Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Needs no comment

A high school friend with whom I've caught up during the past five or so years periodically forwards things to me. While I don't re-forward a lot of what I get -- hey, I like hearing from people, even if it's one of those circulating pieces, but I know that a lot of folks can't stand them -- this one is definitely worth sharing. It speaks for itself.

Who Started Christmas?
Author unknown

A woman was Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of walking down row after row of toys and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the store elevator with her two children in hand. She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card. Finally the elevator doors opened revealing a crowd in the car. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids and all her bags of stuff in with her. As the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and blurted out, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot." From the back of the car, a quiet calm voice responded, "Don't worry, we've already crucified Him." The rest of the trip down was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all would, just think how much better this world would be. Jesus is the reason for the season. Wise men still seek Him.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 7: A Big NSV (Non-scale Victory)

So yesterday morning, my primary care physician's office called me. I had gone in on Monday for quarterly blood work related to diabetes. They were calling to give me the results.

Every quarter, persons with diabetes should have a Hemoglobin A1c test, which measures long-term blood glucose control. The HA1c monitors the amount of glucose that bonds itself to red blood cells. The average red blood cell lives about 3 months, so an HA1c test reflects the status of your blood glucose control for roughly that period of time.

Why is this important? It is the overage of glucose in the bloodstream that leads to diabetes complications. Chronically elevated glucose can damage the eyes, nerves, cardiovascular system and kidneys.

A normal, non-diabetic person has an HA1c score of 5 percent, which means that roughly 5 percent of the red blood cells are glycated. This translates roughly to an average blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL. If your score is above 6 percent, you are considered diabetic. The American Diabetes Association says that a score of 7 percent or less means that your blood sugar is well-controlled. My last HA1c reading, taken in late August, was 6.1 percent. In other words, I was "barely" diabetic and in good control of my blood sugar. Of course, I was also on extended release Metformin. Otherwise, it would have been higher.

Now, enough with the background and dramatic build-up. My doctor's office called me to tell me that my first-post-op HA1c score was --

Now for some fun. I found this on a website and thought I'd share:

1 pound = a Guinea Pig
1.5 pounds = a dozen Krispy Kreme glazed donuts
2 pounds = a rack of baby back ribs
3 pounds = an average human brain
4 pounds = an ostrich egg
5 pounds = a Chihuahua
6 pounds = a human skin
7.5 pounds = an average newborn
8 pounds = a human head
10 pounds= chemical additives an American consumes each year
11 pounds = an average house cat
12 pounds = a Bald Eagle
15 pounds = 10 dozen large eggs
16 pounds = a sperm whale's brain
20 pounds = an automobile tire
23 pounds = amount of pizza an average American eats in a year
24 pounds = a 3-gallon tub of super premium ice cream
25 pounds = an average 2 year old
30 pounds = amount of cheese an average American eats in a year
33 pounds = a cinder block
36 pounds = a mid-size microwave
40 pounds = a 5-gallon bottle of water or an average human leg
44 pounds = an elephant's heart
50 pounds = a small bale of hay
55 pounds = a 5000 BTU air conditioner
60 pounds = an elephant's penis
66 pounds = fats and oils an average American eats in a year
70 pounds = an Irish Setter
77 pounds = a gold brick
80 pounds = the World's Largest Ball of Tape
90 pounds = a newborn calf
100 pounds = a 2 month old horse
111 pounds = red meat an average American eats in a year
117 pounds = an average fashion model (and she's 5'11½"!)
118 pounds = the complete Encyclopedia Britannica
120 pounds = amount of trash you throw away in a month
130 pounds = a newborn giraffe
138 pounds = potatoes an average American eats in a year
140 pounds = refined sugar an average American eats in a year
144 pounds = an average adult woman (and she's 5'4")
150 pounds = the complete Oxford English Dictionary
187 pounds = an average adult man
200 pounds = 2 Bloodhounds
235 pounds = Arnold Schwarzenegger
300 pounds = an average football lineman
400 pounds = a Welsh pony

Here's the latest ticker:

In other words, I've lost a human leg, a Guinea pig and a couple of first-class letters since my initial consult with Dr. Schweitzer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I am The Dancing Queen's mother ... and this and that

Trumpet fanfare: I now weigh less than my husband!!! In all fairness, he is 4-and-one-half inches taller than I am, but if you're an obese married woman, you understand the significance of this achievement.

My great achievement (you ought to be able to see my tongue in my cheek, by the way) comes after a particularly hectic weekend which followed the craziness of last week. First, for all who called or emailed, Kevin is fine. He needs to see the doctor, but it wasn't a heart attack. He was having shortness of breath, fainting and palpitations, but not the crushing pain of a heart attack, so he knew he probably wasn't having one at the time they took him to the hospital. But his EKG while there was a little flaky, so they want him to get it checked out. It was probably something to do with his mitral valve prolapse, a.k.a. "heart murmur," instead. I suspect there's some sort of insufficiency. My dad had something similar and ended up having open-heart surgery in his mid-60's.

Anyway, spending a snowy evening at Howard County General Hospital set me back on my heels a little for getting things done, and the next thing I knew, we'd reached the "insane holiday-time weekend that parents of small children dread." You know, the one with multiple mandatory activities.

On Saturday night, we had Madeline's first dance recital. Madeline is a student at Hua Sha Chinese Dance Center. Hua Sha is a troupe of semi-professional dancers organized and choreographed by Ms. Xiao Fang Xu, who was a famous dancer in Shanghai. While most of the dancers are teens and adults -- indeed, one of the soloists works where Kevin works -- Ms. Xu offers dance classes for children. Last year, Hua Sha performed at the Lunar New Year party at Kevin's office. Madeline was captivated! She had already shown some interest in taking dance lessons, and I was looking at ballet and tap programs, but when she saw Hua Sha's rendition of the Tibetan Dance, she was all ready to sign up then and there.

To be sure, we promised the China Centre for Adoption Affairs that we would raise our daughter with an appreciation of Chinese culture. The fact that Madeline wanted to study at Hua Sha was certainly in line with that goal. Nevertheless, late last summer, I told her that she could either study at Hua Sha, or I'd look into classes at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, where her best friend Amanda takes ballet. Madeline emphatically told me that she wanted to study Chinese dance. When I asked her why, she said that the costumes were better. Probably not quite what CCAA had in mind, but we'll take it.

Saturday was the culmination of an autumn's worth of weekly dance classes. Ironically, the recital costume was the pink leotard and white tights she wears to class. After an afternoon of rehearsals at church for the Sunday School pageant to be held on Sunday night, we showed up with grandparents in tow at the Howard Country Center for the Performing Arts shortly before 5 p.m., when the recital was slated to begin -- at least according to the ticket. What we didn't know is that Ms. Xu would run the entire program twice, once as a dress rehearsal at 5 p.m. and once as the real thing at 7 p.m. Next time we'll know to ask, and we can take two cars. I hated to put Kevin and my in-laws through that. But the kids were cute, and the big kids and adults were fantastic. After she danced, Madeline sat transfixed on my lap while the others danced. And yes, as you can see from the picture, the costumes were as lovely and memorable as the dances themselves.

