Sunday, August 30, 2009

Educating Primary Care Physicians about Lapband

As with all surgeries, lapband can result in complications. The band can slip, infection can occur, some people are so good at eating around the band (using slider food) that they gain weight back, or they never go in for their fills. Some Dr.s don't seem to give very good advice to their patients about sticking to higher density proteins and not turning them into slider food by adding things like gravy to them. Some actually recommend that people "prime the pump" with liquid before they eat. Some Dr.s take forever to give their patients a fill that actually acheives restriction.

Not all patients make sure they get the kind of support system they need to achieve success nor do their Dr.s The lapband is a tool not a cure. Other issues need to be dealt with simultaneously. If they're not, the band isn't as successful.

So some primary care physicians seem to only be aware of the failures and are unwilling to recommend their patients for the lapband. They also don't distinguish between gastric bypass which is much more drastic and has many more severe complications and the lapband. They confuse the statistics for the two.

I think a lot of these Dr.s really don't understand the nature of compulsive overeating. They keep thinking that if their patients just listened to them and followed the diets they hand them and had better nutritional education they'd lose the weight. But time and again, nutritional information and closely supervised diets don't help their patients.

Over the years some have prescribed drugs that haven't helped and have actually harmed overweight patients.

When I think of the money and time I spent on Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Tops, OA, Atkins, and some wierd combination of thyroid and speed one Dr. put me on, it makes me angry. I had a Dr. who didn't believe in the band. She thought I could do it myself. I knew I couldn't. I had to go to a new Dr. anyway because of insurance so I tested the next Dr. to see if he recommended the band. With two co-morbidities he took it seriously. He had Dr. friends who did lapband surgery with great success. So he went ahead and recommended me for the surgery which started the year long process of jumping through hoops to get the band.

I'm blessed that I had the persistance to get through that year and that I had a cooperative Dr. My insurance company also sent me to a top-of-the-line specialist. Some insurance companies won't cover the surgery at all. Although I have access to a nutritionist at my surgeon's office, I've found even greater support on lapbandtalk, especially on a thread called I'm here to help...This blog has also proved to be an invaluable ally in my recovery.

A lady at my church who is in much worse shape than me has not been able to get her primary care physician to recommend the lapband. Meanwhile, the meds she's on for her co-morbidities have made her gain even more weight.

People need to explore the risks, the failures, and the successes of lapband surgery before they make a decision. They need to know that its still hard work to lose the weight and keep it off. Their Dr.s should be helping them explore their options and get set up for success if the option for lapband is chosen.

I think the primary physicians need to get more educated, not only about lapband surgery, but about compulsive overeating itself. It is an eating disorder, an addiction, with genetic, biological, emotional, psychological, and spiritual componants that all need to be addressed. The band helps relieve the person of enough of the addiction aspect to let them work on the other aspects.

I had worked for years on all the other componants with counseling, 12-step meetings for food addiction, 12-step meetings for codependency issues, not to mention prayer and Bible reading and Bible study groups. I'd come to pretty good terms with my ADHD/ADD and still I could not succeed in losing and keeping off the weight.

I had a medical condition that needed a medical solution. I hope the woman in my church gets the help she needs. I hope the lapband, if she gets recommended, proves to be the tool she needs like it has for me. She's a precious soul and very much loved and appreciated in my church community. I want her to be around yet for a long time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Great Weekend

My husband and I went to the Taste of Greece today. The weather was perfect. Not hot at all. Sweater weather with a jacket for evening. We ate some interesting food (spanokopita, saganaki, chicken kabob, gelato) listened to some Greek music, and watched some Greek dancing and a belly dancer. She was not skinny and she was not young but she looked great. All her plumper areas were in the right places and jiggled nicely. She was very graceful and the dance was not overtly sexual. Fun.

The circle dances that those with Greek heritage (and a few without) danced were fun to watch and I loved seeing the Greek costumed dancers do their thing. We also saw the Jesse White tumblers. What a treat. Those kids just flew through the air and wowed the crowd.

It was just plain fun. We were going to stay home and do nothing but then I found out this was happening and we decided to go, spur of the moment.

Its so important to incorporate fun stuff into your life. Spontaneous or planned, it sure beats staying home and smelling the mold drifting up from your basement.

Last night I went to a Tastefully Simple party. I knew there would be some former colleagues attending as well as a few current colleagues. I wanted to connect rather than stay home another Friday night and watch lint grow in my navel. Well, I don't actually do that, but sometimes it feels that way.

So both times I had some food outside my food protocol, but I did not overeat. The band is not meant to keep me from participating in life, and good food is part of life. Its just meant to stop me from going overboard and it did its job.

Meanwhile, my blood pressure continues to drop and I was so excited to wear this really cute pair of jeans I picked up at a thrift store a month ago when they were still too tight for me. Now they're just right. I haven't worn flattering jeans for such a long time. I had a really pretty lavender sweater (that matched the flowers on the jeans) that I picked up at a resale shop a couple of weeks ago--a never worn Ralph Lauren.

Tomorrow morning I'm subbing on a praise team at our church. I haven't hardly sung all summer at church and I was so happy to be asked to sing. I'm probably going to get to sing tenor instead of alto, at least on some songs, and that's exciting, too.

I've been hibernating most of the summer, doing a few fun things here and there but limited by my surgery and getting my food protocol established and, of course, having very limited funds with every extra dollar being spent on getting my basement fixed.

This is just a great weekend.

Last night there was an incident that could have sabotaged some of it, but I spoke up for myself and salvaged a good night's sleep. I had been awakened by neighbors playing loud music and talking and laughing loudly at 4 a.m. in the morning. This house has been empty for over a year but it was recently purchased and the buyer has his kids rehabbing the place. Well, one of the kids decided to have a party. I debated what to do and finally decided to put on my housecoat and flipflops and talk to them. It took a lot of pounding on the door before they even heard me.

Fortunately, the girl was quite embarrassed for waking me up and grateful I hadn't called the police. She immediately turned the music off and made everyone shut up. Maybe they all went home. Anyway, I was able to go back to sleep and, for the first time in a long time, I actually was able to sleep in on a Saturday morning. I had taken extended relief Tylenol the night before in addition to my anti-inflammatory and slept and woke up without pain for a change.

If I hadn't taken the Tylenol, even though the kids had quieted down, I would have had trouble getting back to sleep because by then it was almost 5 a.m. and that's when the discomfort normally starts waking me up.

So I get to sing praise to God tomorrow morning early (7:45 a.m. practice) but I should still be well rested. My blog post is finished and I can go to bed on time. Its only 10:30 p.m. instead of 12 midnight, which is when I usually finished posting all summer long.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Its All Relative

Tonight I had my first solid food since getting my fill last Tues. I chewed my chicken to death and did moisten it with gravy. I could feel tightness when I swallowed unless I chewed tiny bites into mush and swallowed only a little at a time. A couple of times I could feel a pb trying to start (productive cough, or as I call it puke back). I wiped the extra saliva out of my mouth and waited it out before cautiously resuming eating.

In case you forgot, food can plug the stoma the band creates and stuff comes back up--especially saliva. The band feels much tighter in the morning so I'll probably do liquids tomorrow but try to eat real food again for supper.

