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.


2005
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. 

2007

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. 

Cheers!

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!

https://artistaapparel.com/blogs/brand-ambassadors/lori-myers

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






Thursday, January 26, 2017

My New Addiction

A few months back, I had a conversation with a therapist who is well-versed in weight loss surgery and the issues that come along with using food as your coping mechanism.  I was slightly frustrated and complaining that I was the only person in my family who got this "raw deal."  No one else is a fat ass who wants to eat 24/7.  He said, "not so fast..."  He told me to think about my siblings and whether they deal with addiction in their own way.  Sure, no one is an alcoholic, however, I guess some could make the argument that one brother loves video games a little too much and the other spends a little too much on lotto scratchers.  That being said (when someone reads this and runs to them to tattle on me), I don't really think they have a problem.  Like me, they have their vices (or, as I like to look at it, something they enjoy doing that other people like to give them shit about), but we all get up every day and go to work and support ourselves (and, in their cases, their families).  However, the argument could be made that we use those items to escape something...whatever "something" is. 

Here we go again...

After gastric bypass in 2004, I lost my coping mechanism.  Food, glorious food.  They don't show you how to deal with yourself after weight loss surgery.  They just tell you that your stomach is the problem and once they cut it out, you'll lose the weight and live happily ever after.  Sure, they say all the right things: "this is a tool, and it is up to you to use it wisely..."  But they don't actually show you how to do that.  And most people spend the rest of their lives still living in diet mode.  That was the one thing I didn't want.  I just wanted to wake up one fucking day and not have food be the center of my universe.  I mean, I have to eat, right?  We all do in order to live.  It's not like a drug from which you can completely walk away.  What's the Overeater's Anonymous saying?  Something about drug addiction being like a tiger you can cage.  But when your drug of choice is food, you have to take it out and walk it three times a day.  

Once my stomach was chopped out, my drug of choice changed.  Sometimes shopping.  Sometimes sugar.  Sometimes sex.  Sometimes prescription drugs.  Usually I would realize what was happening and reel myself in.  I often noticed, though, that my pants would get a little tight if I didn't have access to one of my vices.  That being said, I also never actively picked up one vice in order to avoid another.  For instance, I never said, "hey I noticed I'm gaining a few pounds, so maybe I should start taking Vicodin and pull out the credit card in order to lose them."  Hopefully that makes sense.  My mind just naturally and fluidly moved from one vice to the next as I engaged in restrictive behaviors. 

My life has been pretty sweet lately.  Honestly, ever since I got out of my relationship almost a year and a half ago, and left my stressful job almost two years ago, I've been in a really good place.  My weight is down almost 30 pounds from my highest post-surgery weight about three years ago.  I haven't put myself into credit card debt.  I had access to Percocet post-breast lift surgery in November, and although I milked it a little bit, I have weaned myself off now.  In short, I'm good.

So, why am I drinking so much alcohol? 

I'm not drinking every day, but I am probably going out with friends and binging heavily at least once a week.  That's a lot for someone who used to drink maybe one drink once a quarter.  (I did go through a "drinking phase" in 2009 after I met Rob, but that's because our mutual friends were bar flies and we were just out in the bars four or five nights a week.)  This is the first time I think maybe I am using alcohol as my crutch.  And I really don't know why.  That's the thing, though, right?  If I had a handle on why I did any of this stuff, I probably wouldn't do it anymore.  Certainly, I'm not complaining, as I am appreciative of my recent weight loss and the fact that I'm not in debt.  However, I recognize that my liver only recently got a clean bill of health, and I should be protecting that at all costs.  An old friend of mine who is about the same age, had gastric bypass after me, and struggled with alcoholism just DIED waiting for a new liver.  I need to take this more seriously. 

I started watching the TV show, "This Is Us" recently.  It follows a family with triplets.  One of the girls is extremely overweight.  Some of the stuff she does on the show is triggering for me.  So sometimes I kind of stop paying attention if I think the dumb shit she's doing is going to bother me.  Today at lunch, I went home to watch the latest episode.  The show began on episode one revolving heavily around the birthdate of the triplets (which is also father's birthday).  I never knew what that date was.  Until today -- and it's my birthday.  August 31.  I don't know why that made me sit up and take notice.  In this episode, the fat girl goes to fat camp.  And I'm watching her struggle -- and I have to assume the actress herself struggles with this shit because that look on her face is fucking real.  And I'm distancing myself from her.  She's fatter than I was.  She's more obsessed with calories and dieting than I was.  She has way more issues than I ever did.  And I watched all of her issues bubble up and suddenly I felt like I got punched in the chest.  I started sobbing uncontrollably.  I don't fucking cry over television shows.  Apparently I need to deal with some issues.  I'm still processing what upset me but I'm sure it has to do with the flashbacks to her childhood. 

I guess I'm not here to offer answers to anyone struggling with the same issues post-weight loss surgery.  I'm just acknowledging that surgery doesn't fix our brains and staying on top of our issues is a lifelong commitment.  I'm coming up on 13 years out from my gastric bypass, and I'm still dealing.  Two friends have independently brought up the alcohol consumption to me, however, and if they are worried, I need to address it. 

I don't want to say I'm going to stop drinking -- seems like such addict behavior.  But I think I can easily return to just have a casual single drink once a month or so.  I'm using yoga and meditation to keep my head in the right place and help me deal with issues as they arise.  But I really would love to wake up one day and not have this be the theme of my life.  Until then...I keep sharing my stories with you and I always appreciate the comments and messages, as it lets me know I'm not alone...and neither are you. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Healing Viking Warrior: Two Months Post-Op

I am officially two months post-op from my breast reduction/lift (it is a little more complicated than that...you can read about it HERE.)