After the recital, we went to dinner at the Double T Diner in Ellicott City (good, cheap and fast), where the arts center is located. We got home around 11 p.m., a very late night for a tired little girl. Sunday night was the church pageant. Sorry, but the pictures turned out very dark. I was sitting too far back in a dimly-lit sanctuary to get great pictures, and at any rate, I didn't feel right about walking up front and using a flash.

As wonderful and crazy as the weekend was, I'm getting further and further behind on preparations for Christmas. Cards are not done. Shopping is not done. Baking is not done. House is not quite clean and certainly not entirely decorated. I'm definitely feeling the seasonal stress. Note to self: Read that post on 1st Corinthians 13 one more time.

P.S. Check out Therese Borchard's wonderful blog Beyond Blue on Beliefnet. Her Holiday Survival Thoughts are a stitch!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Christmas I Corinthians 13

One of my e-friends sent this to me today. I love it! A recovering perfectionist, I needed to be reminded of the principles in here before I started feeling too sorry for myself for not having Christmas in the bag yet.

It's been a rough day. I've spent the past 8 hours or so in or traveling to or from a hospital emergency room. Kevin was transported today from work for a possible heart attack. As it turned out, it wasn't one, but my best-laid plans of what I was going to accomplish tonight went up in smoke. I needed to be reminded. We all do.

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Merry Christmas and lots of love to you and yours!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Some of us would give our eye teeth ...

This picture of the actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is generating a lot of press this week. Apparently, the paparazzi caught Miss Love Hewitt in the act of looking like a normal, healthy woman. Some of the comments on TMZ.com, which published this photo and one of her rather average-looking backside, were excoriating. Interestingly, most of the mean ones came from women. The guys were more willing to give her a pass. As one guy said, "I'd still give my left testicle for a piece of that." Food for thought, ladies, food for thought.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How I got so big

I wrote this last night in a thread on ObesityHelp. I think it pretty well sums up how I got here.

I am overweight because I suffered from undiagnosed depression since my late teens. I was only diagnosed a couple of years ago.

Depression went undiagnosed so long because I wasn't so crippled by it that I couldn't go school or work. Amazingly, I earned 3 degrees and several academic honors. It just screwed up a lot of the rest of my life. I was never suicidal or horribly sad during this time, except when I lost my dad last year. I was just ... listless when I didn't absolutely have to do something, like get my job done at work or study for law school exams. My condo (I was single until I was 40) was messy and I couldn't care less about how I looked. I was a loner a lot of the time.

And, of course, I self-medicated with food. Food, I think, was my drug of choice because I was raised as an evangelical Christian, and gluttony is probably the one vice or addiction that's not completely unacceptable to a lot of Christians. I mean, alcohol, sex or drugs weren't real possibilities! (Much of this time, I needed a security clearance for work, so I also stayed on the straight and narrow for that reason.) I had a serious addiction to premium ice cream up until my mid-30's, when my gallbladder went haywire. And I loved real sodas, especially regular Pepsi. I also ate a lot of fast food because I was too "busy" being depressed to cook.

Although I was an athletic (and slim!) youngster -- I was a competitive swimmer -- I was too depressed to exercise regularly after college. Of course, exercise would have helped the depression, but I was sort of stuck in idle and watched the tube a lot instead.

Every now and again, I'd start to feel like life was passing me by and go on a starvation diet and lose a significant amount of weight You can imagine how this affected my metabolic function.

When I was 39, I met a really nice guy who wasn't a fat fetishist but also didn't mind that I was hefty. I married him in a size 24 bridal gown. Of course, living with someone made it hard to binge, so I went and got myself some help in the GWU Obesity Management Program. I really cleaned up my eating habits, except for the soda pop. I also became a proficient cook and lost 55 lbs. in a year. Mr. Husband is Mr. Gourmet and it looked like a fun hobby, so I wasn't entirely strict that year. Thus, during the year at GW, I did happen to learn controlling your weight didn't necessarily mean asceticism.

Unfortunately, after the year was up, I started into private practice and the grueling hours meant lots of convenience food for me. I gained the weight back, all but 10 lbs. For the next 5 years I yoyo'd over a 30 lb range and my health started to be affected by the weight. Finally in late 2005, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Then, in the spring of 2006, my dad fell and hit his head and had a bleed on the brain. Two brain surgeries and four months later, he died of a massive hospital infection. He never quite came back after surgery #2 and was so weakened by being bedridden that he succumbed to infection.

I've never known pain like that in my life, but it made me realize that I had mental health issues, and had probably suffered from them for many years. Losing Daddy forced me to confront those issues once and for all. As part of talk therapy, my shrink and I brainstormed what I could do about my weight, since my metabolism was so obviously screwed up. The first thing was to start exercising, which I did. The second thing was to look at weight loss surgery. It came as a bolt from the blue, and I had never seriously considered it before. (Makes me wonder if Daddy was up there pulling strings in Heaven.) My shrink encouraged me towards the lap band because it was the safest, most conservative form of surgery one could have.

Depression and extra weight can be a pretty wicked vortex. One leads to the other, which leads to more of the other, and on and on. Like therapy and medications, weight loss surgery can contribute to breaking the cycle. And that's what I intend to do.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 6: To Fill or Not to Fill

As of today, I am seven weeks out. I had Kevin take this picture tonight because people have been asking to see a picture, and I'm an obliging sort (except when you're hitting your kids in my presence, see infra, then all bets are off). My little shadow, of course, wanted to be in the picture and I obliged her, too.

I've weighed as little as 260 here at home without clothes, though in the office and fully-dressed, I was a little heavier than that. I am barreling in on Kevin and will pass him by in a few weeks.

Today, I had my 6-week check-up with Pat, Dr. Schweitzer's nurse. Supposedly, I was to have a fill. The big-bore needle was waiting for me on the counter in the examining room, right along with my chart. But, I'm down by more than 2 pounds a week since my last appointment and I still have significant restriction. Sometimes I do well to get a half-cup of protein in at a meal and that'll hold me for almost 6 hours before I'm hungry again. For these reasons, Pat and I decided that I didn't need a fill today. She told me she's had bandsters go for 8 months without a fill because they have enough restriction from an empty band to keep dropping weight at a good clip. I may be one of those lucky souls.

Oh, and my blood pressure was 119 over 76. Soon enough, I'll be able to drop that med, too.

I have to admit that this doesn't bother me one bit

It seems that Massachusetts is considering banning the spanking of children. While I'm usually a strong proponent of individual rights, I have to admit this doesn't bother me one bit. I hope Maryland follows suit.

