Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lifestyle Change Update

- 10lbs!
-2.5 inches! (from my hips and waist)
- .5% Body fat

I'm pretty happy with this :) Especially since I haven't gone back on the meal plan yet. I'm planning to go back on it on Monday. I have someone coming over for dinner tomorrow and I work over lunch and dinner Saturday and Sunday so starting up again today would have seemed a little pointless to me. I know that people generally loose a lot to begin with and slow down, which I am expecting, but right now I'm go to be excited about being 10lbs lighter in just 3 weeks!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Big News!

I've been wanting to blog for a while now but I haven't been sure what I should say or how much I should say. A lot of stuff is happening for the Bartels!

I'll start with updating you on my recovery. I think I'm back to normal, although I do feel the odd twinge or pang where my gallbladder used to be. I'm back to exercising. I have been slowly building my workout back up through the last week. Last night I got to where I was before my surgery... although my arms are sore today!

The crappy thing about my recovery is how long it has taken for me to get back to eating normally. My appetite was completely gone for nearly ten days and different foods were affecting me negatively. I have not had the motivation to start my meal plan again yet. I am glad that I had started educating myself on nutrition before my surgery though. Even though I am not fully back on my meal plan I have been making much better choices with my food. I have not had any really "bad" junk food days except for a box of Mike and Ikes at the movie theater last night and Friday night when I was stress eating, along with the help of my mom and sister. We have no junk food in the house and I am so much more aware of the calories I am ingesting... but not obsessing about it! It is quite a liberating feeling :) First weigh in is tomorrow!

My stress eating night was triggered by the issue with my sister. I've mentioned that her and her boyfriend got engaged, right? Well, we've been going to family counseling, when she can make it. (Do you sense the rolling of the eyes?) I do not feel that she is making us a priority. Her boyfriends mother was having an engagement party on Saturday night that we were invited to. Actually, she had invited over 50 family and friends to come, all of whom Liz has not talked to in over 18 months, and asked to bring money in lieu of presents. Aside from that just being tacky, I find it sad. It seems like she is in this imaginary world where getting engaged makes her alienation and abandonment okay and forgettable. That is not how relationships work and it is going to make for a very lonely existence.

She has also chosen bridesmaids and a maid of honor already. Her wedding is scheduled for a year and a half away, yet she has picked her bridesmaids already. Her boyfriend's sister and some one no one knows... indicating she has probably only known her for a year or too and does not have a very deep relationship with. Not that I want to be a bridesmaid right now or support this wedding in any form, but I can't help but be hopeful for our relationship. With us working on things and "apparently" wanting to be close again, her picking other people to be in her wedding that is so far away seems like a slap in the face. We've been each others bridesmaids in both weddings that have taken place so far. Plus, Vanessa is her twin sister and she was Vanessa's MOH.  There was no need for her to pick so quickly. It, along with her attitude and how many sessions she has bailed on, shows me she is not really committed to re-engaging with us and still wanting to live in the fantasy world she is trying to maintain. That must be so exhausting. I wanted better for my sister.

I need to figure out how much of myself I am willing to open up to her and where my boundaries are. I haven't figured out the answer to this and have, this far, been responding to her efforts. Keep in mind I reached out and was told to "fuck off" for six months straight, so I'm tired of it... I'm not just being a bitch. I did not go to the engagement party. It just seemed like a lose-lose situation. If I didn't go I'd be judged. If I did go and seemed uncomfortable I'd be judged. I figured I'd save myself the stress of it.

On to more exciting news! Some of you may have been noticing my Facebook status updates about "big things" in our future. It is true that we are expecting this year to be great. We are hoping that Jon's job turns in to a permanent position sooner than later, although we do need to be prepared for the unexpected. He is the bottom of the ladder and still only holds an auxiliary contract. With that there is a certain level of instability. He is still really enjoying it though and from all the feedback he has been getting, he has been doing his job well.