My weight loss has started again. We also realized our blood pressure machine was wrong. We got a new one and its in line with the Dr.s now, and my blood pressure is in normal range with a lot less drugs. My husband found out his blood sugar was higher than mine. Still in the borderline range but barely. So he's cutting way back on carbs and will probably lose more weight.

It is absolutely not fair that men can lose weight so easily. My husband and I are about the same height, I may have half an inch on him, but he has a very slight build. When he gains weight its all in his tummy. The rest of him stays skinny. He also has some of the worst eating habits, barely eating during the day and then eating supper for an hour and dessert or snacks all evenings. (He has modified this because I couldn't take being around so much food all night long.)

His blood pressure and cholesterol are great. The blood sugar is the first sign that his eating habits are starting to cause him trouble. So he threw out all the carbs he had hidden in the house to eat when I'm not around.

When I met him he was a heavy smoker and barely ate except for his snacks. He was so skinny his ribs would poke me when we hugged. I was at a relatively skinny point in my life and was in top shape, walking, swimming, and working the machines at the gym. I went dancing at least once a week. I was still 20 lbs. heavier than he.

He gave up the smoking for me and turned to food and now he's giving up the food. Go Ken!

He's also been dismantling the basement, demolishing all the paneling and ceiling tiles, so that we can get a draintile moat put under the floor to eliminate our water and mold problems. Ken would be the first to admit he's not handy. So far he's stepped on three nails. Fortunately, you only need one tetanus shot. He's doing this for me, too, since I refuse to pay money to have it done. We need the money to pay for the drain tile and possibly a new roof since my current one is leaking again after two days of rain.

That'll pretty much wipe us out and we'll have to slowly redo the basement as savings permit. As long as I have a job, that is. But I can't project too far into the future. We help pay for a child in Kenya to attend school, have a mattress and a lantern to study by, school supplies, a uniform, and one meal a day.

I've walked on Mount Trashmore in the Phillipines and watched the children combing through the trash in unbelievable heat, stench, and humidity for things that could be sold to support their family. These are not people who have to worry about getting a lapband to keep them from eating too much.

Its pretty hard to complain after that. Even when we think we're living in want, we're living in plenty.

Its all relative.

I am content, no matter what my circumstance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Hope--Second Lapband Fill

Had my 2nd fill today. Dr. definitely made sure I'd feel some restriction. I think I'll be on liquids for a few days, until the fat pad around my stomach shrinks enough to loosen the band and let a little food through. Absolutely stopped the cravings I was having. I'm back to sipping tiny little sips. No danger of me eating too much. Protein shakes and water are about all I can get down. Have to drink them very slowly.

I also actually got some work done in my classroom today. I finally got all the class lists, and was relieved to see the number of my students who are returning. I'll be working on the schedule and some testing the next few days. I'll also be contacting parents of kids who were marginal whether they needed to see me or not. It helps my bottom line if I do have at least 2 contacts with them a week, since my program gets paid per contact. But these are parents who don't want their children missing a single thing in order to come to me. Other parents are in denial that their child needs help.

I want to keep an assistant 3 days a week and not have to drop to one or two. There's so much organization and paperwork required and that's not the stuff I'm good at. The more student contacts I have, the more $ come in, the more I can do with and for the students. I have some special computer programs that have been shown to improve kids reading scores by an average of one to two years in just 6-12 weeks. The high number of student contacts I maintain is what has paid for the yearly licenses for those programs and my assistant works with those kids on the computer while I teach the rest of the kids.

I also get parent involvement money and money for group counseling provided for the kids based on the number of students I see.

Its all intertwined. The loss of students at RCS impacts my funding and limits what I can do with the kids.

I know its all in God's hands. I just pray that the NCLB funding will come in and pay for me this year (its not in yet), and that next year the new vendor will hire me.

I've made my classroom such an ADHD/ADD friendly place for myself. A good part of that is my assistant who is really more like my partner. I rely heavily on her advice on how to set things up, and I totally rely on her to keep up with all the forms and files.

Meanwhile thanks to the lapband fill, I'm not eating. I had to fight to get the second fill only two weeks after the first fill. I wanted to start the school year with restriction. I didn't want to have to take off work to get the fill. This fill should last quite a while. It may even be the last one I need. It depends on how loose it gets after I lose the next 35 lbs.

I had a student who didn't recognize me at first today. I had my hair up in it's Pebbles Flintstone do. She's used to me with short hair and a much fatter body. LOL.

I'm also working on my DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) pile of clothes. I'm amazed at how fat women's clothes are designed to accommodate a huge weight range. Most of my pants definitely don't fit me, but the tops don't look too bad. Instead of being stretched around my fat, they now drape around me gracefully. I might invest in a decorative, loose belt to upgrade their style a little. Eventually I'll have to cave and get more clothes but for now I'll make do with these clothes and with my thrift store buys.

Last night I felt somewhat hopeless. The return of my cravings threw me for a loop. In the past they could have been the start of regaining, with interest, all the weight I've lost.

Thank God for the lapband. Life's vicissitudes can't throw me back into the food nearly as easily as they did. My optimism about the school year has returned now that I'm not worrying about the food on top of everything else.

I can do all things, through him who strengthens me,
Yes, I can do all things, through him who strengthens me.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm having a hard time with food tonight. I am absolutely craving chocolate and have eaten two Kashi bars just for the taste of the sprinkling of chocolate chips sprinkled inside them. Before that I had trouble stopping myself from eating chicken. I've been craving chocolate for days. I can't wait for my fill tomorrow. It won't take away the craving but it will help limit the damage. Sometimes I actually overeat good-for-me-stuff in order to avoid pigging out on what I crave.

I've been doing so good. So now I've got to figure out why the cravings are so strong. Well, it seems obvious to me. School starts on Wednesday. I have always used food to help me focus and get on task. I miss my drug. It may be that now that my blood pressure is down and I'm on fewer and fewer meds, I may have to see about going on ADHD meds. They have some new ones out that aren't stimulants.

One of the best adult tests for adult ADHD assesses the following five clusters. These remain in adults as hyperactivity and impulsivity characteristic in childhood ADHD diminish.

•Organizing and activating to work.
•Sustaining attention and concentration.
•Sustaining energy and effort.
•Managing affective interference.
•Using working memory and accessing recall.

When I read this yesterday in Psychiatric Times, it was almost more than I could take. I have all five of those symptoms and they are all currently overactive. Chocolate and coffee are particularly effective in self-medicating those symptoms. I drink decaf and I've had very little chocolate since having my lapband surgery. So I'm trying to handle my ADHD without my most effective medicine.

When I was a teenager I lived on chocolate. I never ate breakfast, had a light lunch but ate candy bars whenever available, and ate a hearty supper with chocolate ice cream for dessert. I was very active. When I added coffee in college and as a young mother, chocolate and coffee were my mainstays. I could live my life on chocolate and coffee.

Recently I talked with another bandster who, now that she's lost the weight, lives on chocolate and coffee. She remains very thin. That's an enormous temptation for me. Sometimes I've wondered if I'd mostly eaten that and ate just a little other food, that I might not have gained all the weight. The problem was all the "healthy" food I ate on top of it because I figured I needed the nutrients. And, like today, when I deny myself what I crave, I overeat "healthy" foods.