Back when Kevin and I were trying to become parents, we, like everyone else who wants to adopt, had to undergo a home study. A completed home study is a state's "parenting license" for people who plan to come by a child by any means other than the old-fashioned way. It involves handing over a lot of documents -- from fingerprints (which are submitted to the FBI for a criminal background check) to driving records to vaccination certificates for household pets to the results of medical exams to a statement of net worth -- to a social worker, who interviews the prospective parents extensively. The social worker asks the parents-to-be, together and separately, dozens of questions about their respective families of origin, as well as questions about how they intend to parent said child. And, yes, some people do fail home studies.

In Maryland, the home study process requires you to sign an agreement stating that you will never engage in corporal or any other form of humiliating punishment. And since Kevin and I had agreed that we would use other disciplinary methods, we gladly signed.

I've always had issues with parents hitting children, and apparently so do a lot of other smart people, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are good reasons for not hitting kids, and I'll leave explaining those to the experts in my links. As a lawyer, moreover, I wonder why on earth it's okay for a parent to hit her kid, but if the same parent were to hit me, I could (and would) charge her with assault and battery.

As parents, we've had great success with other methods, including our favorite, Love and Logic. Not to be one of those obnoxious bragging mothers, but my daughter's teachers just told me how much they enjoy having her in their class. Friends volunteer to sit for her. Mothers of friends comment about how she's a good influence on their kids. Strangers in restaurants -- the kind of restaurants that don't have children's menus -- have noted her good behavior. Last summer when we were on vacation in another country, the owner of one of those fancy restaurants (and a French restaurant at that!) told us we could bring her back any time.

Yes, she acts like a kid a lot of the time. She's certainly energetic, spirited and opinionated enough for three children, but she also knows who's in charge around here and who has the power to impose consequences for bad behavior. And we do.

And no, we can't take all the credit. The baby the nannies handed me in south China had already been described at age 13 months as "sweet," "smart" and "close to the nannies." So we had some pretty good material to start with.

As I've gotten older, seeing and hearing parents abusing their children in public has gotten more and more unsettling for me, and as I've gotten menopausal, I've gotten a hell of a lot more honest with people. The last couple of times it's happened in front of me -- both times in the supermarket -- I've called the mothers on it. Both times, they were trailer-parkish sorts of women in too-tight jeans and too much makeup, young enough to be my daughters. (Yes, I am a snob. Deal with it.) Both times, the discipline imposed went well beyond a whop on the butt. Both times, it involved multiple blows to the face or neck. One of the children was, in my estimation, around three years old. Both times, the scene that ensued was ugly, and I believe that only my girth and gray hair that protected me from the young woman's wrath. Both times, I had no doubt in my mind that if the mother acted that way in public, she was doing far worse in the privacy of her home. Both times, I wished fervently that if I whipped out my cell phone and called the cops, the young woman would leave the store in handcuffs and the child would leave in the custody of Child Protective Services. But that'll have to be my fantasy until the Maryland General Assembly decides to do something about it.

It's time, Maryland. It's time.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Worth quoting

The ObesityHelp Lap-band forum has wonderful folks in it, many of whom are excellent thinkers and some of whom even write well. One of our most successful members -- Bette in Connecticut, who has lost over 200 pounds and maintained for a while -- periodically re-posts the following essay that she wrote when she was about one-third of the way to goal. The essay is one of many reasons I love Bette.

The Easy Way Out

“Well, you’ve lost 69 pounds. How do you feel?”I must have looked at the doctor like he was speaking Swahili. How do I feel? Lighter. Overjoyed. Smaller. Happy. Healthy. Exhilarated. Terrified. Doubting. Is weigh loss surgery a “cheat”? Is it “the easy way out?” That, unfortunately, seems to be the opinion of a lot of people, probably more than anyone realizes, since most people with that opinion seem to be smart enough to keep their mouths shut. Hell, if you had any balls, you’d lose weight the old-fashioned way!

The rest of us are toughing it out with exercise and the ability to push ourselves away from the table!

If you had any willpower, any self-restraint, you wouldn’t be fat!

Jeez, try a salad once in a while!

All you had to do was get some doctor to staple your stomach a little and, voila! Instant thin person! Anyone can that! I can’t imagine that two dieters would say to each other,

“You’re doing low-carb? You’re taking the easy way out!”

“Oh! Weight Watchers – that’s taking the easy way out!”

“Jenny Craig? Hell, you don’t even have to COOK! That’s the easy way out!”

But what damn difference does it make HOW anyone loses weight, as long as the result is the same: better health and a better quality of living.

“The Easy Way Out.” I wish I could have been reminded that I am taking the easy way out five minutes ago when I was throwing up my dinner. Again. You know what I ate? Two baby shrimp and two strips of chicken that, together, were the size of my little finger. Folks, this IS the hard way. It means that I’ve tried a lifetime of diets: Slim Fast, rice diet, high-carb/low fat, high-fat/low carb, cabbage soup. Hell, I even tried those diet candies called “Aids”. Remember those? Yeesh. What a publicity nightmare that product name turned out to be after about 1985! But they sure were tasty! The diets never worked or, rather, they worked for a while, then they didn’t. I lost weight, and gained it back. Lost weight, gained it back. It’s like the instructions on a shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat. Diet, gain, repeat. And those returning pounds never came alone; they always brought a bunch of friends with them to take up residence in my ass.To make the decision to have weight loss surgery is to face the realization that this is it: the end. I’ve heard people call it “the last house on the block.” Your options are gone. You’re never going to get any thinner. You’re certainly not getting any younger. Those knees, hips and ankles are going to need replacing sooner rather than later. And chances are, you might not live much longer. The short time you have is going to be filled with can’ts and don’ts and never agains. Stares, giggles, comments.

“We don’t have anything in your size here.” “Wideload.” “Fatass.” “Orca.”

The short time will be full of big things like diabetes and high blood pressure, of osteoarthritis and edema and congestive heart failure. Of annoying things like recurring yeast infections and skin ulcers. Of little things, like not being able to cut your own toenails or wipe your own ass. Then, finally, it’s resignation; it’s just giving up. You reach the point of living the rest of your increasingly short life in discomfort, pain, illness and depression, or reaching out and praying that there is one last hope. It’s reaching the point of being willing to subject yourself to dangerous surgery, pain, and possibly even death. It should be given a scenic kind of name, like “Desperation Point”. They could sell postcards:

“GREETINGS FROM DESPERATION POINT” This IS the hard way. Every meal has to be as carefully and scrupulous[ly] studied as if you are on a diet: because you are. Not for a month, or until your vacation, or until the wedding.

For the rest of your life.

