit I have not been 100% whole30.  I plan to get back on the wagon come 9/1.

I don't share my weight with you because I want you to be shocked, or feel sorry for me, or be...whatever it is you might thing....I share it with you because there is someone out there who is struggling just like I have struggled....they need to know that if you put your mind to it, if you just start with something small, taking an extra trip through the house, parking a little further from the store, choosing fruit instead of candy, eating two helpings of veggies before having more protein.  If you just start with little changes and work your way up, you really can do anything...

Today I fit in a chair...that less than 4 months ago...wasn't an option....that is a victory for this girl....

Its not falling that determines you...its if you get back up or not....

Love always...
The Shrinking girl....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Every Step Forward is a Good Thing!

The picture above has been a HUGE encouragement to me of lately! 
Being a "heavy" person is not easy.  Even when you lose 56 pounds, pictures tend to bring into perspective the truth of the matter.....but the above picture reminds me that I've done something amazing in 12 weeks! I have changed my life! I am alive! 
Here are some pictures through my journey....some are painful reminders of who I was...and some are still painful reminders of how far I have to go...but that is ok! I'm making progress!
This is one is hard for me to look at.  Though I know I have lost weight and inches I'm still heavy...I can't wait until next year and see the progress I have made! 100 Pound weight loss here I come! <3 p="">

Here is the Lee clan! all 26 of us! 

This is picture is from Tim's graduation.  May of 2011.  It's probably when I felt the worse in my life.  I was completely stressed out.  My body hurt no matter what I did.  I have no idea what I weighed here but I know it was A LOT! I'm thankful that three years later I am almost pain free...losing weight and dress sizes!

This is Easter 2014...just a couple of weeks before starting my Whole30 Journey.  I am beyond thankful that God answered my prayers....

This is from the Lee Family Vacation! This is probably one of my favorite I can see the weight loss! But, it still reminds me how far I have to go! This day we did a hike....I wasn't able to go down to the swallow falls (to be honest I didn't try since I had hurt my knee on the stairs going down) but I kept walking on the trail and came to this pool and small waterfall.  My Sister in Law Kim took the picture and I'm glad she did....That shirt is a size smaller than what I had been wearing and I haven't worn those pants in years....My tummy is my biggest problem area but it is slowly melting away! 

I have had amazing support as I go through this journey! I will be making some changes in the near future but It will be whole30....just my protein will be a little different ;) 

Thank you to all of those who have been encouraging to me one way or another! I can't tell you how much your constant comments, private messages, text and phone calls mean to me!

I am blessed beyond measure!

With Much Love,
Ann Marie

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tears of Joy...

This picture, right up there, gives me pure tears of joy! Today I went and walked a path I have walked a few times this year.  Generally it included a lot of stopping to stretch my screaming back and a very slow pace and most of the time around a mile.

After yesterdays adventure I thought...I should go try this route and see how I do, maybe I can even complete the whole thing.  And that's just what I did! I walked the entire route today!

Normally I would give excuses for the "short distance" or the "slow time" but today...I will shout it from the mountains (cause I live around them lol) that I walked the whole way!!!! That is such an answer to prayer.  Such a relief.  No back pain.  I mean none, at all!

As I thought about yesterday and today, I realize just how much I have been missing out on life.  There is so much I want to do in life and I thought it would all just be a I know those things will happen! I know I have such a long way to go but I have started! I'm 20 days into my clean and healthy whole30 eating and I am inspired and as my husband has put it, stubborn enough, to keep going!

Once again, another non scale victory for this girl! <3 p="">
Here are the meals so far today! I know it shows a lot of fruit but I feel I need the nutrients from it.  It could be hormonal lol....just saying...

This is Red, Yellow and Orange Bell peppers and onions sauteed in coconut oil.  Scrambled eggs poured on top and bacon chopped.  Cook with a lid on for a few minutes until eggs are done.  Also a very small serving of fresh pineapple and walnuts

Lunch consisted of leftover roasted chicken, cucumbers and a small fruit salad of mango, strawberries, peaches, apricots, and fresh pineapple.  Very refreshing :)

Hope you are having a fabulous day! <3 p="">
Ann Marie

Friday, May 23, 2014


19 days ago...I made a choice that would change my life....and its only been 19 days...

You can read more about my life change here.

Today I've been a little extra emotional.  It could be some hormonal but I'm chalking it up to some new revelations

Since the age of 13 (this is when I really remember my weight gain) I have struggled to be active.  I played sports in high school and actually was a somewhat of an active person.  As the weight piled on, being active, let alone, doing just normal day to day things became more and more difficult.  You never really realize how much you give up in your life until you start to gain your life back. Today I was on instagram I was looking for some inspiration and came across one of the ladies I have just recently started following.  Rya, you can find her instagram here, made a statement after completing 38 days on her whole30 journey that she feels ALIVE.  I started crying when I read that...that one word...ALIVE is how I feel!

Alive....thats a great word! As a Christian I know my Savior is ALIVE and that I am thankful for.  As a heavy person who has struggled with weight gain because of hormone imbalances no one really understands the struggle unless they have been there.  I have dieted several times in my 34 years of life and not one time have I felt this good! I either felt limited, starving, or still in great pain.....

And then there was today....

Please understand, I have had several non scale victories in just 19 days.  But this one....this one....has been a long time coming! This morning my puppy (13 year old lab) wanted to go outside so I went out and sat down while he sniffed and laid around.  It was such a beautiful day! Warm, sunny and with an amazing breeze.  I had decided I wanted to go to one of the state parks and go for a hike.  So I got on the internet and found Cunningham Falls State Park.  It has the largest waterfall in the state :) bonus...hike and your reward is a fall, I'm game! Of course I needed Tim to go with me for support.  So we ate lunch, and headed out to the park.  When we arrived there were two different paths to chose.  One to the left and the more difficult way and to the right...the "easier" one.  Well I saw a mom and her little toddler go the easy way so I knew if the kid could do it, I could! so we headed up.  There were some big inclines and it was a half a mile to the falls.  Other than being out of breath (yes I know its because of my weight but I'd like to feel part of it was because of my head cold as well lol) I did not have any back pain! I could not believe it! I kept walking expecting my lower back to start hurting! I was in tears by the time we got back to our car.  Happy, joyful tears! No back pain!

The falls were beautiful and nice to see.  I was glad I did it.  I was glad my husband who was tired went with me.  I am glad I captured some of the moments so that one day, when I look back, I will remember just how hard I fought to be healthy! One mile down....many....many more to go!

TruLee Amazed,

Ann Marie