Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Year 2014 - Caterpillar to Butterfly

....as always the year began with lots of positive thoughts and plans. Thinking about how much weight I could lose before cruise #8 and plotting about how to do it and of course its really all about getting healthy and fit right?  Okay, so yes, that is a good motivational tool, my health is important but the plain true reality was I just wanted to feel good about what I see in the mirror and what others see when they look at me. Baby steps were what I needed to find the "real girl" in me and I wasn't even sure what exactly that meant, but God knew exactly what I needed.  So, the journey to find the "New Robin" began.  

As always, because health is truly important I went to my annual appointment with my "girl doctor".  Unlike most I don't dread this appointment, I actually look forward to it.  The procedure is not comfortable but the encouragement and support I get from my doctor has always given me a lift and motivation to focus on where I want to head that next year with my weight. Over the years she has always been understanding and praised me when I lost and encouraged me to get back on the wagon when I gained. She always reminded me that as long as I kept trying I would succeed, the only way to fail is to quit. In years past she had talked to me about gastric bypass and about lap band and different things she thought could help me lose the weight.   By personal choice I never felt that is was what I was supposed to do.  There were several reasons I felt that way, number one I knew that if I had the surgery and didn't change my habits that just like anything else it would not work.  I had seen others have it, lose the weight and over time gain it back.  I was doing a great job of doing that exact same thing all by myself.  Second reason was that I was terrified of having surgery, the thought of being put under anesthesia and people seeing me NEKKID was beyond frightening, not to mention that pain and I do not get along.   I was always honest and up front about feeling like I had to do it on my own.  (Disclaimer: I do not think that gastric bypass/lap band surgery is wrong in any ways, it was just not right for me.)

For those of you that haven't known me very long, I managed over many years to lose and keep off around 100 pounds.  I often lost a lot and then gained some back and then lost it again and gained some back, it was a vicious cycle.  But, I never gave up, so even when I gained weight back I always caught myself before I gained it all back. Due to up and down loss of the weight and my body style I had a lot of excess skin and what I not so affectionately referred to as my "hangy downy".  The technical name for it is the panniculus (or apron).    In all reality it was just plain gross and it held me back in every area of my life. Below are pictures of my reality, that I can't even believe I am sharing but for the impact of transformation to be real it is necessary. 

Now, let's continue with my doctor visit in early January of 2014.  This visit was different, my heart was eager to hear what she had to say.  I was excited because though I had not managed to lose and keep any weight off in 2013, I had actually started the new year at the same weight as the previous year that was huge in my eyes.  

Wait, there is a another bit of back story before I continue.  At some stage during my weight loss journey I had lost a good bit of weight and was quite comfortable where I was but was beginning to see saggy skin issues in the mirror.  This raised conflicting emotions, for one it looked bad and why in the world was I doing all this work if my body was still going to look bad?  At this time I had never heard about having surgery to remove excess skin and didn't even know how that worked or what it looked like and then there was a day that I was at home sick and watched an episode of Oprah.  This particular episode was all about people who had been obese and had lost all of their weight and wanted to have "skin removal" surgery but could not afford the procedure.  During this episode they showed before and after pictures and I was so completely freaked out by what I saw that I went on an eating frenzy.  It was easier to look at my obese body in the mirror than their awful skin sagging (looked like that hairless cats but with wrinkles,not cute at all) bodies after losing all of the excess weight.  Of course, because it was Oprah she had them on the show to share their stories and surprised them with free skin removal surgeries.  Now you have to remember that I had an extreme fear of surgery so this began another bout of gaining weight because now I was very conflicted about which body was the one I could handle looking at in the mirror for the rest of my life. Next thought was, "Rocky is used to this one and I'm not sure he could deal with one that looked like "that" one".  I never asked his opinion I just assumed.  

Okay, back to the doctor visit. She came in, praised me for not gaining any weight and did the exam.  During the exam I mentioned some issues I was dealing with due to the "hangy downy" and she prescribed something to help.  This led to a conversation that changed my life.  She told me that she wanted to refer to me a plastic surgeon.  I looked at her like she had grown an extra head.  She kind of laughed and began to explain that I didn't have to do anything but she thought if I went for a consultation it might be the motivation I needed to get back on the weight loss wagon.  In my head, I was like this woman is crazy, but my heart said "she has never steered you wrong".  I cautiously agreed to the consultation.  I went home and told my husband about it but I knew on the inside I wasn't going to go to this appointment.  I also shared with my best friend what my doctor wanted,  I could hear an excitement in her voice and something changed in my heart and my head.  In the course of one conversation with Wendy, I knew life was about to be different.   They called the next week and I had an appointment for sometime in February.  I was not ready but I did not cancel I just asked them to postpone it until after our cruise in March.  New appointment date was March 26, 2014.  

During those first few months of the year Wendy began a quiet campaign (or maybe not so quiet) towards bringing out this "New Robin".  I am not sure exactly how it happened but I found myself spending more time shopping and looking at shoes, clothes and jewelry.  Clothes shopping created emotional outbursts in dressing rooms so that was not working for me. The shoes I liked were outside of my budget. Suddenly, I felt myself drawn towards accessories and a new love for all things "bling" was born.  It started with earrings and has grown into necklaces and bracelets too, now I rarely leave home without accessories.  We did manage a shopping trip prior to our cruise that ended okay with a few nice dressy blouses to wear on formal nights.  Wendy began dreaming of the day we would shop and I would enjoy it, I still couldn't imagine that could happen in my world.  