But it is so much more than just a diet. There is the missing element of eating as pleasurable. Instead, there’s constant worry. Is that food, which you always loved, going to “agree with you” still, or will it make you sick? Have a couple of bites of your half-cup sized dinner before your last meal has cleared your new stomach, and it’s coming back up. Have one tiny, pencil-eraser sized bite of food too many and it’s coming back up. One chew too few and it’s coming back up. Too much fat or sugar and you’ll get “dumping syndrome”. Not enough protein and your hair will fall out. Not enough iron and you’re anemic. Not enough potassium, and your heart will stop.This IS the hard way. It’s living with the terror of gaining the weight back and knowing that there will be NOwhere else to go. There are NO other answers. This is it: the last house on the block. It’s there, every minute of everyday. And it’s not “the easy way out”. This is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. THIS is the hard way. And is it worth it? Hell yes. The joy is overwhelming. To be able to buy clothes in a regular store. To tie my shoes. To be able to walk even a block again. To lose the painful edema in my feet. To sit comfortably in an armchair. To wear my cowboy boots again. To know that my blood sugar levels are down and that I don’t need to take as many meds. To know that I’ll be able to spend even a few extra years with the husband I adore.

Worth it? Oh, yes, yes . . . YES!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The good news about adoption

This voice clip was on NPR this morning and someone in one of my adoption forums pointed it out to us. The gist of the clip is that, over the long term, adopted kids aren't any more likely to suffer from self-esteem issues than biological kids. Of course, in our house, we knew that already. But, in larger international adoption community, there's a group of parents who always have their kids under the microscope just looking for problems: attachment and trauma issues in infants and toddlers, evidence of a gaping Primal Wound, insurmountable identity issues in older kids and the like. And then there are the adoption professionals that serve these Nervous Nellie parents, the ones who tell us our children are wounded for life or, for those of us who've adopted across racial lines, that our children will invariably be subject to all kinds of racial prejudice that we are just too dumb to understand. Some even tell us that we're the New Colonialists who've done an evil thing by adopting our children and that they regret having adopted their own children now that they've seen the light. (Of course, they always wait until their families are complete to have such revelations.) The intensity of these parents and professionals is unmatched anywhere. They seem to spend a lot of time online trying to educate the rest of us fools. None of this is to say that real problems don't exist. Certainly, a percentage of orphanage children have attachment issues or bear evidence of early neglect. Certainly, a percentage of adopted kids will struggle with birthparent issues. Certainly, some of our children will suffer prejudice or hostility because they look different than the majority or were born in another land. But, is my daughter by definition a broken doll who'd have been better off if I'd left her in an orphanage in south China? I don't think so. And neither should you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

On being thankful

Taken from my post on ObesityHelp this morning (gratitude thread, Lap Band forum):

First, I am thankful to God, whom I know through His Son Jesus Christ.

I am thankful to be an American. This isn't a perfect place, but at least for me, it's pretty darned good. I think it's easier to succeed here than it is in most other places.

I am thankful to have grown up in a loving family, warts and all. I am thankful my sweet dad had 83 years here on Earth and that my mom survived breast cancer twice and is still with us at 81. I am thankful for 4 terrific siblings (and their spouses), a boatload of nieces and nephews, and now, great-nieces and nephews, too. I know so many people who hate one or more of their siblings. It's a mystery to me how people feel that way because I love of all mine and consider them friends.

I am thankful to have met and married my sweet Kevin, warts and all, and can't wait until I weigh less than he does. And darn it, that target keeps moving downward, despite the fact that he eats more than I do and drinks beer.

I am thankful for my daughter, Madeline. I cannot imagine loving any human being more. It's a privilege to be raising this child.

I am thankful for a veritable army of friends, both in the flesh and in cyberspace.

I am thankful for the chance to get a great education and for the generous people who made that possible for me by funding scholarships and seeing my potential. I am thankful to have done well enough that Kevin and I can provide a great education for Madeline.

I am thankful for a really good job. It's a job that uses my education, stretches my brain, teaches me new skills, pays pretty well, and gives me the flexibility to be a hands-on mom. I'm also thankful for really terrific managers and kind, mature colleagues.

I am thankful for having more than enough materially.... plenty to eat, a nice home to live in, a nice van to drive, a closet full of clothes, etc. While we are not our possessions and often take them for granted, or worse, feel entitled to them, life would be a lot tougher without them.

And last but not least, I am thankful for the band, as I'm over 30 pounds lighter than I was 6 weeks ago. I am thankful for the skilled hands and mind of Dr. Schweitzer and the entire crew at Hopkins Bariatrics and Bayview Medical Center. I'm even thankful that GEHA approved me on the first letter!

I'm sure there's more . . . .

I think I married better than this guy

I met my husband, pictured here, in the online dating world over 10 years ago. As a big girl (which definitely puts you at a disadvantage in the "meet market"), I kissed a lot of frogs before I met my prince at age 39.

There's a video circulating today regarding an email that ended up on Gawker written by a guy who was just trying to find a little female companionship. Gawker apparently labeled hims the "world's worst person." The video speaks for itself. Check it out, and try not to barf.

I think I did much better in the marriage sweepstakes. Right now, my only complaint about Kevin is that he still weighs less than I do. I am down to 261 today.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Of Turkeys and Teacher's Conferences

Kevin took this about a week ago. It's not the best picture of me in the world -- among other things, I've spilled something on my shirt and you have a real good view of my turkey wattle -- but it shows progress. On the progress front, today is a big day because I crossed the 30-pound mark. Tomorrow is six weeks out. Not too shabby for someone in "Bandster Hell."

Bandster Hell is the period of time after your surgical swelling in your stomach goes down until you have had enough "fills," i.e., saline injections to inflate the band and give you good restriction. Unlike the malabsorptive procedures, particularly the Roux-en-Y, the band itself does nothing to abate hunger. Without restriction, the food doesn't stay in the upper part of your stomach, where it stimulates the vagus nerve, which sends satiety signals to your brain, for very long. You can overeat. Some people actually continue to gain weight during this time.

I can eat more now than I could a couple of weeks ago, but fortunately, I still seem to have a little restriction, particularly in the morning. And my doctor's CNP says that I may be one of the lucky few that does. Other times, I'm trying very hard to keep my quantities low and to make good choices. I haven't been perfect. I have had a couple of homemade chocolate chip cookies from the batch I made for Madeline's lunches. But I'm not obsessing about the cookies and filching 2 every hour, nor am I beating myself up about eating them. I planned that snack and made a conscious choice to eat them. They were good and I savored every nibble. (It took 30 minutes to eat 2 cookies.) It's unlikely I'll go back to the cookie tin except to put them in someone's lunchbox.

I haven't gotten sick on anything I've tried yet. And that's good, because throwing up leads to complications. I've learned from experience, however, that pasta doesn't do well in my pouch, nor does bread. The gluten turns pasta or bread into a gooey blob, which blocks the stoma (exit into the stomach) for hours on end. Not a good feeling.

Dr. S's nurse Pat let me go back to Curves at four weeks out, and this is helping with my energy. I'm sure it'll help with inch loss, too. I missed Curves while I was out. Now if I can just hit the treadmill the other 3 days a week.
I'm cooking Turkey Day dinner this week for family. I think there'll be 10 of us. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law are doing some of the side dishes, but I'm cooking the bird and stuffing and making my cranberry relish, which has become a family favorite. I'll be picking up an Amish bird on Wednesday morning and putting it in a brine bath overnight. Last year, I learned that brining makes for a moist and flavorful turkey!