Despite the instability, we are moving ahead with our lives. We are making plans to move. Hopefully this summer but possibly a year from now. It just depends on when we can get a mortgage approval with Jon having just switched jobs. We need more room and more bedrooms :) We would like to move in to our forever home. The home where we are going to raise our family. If that is going to happen, we need at least 4 bedrooms. It is possible in our budget. We'd like the 4th bedroom so that we can do Home Sharing with a special needs adult. My life was so blessed by Home Share and being a part of the lives of people with different abilities that I want my kids to grow up with that too. It would also help generate a bit of income so I wouldn't have to work outside the home and could be home with my family completely full time.

The other, bigger news that has been going on for us is we are thinking of adopting! We have always had it in the plans to adopt a special needs child so that is not news, but it was more a five year plan. We were going to get pregnant at the end of this year and adopt in a few years. Now, we might be adopting at the end of this year instead! We are thinking of adopting a little girl about Livi's age, hopefully a few months younger because we'd like to keep Livi as the oldest.

This feels like SUCH a big decision. There is so much to consider. We know we want to adopt internationally, from a country where people with special needs (Down Syndrome is our focus) are not given much hope. Many countries look at people with special needs as lesser than animals, to be hidden away from society, and stripped of all dignity and joy. You can find adults, the size of children, hidden away in institutions with their limbs twisted up because they have never been taken out of the cribs they were put in at birth. Okay, that is for another post. Jon and I strongly feel that we are able to save and be blessed by at least one of these children.

With international adoption comes a whole slough of other concerns. Can we afford it? Well, no. We can afford some of it but it will cost us upwards of $30,000. We would need the support of our family and friends. Reece's Rainbow does not have their Canadian charity status yet so we can't give tax receipts out to people who may want to donate to our adoption. This will probably greatly decrease the amount of money people are able to contribute. With Jon's position still being technically auxiliary and us wanting to move, will that look like we are unstable to a home study? I think we are ready to expand our family and we have so much experience with Down Syndrome but how will it be to parent a child with DS? Actually, that last question isn't really a worry for me. I know that Jon and I are the right parents for this. I think it will be hard at times, but really great for our family. I think I worry more about other peoples reactions to our child (people can be so ignorant and cruel) and the attachment of our family and friends to an adopted child with special needs. I trust that everyone will be excited and I will do my best to educate them when the time comes.

Money is the main factor. If $30,000 were to mysteriously appear in my bank account we would not hesitate in starting the process. But, as it stands we are trying to decide whether adopting before a second biological is the right thing for us (which I think we are both leaning towards right now :). If it is, do we take that leap of faith and begin a homestudy now or wait until after we've moved. The only thing with waiting is that it will still take probably over a year to bring our child home and we would be pushing it back, and a future pregnancy, that much longer. I really wish money wasn't an issue!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Still Recovering

I am still recovering. It is going a lot slower than I thought it would be. I'm not in pain anymore but I just don't feel right. My appetite is completely gone and I feel bloated and full most of the time. After I eat, the bloating feels worse. Today was my first day without help with Livi too, so I'm a little sore from picking her up so much. I didn't think I would still be so sore.

I didn't make it to the gym today and I'm feeling anxious that my meal plan has completely gone out the window. I can barely eat the amount of food that Livi is eating and don't have much energy to prepare meals. Certain foods have given me cramps too. I feel like I'm loosing my momentum to exerciser. I went to the gym yesterday to just do15 minutes of cardio. I hurt at a few points and had to relax, and I was sweating and light headed by the end of it. It was worse than my first work out! I left feeling slightly disheartened. My first weigh in is next week!

I think I need to relax about my recovery though. The nurse did say atleast two weeks before I was doing everything that I was before. I've always been an impatient overachiever. I figured I'd be back to normal in a week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Going Under

I'm at home and recovering nicely. I'm a little sore, tired, very dizzy and VERY itchy from my meds. I've heard that morphine can sometimes make people itchy but I've never had that reaction. I'm not on morphine but on another pain med that is also derived from opium and it is making my entire body SO ITCHY. I'm trying to ignore it but it is very difficult! Plus, my shoulder just aches! I've heard that the gases used for the laprascopic surgery can settle in your right shoulder and really hurt. I think it was bothering me more than my stomach actually was!

