Category: medical

There Is Always a Silver Lining

There Is Always a Silver Lining

Every situation, no matter how grim, can be looked at from more than its obvious perspective.

A glass of water: Is it half-full, or half-empty?

My thought: Who cares? If you’re thirsty, you’ve got a glass with water in it. Drink up, quench your thirst, life goes on.

One quality I’m truly grateful to have bestowed upon me from my mother, is her ability to find the good in any situation. Sometimes it’s harder to do, but there’s always a way to look at something in a positive light rather than dwell on the negative, if you’re open to finding that possibility. As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my couch with one of the worst ear infections I’ve had in my 36 years of life. I don’t know how it happened, but it happened. I can’t change that, but what I can do is change how I feel about it.

Sure, I’m bummed about it. I had to miss out on some things, but something very good did come of this.

For all of my life, I’ve never been able to swallow pills. I’ve tried for many years, and for whatever reason have never been able to get them down. I’d put one in my mouth, and it would swish around. I’d drink water… a little bit, a lot, nothing would help. I’d wind up having to spit the pill out and never be able to get it down. Some medications, which only came in pill form, I’d have to crush up and put into applesauce, even as an adult.

I didn’t want to do this forever, and I was determined to learn how to do this. Everyone else I knew could do it; even people I knew growing up couldn’t, and now miraculously could. I was determined to jump on that pill-popping bandwagon. As it turns out, it was surprisingly easier than I thought.

The problem, at least for me, was simple:  I was overthinking the whole process.

Everyone had told me their various ways of doing it…

“Put the pill in the back of your throat, right on your tongue.”

“Take a little sip of water, and just….*gulp* it down.”

“Just do it.”

So, a little over a month ago I told myself that if anyone else can do it, so can I. I went into the kitchen, got a small cup of water, and popped a Zyrtec pill in my mouth and just swallowed it without giving me enough time to overthink it. Rather than get myself psyched up, I just pop the pill in and swallow it with a little gulp of water. The more relaxed I am, the easier it goes.

I was overjoyed. I then went to the store and picked up a bottle of men’s multivitamins, which were considerably larger than the Zyrtec pill. I tried to take it, and it went down. I can do this!

I tried to take the multivitamin pill again the next day, and the original issue happened. The pill swished around in my mouth and I couldn’t swallow it. I started getting freaked out again, and then sat down to think about it.

I work in technical support, so taking a more analytical and logical thought process to this seemed appropriate: I’ve already proven that I’m physically able to do this – I’ve taken one larger pill and one smaller one and swallowed them without issue, so this confirmed the problem was completely in my mind. I waited a few days, then tried again with a multivitamin – down the hatch.

Fast forward to now…

I have one bottle of liquid, but when I get it refilled I’m going to request it be in pill form… mainly, because the liquid doesn’t taste that great!

I’m fighting an ear infection now so I’m taking two extra sets of pills, but this has been good practice for me to get accustomed to swallowing things whole. I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer need to drink water to get them down. I can put a pill in and swallow it, and just use the water to wash it down, since sometimes it tastes funny just after swallowing it. Not a bad problem to have, if you ask me.

So… the good from the bad… I’ve got a nasty ear infection. My left ear feels like it’s being stabbed with an ice pick… the good: I’ve finally been able to swallow pills, it only took 36 years.

There’s always something good to come from a bad situation: Just look for it. It’s there, and it just might help you get through whatever’s going on and make the experience just a little bit better.

 

Going On A Cruise After Having Weight Loss Surgery

Going On A Cruise After Having Weight Loss Surgery

Getting weight loss surgery was one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s improved my life immensely, and it’s been an incredible tool to help me with living a healthier lifestyle. I’ve been able to experience things I never thought I would be able to do before, and cruises were my perfect opportunity to try things previously impossible.

Back in February, while on Majesty of the Seas, I climbed a rock wall.