Now, the other picture .... I had a teacher's conference today. The verdict: she's acing kindergarten academically, but she talks too much in class and doesn't always pay attention. Nothing we didn't already know.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Too Cute Not to Share

If you like LOLCATZ, you'll appreciate this one. Someone posted it in one of my Lap Band forums.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 5: Thunk!!

Well, the scale hath "thunked" again. I am now at 266.8, which means I'm 1/3 of the way through my first hundred pounds and rapidly gaining ground on my spouse. (All my 10 readers who are larger-sized married ladies can appreciate the latter. "Oh, to weigh less than my husband!") I've threatened to steal his too-large jeans. When he balked, I told him that surely he didn't want to ever have to wear those jeans again, and I promised not to stretch them out in the butt, which is an easy promise for me to make since I'm kinda flat back there like a guy.

Here's the latest ticker:

We took Madeline to Mandarin class today, and afterwards, attempted our first meal out, at Lebanese Taverna in Annapolis. Note to Edie: Next time, order from the appetizer menu and not from the regular menu! This is going to have to be my rule now for most restaurant meals. I hate to waste money and food, and my tiny tummy certainly has its limits. A couple of stuffed grape leaves would have been enough lunch for me, and it sure would have cost less. Hey, I've gone from being a "cheap date" to being a "really cheap date"!

I ordered a chicken kebab, which came with a huge pile of rice and a salad. I didn't want to try salad yet -- technically, it's not part of a "soft" diet -- but I knew the chicken would be covered in tomato-ey sauce and sufficiently moist. Thankfully, nothing got stuck. I managed to eat about half the chicken and a bite or two of Madeline's hummous, wondering all the while if the tiny scrap of pita bread holding the hummous would get gummy in my tummy and stick in the stoma. Kevin and Madeline finished off my chicken and salad. I don't feel as guilty about wasting rice as I would have felt about wasting meat. Everything stayed down. No indigestion or pain.

The lunch out got me to thinking and me and Kevin to talking. A lot of the newbies in the weight loss surgery forums -- actually, the forum I read most is a bandster forum -- worry about what they'll have to give up. And a number of the veterans run off at the mouth (or is that "run off at the fingers"?) about how we shouldn't be enjoying our food and food is nothing more than fuel. Gad, I hope I never say that! I love a good meal! I appreciate good ingredients that are well-prepared. It's one of life's great pleasures, band or no band. Once a foodie, always a foodie.

Thankfully, my doctor's people don't seem to have a problem with my philosophy. (Some doctors seem to. I swear, maybe I'm imagining things, but from the stories I've heard, I've gotten the impression that there are bariatric surgeons out there who secretly hate fat people.) While I also have some healthier habits, including buying only 1% milk and cooking with olive oil, I told the nutritionist that did my pre-surgery eval (and could have rejected me for surgery!) that I use butter. Not Benecol. Not Smart Balance. Delicious, creamy butter. Accept no substitutes. And I use half-and-half in my coffee. None of this skim milk fake diet stuff. She didn't bat an eye. She told me that if I was a foodie before the surgery, I'd be an even pickier foodie with the band. If you can't eat much, what you eat must be absolutely divine. She's seen it happen before, and it's actually easier for someone who appreciates good food (read: someone who doesn't frequent the McDonald's drive-thru 6 nights a week and dine at TGIFriday's on night seven) to be successful with weight loss surgery. Ah, the value of mature and refined tastes! And though I'll still eat butter, I just won't be eating enough of it to hurt me with a band. Food snobbery will work for me!

So, after lunch we promptly walked over to Whole Foods and went shopping.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 4: One Month Out

Today is my one-month "bandiversary." For the past week, the scale has been bouncing back and forth between 268.4 and 268.8. I went back to Curves on Wednesday, though, and that might have something to do with the scale being "stuck."

That doesn't matter, though. This morning, I got some news that's even better than a scale-drop.

If you're diabetic or know something about medical testing, you'll know that the normal range for fasting a.m. blood glucose is 80 to 120. Yep! For the first time since I went off Metformin, my blood sugar is sub-diabetic!!! What a happy day this is!

If you're considering Lap-Band surgery and some surgeon tells you that only a Roux-en-Y will help diabetes, don't buy it. I'm not the only one who's gotten this kind of result.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 3

I haven't lost any weight since the last post. I don't lose every day. Today, I did wear a pantsuit I haven't been able to wear much since we came back from China in 2003, and it was loose and comfortable! I can't wait to get back to Curves and lose more inches.

I would be losing every day if I'd had a Roux-en-Y or Duodenal Switch, but both of these procedures scared me. They both restrict the stomach size and cause a certain amount of malabsorption by removing part of the small intestine. In my research, I came to believe that causing malabsorpotion is like playing Russian Roulette. There's a small chance of getting the bullet in your brain, but if you do, you're 100% dead. If malabsorption causes problems for you, you're in big trouble. The Lap Band has an advantage over other restrictive procedures because there's no resection of organs, very little chance of bleeding during surgery and zero chance of leaks, which are a dangerous complication of the other surgeries. One OR nurse told me, "RNY patients don't look good when they come out of the OR. Lap Band patients just look healthier." I can understand the desperation of someone who weighs 400 or 500 pounds in wanting a fast rate of loss, but that's not me. I'll take the slower, safer route.

I'm feeling more and more normal every day. I have less indigestion and tightness in my stomach. For the first five or six days, I wondered what on Earth I'd done to myself. I have less soreness in the abdominal muscles. I was convered with bruises coming out of the hospital. Every time I turned around, someone else came into my room bearing needles for lab work, blood sugar tests, insulin and heparin shots, an extra IV line. I was so tired of getting "stuck." The bruises are now fading. The incisions are healing. My energy is coming back.

I found another really great post in my Obesity Help blog. This one discusses how I felt going into the surgery. I posted it October 8, the night before surgery.

Here, we are at 10:30 p.m. the night before. Since my surgeon does not do a pre-op liquid diet, I just ate a couple of slices of semolina bread and drank a big glass of water. That was on top of a lovely, healthy dinner of chicken breast, rice and green beans with pineapple sherbert for dessert. I have a huge stomach capacity, unfortunately, from years of major pig-outs in my late teens (when I actually burned 4000 calories a day) and my early 20's (when I didn't), which of course is why I'm having this surgery. I am concerned about being hungry in the morning and not even being able to drink water. My surgery isn't until almost noon. Going that long without food or water is rough on me. I'm a breakfast person!

Madeline's school was off today for a teachers' in-service day, and as a Federal employee, I was off, too, so we spent the day doing errands. Then, I came home and did as much cleaning as I could until it was time for dinner. Had a little time with Kevin after the kid was in bed. He is off to bed now. I'm staying up until midnight and drinking lots of water. I want to be well-hydrated. I'm also ironing, as the child will need school clothes later in the week.