It's going to be an interesting year. I don't know if there's going to be enough NCLB funding available to keep me and my assistant working. We are paid according to the number of children I see each week. So far, I have no idea how many RCS students are returning. Last year we had 240 total students, this year we are at 140 with school starting in two days. I need my assistant. She does all the paperwork for NCLB, does all the record-keeping and keeps everything organized so I'm free to teach. Last year I cut down to having her two days instead of three, and another assistant two days. This year I won't have the second assistant.

Next year a new vendor will be in charge and is not obligated to hire me. Everytime I walk in my classroom I'm having trouble sitting down and focusing and getting stuff done. I've already talked about how bad my memory's been this summer (and its definitely my working memory, not my longterm that's affected and its affecting my ability to recall information. Well, I can't organize and activate to work, I can't sustain attention and concentration or energy and effort, and I'm not managing affective (emotional) interference.

It will take the pressure of school actually starting to get me to concentrate. That's not unusual for me, to a certain extent it happens every year, but it feels worse this year. So I'm considering medication. Often, for ADHD people, drugs that specifically work on ADHD are necessary to help a person lose weight and maintain weight loss so that they don't use food to self-medicate the ADHD symptoms.

We'll see. I've been on meds before and done very well. But then my blood pressure started going up a little and I panicked. Well, my blood pressure really went up without the ADHD meds as I gained and gained weight. I just hate more Dr.'s visits.

This is my 9th year of teaching at RCS and each year has brought major challenges and I'm constantly adapting to fit the circumstances. The challenge has always helped me to focus. I'm just not sure the challenges I'm facing this year are the kind that will help me focus. I feel like my program is going backwards.

I'm going to see how it goes. I'm scared. All the old feelings of inadequacy about being able to hold down a job are back. So much of my life has been spent hiding my ADHD under a veneer of competency that I couldn't sustain. This job I've done so well because I designed it around my ADHD and haven't tried to disguise it. Now circumstances are changing and its bringing back old fears.

I want to eat.

Lord, I need your help. I'm powerless over food and over my ADHD. I ask you to take over my mind and my stomach. Get me through this time of uncertainty, hold my hand, take care of me.

Friday, August 21, 2009

God's Gift of Music

I love to sing. I'm a competent singer. A good choir voice. I can hear harmonies and read harmonies. I'd never embarass myself by going on American or any other Idol. I have a lot of volume in the lower registers and I can sing soprano falsetto. This comes in handy when I sing along with Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons my "song"--Cheri baby.

I don't have a solo voice and I have absolutely no vibrato. My voice has a tendency to crack every once in a while like a teenage boy's voice, right in the middle of a note. I think I damaged my vocal chords yelling too much as a kid. I have to be very careful forcing my voice or I'll end up with a coughing fit. Yet I sing every chance I can get.

Today I went to a special choir practice and my voice really worked for me once it warmed up. I got to sing tenor which I seldom am needed to do, but its probably the best range for my voice. I can't wait for my regular church choir to get started singing. We sing twice a month and I've missed it over the summer. I'm also singing a song with a mass choir of fellow college alumni at Navy Pier in October. How cool is that!

Just think how many singers would never get an opportunity to use their voices if it weren't for church choirs and praise teams. Just think how much less music there would be in the world if it weren't for Christianity and those who celebrate their faith in song.

When I'm singing hymns and praise songs and gospel songs, I don't think about eating at all. When we do worship on Sunday morning, I am always filled with such joy and gladness, sorrow for sin, and hope for eternity. I connect with God on a very visceral level. I move with the music and my whole being comes alive with praise.

I heard some old curmudgeon say that music has become idolatry in church, that we worship the music. He's probably not very musical. I always feel like I'm most connected to God when I'm singing. Music leads and points the way to God.

Listening to incredibly beautiful voices soaring in harmony or alone can bring me to tears and I worship the one who gave us such incredible gifts. Art can do the same thing to me.

I've also written two songs, or should I say they wrote themselves and I woke up with them. Now that was a shock. Especially the first time it happened. I'm used to my husband waking up with songs and following me around the house and even into the bathroom singing them to me before I've even had a chance to clear my throat. So when I woke up with a song, I couldn't wait for him to wake up! Payback time!

Actually, that first time, I woke up with the melody and was trying to think what song it was, because I often wake up with songs in my head, and then I started hearing the harmony and after playing it for my husband on the piano, realized I'd composed it and hadn't heard it anywhere else. A few days later the words started coming. Everytime I thought I was done writing the words and would get up to clean the house, a new verse would come to me and I'd have to sit down to type it out. It was like trying to get out of the bathroom when you have the stomach flu.

The songs were praise songs. One is supposed to someday be performed by my church choir (Living Springs Community Church). The other one may be performed by the Roseland Christian School choir. The director there really likes the song.

I'm 57 years old. Writing songs was not a gift that I knew I had. To have it come out now and to have some very talented choir directors like them and work on arranging them astonished me.

God is full of surprises like that. He likes to give us good gifts. He wants to make use of our gifts. Sometimes he awakens gifts we didn't even know we had.

The second song God gave me this past spring. It's based on Phillipians 4:11-13. It's been a mainstay for me while going through lapband surgery and making the lifestyle changes to accompany it. It also plays through my head when I smell my rotten moldy basement that we won't be using for a year or two while we slowly renovate.

It plays through my head when I think of how the funding to keep me in my job might not be available next year, that the new vendor might not want to employ me. It plays through my head when I'm stuck at home all the time because we've no money to go anywhere or buy anything.

These are the words:

Don't wanna be a superstar
Don't need to drive a brand new car
I am content

Yes, I am content no matter what my circumstance
I am content no matter what my lot.
I know what it means to live in want or have plenty.
I know the secret of being content
Is I can do all things
Through him who strengthens me.
Yes, I can do all things
Through him who strengthens me.

Don't need to have a mansion
or wear the latest fashion
I am content.

Yes, I am content, etc.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Don't Forget the Gifts

In a lot of ways I've been using this blog to take inventory--particularly inventory of those things that have contributed to my food addiction. But no inventory is complete without looking at those areas of strength that I can draw on to help me successfully manage this disease.

How do I do that without either false modesty or hubris?

I think for this post I'll stick to one trait I believe God has blessed me with and uses in ways that sometimes leaves me in awe. I believe in certain areas, God gives me vision and persistance in pursuing it. I do some footwork and God opens a door. I do some footwork and God opens another door. Eventually the vision gets passed to others who then bring it to fruition. These are usually in areas of ministry.

Today was a day in which one such vision came to fruition. A few years ago I became aware of a system of raising and teaching kids called Love & Logic. I'd heard about it in passing, then while searching for a speaker for a parent involvement seminar I saw something about a person who gave talks on Love & Logic. I had funding for him to come and talk and I also purchased books to give to parents who came.

I became convinced that I and my school needed to adopt Love & Logic as their system of discipline rather than the somewhat haphazard and often old school methods I'd been raised in like hollering and arguing and lecturing that are even more ineffective with today's children than they were with me.