Never in my wildest dreams would I ever think I’d be able to go rock climbing!

On this most recent trip on Anthem of the Seas, I tried the Flowrider for the first time doing some bodyboarding!

It was so much fun!

I also participated in a scuba “Try Dive” experience on Anthem, in which a PADI-certified instructor taught another gentleman and I the basics of diving with scuba gear. After a brief orientation, we put on all the equipment (tank, weight belt, and all) and swam laps underwater in the ship’s pool for about 20 minutes. It was such a great experience, and I didn’t even think I’d get past the stage of putting all the gear on. I thought I’d be too big and wouldn’t be able to proceed, but everything fit, and I even had room to tighten some of the straps. I finally felt like a normal human being. 

Before I started my journey toward being healthier, I would often stand on the sidelines and think “I’m too big to do that.” I then would take pictures of a lot of these activities, as a way to kind of live vicariously through those participating, but I just didn’t want to do that anymore without having those fun experiences for myself. It’s time I “YOLO’d” because after all, as the saying goes, you do only live once.

There are some unavoidable considerations though that those of us with smaller tummies will have to keep in mind:

1. There’s food everywhere.

If you’re easily tempted by a little cupcake here, or a piece of bread there, your temptations may very well have a field day with you on your cruise. But, don’t let that get you down. Always remember that being on vacation you can still follow your budget, and if you want a cookie or two, have them, but don’t have them at both lunch and dinner, for example. Let yourself enjoy food within reason, and be sure to account for it in your budget. Also, you’re going to be doing a lot of walking on ships since they’re quite big, and you’re burning off calories just getting to and from your stateroom!

2. Crew may not be sensitive to those of us who don’t eat as much.

Most crew members may not even be aware of weight loss surgeries, how they work, what they involve, and how it changes all of our lifestyles. To them, we’re just average-looking people who appear to not have much of an appetite, and then are baffled as to why our plates are still mostly full when we tell them we’re done. Don’t let that get in your way; I found the best approach was I would tell servers when they pushed, that “I don’t eat very much.” Most of them understood, and let it go after that. However, be prepared to hear it more than once. In their defense,  most of them may interpret a half full plate as coming from someone who didn’t enjoy their meal. I found that making it clear (and sometimes borderline overdoing it) helped to ease the tension there.

3. Provide feedback (don’t complain) if you don’t have a good experience.

This is a big one.  No change can, or will, be made unless those making mistakes are informed that something is wrong. If a server makes a comment, or does something inappropriate, provide that feedback to the head waiter. Bear in mind the difference between a complaint and feedback; you always catch more flies with honey. Feedback is constructive, where as a complaint is simply stating a problem and expecting something in return.

Complaining really doesn’t get anywhere at the end of the day.

I’d like to share something that happened on my last cruise. This is a paraphrased excerpt of the feedback I provided to Royal Caribbean via their survey:

“Except for dining in the buffet, whenever I had a waiter waiting on me, they would always interrogate me as to why I had food left on my plate when I was finished with my meal. I’d had stomach surgery, so I no longer have the option to eat the same amount as any normal person. I decided to do this for the betterment of my life…I chose to be happier and healthier rather than be able to stuff myself. The crew should be more sensitive to situations like this, and if a passenger says they are finished, they should not be continually pressured to eat something else, as it made for some very uncomfortable situations. In one of the dining rooms, my waiter told me I could eat anything I wanted because “He has a big kitchen.” – I’ve been a big person my entire life (weighing almost 400 lbs at my worst)… I am used to people making comments, but I shouldn’t have to deal with or hear things like that when I’m on a vacation. I’m simply going to dinner to order what I want and enjoy it, and I should not have to explain my situation to someone, or hear their commentary on how big the kitchen is. Statements like that are just unnecessary and inappropriate. I know a big part of going on cruises is enjoying foods one may not be accustomed to eating, but food is not the be-all/end-all part of a cruise experience. It would be nice to see crew be more attentive to and respectful of people when they’re done eating. Even if they take one bite of their food and say they’re done, we’ve all paid the same price for our cruise an we should be able to eat as much, or as little as we choose.”