I'm not nervous yet, or at least I'm not admitting it to myself. Kevin is more nervous, as is my mom. On an intellectual level, I know I'm being operated on by one of the very best bariatric surgeons in the world. This guy pioneered some of these procedures, and Johns Hopkins is still the #1 rated hospital in the country. I'm in good hands tomorrow and I know it. And that feels great.

But there's more than that. I'm riding along on this wave of love. I have so many friends ... on OH, on the various China forums I participate in, at my daughter's school, at our church, in my extended family. I'm hearing from these people today and have been for the past week. It's amazing, heartening. I feel so lifted by the love and the prayers and the messages of support. It's humbling to think about it.

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home

This is my little diva caught red-handed in the middle of trick-or-treating. She kept me out walking for 2 hours last night, which was great for my health, but now I have a huge bowl of candy to tempt me -- or maybe not, since I lost 80% of my sweet tooth with the surgery. I have placed the bowl in the highest cabinet. I need a stepstool to reach it. That should deter me from re-growing my sweet tooth. If it doesn't, I'll give it to Kevin to hide.

The diva is a ladybug, in case you can't tell. She had planned to be a cheerleader and took her cheerleader uniform and appropriate accessories -- the pink and orange crepe paper (hey, that's what I had on hand) pom-poms and pink socks and sneakers -- to school for the parade and party. I thought this was great because I bought the cheerleader uniform for "football day" in pre-school and it hasn't gotten much use. Fortunately, the diva grows slowly and most clothes from last year fit. But some wicked little boy made fun of her (this seems to happen quite a bit), so she decided that the Redskinette look was unacceptable. She came home wanting to be something else. We had the ladybug costume on hand from "insect day" in pre-school. (Are you seeing a pattern? Last year, I procured quite a few special garments for the various "days" they had in pre-school.)

I told her to put on the ladybug costume with black tights and her black school shoes and we'd have a great costume. She happily did so, but came downstairs complaining that the costume was "scratchy." (Another common occurrence around here.) So I had her put the red leotard on underneath. She decided to forgo the wings, which attach with velcro, because she thought she might need to put on a sweater after we'd been out a while.

At this point, I'd like you to know that the procurement of the costume has nothing to do with one of the looniest traditions in the China adoption world. Through some bizarre set of coincidences (I won't relate the story because there are a gazillion versions and I don't know which one is true), ladybugs have become the de facto symbol of China adoption. All the nutty first-time entitled parents-to-be, particularly the mothers, run out and buy ladybug things for their future daughters, then brag about having done so in the online fora. I'm sure several thousand little Chinese girls adopted by Americans have been ladybugs on Halloween. BUT, my husband, who is definitely not into the looney traditions of China adoption, bought this costume. Last April, I went on a business trip and forgot about getting something to wear for insect day. Kevin went looking for bug costumes to buy over the internet and found this one. So there you have it, my little ladybug.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 2

So I did it. I had my surgery on October 9th. Instead of a Roux-en-Y, I went with an Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap-Band) for several reasons. After seeing the surgeon initially, I did some more research and talked to a few people including my shrink and my primary care physician, then emailed the surgeon to let him know I'd chosen the band.

I chose the band because it's less invasive, in that there's no cutting and re-routing of one's innards. It's just a little silicone and titanium device that stays inside forever and reminds you that you can no longer overeat. I believe the band will work for me. It's not like I can't lose weight without it. I can and I have. I can diet. I can and actually like to exercise. After I saw Dr. Schweitzer (the surgeon), I joined Curves and went faithfully. I have and use a home treadmill. It's just that I get too hungry to last for many weeks on a diet. While I like sweets, I didn't want to give them up forever and be punished by "dumping" for indulging in a very occasional scoop of ice cream or slice of cheesecake. I just need a little helper sitting on the outside of my tummy reminding me that I can no longer indulge in seconds of a really great tuna casserole or meatloaf, and in fact, need to keep the first portion child-sized. Works for me.

So ... between the time I saw Dr. S. on June 11 and my surgery day, I dropped 7 pounds. The picture was taken the weekend before surgery. It's going to be my benchmark picture. I'll have Kevin take one each month, same dress, same door, same child with me. That way, you can see her grow while you see me shrink.

Since surgery, I've dropped 23 pounds. I attribute the rapid loss in part to giving up sugar, including my nasty Pepsi habit, and white flour. Now that I've been detoxed from sugar, it's a lot easier to avoid it. The post-op diet is protein-rich, similar to South Beach. I also have to keep the (non-caloric) fluids going all day. Between the two, I've probably peed off most of the 23 pounds. My calves and feet are no longer swollen. My legs look downright skinny. My shoes were the first diet casualty in that most of the ones bought more recently have been wide width to accommodate my swollen feet. I bought a comfortable pair of size 9 mediums yesterday. My bras have also been a casualty. I'm temporarily, until the swelling in my midsection goes down, unable to wear underwires. Good thing I bought sports bras the weekend before the surgery. And the best news of all is that I'm off Metformin!! My blood glucose has been inching towards normal since the diet change, and the liquid Metformin I ordered is too gross to drink. I asked my primary if I could just skip it, and she agreed.

I had my first follow-up with the surgeon's office and his CNP Pat -- you usually don't see The Man, as he's a busy, busy guy -- two days ago. She was very happy with me, especially when it came to what the scale shows. I have my first fill, if I need one (seem to still have restriction from surgery), on November 27. I'm still on the pureed diet (the first week was full liquids), but I get to start working regular soft foods into my diet next Tuesday at 4 weeks out. I also get to go back to Curves then.

So, here are the weight stats so far:

June 11 (consultation) 299
October 9 (surgery) 292.2
October 31 (today) 269.2

Yes, I do rock!!!

My surgical experience was an interesting one. Had a few minor complications. Here's my post about it from my Obesity Help blog. I wrote this on October 13th:

It's amazing what a couple of nights at home in your own bed can do. The earlier part of this week seems like a bad dream now. Thankfully, all is well, but things were a bit dicier a few days back.

Everything started pretty uneventfully. When I got to
Johns Hopkins Bayview on Tuesday morning, they had me ready to go within an hour, and since the OR was free, they got started an hour early. It was the usual stuff. The anesthesia team came by and asked lots of questions -- amazingly enough, the anesthesiologist is in the process of adopting from China!!! -- and got me prepped. Dr. S. came by with the informed consent, and I started to see why lots of reviewers say he has a wicked sense of humor. The nurse anesthestists were trying to start an IV at the time he showed up. I have notoriously small, rolly-polly veins. They were on their 3rd attempt when Dr. S. came in and he chided them about that. Accommodating soul that I try to be, I told him that 3 tries was NOTHING, that it took 6 tries for the IV they inserted before my nose job. "Don't tell them that!!! You're just encouraging them!" he said, with a little false-consternation on his face. It was priceless. We both had a good laugh. Dr. S. went over the informed consent and told me I could expect to lose 50% of my excess weight, "statistically speaking," or something to that effect. I looked him in the eye and said, "I am not a statistic." He broke into a big grin at that point, and then, after Kevin kissed me good-bye, they rolled me back.