My surgery went off with out a hitch and I am now gallbladder-less. I didn't realize I was as nervous about the surgery as I was. It occurred to me that the only time I'd been put under since I was a kid was when I had a cyst burst and hemorrhage in to my abdomen. I was in so much pain and so drugged up that I didn't even notice getting put out. The idea of consciously letting myself be put under, giving the doctor complete control over my life essentially, and not being available to Livi if she needed me scared me. Then, of course, I started remembering all the stories I've heard of things going wrong and people dying because of the anesthetic. I'm not a wimp, but I think since becoming a mom I have opened myself up to being a lot more vulnerable. My emotions are much closer to the surface. I think I did okay keeping my anxiety in check, although it took a lot of positive self-talk at times.

My pre-op nurse was great! I was very impressed with her ability to put in my IV. I have never had anyone able to put an IV in to me with only one try, but she did! And, no bruise! Generally, my veins don't come up high enough or they roll. Basically, it is just a big painful nightmare for me. Needless to say, I was very happy with her ability. My surgery was an hour and a half later than I had been told, but Jon and the old guy sitting next to me kept me entertained and my mind off the anxiety.

I think the worst part of it all was consciously going in to the operating room. I had to say goodbye to Jon in the waiting room and walk down a long hall, only to be met by a freezing cold operating room. My surgical nurse did a great job at trying to keep me calm, although he had to leave me once he had me settled and at this point I was starting to freak out a bit. No one was looking at me. No one was acknowledging that I was even there. They just went about their business, getting the room ready, while I lay there, with my arms stretched out, staring up at the ceiling and big bowls that would be lights, trying to stop crying, wanting to scream at the nurses to talk to me or get up and run home to my baby! I was very thankful for my doctor at that moment though. I don't think he has much bedside manner. He is a specialist after all. But, he came over to me, smiled and kept eye contact, put his hand on my arm and helped the anesthesiologist with my oxygen. I was very thankful. He kept eye contact with me until I fell asleep, even after the nurse came and took over for him.

The next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery. My throat hurt, but they wouldn't let me have water. I wanted to see Jon. Of course they wouldn't let me yet. I again started crying. The post-op nurse was not nearly as nice as the pre-op one. She didn't come over to comfort me. She just told me I'd see my husband in an hour or so. When you are crying, feeling like you've just been hit by a bus, and waking up from anesthetic, you don't want to have to hear you have to wait an entire hour! I didn't hit it off great with my next nurse either. This time I think it was partly my fault though. Jon wasn't in the next recovery room I was moved to either and no one had called him yet. I got a little demanding. She insisted on checking me in before she called him and I didn't like that much. To make matters worse Jon didn't answer his phone when she finally did pick up the phone! I got a little upset :( He showed up pretty quickly but not until after I made the nurse try two other numbers.

I recovered quite quickly. The nurses were actually quite surprised. Since we had taken two separate cars in the morning, because Jon had to wait for my mom to get there to watch Livi, Jon took one of the cars back home and was going to come back with my mom and Livi. I was alone for about half an hour and decided I had to use the bathroom. Since the nurse, that may or may not have been annoyed with me at the time, had not left me with a beeper to page the nurses for help, I did it myself. I reached down and got my pants on, crawled off the edge of the bed because I didn't know how to get the rails down and started walking to the bathroom. All the nurses in close vicinity were looking at me and asking if I was okay, watching me closely. They checked on me twice while I was in the washroom and I wasn't in there for very long. Then they walked back to my bed with me. I kind of laughed and said "What? Are people not usually up this early?" She shook her head, wide eyed and said "No, this is rather early." She then made sure I had the buzzer close at hand.

I feel sorry for the workers and family members who are going to have to put up with me when I get old. I am more like my Grandfather than I realized. It didn't really even cross my mind to call for help from a nurse to go to the washroom. When I was getting checked out, I tried insisting that I was fine to go to the movie store with Jon. I only backed down when I realized how much I was frustrating him. I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just didn't know what the big deal was. I felt "fine." Darn my Mennonite genes!

