Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Surprises! On the scale, with labs, and an unbelievable itch!

The last week has been full of surprises.  Some were good, others not so much.  Last Wednesday I went for my annual physical, where they also draw my labs for the bariatric center.  For my non-WLS friends, because we no long absorb vitamins and minerals well (in addition to taking supplements) we have to have our blood checked for Iron, Folate, Calcium, Vitamin D, Thiamine, Copper, Zinc, and B-12 as well as getting a complete blood count, lipid panel, thyroid panel, and blood glucose level.  They drew 6 tubes of blood, went over my list of the labs I needed, and wondered why they hadn't seen me on a billboard advertising for my bariatric surgeon.  Awwww!  Some compliments never get old. 

The next day I got a call apologizing, but telling me they needed to take more blood.  They hadn't frozen some of the tubes immediately that should have been frozen, so they needed more blood.  Sigh.  OK, no problem, it is a complicated lab order.  The next morning my kids and I went in (we had the day off school for Yom Kippur - Happy New Year everyone who celebrates it) and they drew 6 more. 

Today, 6 days later, I got a call from them again.  Apparently, when the lab courier came to pick up the labs, he put ALL of my tubes in his freezer (not just the frozen ones).  So, they were all frozen when they got to the lab, and they weren't able to run the tests on the ones that weren't supposed to be frozen.  They apologized, and suggested that they send me a script to get them drawn and go directly to the labs to have them drawn to prevent another courier problem.  They don't know if the ones that were supposed to be frozen were run.  Sigh deja vu!  They will send the script to me, and we will try again.  I was actually hoping my results might be in the mail today.  Guess NOT.

On a positive note, I hit another all time low on the scale on Monday, and it blew me away.  139.8!  Under 140?!?  Incredible.  Unbelievable.  Whoa.  OK, so it's now back to 141, but I broke a barrier that I NEVER IN MY WILDEST DREAMS thought was possible.  My initial goal was to get to 160.  Then I hit the 150s and was really happy.  Then I broke into the 140s and I was over-the-moon dream-come-true happy.  I don't imagine I will be going down much further, I seemed to be very steady around 141 - 143 for the last 8 or 9 months - but then I've hit new lows several times in the last month or so.  I'm back at work, so I'm getting more steps in each day - that is helping for sure.  Who knows?  I'm just happy I'm not gaining anything back. 

Here's the bad surprise with returning to work.  I've got a rash.  A really itchy not-fun rash.  For non-WLS friends, we have a lot of extra skin after we lose 100+ pounds.  Some people have so much skin that it causes skin infections, and can interfere with walking, voiding, and sexual functioning.  Imagine a flap of skin that hangs down like an apron from your waist getting in the way of things and trapping bacteria and other fun things between it and the skin that is underneath it.  Yuck.  Having lost 103 pounds, I didn't seem to be having any problems with the excess skin (other than it making some muffin top and other flaps that my son thinks are funny to play with).  I didn't expect to have problems, mostly that happens with people who lose a lot more than I have.  Many WLS people get the extra skin removed ( it's called a panniculectomy, which is about 1/2 of what most people would call a "tummy tuck").  Between the risks, the cost, and the recovery I always said I wouldn't be getting one unless there was a real medical necessity.  Then I went back to work at my lowest ever weight (in 90 degree weather, walking around constantly)...  Hello, itch.  I've got a rash/ skin infection underneath the flap of excess skin hanging from my waist.  I'm treating it with the same anti-fungal medicine that you use for athlete's foot or yeast infections.  It helps with the itching a bit, but it hasn't gone away.  If it's still here much longer, I'll have to see my primary care doctor for something stronger.  And, that will start a trail of documentation.  If I have recurrent infections, my insurance may decide to cover a panniculectomy for me.  I don't want one.  The risk of major surgery, the 6 weeks of restricted activity in recovery, and the 20% of the cost I would still have to pay are three good reasons not to get it which wipe out the positive of being rid of the flaps.  However, if this rash is something I have to deal with on an ongoing basis, I will consider it.  Go away, itch!

Back to the positive!  I got to go visit some old friends briefly over the weekend, many of whom hadn't seen me for over a year (some not since before surgery).  It was really fun getting to have quick visits with them, and I would be lying if I didn't admit that I really enjoyed seeing their reactions to seeing me in my new healthy body.  Bonus.  I am so blessed to have such great family and friends, my home, my job and my health.

Today, 9/11, I'm counting my blessings.  Thank you for all those blessings, and may the hungry, homeless, out of work, and victims of violence find such blessings in the next year.  May I make the right choices to stay healthy, and be able to support others who need help.  May I learn from my mistakes and help my children avoid them.  May I find patience on the hard days, and give of myself on the good ones.  Thank you first responders, for risking your lives to save so many of ours.  Thank you to the members of the armed forces who serve their country - may you receive the support you deserve from us and our country.  Thank you to the teachers who are shaping our tomorrow.