Today, after four or five year of footwork, our entire teacher inservice was devoted to training in Love & Logic. Our new principal is squarely behind it, a veteran Roseland school teacher who was sent to week long training in Love & Logic through funding I'd uncovered gave the presentation using materials purchased with funding I'd uncovered. The vision has taken on a life of its own, and Roseland will be much better for it.

Many of you have checked out the video of Arthur Patrick, now called Testimony of a Student,, that I included in some previous posts. I knew some of Arthur's story and had worked with him for four years bringing up his math and reading scores. I knew he had made tremendous progress and I thought his story might be worth telling from a public relations viewpoint.

I tested Arthur and compared his entrance scores in fifth grade to his current scores, interviewed his mother and foster mother, and wrote up their story for the promotions committee. Another member of the committee, who'd been hearing about Arthur from me and who was making these videos for Roseland wanted to interview Arthur for one of the videos. If you've seen the video, you know what a powerful story it turned out to be. This video was used at our 125th anniversary celebration and has become a powerful fundraising tool for the school.

Arthur, by the way, after his story was made known, was given the Most Improved Academic Achievement Award by our local district councilwoman. He was surprised with it at graduation. I cried. He was also given a scholarship to an Entrepreneurship Camp this past summer.

This time the results went way beyond what I'd only vaguely envisioned.

I've said before that ideas fly from me like confetti. Every once in a while one of them sticks and grows and takes on a life of its own. I'm not sure what my part in that is. Sometimes the vision for what could be is given to me so clearly and other times its vague, but I believe God uses me as a catalyst. I can be relentless, like water dripping on stone, for a cause I believe in. I can stay focused and even organized enough to do the footwork when God gives me the passion to pursue a vision. I know when the vision is God-breathed when God keeps cracking doors open for me to walk (and sometimes push) my way through.

Getting the lapband has some of that feel to it. It took from June 2008 to June 2009 to go through the process of getting approved. It had been on my mind a lot longer than that. I kept doing the footwork because I had a vision of a healthier me, a me that would be able to continue to pursue visions for what my students and what their school could become.

In the process I acquired another vision: a vision for what telling my story as a recovering Christian food addict, who chose lapband surgery as a tool in that recovery, could do for other Christians and for those who are not yet Christian, as well as what it could do for me and my recovery.

Again, my ability to focus--even hyperfocus--when I am passionate about a vision kicked in. I've come up with a post almost every night since before my surgery. Many people not only view my blog on this site, but I copy and post it to two other sites as well where it is read by many people. I've heard from enough people to know that my blog is helping many, and even those not affected by food addiction have found inspiration.

And God gave me another gift. He's allowed me to use my gift for writing, to dust if off, polish it up, and let it shine before other people. People like to pretend that they just write for themselves. The fact is, when we write, we are always envisioning an audience. Thank you for being my audience.

Vision, passion, persistance, catalyst, writer--God's good gifts.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Half Way There!

I've reached the halfway point! Whoo-hoo!

Thirty-five pounds lost. Thirty-five to go. People are starting to notice. The ones who know I've had lapband often seem hesitant to say something. Others seem puzzled. I've also been growing my hair out and its quite long. So they don't always know what's different about me or what to choose to comment on. Plus, people are no longer sure whether its OK to comment on someone's weight. Complementing someone on losing means they were too heavy before. I enjoy watching people's faces and seeing their dilemma over what to say if anything.

For a while, it was like the fatter I got, the shorter I cut my hair. Now its long enough to put into a Pebbles Flintstone pony tail. All I need is a bone. That was definitely not a cute look when I was heavier, but I kind of like it now. It gives me an instant facelift. Its also cool on these hot days. When its down around my shoulders and framing my face it feels like a soft cloud. I love my hair right now.

Found an outfit in my closet from a few years ago that I hung on to that fits me right now. Kind of Hawaiian. I wore it to a meeting with some coworkers who haven't seen me since May. It was fun to wear something I haven't been able to wear for several years.

I've been looking for clothes at thrift stores to supplement some of my older clothes. I have no intention of spending much money on clothes that might not fit for long. I don't like to shop very much and searching through racks and racks of poorly organized clothes drives me a little crazy, but it sure saves me money.

I did go to one store that's run by mostly Dutch people. Now there, I think they measure the clothes to get the size if its missing, all sizes are in the right place, clearly marked, and you could eat off the floors.

I like reinventing myself. This is just exterior stuff. Its like playing dress up. New body, new clothes, new hair.

Changing the inside, that's a little more work. But I'm doing it. My health is better. I'm off 3 1/2 scripts and 2 supplements. My neck is giving me less trouble. I'm sleeping better.

I'd also say that I've really been dealing with all the issues behind the eating. Guilt, shame, resentment, codependency, ADHD/ADD, emotional eating. Complex issues that all affect compulsive eating.

But today was for celebrating. For counting my blessings. For thanking God for 35 pounds lost and getting half way to goal. Yea God. Yea Cheri. Hip, hip, hooray.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eating Resentment

Resentments. Everyone has them. Sometimes they fester and turn into an infection. They can poison your mind, poison your outlook, poison your whole life. I have mine, but one of the blessings of being ADHD for me is being unable to carry a memory long enough to build a resentment. Usually.

I can almost always see the pitiful, miserable motivations of the people trying to hurt or undermine or control me or a situation. Those, I think, are the things that tick me off the most--put-downs, sabotage, and attempted mind or behavior control.

Generally I let go of that anger, except when, because of a relationship of some sort--relative, co-worker, friend--that person makes a regular habit of it. Over time, though I may have trouble recalling specific incidents during good times, if that person does something again, the anger that comes up triggers my memories and the new resentment gets piled on the old. I have to say that I don't keep friends who hurt me. Relatives and co-workers aren't so easy to get rid of.

Even then I tend to practice the philosophy, "Leave them alone and they'll come home, dragging their tails behind them." (Sorry, Bopeep)

However, repeated stupidity, bad decisions, or actions that impact how I live my life, things that can't be fixed by "I'm sorry!" are some of my worst resentments. A lot of times there's nothing I can do to change what happened. It just seems so unfair that I have to live with the consequences of another's bad choices.

When those choices turn out to be a pattern, then I could kick myself for not acting sooner to confront the pattern of behavior or for not taking back responsibility for what's been mismanaged before it ended up causing so much damage. I trusted where I shouldn't, ignored warning signs because I hate confrontation, and I didn't take my power back before major damage occurred.

These are resentments that I practice letting go, but I do it like you drop a yo-yo and let it spin on the end of it's string. Should that person behave in that way again, I can yank that yo-yo right back up into my hand and feel that resentment all over again.

I hate confrontation and generally avoid it at all cost. I'm not good at it either and am seldom able to really get down to the nitty-gritty and and hold a mirror up to that person so that they see for themselves the trouble they've caused. That's because I'm not God. I just want to, and sometimes do, yell at the person. Then, of course, instead of looking at themselves and maybe changing at a core level, they get mad at me and feel self-righteous. Or I say very little and my anger comes out in time by being mean over little things. Or I just avoid being around that person unless there's a lot of other people around to cushion me from them.