Livi came to visit with my mom to help get me home. She just stared and stared at me, seemingly on the verge of crying. I had oxygen on me because my levels were a little low. I think that scared her a little bit. I took it off right away and acted really excited for her to see all the "neat" things attached to me. Like my IV and "owie" on my belly button. When she saw my belly button she relaxed and started playing. She really liked getting rides on the wheelchair :)

Since being home I've been sleeping a lot. I underestimated how tired I'd be. My pain level is being kept very low but I have no energy. I'm quite dizzy and dopey too. I've had a lot of help since I've been home though. My sister came over to help with Livi all day yesterday and my friend brought her son over to play with Livi this morning and my mom came back this afternoon to take over. They have been invaluable to me. I'm not allowed to pick up Livi for a while yet and definitely do not have the energy to chase after her. It is hard not being able to pick her up but I think we are coping okay. I can hold her on my left side, so I've been giving her her bottles when I'm awake and my helpers have been good at keeping her distracted from me.

Thanks so much for everyone prayers for a safe surgery and an extra special thanks to those of you who have come over, or will be coming over, in this first week to help out with Livi. With Jon's new job he couldn't really take time off work to stay home with me. I don't know what I would have done with out you guys!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lifestyle Change 101

So, I've fully embraced my new healthier lifestyle and am actually finding it easier than I thought I would. I went to the gym three times last week and finding that I am almost loving it! I like how I feel after I've reached my goal for the day. The adrenaline that I feel still pumping through me when I'm showering afterward is so empowering. I know what all those athletic people are talking about now!

The meal plan isn't as bad as I was expecting either... it isn't quite as good as I was hoping though. I guess that is because it is lacking all the sugar and trans fats that I am used to. I'm not buying their food or anything like that. I'm following recipes and portions from a daily menu of normal food I buy at the grocery store that is specific to my likes and dislikes. It is teaching me what and how much I should be eating. I have room to enjoy eating out and to have the occasional treat, but hopefully I can have the control to watch my portions and go crazy with the treats. It is teaching me to read the nutritional charts and be aware of how many calories I'm eating.

I think the most surprising part of what I am doing is how much food they are wanting me to eat! It will be less as I lose body fat but right now they have me eating nearly 400 calories five times a day! I'm used to three bigger meals and a smaller snack or two. I'm having trouble finishing everything they are giving me. I guess it is to keep my metabolism going and keep me full between meals, but I'm sometimes still full at meal times! I guess that's what happens when you eat the proper food.

I've thought a bit more about my specific goal in this new endeavour. Jon and I are planning to take a vacation in October or November, assuming no major life events disrupt those plans. So, my goal is to lose 50 pounds by then. They say a healthy weight loss is done at about one to two pounds a week. I figure there is a little over forty weeks between now and our vacation. I also figure that my meal plan and excersise regime will be a little shot for the next few weeks since I am having my gallbladder removed on Wednesday and I won't be allowed to excersise as hard as I have been or eat properly. So, 50lbs in 40 weeks is doable right? My first weigh in is on the 28th... it will be every two weeks after that. I just thought with my surgery I would give it an extra week to get back to excersising before my first weigh in. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year's Resolution?

Overall, I am a very confident person. Not a lot of things faze me or make me falter. I do have one weakness though. I rarely talk about it but I do not have a good body image. I've been on the larger side of the scale as long as I can remember. Food was how I coped with all the stress in my life as a child. Food was what I could control in a chaotic surrounding.

I have never broken this habit of using food to cope with things. I never had the motivation. When I was a teenager and the 200lb mark was approaching, I just tried to put it out of my mind. I didn't think about it and continued telling myself that if I wanted to eat a bag of chips or a few cookies it wouldn't hurt me... after all, I deserved a little treat after a stressful day.

In recent years I've gone through ups and downs with my wieght but I have been approaching the 300lb mark. At my last weigh in, I found out that I've reached it. This is very scary for me to say and to write about. I have been denying the problem in me head for nearly twenty years. Giving words to it makes it real. It makes it something that I have to face. I remember thinking that I would never reach this moment. That people who were 300lbs looked REALLY fat and didn't care about themselves. I don't look at myself long enough in the mirror to judge whether I look fat or not. I do care about myself, but have been able to justify everything in my mind.