We cruised and had a fabulous time.  Now, it's March and slowly the day is coming and the dreaded appointment is near.  I am starting to reconsider and freaking out because I am still just not sure because I still have so much weight to lose and I watch all these TV shows and know that you have to have lost a certain amount to be a "candidate".  I was going to the appointment expecting to have appeased my doctor.  I knew that I was not walking out of that surgeon's office with any good news but at least then I would have an excuse not to consider surgery.  

But God.  

Wendy went with me to the appointment so she could ask all the questions that I would never remember to ask. I was a nervous wreck because I was so embarrassed and ashamed of what the doctor would see because I knew he had to do an exam to be able to tell me he couldn't help me unless I lost at least another 50 - 100 pounds.   From the moment Dr. Mani walked in the door to the exam room I was put completely at ease.  He was kind, considerate and well spoken.  He made me comfortable and never once did I feel ashamed.  In fact, I liked him so much that I hated that I probably wouldn't see him again because I just knew I was not a candidate for this surgery.  After the exam Wendy came back into the room,  all the questions were asked and surprisingly he told me that because I had lost the 100 lbs and for the most part maintained it over the years and because I had been the same weight for the past year that I indeed was a candidate for a "panniculectomy" (removal of the panniculus and the subcataneous fat within it) and we could schedule it and do it immediately.  For a moment I thought I might pass out.  There was a hope that wasn't there before and just as suddenly all I could see was $$$$ in front of my eyes.  I calmed myself and asked the question.  He told me that they would write it up and bring it back in for me momentarily.  When they came back and handed me the paper with the cost there was a peace that could only have come from God.  I looked at Wendy with tears in my eyes and we both knew that I "WAS" going to have this surgery.   I told Dr. Mani that I would have to discuss it with my husband and figure out exactly how we would pay for this surgery but that I would be in touch to schedule the surgery.  

Rocky and I talked and agreed that I would have the surgery and that God would make a way to pay for the procedure.  I only told a few people because it was so personal and honestly because I was so used to being ashamed of my body and tried never to call attention to it that I kept it on the down low for the most part.  We talked and looked at our calendars and schedules and decided that the best time for both of us would be on August 4, 2014.  Soon thereafter, I was talking to somebody  about the procedure and told her that I knew God was in this from the word go and trusted that it was all going to go smoothly.  She then proceeds to tell me that she had been telling God for months that she wanted to bless somebody with a certain amount of money and that now she knew who to bless.  She paid for my entire surgery (she prefers to remain unnamed). I can never repay her or say thank you enough.  God is faithful.

During the months leading up to the surgery I spent a lot of time praying and reading His word because as excited as I was I still had this dreadful fear of being put to sleep and the unknown of the "recovery" aspect.  As the time grew closer the fear was less and less.  I found myself looking forward to the entire process and even convinced myself to be thankful during the pain that would likely accompany this type of surgery. I actually had very little pain and again I am thankful!

Finally, it's August 4, 2014 and I am sitting in the waiting room with my parents, my husband and the ever faithful Wendy Kaye Warren at a ridiculously early hour.  I still can't believe it is happening but I was ready and thankful that God was with me and would care for me and bring me out safe and sound.  I was truly ready to move onto the next step in finding the "New Robin".  They called me back, put me in a gown, gave me some drugs and that is the last thing I remember until about a week later.  Well, there are some things I remember but most of that first week is blurry and vague.  Rocky kept me drugged exactly as prescribed and I am thankful for all the fabulous nursing he did during that first week after the surgery.  

I was in shock when they told me they had removed 22 pounds of skin & subcataneous fat from my body.  Apparently after the doctor told me I proceed to repeat how that was "alot" over and over again.  I am thankful that I made Rocky & Wendy promise not to take any videos while I was under the influence of any drugs.  They respected my wishes but have regretted it ever since,  they say I was pretty funny and at one point I even made sure my dad knew how sexy I was now.  Really?   Glad I didn't have any deep dark secrets for them to ask about because I clearly would have said anything or told them whatever they wanted to know.   The surgery went perfect, no complications and I was home and in my own bed by about 2:00 p.m.  

Recovery went smoothly, the incision is not nearly as bad as I thought it would be when I initially saw it.  I remember thinking oh dear that is awful (was like day 2 and still swollen and gross looking but I didn't realize it wouldn't always look like that) but immediately was thankful because I knew how different things were going to be from that point on.  

At about 3 weeks I was ready to get out and about and NEEDED clothes because nothing in my closet fit anymore.  Wendy scooped me up took me out and we shopped till I about dropped.  It was the first time in my adult life that I didn't cry or get disappointed and even tried on things that were too big!!  I actually enjoyed myself but not as much as she did (I was still moving slow and sore).  It was another new thing for the "New Robin".  
5 weeks post surgery. Shopping alone with no tears!!

I began taking note almost immediately of the things I could do now that were either improbable or ridiculously uncomfortable before the surgery.   Here are just a few pictures:

Laptop on the LAP I have never had!!

Look...there is space between me and the steering wheel!!

Yup, that is right I am sitting in a booth and there is more than enough room!!  

I have a long list of things I dreamed of doing. Some of them have already been accomplished simply from the surgery itself.  Others will be marked off as life and more weight loss makes them possible.  But that is for another day and another post.  If you made it this far then I thank you for taking in interest in my transformation from a caterpillar just going thru life to a butterfly who is choosing to spread my wings and fly! 

The "New Robin" being footloose and fancy free on the Beach! (Sept 2014)


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