This week, I returned to lunchtime yoga.  It was a fairly gentle class, but I am still a bit sore today.  I expected downward dog or moving from plank to cobra to be most difficult.  The only move to really hurt?  Child's pose.  Not even because I was on my stomach -- but because I pulled back and kneed myself in the under-boob.  HA!

I expect to add back another yoga class next week, then hula and pole over the next couple of weeks, ending with the addition of my final yoga class in about a month.  Basically, by March 1, I should be fully back in my five day workout schedule.  I have been doing the squat challenge and am doing some gentle stretches, planks and other abs in the mornings before work.

I do wonder if some of my weight loss was due to muscle loss.  We all know "muscle weighs more than fat."  If that's the case, then my pants size should continue to go down even if the scale moves upward again once I'm working out.  I currently weigh 235 pounds (down from 245-247 just a few months ago).  I haven't been this weight in over six years.  I'm trying hard not to trigger my disordered eating/thinking, but I am a little too pleased with this weight loss.  I still equate skinny with happy, even though I know damn well that's not the truth.

I am extremely pleased with how I'm healing.  I still have some pain in the scar under the breast.  The mesh connects there, so its possible it will always feel a little weird.  I was able to lay down on my stomach for a massage last week (using pillows for padding and to partially prop me up).  I can lay on my side now (which is how I fall asleep, so once I was off the pain meds, falling asleep became difficult).

My measurements are still pretty much the same.  My bra size is around a 42G.  My implants are a full 100 cc's smaller, which should equate to one size smaller.  Perhaps I am still swollen.  However, I am not unhappy with the results.  They are lifted back into place, and I am able to wear cute little bralettes.

Since I am getting tons of comments about my weight, I figured people would be interested in before and after photos in that regard (I don't think most would appreciate nudies of how my boobs are healing).  So, check out some photos from the last few months.  Cheers!


October
November
December
January
January

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Underwater Photoshoot in Vegas...

I have received the photos from my Las Vegas underwater shoot with Brett Stanley, The Underwater Photographer.

Brett was incredibly patient during the shoot.  The nose plug didn't fit properly at first, so I took on some water.  We went over the poses I wanted to do....then we scrapped the plan and he suggested poses I could actually do.  Once you're in the water, everything changes.  It was fairly difficult to get myself positioned, actually stick to the pole, then make a face that wasn't completely hideous.  The panic of NEEDING air took over more than once.

I really love the end result though.  And now that I understand how the whole thing works, I'd love to do another one and plan better poses.  Check them out below:






Thursday, December 22, 2016

Recovery...

As most of you know, I had gastric bypass almost 13 years ago.  I initially lost 165 pounds (and have maintained a little over 110 pounds of that weight loss).  In 2006, I had three rounds of plastic surgery.  The first round included a breast lift and lower body lift (which is an extended tummy tuck). 

Although I had plenty of breast tissue at that time, my surgeon suggested an implant with the lift, as you apparently lose a lot of volume when you do a breast lift.  We discussed a size that I thought I would be happy with.  However, as I was literally going to sleep, he asked, after I'm done with your hips, if I think I can go bigger on top, can I?  I said sure.  Then I woke up with these monsters.  As I was in the recovery room, the nurse yelled over, doctor is on the phone and wants to bring you a support bra, what size do you wear?  I said, 38D.  She laughed and said, oh honey, those aren't D's.  Ugh.  He never brought me a support bra, so I'm guessing I was beyond the sizes they carry. 

I have always felt like my boobs were too big (currently I'm something like a 42DDD aka an F, G or H depending on the brand) and too low (essentially hanging at my elbows), and the nipples dropped unevenly, so earlier this year (ten years later), I went to another surgeon for an opinion on fixing them.  She said that she generally does not do a breast lift with a tummy tuck since you are pulling down what you would like to pull up and gravity always wins.  She warned me that since this was a revision of old work, I may not be fully happy with the results and there was a high risk of having to go in for another round to do some fixes.  I figured it was worth the risk and scheduled my surgery for the day before Thanksgiving.  I scheduled a breast lift, replacement of implants with a smaller implant, and installation of a mesh that would keep them from falling again. 

Before/After
I was pretty nervous on the day of surgery.  It is so much money, and time off work.  You can't go to the gym.  Shit, you can't even lift your arms above your own head or pick up more than five pounds for two weeks.  You don't realize how often you do those things until you can't do them anymore.  Yoga is out for at least six weeks.  Pole is out for probably more like three months.  Your whole life gets uprooted for a cosmetic change. 

I am now a month out from surgery.  I will admit when I first peeled the padding and garment off a couple of days after surgery, I was shocked.  Blood, bruising, angry incisions.  It looked scary.  I thought maybe I had made the wrong choice.  When the drains were pulled out a week later, I started getting a stabbing pain underneath that was apparently my body getting used to the mesh.  I was allowed to pull the tape off at about two weeks.  I was swollen and still pretty scary looking (I accidentally ripped a bunch of skin off with the tape), but I could see that once things relaxed, I was going to be extremely happy with the results. 

Now at a month out, I have people asking me if I've lost weight.  Although, I have lost 15 pounds in the last six weeks or so, what they are really noticing is that you can see my waist now that my boobs are out of the way!  The kicker is that my measurements are exactly the same, but that will go down as swelling settles in the next couple of months.  I'm struggling with getting off the pain pills (I like Percocet a little more than I should) and being patient to let myself heal, but I feel like I made the right choice.  However, there will be very little pole stuff on this blog for another couple of months.  I get to try yoga in a couple of weeks, but I'm still waiting to make sure that under-boob/mesh pain is gone first. 

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!  I will probably touch bases early next year!