My gallstones are partly a genetic thing but also a symptom of my poor diet. When they did the ultrasound to diagnose my gallstones, the doctor found some fat deposits on my liver. This is completely reversable, because I am still young, but if I continue down the path I am going there will be irreversible damage and an early death. I don't want to leave my children, or grandchildren early. I want to have enough energy to play as long and as hard as Livi wants to. I want to feel confident in my own skin and believe that I can participate in anything I want to.

Well, I don't generally make new year resolutions. They are always half-assed and get broken. I am changing my life style. I have joined a gym. She's Fit it is called and I am really happy with them so far. I did my first work out tonight and actually had fun! The staff are awesome and I saw what they were promising from themselves be put in to action. I have signed up for a monitored meal plan. I went and did all the grocery shopping for it tonight to. The food sounds great and uses real ingredients, not portioned microwave meals like other plans. I have commited to changing, getting healthy, and getting fit. I want to lose inches as well as pounds. I don't know what a realistic goal is but I'm going to say if I can loose 100lbs in a year I will be VERY proud of myself! Wish me luck and help keep me accountable! Join me at the gym :)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Weekend!

The whirlwind is over. We are exhausted and very glad to be home and in our own beds tonight. Livi hasn't made a peep since going to sleep and I will be following her soon.

Our New Year's eve was very memorable. I'm glad I was able to relax and not worry about Livi so far away. She did great, by the way. She slept well and only woke up once. We went out for appetizers at our friends place before leaving with them for another party in Kitsalano. It was low key and relaxing. We visited and played a group game that was made a lot more interesting with a few intoxicated participants. I got to meet someone who just started working for L'Arche! I know, I'm such a geek. L'Arche is a community where people with disabilities can share their lives with typical people in an empowering environment. Jean Vanier is a big supporter of these communities and speaks often of them in his book "Becoming Human", which this blog is named for.

We rang the New Year in on a roof top balcony, over looking the city lights. It was a beautiful,clear night. We could see everything. It was quite breathtaking. Following midnight our party of about ten decided to crash the UBC frat party two doors down. Us, near and just over thirty year old's, dressed comfortably and maybe not-so stylishly, jumped confidently in to the center of the dance floor. The under twenty year old boys were sweaty and shirtless, while the stylin' fashion minded girls danced up a storm in 3 inch heels! All the kids were good looking and fit so it was definitely a "cool" kid or jock party. We grossly stuck out. I don't think I've ever felt so old. All I could think about was how badly the home stank and the poor real oak floors that were sticky and getting scratched.

We joined Livi and the rest of Jon's extended family at the Chehalis Healing House at the base of Hemlock the next day. I was pretty eager to get to Livi. We made it there for lunch and she nearly jumped in to my arms! I don't think you can fully understand how amazing that feeling is until you are a parent yourself. The rest of the weekend was fun but exhausting. Livi didn't stop moving when she was awake... which meant we were chasing her around a lot! Thankfully there were a lot of other babysitters around to keep an eye on her as well. Her favorite thing to do was run up and down wheelchair ramp and climb up and down the stairs. We don't have stairs in our home so they are a big novelty. She already knew how to climb and descend stairs but I had still been staying close. This weekend gave her and I both the confidence to know she can do it by herself.

She was a little extra whiny this weekend. Understandably though. She was overstimulated by all the people around her, plus they all jumped to her every whim... she didn't have to talk! I hope getting her back in to a routine and boundaries won't be too difficult. I really hope I can get her back on to a proper eating schedule quickly. She hasn't been drinking her milk in the last few days. I figured it was just because of all the distractions at the lodge, but she wouldn't drink any tonight when she was in her own home either! I'm not stressing about it yet... but if her refusing milk continues for much longer I will have to start finding alternative ways of getting the calories in her. And Yes, I did try putting it in her sippy cup and an adult cup.

Some exciting news about our next family reunion is that the family business will be taking us all some where warm! How exciting is that?! Discussions are still very much in the preliminary stages but we have plans for it  anyway! After my initial excitement my mind immediately added up the months and realized, if all things go according to plan, that we will have a very newborn baby. Hmmm... is it irrational to bump ahead or push back family planning for a trip to an all-inclusive? Okay, maybe not something I have to think about quite yet :)

So we are home, safe and sound, and ready for bed. Good night and I hope you had a fabulous New Years Eve! May you experience every blessing in 2010!