Tag Archives: Health

Five Years And A Thousand Words

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My own personal D-Day…

Today, June 6, 2017, is the 5th anniversary of my weight loss surgery.  I kept a blog chronicling my journey from the initial consultation with my surgeon on October 25, 2011, through the 2-year anniversary of the surgery itself, writing the final post on June 6, 2014.  Those stories, trials and tribulations still live in Cyberspace at:

http://www.incredibleshrinkingdiva.blogspot.com

I hope people still stumble across that blog and gain some insight, inspiration, information and humor from it.  For numerous reasons, I did not include photographs in that blog.  It just was not part of the journey I felt like sharing at the time.  However, I admit there is truth in the adage that, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  So on this, my 5-year-Surg-I-Versary, I am posting some before-and-after pictures…with some caveats.

I have bounced back from my lowest weight, more than I would like.  And I am working on shaving some of those pounds away.  It is a lifelong journey and my weight will always be something of a struggle.  That is all part and parcel of this process.  Even with my bounceback, I am profoundly grateful that I am not where I started.  I am stronger and healthier than before surgery and I am free from the hip and ankle pain that drove me to pursue surgical intervention after having exhausted every other means available to me.  Weight loss surgery is a true last resort and should only be considered when all other measures have failed.  Knowing all that I know now, I would make the same decision.  For me, it was what I needed, when I needed it.

So, here are some pictures.

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With my longtime friend Mary K. Briggs, April 2010 and March 2017

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With my husband, Sweet Pea aka Jeff Cutshaw, August 2010 and April 2016

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With friend and singing partner Marc Hampton, November 2011 and April 2017

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With mentor in music and weight loss Eric Thorson, November 2010 and December 2017

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With Delta Omicron sisters and friends Allison Hendrix and Ann Jones, July 2009 and July 2015

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Me.  Just plain old me.  July 2009 and April 2017.

I’m not where I want to be, but thanks be to God, I’m not where I used to be.  Life is good and I’m healthy.  I am blessed and greatly loved.  I am thankful.

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My Hundred Pound Present

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A reminder of the miracles of weight loss…

For anyone who may not be aware, I underwent weight loss surgery on June 6, 2012.  The process for this was a long and arduous one, filled with moments of both humility and humiliation.  As I wrote elsewhere, the hardest part of the whole thing was making the decision to do it, because I had to “suck it up and get humble for a minute”.  Admitting that I needed help was a difficult thing, but, as most weight loss surgery patients will agree, it really was my last resort.  After battling my weight for decades and finally deciding one last time to begin exercising and eating more wisely, I started that process only to lose 9 pounds before getting stuck and then injuring my “good” ankle (the “bad” one having been broken years before and then surgically reassembled).  Weight bearing exercise was impossible and I realized I needed a drastic intervention to help me reclaim my health.

Surgery prep happened during the same period I was completing an extended unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at our local teaching hospital.  The timing was totally a God thing, and I am convinced that each effort enhanced the other.  My unit of CPE placed me in a peer group of strangers who poured unconditional acceptance and support into me throughout both my hospital experience and the concurrent surgery preparation, becoming treasured friends and chosen family by unit’s end.

My hundredth pound came off on January 6, 2013, which in the church calendar is Epiphany.  That’s one sure way I’ll always remember the date, because it was an epiphany indeed!  It was also my 7-month surg-i-versary.  More pounds came off in the months that followed, and I was grateful for every one of them.  I still am, even though I have experienced some “bounce-back”, as many weight loss patients do.  I am working to get the pounds I want rid of to go away once more.  It’ll be a lifelong process, as will blood tests for nutrient levels and tweaking my nutrition.  I knew going in that these things would be part of The New Normal.

I decided I wanted to treat myself to a Hundred Pound present, to commemorate my journey and to have a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness along the way.  So the search began for my chosen symbol, a small diamond cross pendant.  I knew what I wanted, and as a lifelong jewelry horse, I was a pretty savvy shopper.  It took a while to find just the right thing…but, like losing that hundredth pound, it was worth waiting for.

The thing is, I’ve never been one to wear a cross.  For a long time, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear the symbol of crucifixion.  I realized over the years, though, that the cross is a symbol of faith, hope and new life, not just a picture of Christ’s torture and death.  What better symbol could I choose to remind me of my own hope and new life than that?  And what possible symbol could be a better reminder of God’s constant companionship, comfort and help along the way as I adjusted to The New Normal?  What better reminder of second chances and redemption?

Because, for me, the weight loss journey has been very much a spiritual odyssey.  There has been a lot of prayer, especially during those early days after surgery, when my recovery took longer and involved a lot more pain than I had anticipated.  There have been many long nights of the soul when I cried and leaned into God because I had come to the end of myself.  And as I have experienced bounce-back and regained a few of the pounds I had lost, there is renewed prayer that God will help me minute by minute to make wise choices, and that He will comfort the hurting places that I want to feed with unhealthy foods.

I wear my cross often, usually paired with a diamond heart that Sweet Pea gave me for our 15th wedding anniversary.  My fingers find their way to my charms throughout the day, touching them and remembering the love, comfort and hope they represent.  Thanks be to God for second chances!

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Hands That Loved Me

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Healing tears and comforting touches

This time 2 weeks ago we had just said goodbye to Aunt Ruby after spending the day at her bedside, keeping vigil and waiting for her to make her trip to Heaven. It seems both  like a lifetime ago and like it just happened.

 

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I cried little cries several times during that day, as we all did. And I cried when she left to go Home, as we all did. But I have not yet really broken down and had the big cry, the ugly one.

This is unlike me, and it feels like something is wrong. I realize that every loss has its own unique set of circumstances, and that grief follows no specific, or even logical, timetable. Having lost many loved ones in my life, having volunteered with hospice for several years and having completed a ministry course which put me face to face with people experiencing their own losses, my mind knows that I will process my feelings in their own good time.

I just feel…half-dead. I remember the events of the day clearly and vividly, the faces of my family as we all communed together in that sacred space, waiting and watching. I remember all of it. But my feelings have been feeling flat.

This loss hits me in a new place, as each new loss does. But this new place feels foreign, strange and unfamiliar in a way I can’t quite describe. I may need some help to sort this out, in the form of counseling or a major sabbatical from some of my volunteer activities…or both. Or something else. Or all of the above.

Of course, after Mama, (and sometimes even before Mama) the person I would talk to about this kind of thing would have been Aunt Ruby. Aunt Ruby told me when I was younger that it was OK to cry, and to just let my tears roll. She was the only person in my life who ever gave me this permission, and it was priceless. What I would give now to be able to sit at her feet, my head in her lap, and have her comfort me. I can feel her stroking my hair and hear her soothing voice telling me that it will be OK, that God gave us tears for a reason, that crying helps us to heal…to just let my tears roll.

And so they roll now. I didn’t start this post thinking that it would help the crying process to begin, but I am grateful that it has. I can feel Aunt Ruby with me as I sit here, telling me that it’s OK to let go, it’s OK to cry…and that I need to if I am ever going to heal. I don’t know if I will ever meet another person with her wisdom or her serenity, and I am going to miss being able to sit in her presence and enjoy those moments.Image

She possessed an enormous heart, a mind that never stopped wanting to learn, and eyes that always saw something worthwhile in me no matter what anyone else saw. And her hands sewed warmth and care into every piece of clothing and every quilt she ever touched, baked nourishment into every biscuit she ever served, and canned future provision and generosity into more green beans and tomatoes than anyone could begin to count.  She soothed my tears and fears with those hands.  Precious hands…hands that loved me.  Image