Normally, I'm able to talk about other's problems and tend to freely over-give advice like a food sample server at Costco--except when I've been hurt. Then I can't seem to find words to tell that person how much I've been hurt or how angry I am about that person's actions or words. I pretend that it made no impact.

That's not all bad. I pull up my big girl panties and start repairing the damages and getting my life back on track. I don't get mired down in recriminations.

The fact is that life is a much better teacher of lessons than I am. Sometimes I'm able to speak up and say what needs to be said. But its not my gift. What seems to work for me is praying for that person. I pray that God will teach them the lessons they need to learn--that they will develop insight into themselves and see what changes they need to make or actions they need to take. I pray the same for me. That can be a very scary prayer because you never know how God will do that.

In the past, internalizing that anger at people I love would drive me into the food. I ate my resentments. And they didn't taste good or digest easily. To use an old saying, "It sticks in your craw."

Until God unties my tongue and gives me wisdom in "carefronting" people, I find that praying for them works a lot better than eating. I'm seeing changes in people without my input. When I keep silent about an issue and don't give feedback or advice, or tell someone that I have no idea what to say or do, or I change the subject, that person is left to deal with it him or herself. I give them no target to attack.

When I was in Alanon, a sponsor taught me the resentment prayer. I had to say 3x in a row, 3x/day, "God bless (?) twice as much as me and grant him/her health, happiness and prosperity." I often then went on and prayed the Aaronic blessing on them: God bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you, and give you his peace (not exact wording but that's ok.)

The fact is, the people I resent may have caused harm to me, but I have caused harm to them with my resentments, and more than that, I've caused harm to myself. I forgive them, not for their sake, but for my own. In forgiving them I make amends to them but also to myself. I want God to bless me and keep me and cause his face to shine upon me and be gracious to me and grant me his peace. Resentment just gets in the way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fighting the Good Fight

I need another fill. First one didn't do squat. I called Doc's office and they weren't going to schedule me till end of Sept. for another one, which is my surgeon's first available, till I spoke up for myself. It doesn't have to be my Dr. It wasn't my Dr. the last time. I just asked the nurse if they were going to leave me hanging by my fingernails again and they moved it up 4 weeks. Amazing. Now just pray my insurance company will get the referral for the fill approved and done right away.

I was so surprised to have no restriction after the first fill last Tuesday. I tried eating just meat to see how much I could eat. I stopped at half a pound of hamburger. I should definitely have felt restriction but I could have kept on eating. So I'm doing my modified Atkins to keep losing (and limiting portions) but I'm getting no help from my band.

It's only by the grace of God, writing this blog, and the support of my fellow bandsters that I'm doing so well. I go to my regular Doc on Weds. Going in for bloodwork tomorrow. Hoping for a good report on my cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar. I'm off 3 medicines. Woo hoo. I'd like to drop another pill soon.

Two more lbs. to half-way (35 lbs) and 5 more to onederland.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

I found an old outfit that I like in my closet that fit. It'll be great for teaching. I've been going to thrift stores and buying things that are a little too small. I'm back in an XL but hopefully won't be for long.

I've got a high school class reunion and a college reunion in October that I'm actually looking forward to attending. They might actually recognize me without some of the extra fat.

My life is getting busy preparing for school to start August 26th. Got two inservices this week at Roseland Christian School. I also have a meeting with the vendor who provides my services, Elim Christian School, and my co-workers there who work at other Christian schools providing academic support.

Pray for Roseland Christian School. They need forty more students to enroll to meet their already greatly reduced projected budget. They also need donors who will ignore their fear of the recession and step up to the plate to help us get through this tough time. For my school, its all about bringing justice in education to a community that hasn't had much of that. Not just that. This is quality Christian education. This school is celebrating 125 years in the Roseland community on the south side of Chicago. They did not run away when the community changed ethnicity. They deserve to be there 125 more years should the Lord delay his coming.

This school is my passion. Teaching these students is my calling. They're part of the reason I got the lapband. I'm not yet ready to quit. Last year one of our graduates (and the daughter of one of our teachers) was shot in the shoulder on her way to the grocery store-one block from our school. The year before one of our graduates jumped in front of a girl about to be shot by her former boyfriend on a city bus. He was killed. We also have alumni who are pastors, lawyers, comedians, and entrepreneurs. Our students face unbelievable odds when they leave the safety of our halls. RCS makes a difference. I make a difference. Pray that we can keep it up.

I want to be able to say with Paul at the end of my life: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. II Timothy 4:7,8

This is a link to a website that shows some powerful videos of who RCS is and what it does. I'm in the video Testimony of a Student. The video Testimony of a Teacher is also very powerful. Don't watch these videos if you don't like being lifted up and moved to tears.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Routines and Relapses

Routine is a bandsters frenemy. I've noted in the past couple of posts that the lack of routine in my summer has led to my ADHD having a field day resulting in dead batteries and tickets. On the other hand, Ive written two children's stories and this is my 60th post (I think). I also came up with some good ideas for my school that are being implemented.

Routine makes me a better driver. Lack of routine can help release my creativity. Safety and and comfort vs. creative unpredictability.

It isn't just ADHD people who respond to routines. Food addicts develop all kinds of routines to help them manage their addiction. Diets have always been routines we're intent on following, hoping to make the weight loss permanant. Eating at certain times, having meals pre-planned and ready-to-go, having contingency plans (like having a supply of "legal" foods at work if we forget a lunch), knowing which restaurants work well for us, these are all examples of routines that help us stay on track with our food.

We are also fond of routine at work and home. A bad hair day can make us late for work making us rush all day and make mistakes we would not have made if we'd had the time to set up our day properly. Upsetting the apple cart at work or at home can upset our emotions which can upset our food. Sometimes our failsafes fail (happens to me frequently), and we're cast into the insanity of spontaneity and having to make choices. This is when even the most successful bandsters can (temporarily) get caught up in making their old, comforting food choices.

It seems that even those who get to the sweet spot (when their band is filled just right and healthy choices are almost automatic), can end up eating when their life is in upheaval. Often it isn't any one major disturbance, its usually a bunch of little things piled on top of each other. Emotionally, we're at our wits end and only food can soothe our jangled nerves.

For people with no addiction, this may seem like no big deal. Everybody has those days (especially at if you're PMSing). Most people go right back to normal food intake.

But an episode like this can send a food addict off and eating. They feel like they've blown it so they might as well keep eating and then the guilt and shame over that drives them to keep on medicating with food.

Good grief! What a vicious cycle!

I've seen several people on lapbandtalk start to get caught up in this cycle. What seems normal to most people, to them feels like a relapse. And maybe it is. But those who get out of the cycle and back on track seem to recognize that the food served a purpose by relieving what is often extreme anxiety. Now they can and do get back on track.

I think having the lapband gives them the confidence to do that.

It would be great if we could get to the point where an occasional overindulgence didn't send us into a panic. Our fear of our own food addiction actually feeds our food addiction.

That's why non-shaming support groups are so important. We can not only talk about the food we got into, but also the disruptions in our lives and the emotional upheavals that triggered the binge. We reassure each other that we are not bad because we binged. The food served its purpose and now we can get back on track.

Each time, hopefully, the binges will be less traumatic, less extensive and eventually less frequent.

