Thursday, April 02, 2015

VSG Update - Almost Two Years Out from Surgery and Links

I thought that it was high time I write about my VSG surgery again! I am including links to all of my previous blog posts at the end of this post in case anyone would like to read them. I've been contacted several times over the past two years to talk about my story or to chat  with friend who are considering having weight loss surgery so I feel like my previous blog posts were actually helpful to some people! Yay! That was my goal and if I can help even ONE person with any aspect of examining the pros and cons of weight loss journey and/or surgery, I'm happy I can do that! 


Here's a picture of me today! Happy, more healthy, and while I feel like I could lose some more weight......and I might do that.....I am waaaaaaaay more satisfied than I have EVER been in my whole life with how I'm maintaining. I do have some frustrations and here are a few of them:

- I still have to watch my weight. I knew that I would and the surgery is a tool to help you and a LIFE CHANGE. I knew that too. Sometimes though, I get mad that I still have to watch the scale, but overall, I watch it fewer times and I eat healthier so I did change my lifestyle. 
- Somehow, my eyes are STILL bigger (now much bigger) than my stomach. I still catch myself eating rapidly and sometimes eating too much. I've not thrown up, not even once, from eating, since my surgery. Most people throw up often, at least I think they might, if they overeat. When I know I've eaten too much, I hiccup a bit, feel tight in my esophagus, and feel kind of bad. Bad enough to not eat any more, but I do not feel nauseous. Well, I take that back. Twice in two years, I did feel nauseous from eating one bite too many, but I didn't push it and within minutes that went away.
- I have rediscovered "slider foods" such as chips, cake, and crackers. This is not awful, but isn't too good either because they go down TOO EASY and I can eat a lot more than I originally intended if I'm not careful.
- Drinking while eating: I still can't do this well and technically, most folks are told that you are not supposed to. If I go out after rehearsal and want to have a drink, I drink most of it BEFORE eating some of my meal and I just have to resolve to take home most of my meal.

- I'm a size 14 which is what I was at the end of high school. I have  feeling I could be a 10 or 12, and maybe I'll want to be a 12 at some point, BUT I'M HAPPY so whatever.
- clothes are cooler and more fun to wear
- This is both good and bad......I've noticed that some of my acquaintances / friends, speak to me more, and listen more attentively to me. New people I meet, as long as they don't have the southern "Good ole' boy" syndrome, tend to look me in the eye and actually treat me like I'm present. In the past, I had many MANY incidents of (mostly men) being introduced to me and then immediately carrying on conversation with the person next to me as if I was not there. Damn shame, idiots.
- I CAN have any foods I want and so I do :-) Many folks are not able to eat certain foods.
- My hair has been able to hold curl since the surgery. It began to grow back from the hair loss I experienced so I still have many lengths overall, but it's a lot curlier!
- I don't think about my surgery or weight loss very much. I'm me and have settled into my new way of eating and I like it!

Here are PAST BLOG POSTS on my VSG SURGERY. I hope that some of these will help people. If anyone has any questions, feel free to contact me. It can be a pretty lonely place when you're researching WLS and aren't sure of many things!

