Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Bariatric Betty's body and mind - new pics

I'm coming up on my 6 month post-op point and so much has changed.  Many things, but not everything.

I am no longer diabetic!!!  That will always deserve first billing and multiple exclamation points.  I know that not everybody who has WLS has their diabetes go into remission, and that it can return, but so far I am among the lucky ones and hope to stay that way.  I was just talking to my 9 year old about it yesterday.  That I can assume I will live to see my kids grow up and maybe see grandkids or even great-grandkids some day is something I could not presume before. 

My body continues to morph into a previously unknown thing.  I wrote months ago about the bizarre feeling of realizing that my hips were holding up my pants (instead of my belly).  The first step in that particular revelation was understanding that those two bumps on my front that were feeling pressure from jeans, were in fact, bones.  Bones that I had never before noticed, but had always been there.  These bones weren't visible, but were noticeable for the first time because of the decrease in the fat pad that laid over them.

Recently I have experienced the surfacing of other underlying structures - bones, tendons, etc.  These are not always fun - they are sometimes startling.  I am reminded of an article I read several years ago where a formerly obese woman suddenly notice the prominence of her shoulder blades and thought she might be deformed. 

Lying on my side, the excess skin and fat redistributing down with gravity leaves my hip and pelvis remarkably exposed.  I find myself squeezing them, poking them, and outlining them as I get to know this new "normal" for me.  A few times I have asked my husband to feel them as well, and let me feel his bones to compare and reassure myself that these are indeed, normal.  You mean average people feel these things every time they lay down?  Weird. 

The Anterior Superior Iliac Spine.  Yeah, I looked it up.  Those bumps that help hold my pants up are now painful at times.  Not when active, nothing like arthritis.  They hurt when I lay down on my stomach - my preferred sleeping position.  I think it is more accurate to say that my skin hurts. Having less padding between the bones and skin has apparently made me very sensitive to the pressure.  I frequently find myself putting a pillow under my pelvis (in addition to the thick mattress pad we also have) to give a little extra cushioning. 

I also have lower back pain - a common complaint in WLS patients.  Our center of gravity has changed, and our core muscles are having trouble adjusting to the redistribution.  In my case, my large chest has always caused some back pain, and now that weight is leaving other parts of my body much more than my chest, that increased ratio has resulted in increased pain.  Just leaning forward when brushing my teeth can be fine 20 times, but the 21st and I look like the stereotypical old man, hunched over with a hand on their back.  Most frequently the pain comes when I'm getting up from a lying down position.

I enjoy seeing muscle definition in my legs and shoulders.  I think seeing definition in my clavicles and shoulder blades is attractive!  I never carried much of my weight in my legs, but the jogging has reshaped them anyway.  Feeling the steely tendons around my knees is fun.  Which brings me to a LACK of pain in my knees.  Many morbidly obese people have significant orthopedic issues, hip pain and knee pain being very common.  I was lucky not to have those.  However, I have always had "bad" knees, and even when just "overweight" would have problems where my knees occasionally "popped" out of alignment when I was running or climbing.  That would result in my being on crutches for a week or two at a time.  It didn't happen when I was a morbidly obese adult because I wasn't doing high impact exercise. 

When I started Couch-to-5k training I was very nervous about how my knees would react.  I found that if I opened up my stride and ran it hurt my knees almost immediately, but if I ran short strides low to the ground I stayed pain free.  Having my muscles and tendons tighter than they've probably ever been has given me more support, and I haven't had one incidence of "popping".  Yesterday I actually jogged 25 minutes and felt fine (although really tired) when I was done.  This is a picture of me from last Friday when I finished my first 22 minute jog.

A little hot, a little sweaty, tired and thirsty - but happy.  I can't say I ENJOY jogging, but I find it very rewarding when I'm done.  In two weeks I should be jogging 30 minutes at a time - that is supposed to be the equivalent of a 5k!  When I have completed that challenge, my goal is to 1) choose a 5k to actually run in and 2) Start training my dog in the Pooch-to-5k so that we can change our morning walk to a morning jog.  Next goal - Tackle the Tower  - a stair climbing challenge to climb the Terminal Tower in Cleveland. 

However, parts of my mind remain stubbornly unchanged.  I find myself choosing sedentary things - being online (like now), watching TV, reading - more often than active ones.  I can and do join my kids when they go swimming, play ball, etc for a while, but then often grab a book while they continue to play.  My fitbit calls me active, burning lots of calories and getting over 10,000 steps a day, but I have long periods between active times when I sit - and I don't have a desk job.  I hope those periods start to decrease.  I know once the school year starts I will be standing and walking 2 1/2 more hours a day M-F again.  The head-work continues to be the hardest part of this journey.

Looking forward to my 6 month post-op checkup on my 42nd birthday next week.  I'll be sure to post again then.


  1. Now I am actually on the site for once instead of a reader I can say WOW! Congratulations on 6 months and being diabetes free and on all you have achieved. You are amazing. xoxoxo

  2. Thanks Janet! So glad you are healing up well yourself. How you are handling things is a great inspiration, you know. (((HUGS))) and kisses right back atcha'