Support groups are the way God picks us up, hugs us, croons "I know," sets us back on our feet, pats us on the butt and says, "Now go get 'em, tiger."

Friday, August 14, 2009

Unwrapping the Mummy

I don't know how many of you are on Facebook, but people write random things that are happening in their lives, or observations about their lives. Very seldom does anyone write anything profound. Many people seldom post but just read everything everyone else writes.

I have some people as friends whom I don't know well at all and a few who I'm not quite sure how I became "friends" with them in the first place. I have a lot of people who play the same games as I do and I keep them in a separate group and seldom look at their posts. But among those whose posts I check there are some who trouble me.

What troubles me is some blatent codependency that almost screams from some of their posts. Pain and anger, ongoing victimization, resentment, and no clue how to deal effectively with the people who anger them.

Like I've stated before, everyone is codependent. If we don't really want to please others or help them, we're most likely sociopaths. But for some people, this desire is over the top. It was for me. As someone from a highly religious family I was groomed to be codependent. It was the woman's role. As someone with ADHD, a disorganized dreamer who couldn't keep a house neat or follow a complex recipe, I frequently failed in the housewife/mother role that I was raised to do, or thought I failed. Especially with a highly critical husband who thought I should be making up for his ADHD.

But man I tried so hard--tried so hard to be organized, to keep a clean house, to cook good meals, to keep everyone on schedule. And so much of it was done to try to please my ex and control his behavior towards me, and eventually his drinking, and to please my children, who, as we all know, will take that kind of ball and run with it.

And I ate. I ate to control the ADHD, yes, but I also ate to comfort myself and compensate myself for trying to be someone I was not. I'm sure that, just as my Facebook acquaintances anger and sense of victimization comes out in their posts, so did mine. There was no Facebook yet, but I know that when I talked to my friends, it came out. Many of them came from similar situations and had similar gripes.

Thank God for Alanon and for counseling where I learned to ignore so much of my husband's criticism, and to go ahead and do what I wanted to do and what I needed to do without his approval. That may have partly led to the divorce, since I was no longer wrapped up in trying to please.

And that was a good thing. It was a horrible experience but ultimately good for me. I learned how to give tough love in the years before, during, and after the divorce; and that's partly why I'm so successful as a teacher.

Codependency and food addiction are very much intertwined. When you are a people-pleaser you give away your integrity. You're not held together at the center with a strong sense of who and whose you are; so you give pieces of yourself away to everyone. People-pleasing becomes your identity. What's amazing is that you think you're doing God's will. And you expect the people around you to appreciate you. Instead, you're damaging the people around you and they don't appreciate it at all. And you've lost the person God created you to be.

You insulate your emotions with food because if the anger and hurt and resentment ever came fully to the surface, you feel like you'd fragment into a thousand shards. You wrap the fat around yourself like a giant bandage as well as a cushion to hold yourself together and protect yourself from the assaults of those you love the most.

So, I'm finally ready to unwrap the mummy and remove those bandages. I've done it before, but in the past when I've gotten to the end of the bandages, I would just roll myself right back up in them. Maybe I just felt too raw and naked without their protection.

Since I am not currently medicating myself with food, it does not surprise me that my ADHD is having a heyday. But emotionally and spiritually, I actually feel strong. Exposing myself to a wide audience through this blog, deliberately making myself vulnerable, letting everyone know this is who I am, these are my foibles, these are my assets, this is what I struggle with, has given me armor.

This gives me integrity. This gives me that strong center of knowing who I am and whose I am. And I know that if God be for me, who can stand against me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another Ticket! ADHD Strikes Again.

I am so sick of ADHD. All of a sudden I'm leaving my lights on in my car. I always drive with my lights on, day or night, and automatically turn them off when I park. I know people see me easier if my lights are on plus I got sick of forgetting to turn my lights on as it turned dusk while I was driving. Doing it all the time made it part of my routine. But this summer, the lapband thing (including this blog) has taken over my mind. So has Facebook.

I haven't been driving as much because I'm not teaching, I can't go shopping or places that cost money because I have no money--at least no extra money. So I'm out of my routine, and have developed a new passion that appears to have hijacked my remaining brain cells--at least the ones that involve driving.

So far I've been in an accident that got me a ticket, my grandson asked me why the lights were on after we exited the car, some kind neighbors of the school where I work knocked on the door to tell me my lights were on, and I didn't turn the lights all the way off when I went to Borders to read for an afternoon, and had to call my husband to come jump the car. Twice this week I found myself driving south down 394 to my daughter's when that wasn't where I was going. Today, I didn't notice the Do Not Park signs on the trees at work.They post these when the street cleaner is coming by and I got a parking ticket. Aargh! I'm going broke(er)! I need school to start to get me into a routine so my brain starts functioning again.

So I'm cutting back on some of the sites I've been visiting. I've cut back on Facebook. I'm actually getting at this blog and finishing it at a reasonable time and going to bed at a reasonable time. Next week I'll be at school several days to get my room ready and attend inservices. The following week school starts on the 26th.

I was at school today with my assistant working on the room as well. While I was there I met with a parent. School is slowly taking over my brain again. You'll probably start getting teaching stories from me now.

But one thing remains formost--managing my eating disorder. Its not gone. Its lurking. The band makes it manageable. School will bring its own complications. But I will be back in a routine. Routines really help ADHD people. Till they forget their routines and forget to turn their lights off on their cars.

I'm trying to establish a food routine. But I am very aware that it doesn't take much for a change in cirumstance to destroy a routine I've had for years--turning my lights on after I start the car, and turning them off immediately after shutting off the engine.

But I can do all things,
Through him who strengthens me.

I'm in his hands, no matter what my lot, no matter what my circumstance. I can get through the good stuff, I can get through the bad stuff.

I know the secret to being content is knowing he'll give me the strength to get through multiple ADHD moments, tickets, potential job loss, good food days, and bad food days. I got a ticket today. I didn't overeat.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Living With Uncertainty

I am gearing myself up for a possible job change. I was hoping to be able to not have any changes in my job or the way I do things, but that may not be possible. My school is having financial difficulties, which, if they survive the next year or two, could be a turning point for the school. If they survive.

My services as a supplemental instructor for reading and math are paid for by No Child Left Behind. I actually work for a vendor who is paid for by Chicago Public Schools. Next year the system will totally change. CPS is hiring a vendor to provide services to all the private and parochial schools. They do not have to hire me. My school will have to lobby hard to keep me but there's no guarantee.

So, I'm going to have to polish up a resume, just in case. Even worse, I think I'm going to have to start taking more post graduate classes and get a reading specialist endorsement on my certificate or a master's degree. Neither of which will make me a better teacher.

I'm not into titles or initials behind my name. I have no desire to take any more classes ever again in my life. I like seminars and training in things that interest me and I know will help me be a more effective teacher in an area in which I feel I need refreshing or am not accomplishing my goals.

My ADHD makes the thought of having to focus my attention on a boring textbook, or a boring professor, or having to write in a formulaic style and deal with footnotes and bibliographies in this crazy information inflated technobabble world, a nightmare.

I'm scared and I'm mad. I'm 57. Teaching is not easy. Especially at-risk kids with academic needs on the South Side of Chicago. This economy bites. My husband took early retirement when he could no longer get employment. I was hoping he would keep working and I would retire at 62.

