Thursday, March 30, 2017

Healing Viking Warrior: Four Months Post-Op

Well, here we is four months behind me and I am completely back to all of my activities.  You can read my two month update HERE.

So what does that mean?  I'm back to all yoga classes, pole classes, and I added Tahitian dance (I called it hula in another post but that's not truly accurate).  I am handstand'ing.  I am throwing around babies.  I have a short morning strengthening routine and evening stretch routine that I am shooting to hit 3-5 days per week.  I really feel like I am back to my pre-surgery strength.  In fact, it's past time to start pushing myself at pole to get back to climbing and potentially inverting.

Am I happy with the results?

mmmmmm....yes and no.

Sure, my boobs are lifted and my poor nipples are more even.  But are they $15,000 worth of lift and even-ness?  Are they worth the time off from work and exercise?  Worth the pain and short return to a Vicodin addiction?  Worth the fat tax bill I got stuck with for cashing out a retirement account?  I'm not sure about that (even at my check-up yesterday, the surgeon seemed disappointed that they weren't as high as she had hoped they would be).  I joke with Dave any time he sees them that he better be enjoying his visit to the Maldives because we easily could have taken a nice vacation with that money instead.  But sure, I like them well enough to not be bitter about any of that.

There is some scar tissue building under one breast (left one, so the non-dominant side), and one scar/fold is slightly off from the other (again, left side).  My surgeon is suggesting massage and a slight scar revision, which would cost another $800.  I didn't even ask about the recovery timeline.  It would be under local anesthetic instead of general (she believes I can handle the needle, which means she doesn't know me at all).  But if she's re-cutting, I worry I'd need more time off work and activity.  I have a couple of months to decide.  We will discuss it again at my six month check-up.

The effects of the anesthesia are gone.  I generally spend the first month post-surgery feeling pretty foggy.  I also lose a lot of hair.  I never get bald spots but I can definitely tell my hair is thinner.  Having dark hair makes it seem more dramatic as I can really see my white scalp.  I seem to have stopped losing hair and am hoping it will thicken up over the next few months (it always has in the past).

Anyway, that's the latest update.  Unless I decide to go through with the scar revision, I hopefully shouldn't have anymore recovery updates.  I am feeling pretty damn good -- both physically and mentally.  Now to get off my lazy butt and start climbing that pole consistently.  Any advice for how to make me stop mind-fucking myself into not doing the strength moves would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stelara Re-Match

Everything in my life seems to run in cycles.  Currently, I'm about to re-visit my relationship with Stelara.  Stelara is a treatment for psoriasis (it is an immuno-suppressant).  Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, wherein your over-active immune system essentially starts attacking you (your skin regenerates every 30 days; however, in spots where I have psoriasis plaques, that is sped up to every three days).  Super short version and probably not completely accurate as the explanation of the disease has changed several times since I was diagnosed as a pre-teen.  Stress is, and always has been, blamed as a common trigger for an outbreak.

I first started Stelara in 2012.  I had tried other biologics (injections), however none worked like Stelara (maybe a post for another day is how this shot costs my insurance almost $20,000).  I enjoyed clear skin for about four years.  Then, as part of trying to heal my liver, I decided to stop taking Stelara.  I just decided I didn't want to take medications if I didn't have to.  Although Stelara specifically didn't include elevated liver enzymes as a potential side effect, other biologics did.  So, I went off Stelara in November 2015.  My skin has stayed fairly clear for the last year+ (you can see an old post with photos HERE).  I'm not sure what changed but suddenly my skin is breaking out again.

I am using topical medications and lotions twice a day.  They are barely doing anything for me.  I'm even using one medication on pole days, which doesn't help me stick to the pole well.  I have become extremely self-conscious about my skin. Normally, I could care less.  Lately, I care a lot.

So, back to Stelara I go.  I sometimes feel like I am choosing this medication to be vain, but these plaques really do affect my quality of life.  I am currently sitting on my couch and seeing pieces of skin all around me.  It's disgusting.  The topical medications leave greasy trails everywhere I have to put my arms down.  I do need to be more careful on this medication, as I am more prone to infection.  Last time my nurse told me her experience was that people didn't get sick more often, they just stay sick a little longer.  So I can do things to take care of myself and lessen the chances of getting sick in the first place.  I have to get a yearly tuberculosis test, as that is apparently easier to pick up.  One very rare, but scary, side effect is cancer.  I feel like I did well on the medication the first round, so hopefully the second round will be fine as well.  My doctor did warn me that some patients do not do as well the second time around, but I have decided that will not be the case for me.  My dermatologist has agreed to monitor my liver enzymes to make sure they don't go up during my time on the medication.

Speaking of my liver...let's re-visit that little gem too.

So last year, my regular doctor told me I was doing to die of fatty liver.  I found out he was full of shit and fired him.  You can read those posts HERE and HERE.  While I will agree that I should be careful with my diet to keep my entire body healthy, I took issue with him trying to push diet pills on me to lose weight.  My liver enzymes have been slightly high for...ever.  There was no proof that taking medication that is probably processed through the liver anyway was going to make me lose weight and guarantee lower liver panels.  Even at my lowest weight after gastric bypass, I was getting calls from my doctor about my high liver enzymes (apparently quick weight loss can actually cause fatty liver, so my surgeon told me not to be concerned).   And a specialist confirmed that I was not the only healthy patient sent to him by my previous doctor with an incorrect diagnosis.  Even without the diagnosis of "nonalcoholic fatty liver disease," I am still trying to be kind to my liver.  I haven't been good to my body in general.  I've spent years eating high sugar, (bad) fatty foods, and I was on the birth control pill for 24 years.

