Tag Archives: weight loss surgery

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.

Plus Size

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It’s not always a bad thing…

Patchwork And Potpourri is not my first foray into the blogosphere.  For anyone who does not know, I underwent radical weight loss surgery 3 years ago in an effort to improve my well-being and quality of life.  As part of the weight loss process, I wrote a blog about that journey, from my first consultation with my weight loss surgeon through my 2-year surg-i-versary, which happened last year while I was in New York preparing to sing a concert with several choral groups at Carnegie Hall.  It was a no-holds-barred look into my experiences with medically-supervised weight loss prior to surgery, the tests required for insurance approval, surgery and recovery and all the nitty-gritty-nuts-and-bolts ranging from periods, poop and vomit to changed relationships resulting from my changed appearance.  The weight loss blog is located at:

http://www.incredibleshrinkingdiva.blogspot.com

I encourage anyone with weight or self-image issues, especially anyone considering weight loss surgery, to visit there and read about the good, the bad and the hilarious stops along my weight loss path.

My total weight loss was 136 pounds, and at my lowest weight I actually dipped a few pounds below my dietician-recommended minimum (although that didn’t last very long!).  In the past year I have regained a bit of the weight because I’ve been trying to comfort myself.  Three friends died from cancer this past year, and, while some people turn to alcohol or drugs to medicate their pain, my substance of choice has always been food.  And as I said to a friend yesterday, nobody eats broccoli for comfort!  “Comfort food” for me is generally laden with starch, fat and sugar.  Delicious stuff for sure…and deadly for some of us if we indulge too much or too often.

The good news is that I have visited with my dietician and started to unpack the pounds I packed on this past year.  I have a conference next week which involves a dressy dinner, and I can zip myself comfortably into the dress I bought for the occasion, which is a victory—and a relief!  I’m still well over a hundred pounds down from my highest weight and largest size, and I’m on the healthy wagon once more hoping to shrink back to my lowest weight and smallest size.

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Even at my smallest, I am not a skinny person.  I never will be.  I have way too many boobs and hips to ever be skinny!  And that’s fine.  God made me curvy.

God also made me sensitive, more than some people in my life have been comfortable with.  Sometimes folks have made me feel bad, ashamed of my tender nature, as though sensitivity equals weakness.  More than once I’ve even tried to “change” how I am, without success, of course.  I have come to realize that big feelings are just part of my basic wiring, and, while sensitive people do require a bit of special care, we’re not broken, as some people would have us think we are.  The same critics who say I’m too sensitive always seem to be grateful for my compassion when THEY need it.  It’s funny how that works sometimes.

Parts of me will always be plus size.  And that’s fine, too.  I laugh and cry bigger than most people, because I feel my feelings more deeply.  Dolly Parton once described herself as having a brain underneath the hair and a big heart underneath the boobs.  I’d like to think that’s me as well.  (Maybe we’re related!)

Am I glad I had surgery and shrank my body?  Absolutely!  Would I do it again, knowing what I know now?  In a heartbeat.  My hips and ankles don’t hurt anymore.  I feel healthier and stronger.  And I feel more free to live my life no longer being ashamed about the parts that are stil big: my personality, feelings, hips, boobs and HAIR!

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Keeping The Luster Alive

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Recollections of a radiant soul…

Yesterday I, and an army of my friends and musical colleagues, learned that our friend and fellow musician, Luster William “Bill” Brewer, had died.  Following the initial impact of this news, there was a flurry of text messages, e-mails and posts on social media.  My own Facebook page exploded with tributes, expressions of sadness, shock and later on, many pictures of our friend from healthier days gone by.

Bill had been diagnosed with throat cancer about a year and a half ago.  As a singer myself, I cannot fathom the horror of such a thing.  Throughout his treatment, he continued to teach at Pellissippi State Community College, where he had found a home as the head of their music department for the last 15 years.  Just last week, after his cancer had returned and he had undergone another treatment, he had gone on a tour of Portugal with his choir, having been medically cleared to travel, but not well when the trip started.  He had to return home before the tour was finished, going into the hospital where he eventually died.

It was typical Bill to have gone on with his students even though he was ill.  He loved making music and he especially loved the people he made music with, students and peers alike.  He was a longtime fixture in Knoxville Choral Society and Chamber Chorale, having served as KCS President and director of Chorale for a number of years.

It was in this capacity that I got to know him.  In 2009, after an 11-year absence, I re-auditioned for Knoxville Choral Society with great fear and trembling.  I had hardly sung at all in those years and I was afraid my voice might be so far gone that there was no hope of recovery.  Enter Bill Brewer, who heard my audition and not only recommended my re-admission to the chorus but chose me as a soloist for the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” which we performed that fall.

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He was thrilled to conduct “Messiah” with KCS for the first time and wanted his score and baton in the picture I asked for with him.  (The remainder of the program was Bach, which “Doc” Eric Thorson prepared, conducted and chose his soloists for.)

Following my weight loss surgery in June 2012, I experienced a lot more pain during recovery and for a longer time than I had expected, so I missed some early outings with chamber chorale as they performed portions of “Chronicles of Blue and Gray” in advance of its world premiere that November.  I e-mailed Bill explaining my situation and told him that if he needed to replace me in chorale, I would totally understand.  He was gracious and kind, telling me that when I was able to return my spot would be waiting for me.

And what a return it was!  The first rehearsal for the whole chorus arrived, and I got to the church where we practice feeling insecure about my appearance, wondering if the pounds I had lost since surgery would be noticeable.  I looked and felt peaked and pale and…vulnerable.  When I walked into the vestibule there were a dozen or so of my fellow chorus members milling around, paying dues and purchasing music.  And there was Bill, who squealed at my arrival and began a round of applause, making it a triumphal entry for me.  He came over to hug me, and then very tenderly cupped my face in his hands, saying, “Oh, LOOK at you!  Look at your little face!  How do you feel?”

That was always Bill, caring about the other person.  He was a Southern gentleman in the finest tradition, dedicated to Jesus, to his wife Sharon and to the music and musicians he loved so greatly.  He was also a total goofball, with a mischievous sense of humor, a twinkle in his eye and a laugh that could crack glass.

We have all heard the question, “What’s in a name?”.  Bill’s given name was Luster William, Luster after his father.  In Bill’s case, he indeed possessed a luster, a glow and radiance of heart and soul from which everyone who ever met him benefited.  I want to keep the Luster alive, remembering Bill, his laugh, the music we made together and his tender touch cradling my face in his hands.