Ain't gonna happen. According to my brother in today's world we all have to think as if we were 10 years younger than what we are. Hard to do when R&R for me does not mean rest and relaxation, it means repairs and replacements.

I've gone through major surgery on my neck to relieve pressure on two herniated discs and restore function to my right side. I still have considerable trouble with my neck. I've had shoulder repair, double knee replacements,, and a hysterectomy to stop me from bleeding to death.

And now I've had lap-band surgery. Compared to my other surgeries it was relatively minor. But its impact is just a great. I thought my co-morbidities combined with my osteo-arthritis were going to force me to go on disability possibly even before the age of 62. Now, I think I may choose to go into another field rather than try to keep teaching till the age of 67 when I'll be able to collect Social Security. But I do think my body will be able to keep working (although I'm not so sure about my mind.)

I don't know where God is leading me. So far he's taken very good care of me. I have to trust him to lead me in the right direction with my job.

I am content no matter what my circumstance,
I am content no matter what my lot
I know what it means to live in want or have plenty,
I know the the meaning of being content.
Is I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yes I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In His Time

Today I had my lapband fill. It was a fascinating experience. All the people waiting for a fill chatted about their experiences in the waiting room. One by one we were called into a room where we laid down under a floroscope. When my turn came, the Dr. looked for my incision, swabbed the area, and felt for the port. He took this cool device invented by someone at UIC (waiting broader distribution) pressed it to my stomach. It let out a poof of air and injected lidocaine without needles and without pain over the area. Its so cool. Its used before IV's are inserted, before shots are given, before surface cuts are stitched.

After the lidocaine the doctor inserts a needle through which the solution can be injected into the band. He had no trouble finding the port. I could feel the band puff up. Then I had to start drinking the barium drink. He watched the barium go through and adjusted the fill accordingly. When he was satisfied it was just right I was helped down and was done.

Except the picture from the floroscope was still there. So I asked him to explain it. He showed me the esophagus with the new pouch at it's base, barely wider than the esophagus. He showed me the shadow of the band and how narrow the opening was to let the barium through to the old stomach. I could see the squirts of barium curling into the old stomach. Pretty actually.

I was amazed at how small the opening between the stomachs was. Its obvious I'm not going to be able to get much through that narrow tunnel. I'm going to really have to take tiny bites and chew things to death. Today and tomorrow I'm just having liquids and then I'll be adding solids.

This Dr. was not my surgeon. He handled patients from all the surgeons. This was his specialty and he was running an assembly line.

Not everyone is so blessed. Some have surgeons who do the fill themselves and can't find the port and refuse to use floroscopes or don't have them available. That makes it hard to get the fill just right. So they inject minute amounts at a time so that it takes months and months before the patient begins to feel restriction. Its almost like torture for these desperate patients.

I'm really blessed to have been sent by my HMO to a top notch facility and doctors. I'm glad I've found such a good support group on lapbandtalk. I"m glad I spent so many years learning about addiction, ADHD, and eating disorders. I'm glad for my experience in Alanon, and OA, and group and individual therapy. My chances of success with the lapband are pretty good because of the self-knowledge I gained as well as the great support I have from my providers and other bandsters.

I really feel good about getting the band. I have this sense of peace about it, and this feeling that I'm being blessed through it--not just with weight loss. I've never before pulled all the threads of my disease out of the woven fabric they'd created in my life and examined them and the pattern they'd created all in one place.

Getting the band, seeing all these threads, and recording how they're intertwined has given me enormous relief. I rejected shame and its power over me. The power to make me feel paralyzed to do anything about my eating disorder. I took a powerful step when I decided to get the band and jumped through all the hoops I needed to jump through to qualify for the band. I stuck to it for over a year.

For an ADHD person, that was a major undertaking. I actually gained a few pounds in order to have a high enough BMI which, combined with my co-morbidities, qualified me for the surgery. Then I had to lose that weight and keep it off as part of my requirement. I had to attend eight months of nutrition classes where I knew more of the answers than anyone but the nutritionist. I had to deal with the insurance company and liase between them, my regular Dr. and clinic, and UIC. Details like that drive me pretty crazy, but I did it.

I took back the power this disease took away from me. I think it all happened in God's time. All the other things I've been through and dealt with have led to this time when an effective tool has been made available at a time when I actually have the time to deal with the disease.

Summer school was canceled freeing me up to have the June surgery with the rest of the summer to deal with recovery. I had the time to write this blog. I had the time to explore lapbandtalk. I had the time to start to heal some of my physical limitations, figuiring out how to use the incline board to relieve the pressure in my neck that was limiting my ability to walk any distance. (It was also making it more and more difficult to teach.) I can now swing my arms while I walk and do not experience burning neck pain while walking.

I believe I was sent to the right doctor, at the right hospital, for the most helpful tool, at exactly the right time.

I don't have any doubt who was behind all that.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Food, Fun, Faith, and Family. Done Right.

Had a great time with my relatives Friday and Saturday. I think two things keep my extended family relatively close. One is faith in God, even though we have some variances in worship style and Biblical interpretation. We choose to emphasize the oneness in faith rather than the differences. The other is our love of children. My youngest sister's kids are not yet grown, and my other siblings kids are almost grown or young singles, or married with very young children so our family reunions have never been without young children and young people.

We are tall people and noisy. Especially when the adults (and semi-adults) are playing Mafia late at night, or multi-generational whiffle ball in the early evening. Without any prompting, whenever a little kid is up at bat, things never seem to go right in the infield. Balls get dropped, throws go the wrong way, and somehow that child always makes it to first base. Those in the bleachers supervise the children of the adults in the field. Competition among the adults, however, is cutthroat. Even my 80 year old father plays.

Throughout the reunion little ones are swept off their feet and find themselves looking down on the world, often from much higher than six feet. They are loved on, tickled, played with, passed around, comforted and kept safe by many hands.

We catch up on each other's lives--the good news and the bad news. We share our spirtual stuggles and how God is taking care of us. Food is a constant. We never ran out at this reunion, though we did have to run out for toilet paper.

I lost three lbs. the three days before the reunion. I put 3 back on over the 2 days, some of which was from all the salt in the foods, but today I am right back on my proteinfest without any problems and am not hungry. A lot of the food was what bandsters call slider food--dips, condiments, high fat cookies and cakes with frosting and filling. These are foods that slide through the donut hole between the new pouch and the old stomach. I didn't pig out on them, but I ate them. I wasn't going to make myself miserable staring at food I couldn't have. After my fill on Tuesday it will become harder to eat these. I hope.

There is a huge difference between Dr.s and how much they fill in the band at a time. There is a difference between how long they'll make the patient wait between fills as well. I read a post from a woman today whose Dr. fills only a little and makes her wait 2 months between fills. She was ready to give up. Her husband was also giving her a hard time about "eating so little." I'm hoping my Dr. is a little more aggressive than that and I'm grateful that my husband is much more cooperative and understanding.

I look forward to our next reunion. The Lord willing, I think it'll be even easier. We only seem to do this about once a year, because we come from all over the USA. Maybe by then I'll have reached the sweet spot where the the band is just right to stop me from overeating and the lifestyle change has become automatic.