I got my new liver panel results today and was quite pleased to see that despite my recent bout with enjoying alcohol a little too much, my liver is doing quite well.

Date          Weight          AST (10-30)          ALT (6-29)
                                         (Ideal: 22)             (Ideal: 25)

5/03              330                   43                           36
3/13              257                   33                           21
6/14              257                   57                           37
9/14              246                   42                           29
12/14            244                   39                           29
6/15              255                   48                           30
9/15              255                   51                           46
1/16              242                   35                           26
6/16              245                   40                           26
3/17              238                   36                           16

So, as you can see, I will not be dying of fatty liver today. I will, however, continue to monitor my liver and try to take better care of myself so I can continue living the life I was meant to live -- without the annoyance and pain of these skin plaques. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

My 13th New-Birthday

On this date (St. Patrick's Day), 13 years ago, I was under a shit ton of anesthesia, having my insides completely rearranged -- all to be skinny.  Unlucky number 13.  The number 13 has such a bad reputation.  I mean, some hotels don't have a 13th floor, as if the 14th floor can't figure out they are still getting screwed?!  I refuse to give it that much evil power.  In numerology, the number 13 is about purification.  Although it symbolizes death, it is also about passing on to a higher level of existence.  I feel like this 13th year is actually going to be a great year -- as I have been learning about myself and growing as a person -- I hope to continue that trend for the foreseeable future.

I have been going through old blogs to prepare for this one, and it was funny re-watching myself transform from pro-surgery to pro-what-the-fuck-did-I-do-to-myself.  I almost skipped writing again this year to commemorate my new-birthday.  I am still in a weird place. 

This surgery changed me completely.  I had gastric bypass surgery to lose weight and "be healthy."  I was told that if I didn't lose weight, I would die a fat death of all the fat diseases.  So, at 27, I went under the knife to "save my life."  So, isn't it interesting that most of my health problems are now related to the malabsorption from the surgery?  I've gone over this a million times in other blogs, so I won't rehash it much here.  (You can read about my surgery HERE and vitamins HERE.)
Addiction transfer has become a very real problem in my life.  I've started to see a trend, mostly switching between food and spending money (you can read my latest blog about that HERE).  (THIS blog also touches on the addiction aspect, as well as the body image issues.)  They said this surgery would fix me.  Why am I not fixed?  I guess the first step is to say I was never broken in the first place.  It takes a lot of energy to be broken.  I feel a lot less anxiety now that I've decided I'm not broken and never was.  Sure, I still deal with some anxiety, but I can usually trace that back to eating too much sugar, or PMS'ing.  Sure, I have some things about myself that I would like to change, but I'm not a broken human being.  I wake up every day to go to a job I enjoy, I am surrounded by a good group of friends and family.  I have enough money to do fun things.  As I love to say, my life doesn't suck. 


Back to those old blogs.  HERE is my six year update.  I was still very much pro-surgery and weight loss.  I was rambling about needing to get my cardio in to lose weight.  I'm sure I was counting calories.  Not much changed the next year.  I gathered up all my old posts about surgery.  You can read the seven year update HERE.  My eight year update from 2012 can be found HERE.  I was still battling my weight.  Still unhappy.  That is the year I went to the job from hell in San Francisco (in October).  My nine year update is HERE.  I really hated that job and I was starting to have issues with plantar fasciitis (bone spurs in the feet, most likely from calcium deficiency due to the surgery).  I was gaining weight from being unhappy, eating crap food in San Francisco, and not exercising as much.  My favorite lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich with macaroni in the middle of it...with a cookie on the side!  Divine.  Plus, I was picking up cupcakes from the Cupkates truck at least once a week.  I feel like year ten was a turning point for me.  You can tell a little in the blog post (which you can read HERE), but leaving that job was the first step in changing my life into the life I wanted.  I skipped year 11, but my 12th anniversary post is HERE.  I'm on the right path.  Finally.  In February 2015, I got the job I have now -- a job I really enjoy with people I like.  I had started working with Ellen in 2014 to make myself healthier and was continuing to make changes (you can read a post about that HERE).  In August 2015, I got out of a relationship that wasn't working for me.  Years 11 and 12 were big years in the emotional health and personal growth departments.  Nothing like waiting until you're 40 to get it figured out! 

Nude Artista in 2017 with Roz the Diva
So, let's get back to this 13th surgiversary thing.  I'm in a good place.  I won't lie.  I'd still like to lose a few more pounds, but I'm not obsessing over it.  Please don't ask me to explain why I still want to be thinner, when I've just spent a ton of time explaining that thinner doesn't mean happier.  I just do. 
I feel like I lay out all of my emotions on this blog more often than not.  Is anyone sick of my emo shit yet?!  I appreciate the outlet, but I do have a lot more fun than it probably seems.  My weight doesn't define me.  I do look forward to continuing to grow into a person who doesn't just say she has no fucks to give about what people think about her body, but actually does have no fucks to give.  Here's to a year of no fucks!  Wait.  That didn't come out right.  Here's to a year of being more awesome, having more fun, and loving the life that I have!  But let's have plenty of fuc...well, you know what I mean. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Artista Apparel: Who's That Girl?!

I have proudly joined Artista Apparel (formerly Artista Active Wear) as an ambassador again this year.  Please check out my bio on their site!

Don't forget, if you shop on their site, use ABALM10 for 10% off at checkout!