4. Enjoy yourself: You deserve it.

Cruises are very much a vacation in which you’ll get what you put into it. If you want to go on the ship and sit by the pool while drinking an ice-cold glass of water (who are we kidding…I meant an ice-cold margarita!), do it. If you want to go on and do every activity under the sun, do it! There will always be plenty of choices for activities, and foods as well.

You may have to explain your situation to those unfamiliar with weight loss surgery, but it’s not their fault they’re untrained or unfamiliar.

I recently made a video about this very subject over on my YouTube channel which I’d highly recommend checking out. (Feel free to subscribe if you enjoyed it, as I have lots of other content there and coming soon!)

The most important thing I can say is this: Don’t let anything detract you from taking part in experiences that may have been impossible for you in your old life. You deserve it. You put in so much hard work; weight loss is a lifelong war, not just a battle. A battle can be fought and won (or lost), but a war is ongoing. Think of this as one of many battles in which you were victorious.  Go, and celebrate your victory!

No Caffeine: One Year Later

No Caffeine: One Year Later

Today marks a significant day in my journey that is life: It’s been a full year since I’ve drank anything with caffeine in it. I’m sure there were trace amounts of caffeine in some foods I’ve eaten, but what I’m referring to specifically are things like coffee and soda.

I haven’t had any coffee or any soda in a full year. Do I miss it? Not really.

Prior to having a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (gastric sleeve, or “the sleeve”), I used to drink a few cups of coffee a day, and would also need a few sodas to keep me going during throughout the day. Since stopping my intake of caffeine, I can tell life’s gotten better, especially getting a good night’s sleep. Even getting only 6 hours, I still feel rested and am able to get through my day naturally. By the time 10pm or so rolls around, I’m getting tired and ready for sleep. Around 7am, I’m ready to start my day. It’s a very nice feeling compared to needing various amounts of caffeine to get through my day, and not always having consistent sleep at night.

The only down side is I’ve gotten into drinking mostly water. Every now and then I may have some water, then for some variety, I drink water. If that’s the price I have to pay for what the last year’s been like as a result of quitting caffeine… I’m quite fine with it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get a nice tall glass of water.

Keep It Or Lose It: Update

Keep It Or Lose It: Update

Earlier, I posted about wearing some facial hair.  I’ve never been one to wear a beard/mustache/goatee/etc. I’d tried it once before, by choice. This time around, I had to wear it because a doctor told me I temporarily wasn’t allowed to shave the area.  However, I was given a time frame of 2 weeks in which I couldn’t shave. Tonight is the 13th day, and as the title of the below video states… that was 13 days too many to have facial hair!

So, I present…the answer to the earlier blog post… Clearly, I didn’t keep it!  Watch the video for more!

Keep It or Lose It?

Keep It or Lose It?

The fact that I am not smiling in the picture is quite intentional…

 

It all started a few weeks ago when I went to visit the dermatologist to have something taken care of on my face. Well, I’ll just call it what it was: I had warts on my face. How they got there, I have no idea, but needless to say they needed to go.

Thankfully, the treatment was fairly easy. As the saying goes, “there’s a first for everything”… I can now say I’ve been sprayed in the face with liquid nitrogen. It was cold, and it stung, but it wasn’t unbearable. I felt it more on the drive home than I did during the actual procedure, but the stinging feeling was gone after an hour or so. I’d honestly rather sit through that again than what I’m dealing with right now.

One of the doctor’s orders was that I couldn’t shave the area of my face for a few weeks while waiting for the treated area to heal. Other than trying some facial hair in the past, I’ve never worn anything as far as that goes. I have always preferred the look and feel of a clean-shaven face. Interestingly enough, no men in my family have facial hair, and being the first to break that tradition really isn’t high on my priority list. Perhaps I should look into getting my face zapped so I don’t have to grow facial hair ever again… that’s a thing, right?