I remember being settled on the table and Ron, one of the nurses, pushing a wedge under my knees and shoulders to keep my back comfortable. (Dr. S. had asked me about my back problems in front of them earlier.) The next thing I remember, there were several masked faces circled around my head and Ron was shaking my shoulder and telling me I'd sailed through the surgery without any problem and it was 1:00 and they were going to transfer me to recovery. I remember being wheeled into there.

I woke up again at 2:30 in a little bit of pain and the nurse told me they were having trouble with my oxygen saturation levels. I was hovering around 87/88 with oxygen canulas in my nose, and they wanted the mid-90's. The nurse encouraged me to keep pushing the button for pain meds until the pain was gone, then they gave me an incentive spirometer to get me breathing more deeply. I kept bugging them to call Kevin and let him know how I was. I didn't want him to worry and had seen how nervous he had gotten when his dad had surgery a couple of months ago and ended up in recovery for several hours. Finally, at about 6 p.m., they were able to transfer me to my room. A good thing, too. Had I not been able to get my numbers up, I might have spent the night in the SICU.

Once in my room, Kevin came by to see me, then I learned I'd get nothing by mouth for another 12 hours. I desperately wanted chicken broth!!! And Jello!!! And water!!!!They brought me water and a little sponge on a stick like we had to use to clean my dad's mouth out during his final illness when he couldn't eat. (He had had neurological problems and they didn't trust his swallowing reflex.) My mom has cried and cried over having to use that little sponge on Daddy when he so desperately wanted to eat something. Well, I got a 12-hour taste of what Daddy experienced, and oh my! As the song goes, I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then. Just to think about my dad living like that for the last four months of his life tears me up.

I had a roommate. Said roommate was suffering severe diabetes complications and was clearly in a great deal of pain. She told me she'd already lost a leg and was losing toes on the other foot. Since she wasn't obese or even appreciably overweight, I asked her if it was type 1 and she told me, no, she had type 2. Yikes!!! I saw what the future without weight loss surgery might have been and it wasn't pretty. However, to this lady, I was also obviously a child of a lesser god because she kept the frickin' TV on ALL night. And the light on her side. I could not sleep. Meanwhile, the nurses kept coming in and telling me to breathe because my pulse oxygen level was really low. Finally, dawn broke and I got to eat and ate some yogurt and drank Crystal Light and water. Kevin showed up about 10 to pick me up and they told him I wasn't going anywhere. I hadn't been able to pee yet and they'd removed the Foley. Kevin got pretty upset about that because they'd told him the day before that I'd be ready to go by 10. Hell, I was upset, too. I made him go home. Meanwhile, I read over my release instructions and realized I wouldn't be driving for 3 weeks instead of one. I started freaking over that, because all the carpooling, etc. arrangement I'd made were for naught. I worried about what Madeline would think about my spending another night. I worried about Kevin being anxious over my not coming home. Worse yet, I was just exhausted by the roommate's behavior the night before. Now, every time they came in to check on me, the roommate would try to get the nurse over to her side for some minor complaint.

So, here I was, thoroughly stressed out and feeling worse and worse, and I finally just started crying. My meltdown got everyone's attention, and all of the sudden, my half of the room was filled with nurses, CNP's, residents, etc. Dr. S's main resident came to see me, too. Together we all figured out what to do. One of the CNP's told me that there was no way I'd be allowed to go home that day. In response, I told her she was going to have to call my husband and work things out with him, because he was upset and afraid. She did and was successful in her mission. As for all the other crap I was sitting there crying about about (work, carpool obligations, etc.), they told me everyone would just have to understand, so I could stop worrying right now. And amazingly, I did. (And everyone involved has been more than understanding.) One of the CNP's came back and told me Dr. S was concerned about things other than my lack of pee despite a dose of Lasix (did I have congestive heart failure?). First, I was burping a lot (so, had the band slipped already?). Second, my heart rate was speeding up and my blood gasses were still not good (did I have a blood clot or pneumonia?). Bottom line: I would have to spend another night and have some tests, and the *%(^! Foley catheter would have to go back in.

As the nurses were reinstalling the Foley -- fortunately, it wasn't really that bad, compared to having my nose packed after sinus surgery -- Dr. S. peeked into my room and told me how sorry he was to put me through THAT again, and that he had to eliminate all the possible complications, so I would spend some time being tested that afternoon. He told me he expected that everything would be all right, but he had to check to be sure. Pat, his CNP, also came up and talked with me about fills and held my hand a bit. They put another IV in (Ana the nurse gets a gold star for getting it on the FIRST try!) and x-rayed my lungs. We went downstairs and did an upper GI and a CT scan of my heart and lungs with contrast. Fortunately, everything was okay.

The roommate was transferred out some time that afternoon. Phew! At 5 or so, Kevin and Connie (my mother-in-law) walked into my room and asked if I'd like to see Madeline. Amber, the tech, came with a wheelchair to get me and wheeled me out to the lobby on the 6th floor, where my family was waiting. Kevin had really wanted Madeline to see that I was okay and asked the hospital to make it possible for her to see me beause she was too young to be allowed back in the rooms. He said when she got home from school on Wednesday and learned that I wasn't going to be home that night, she was inconsolable. Bayview gets high marks just for making the visit possible.

I went back to my room and had dinner, then the respiratory therapist came to see me and I went to sleep. At 4:30 a.m., they brought in my new roommate, a woman from the ER with mystery chest pains. She soon found out I was on Vicodin and started bugging the nurses for pain meds. They wouldn't give them to her and she threatened to check herself out. Meanwhile, she talked nonstop on her cellphone and watched TV all night and into the day.

On Thursday morning, they took out the Foley, gave me more Lasix and I performed the requisite toileting activity. I also got up and walked around a lot. By 10, they received the final reports from the studies and let me know they'd be cutting me loose that day. When Georgeanne, the CNP, gave the high sign, I called Kevin and he was there within the hour and I was safely home by 2:30. To the very end, the nurses kept checking my oxygen levels and kept making me walk around. In the process, we discovered that one machine they were using tested everyone's oxygen levels as low, including the level for the nurse who was testing me. So, I suspect that that the blood gas problem might have been part machine failure.

However, there was a real problem. My chest xray showed that my lungs were "wet," as though an infection was in the works. I think had this been the case on my pre-op x-ray they would have postponed the surgery. I was exposed to a sick kid last weekend. Thankfully, the fall-out was minor, though I now have a nasty chest cold.

Things have gotten better and better since then. Bayview sent a home health nurse today, and she felt I was doing well. I'm more chipper and alert than I was after the gallbladder surgery, though every bit as sore, particularly at my port incision below my left breast. But I have no fever, my incisions look great and my blood sugar levels are PERFECT without meds.