1. Background,

2. Part II,

3. Part III,

4. Part IV, Surgery Scheduled

5. Endobariatric -

6. A Day and a Half -

7. Journey to Endobariatric -

8. Discharge Day! -

9. Three weeks out from surgery -

10. Experimental Eating -

11. 10-12 weeks out -

12. 5-month update -

13. One year later -

14. Hair Loss -


Episcopal Tenebrae Service

Last night, for the second year in a row, St. Paul's Episcopal had a very moving and lovely Tenebrae liturgy. The service is found in the Book of Occasional Services on p. 75. While a stunningly beautiful service, it's not done in every church. I believe that in 2014, we were the only ones in EDOLA to do one and this year, St. George's Episcopal had a Tenebrae service as well. If you haven't tried it at your church, do it if you can! 
The hearse on the epistle side of the altar             
We used the book In the Shadows of Holy Week: The Office of Tenebrae by Frederick C. Elwood and John L. Hooker, eds. for help with the liturgical format and plainsong. It's actually about 40 pages of plainchant on very similar tones! Since it's rather taxing, I decided to involve several cantors and I also invited any of our choir members to come and join in singing the canticles. I also asked both priests last year to chant and this year, our rector and director of formation chanted. The chants are simple, but they are lengthy. One thing I will say about worship with the potential for length: don't shy away from it. Worship "takes as long as it takes" in my opinion.
Our service was candlelit and absolutely beautiful! I cried at the end. It was just so intense and the times when we sat together in prayer in the darkness of the night - well, it can be overwhelming! We NEED to be overwhelmed, especially during Holy Week. Again, my opinion, but having worship that doesn't stretch us or move us or challenge us to remember, imagine, feel, be moved, to feel God's love or to share God's love.....what is that truly worth?

The origins of Tenebrae are below, shared as an excerpt from In the Shadows of Holy Week: The Office of Tenebrae

The Origins of Tenebrae
The liturgy offered this night is the full, ancient form of Tenebrae. Tenebrae is a Latin word signifying “darkness,” “shadows,” and “obscurity.” It is a word that pointedly calls our attention to the scriptural accounts of our Lord’s crucifixion: The name of this service is taken from the opening words of the fifth responsory: “Tenebrae factae sunt”—“darkness came over the whole land” (Mark 15:33; also, Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44).
It is a moving descent into the darkest days of the church year as we descend into darkness and await the ascension into light at The Great Vigil of Easter. The Medieval offices of Matins and Lauds which were combined to create Tenebrae were the usual morning offices recited by the monastic communities ministering in the Roman basilicas and collegiate churches of Europe. At Matins the morning is greeted with prayer even before the sun rises and they developed out of the nocturnal times of prayer and watchfulness (vigiliae) that were common in the early church. Matins traditionally included three distinct sections called Nocturns (meaning “divisions of the night”)The office of Lauds, which in Tenebrae follows the Third Nocturn of Matins, is the traditional morning prayer of the church in the western world. The word “laud” means “to sing or speak the praises of” and originally implied a formal act of worship.
The union of the two liturgies produced a ritual greater than the sum of its parts. Through their correlation with the systematic extinguishing of candles unique to Tenebrae, those who originated the ceremony gave a new and greater interpretive task to the psalms and canticles. As noted, in their new liturgical context these poignant scriptural laments serve as commentary upon the darkness that gradually enshrouds the church and ominously envelops Jesus’ life during Holy Week.

An Afternoon in NOLA City Park

Sometimes in the winter and often in the spring, I LOVE to take some time out and go to City Park (New Orleans) to chill amongst the beauty! 

I semi-regularly go to the walking track near the NOLA Museum of Art and actually exercise, but avoid it like the plague in summertime because it's approximately one billion degrees and a million percent humidity here. If that sounds like it's an exaggeration, it's's completely true.
Anyway, before I moved to NOLA, apparently most of City Park was comprised of golf courses and while there has only been one in the almost ten years I've lived here, post-Katrina, they are now being re-developed. So, a giant swath of the park will no longer be the lovely, natural, and free area I've known it to be. 
It always makes me so happy to drive through the Harrison Avenue cut-through and see people out playing with their dogs or kids. On some Tuesdays after my St. Paul's staff mtg and in my way to UNO, I stop and sit for a little while with my morning coffee. I haven't been able to in a while since I have lessons now on Tuesdays, but I do still steal some Friday afternoon time or weekend time to go and read in some of my favorite spots! 
I've been soooooooooo happy over the years to see the lovely Spanish moss returning to the trees! Though I was a new resident after hurricane Katrina, I noticed its absence and it struck me as rather odd for this Savannah / sub-tropical climate area. 

City Park helps me relax. It gives me (and countless others) a place to be out "in the wild" without driving outside city limits and while being relatively (and arguably) safe because roads are nearby, it's reasonably populated, and one still probably has cell phone service. 

I love the place. While it's exciting (and brings the city tons of revenue and glitz, I'm sad to have seen the start of rebuilding the golf courses. I have no idea how many of them they're planning to rebuild, but I surely hope there will be some of my favorite places left when it's all said and done!
PS. Two weeks ago, a whole field was covered in giant, beautiful thistle!