I’ve gone a few days without shaving, and it’s no big deal, but this is a whole new level of “unbearably annoying.” I love the feel after a nice shave… my face is nice and smooth… I am literally dying for a shave right now because my face does not stop itching!

Friends of mine with facial hair have all told me that the feeling of discomfort and itchiness will eventually pass, and others have told me that my… “stuff” on my face actually looks good.  Hence, I’m torn. There’s a part of me that can’t wait to get rid of it, and there’s a part of me that is mildly curious to keep it for awhile and see if it changes anything.  I’ve been looking for ways to get out of my comfort zone in some areas of life, so maybe this is one I can add to the list. It certainly meets the requirements of pushing the boundaries of what I consider to be comfortable, because comfortable this surely is not!

Give Props to Your Docs

Give Props to Your Docs

I was going to tweet this, but I wanted a little bit more room… While getting my periodic tooth cleaning this morning, I couldn’t help overhearing this woman in the next room complaining about every little thing about whatever she was having done to her. Now, granted, I’m no dentist, but it doesn’t take an expert to know when a little common courtesy and respect are necessary. She had the nerve to criticize the doctor, telling him he didn’t put the Novicaine in the right place, he didn’t wait long enough, etc. How rude! I would never make criticisms about things I know nothing about, or a job I was not qualified to do myself. I wouldn’t know where to put Novicaine in someone’s mouth, but I’m sure someone with the experience that this doctor has knows what he’s doing, because he’s dedicated his life to dental care and he’s damn good at it. I was quite tempted to go in there and give that woman a piece of my mind, and tell her to quit being a big baby, but I realized it was none of my business so I just left when I was done.

There’s no rule in any rulebook saying you have to see the same doctor every time anyway, so if you really have an issue with what one says there is always the idea of a second opinion! It happens all the time, and I’m sure doctors encourage it!

I’ve had nothing but great experiences with my dentist, and just about all of the doctors I’ve had to see for that matter. Being in customer service, of any field, it’s more often we hear of the negative comments and experience people have, as opposed to the positive ones. I just wanted to take a brief moment to recognize my appreciation for those doctors who have helped me out. I am grateful for your help!

Now I finally know what I’m allergic to!

Now I finally know what I’m allergic to!

Nocats
Nocats

I’ve never been more excited to see a doctor than I was for my appointment this morning with the allergist. 29 years is long enough for these seasonal allergies, which I’m happy to say I’m finally getting under control. I was poked and prodded with the 31 most common allergens for the Northern New Jersey area, and found that I am allergic to Birch and Oak trees, apparently the worst of the trees, cats, and ragweed. There are a few others which I can’t recall but those are the biggest. I can go back on antihistamines now, THANK GOD!!!!!!!

I looked at the bottle of medicine before I took my dosage and almost started weeping; like I’d been reunited with a long-lost love. “Oh sweet antihistamines, how i’ve missed you!” – The stuff she suggested I use is once daily, and a small amount, so it’s definitely “the good stuff”. We’ll see how well it works, but I’m feeling good about the treatment. I’ll be starting my allergy shots in the next few weeks, since my vials have to be prepared etc. It’ll be difficult to figure out when I’m going to go since it’ll be once a week, but I’ll figure it out.

Are allergy shots given in the arms or in the ass cheeks? Anybody know?

Apparently I’m not allergic to dogs, but I thought I was. I asked the doc about why I react when a dog is around even if I’m not allergic, and she said it’s most likely because the dogs pick up quite a bit of pollen and allergens in their fur, which they bring into the house. Makes sense. So, I could get a dog if I really wanted one (which I don’t…I couldn’t even afford one if I did), but I definitely can’t get a cat. Oh well. No meow meow for me.