So that's the whole ugly story.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Worth pondering

A friend directed me to this voice clip from NPR. Enjoy, dear reader.

From the clip: "Race, blood, lineage, and nationality don't matter. They're just the way small minds keep score. All that matters about blood is that it's warm and that it beats through a loving heart." This is the most profound statement about international adoption I've seen in a long time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Too funny!!

This is cute! How many of these things have you said to your child this week?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

There is a God

Of course, I knew that already. I am confident that He exists. It's just that the news that Mike Nifong was disbarred today has put me in an especially expansive mood. I abhor all forms of official misconduct, but I especially abhor prosecutorial misconduct. An overly zealous, say, health inspector might succeed in separating Joe Businessman from money he didn't want to spend, but an overly zealous prosecutor can do much more harm. It's not about money. It's about liberty and sometimes life. A prosecutor's first duty isn't to ensure that law enforcement's most likely suspects go to jail or to represent victims' interests. Nope, it's to finding the truth and representing the people's interest in maintaining an effective but fair judicial system. And in these respects, Mr. Nifong grossly failed the people of North Carolina. Being an attorney is a privilege that he no longer deserves. So he's not one anymore. Good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Bariatrics, Part 1

Yesterday, I had a consultation with Dr. Michael Schweitzer at the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. As you can see from a picture at Pumpkin's 5th birthday party, I'm a big girl. Lucky for me, he thinks I'm a good candidate for bariatric surgery -- fat enough to qualify, but not so fat or so sick as to be a huge surgical risk -- so we are going forward. I had been thinking about a gastric band because (1) it's easily reversible if need be, and (2) the surgery has a lower complications and mortality rate (which makes sense because you're not resectioning anything, but instead, just adding an implanted device). I was also concerned about constriction in a healing roux-n-y'd stomach being a problem for some of my meds. I'd heard from a roux-n-y patient that she had to crush all her meds before taking them for a few weeks, and darn it, I need those extended release meds! Extended release meds are uncrushable. Dr. Schweitzer assured me there wouldn't be a problem. So now we're going forward with the paperwork. Next stop: a medical necessity letter from my primary (not a problem), a nutritionist appointment and a psych eval. Meanwhile, I'm keeping on at Curves.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Kids Say the Darndest Things, Part 1

Best friends forever

My daughter was recently in a production of The King and I. She's only five and was in pre-K this year, but her preschool is part of a larger school that goes through high school. The Upper School did the production and asked kids from the Lower School and early childhood classes to participate.

It was a lot of fun for both of us. Obviously, when you ask young children to do something, you are really asking their parents to jump in, too, and I did. I sewed big silky pillows for the king's palace, mended the odd costume, and applied makeup to little faces. The experience took me back to high school and college productions, and I loved it. My daughter seemed to love it, too. While she was initially skittish about being up on stage in front of lots of people -- at least until I assured her that the lights would be so bright up there that she'd never see her audience -- she was sold as soon as she learned her best buddy was going to be in the performance.

DD was supposed to be one of the children of Lady Thiang. If you're familiar with the story, you'll know that Lady Thiang was the head wife of many and the mother of the Crown Prince. She sings the song "Something Wonderful," which is one of my favorite Broadway numbers. I very much like the young lady the school selected for the role, and I have to say she was wonderful herself with my daughter. And DD was crazy about her.

I received an email today from "Lady Thiang," who wanted to share with me something my girl had said to her backstage. By way of introducing these comments, let me say that most of the kids in the show were not Asian like my daughter, and so they had to be made up to look at least a little bit like Thai people. Beside using the brownish foundation and the exaggerated eyeliner on the kids, the powers that be decided that all the kids' hair needed to be sprayed with black temporary hair color unless unless they already had dark hair. This spray stuff was icky, looked fake (see the picture of DD and her best bud, who is a blue-eyed blonde) and according to the other moms, required a lot of shampooing to remove. DD's hair is very dark brown, so she was one of the lucky ones who escaped the paint sprayer.

Without further adieu, I quote "Lady Thiang's" email:

"[DD] looks up at me with an excited smile and says, 'Did you know I'm Chinese?'

Me: 'No way! I had no idea [DD]!!! That's so cool!'

'And I don't have to spray my hair because I'm already Chinese,' [DD] said proudly."

Art Linkletter said it best, "Kids say the darndest things."

Oh, and the production was outstanding. My unbiased opinion, of course.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Please tell me this is a joke

So I got an email today, which is, in part, pasted in below. (I've omitted any identifying information to protect the guilty.) I don't know this person. I have no idea how she got my email address.

Yes, there actually were pictures. Pictures of the clothed variety, i.e., not porn, showing the woman's face.

It may just be a come on, a way to get access to a lot of Paypal accounts. I doubt it contains spyware, as it made it past 2 different filters. No, I really do think some people feel a sense of entitlement to things like this. "Hey, if they can raise money for this little Sally's bone marrow transplant, maybe I can raise money for my mammoplasty!" Whatever. It just boggles the mind.


And so on and so forth.

Friday, June 01, 2007

This is wrong on too many levels to count

On the other hand, this video just might be a hoax. Knowing something about Southern California, however, it wouldn't surprise me if it were true that a Los Angeles mom paid $1300 at a tanning salon so her little one could have the Lohan Look for a school picture.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

So what are we about here?

This is the second time I've attempted to blog, and hopefully, the charm. By way of introduction, I'm a 50-ish wife, mother and practicing attorney living outside of D.C. When I originally named this blog, I'd intended to include legal commentary, but I get enough of that at work. Moreover, I like to receive credit for my work, and I intend for this blog to remain somewhat anonymous in nature. So my comments will go to parenting a five-year-old, international adoption (source of the five-year-old), life in general, that ol' bugaboo "work-life balance" (ha!), popular culture, current events, politics and, very occasionally, legal topics. As for anonymity, if you know me already, you'll probably recognize me. If not, that's fine. Hopefully, I'll keep you entertained anyway.

Comments? I have them coming to me before posting to weed out junk comments or really nasty ones. If I can figure out how to control it, not every post will allow comments. If the issue is too hot and makes people too angry at me or each other, well, as one blogger I love has already said, "My blog is not a democracy."

There's a lot going on in my life this May 31. School is only a couple of weeks away from ending, then summer camp begins for the child to be known here as Pumpkin. Meanwhile, I'm trying to line up Chinese language and perhaps dance classes for her for the fall. The spouse, known here as DH, is going abroad for work for two weeks this summer. (Lucky him! While the country he'll be visiting is lovely, and wouldn't Pumpkin and I just love to go with him, the set-up for his project there is not conducive to visitors. Too bad!!) And me, I'm being evaluated for bariatric surgery in a couple of weeks. I'm a big girl. Have been for a long time. Tired of it all. No doubt I will track my progress here as well.

So I welcome you, dear reader.