Food, fun, and family. Done right.

Two more weeks and school starts. More on that tomorrow.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Relative Thing

I'm going to be with my brothers and sisters, mom and dad, and other assorted relatives over the next few days. I'm looking forward to it. It was one of those spontaneous get-togethers my family does, a couple relatives going to be in the area, so a few others decided to come, too.

I've been doing a high protein very low carb diet for 3 days in order to jumpstart my weightloss. I'd stalled while waiting for my first fill in my band (Aug. 11). I wasn't gaining and was losing very slowly but I wanted to see if I could feel any restriction from my band and eating mostly meat is supposed to do that. It did. I had to eat the meat very slowly and even stop for a few minutes in order to be able to continue eating a decent quantity.

I wanted to feel free to not worry about the food while with my relatives. The band will still give me some restriction; I've dropped a few more pounds, and varying my food actually keeps me from getting bored or feeling deprived. I'll keep protein first, but allow myself a little of this and a little of that and not feel guilty. My plan is to go back on the high protein afterwards until my fill on the 11th. I suspect I won't have to worry about restriction for a while after that. All I'll have to do to feel restriction will be to go on an almost all meat diet for a few days. I love meat but I can't ever pig out on it again.

It'll be interesting to see what it'll be like to not be totally about the food while around my family. Its supposed to thunderstorm so we'll all be indoors together in a relatively small cottage and I won't have food to protect me. I will have grandchildren there and as I talked about yesterday, they can keep me totally occupied. I frequently spell their various parents and take over watching one or two of them so my kids can mingle with their cousins.

Today I took care of my two grandsons. I spent 4 hours putting together the wooden Thomas railroad for Joshua and a complex geotrax train system for David while Joshua slept. David and I played trains for a long time. I showed him how to switch tracks to not always successfully avoid collisions between our two trains. I was sore from bending over the tracks for so long but I was so completely absorbed in creating the system that I had no trouble not eating.

That's what I need to do for the next couple of days--become so completely absorbed in the people around me that I don't even think about eating. It's part of developing that mindfulness and choosing to be present that food insulated me from in the past.

I won't be posting the next couple nights unless an issue comes up that I really need to deal with.

The Lord watch between me and thee while I am gone. I have no idea where I heard that, I think its Irish, and I think its cool.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Second Childhood

I want to be like a little kid. When I go babysit my grandkids I'm totally there to play with them. I'm not there to clean the house or do the dishes or cook. Its not that I don't heat up food and serve it and, of course, I change dirty diapers, but mostly I just want to play.

I may read books, sing nursery rhymes, bounce them on my knee while singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, walk around the block, tickle, wrestle, dance, or pretend.

Pretending is great fun. My four-year old grandson, David, made up the game "baby bird." I lay on the bed with my knees up and he crawls under my knees and pretends to hatch from an egg. His little brother tries to do the same thing. We do this many times before they get tired of it.

Then David reaches up and pulls the string to turn off the light above the bed and we all pretend its night. They both crawl under the covers next to me and I start to snore. Then David sneaks out from under the covers, turns the light back on, and crows like a rooster to wake me up. I startle awake and he laughs everytime.

Lately, when we go for walks, he wants me to pretend to be "that mean lady." He tells me to be cross. He means Cruella DeVille. Then we go around the block and I order him to steal Dalmatian puppies. He goes and finds a "puppy" and puts it in a "cage" behind the bulldozer he's driving.

When I'm with my three-year old granddaughter, Skyler, the first thing she does is tell me, "You want to make a castle with me. Let's go get the blocks." This is not a request. She also looks for the presents I've given her so we can play with those. One year old Leah wants me to read to her. She likes the wierd voices I use. She loves to point to pictures and show off all the words she knows.

Without grandkids, I wouldn't sit in sandboxes and build sandcastles. I wouldn't wade in little pools. I wouldn't squirt with the hose. I wouldn't chase the kids through splash pads at the park. I wouldn't push them on swings and bounce them on teeter-totters. I wouldn't sit in the bathroom and let them play in the tub as long as they want.

I have patiently put together intricate railroad systems and built log cabins and cool castles only to watch them get destroyed in less than 5 seconds. And then I do it over again.

I'm never in a hurry or rush them through things. I am totally in the moment with them.

You know, I never eat or think about food while I'm actually playing with my grandkids. When they watch TV its a different story, but I have really made it a point now to do things with them and basically they make sure I do. I'm better than TV.

Arthritis limits me to a certain extent as did the weight, but now that I've lost 30 lbs I'm having more fun than ever with my grandkids.

Fun. Play. Dance. Laugh. These are all much better things to do than eat.

Jesus said you have to have the faith of a little child to enter into his Kingdom. He said the Kingdom belonged to the children.

I guess I'm entering into my second childhood.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dealing with Snack Foods

Snack Foods. The perfect food for ADHD people. Grab and go. Don't have to cook, put together ingredients, shop for those ingredients, remember which ingredients to shop for. They're full of all the taste and flavor (mostly artificial) ADHD people crave. They provide the stimulation we seek when the TV shows don't cut it all by themselves (most don't).

They also provide the majority of the salt, sugar, and fat that shoot up our blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Just thought of something slightly amusing--or maybe alarming. My name starts with ch and so do many of my favorite snacks: cheetos, chocolate, chips (taco, potato, pita).

It is so much easier for me not to eat them now that they're not in my house and my husband's not eating them in front of me. He might have a secret stash hidden somewhere but I never see it and he never eats it in front of me.

America's food industry, like the tobacco and alcohol industries, has a lot to answer for. All of them know they're dealing with addictive substances and do their best to make them even more addictive with chemically designed addictive additives in addition to those old standbyes--salt, carbs and fat. Oh, and let's not forget chocolate and caffeine being increased and put in all kinds of new products.

Many are designed to appeal to children and teenagers. Did you know a lot of teenagers are now having lapbands? The obesity epidemic is out of control among our young people. I see the food parents put in their kids lunches or that kids pack for themselves. Some start hauling snacks out of their lunch bags and backpacks as soon as they arrive at school. Those with healthy snacks trade with those with all the unhealthy snacks.

Schools are eliminating snacks from their cafeterias and vending machines, but the kids just carry them with them. I don't have an answer for this dilemma. I am nutritionally quite well-educated. Didn't stop me from eating snacks.

The best advice I get on the topic is don't expose yourself to the snacks. Keep them out of the house. Ask people not to eat them in front of you. In situations where exposure is unavoidable, it might be better to eat just a little bit of those things that most appeal to you than to ruin your good time spending all your effort not eating those things. Fortunately, I've got the lapband to let me know when I've had enough. Especially if I start with higher protein items the band will help me limit the snacks. The key will be to get right back on the food protocol once the party's over.

Right now, I don't have a lot of restriction and have slowed way down on weight loss. I have a family reunion this weekend. All my siblings and some nieces and nephews and their children (along with my own children and grandchildren) will be together. Food will be a big part of the reunion.

So, for three days before the reunion I'm eating protein almost exclusively, a protein shake for breakfast, meat for lunch, and meat and a veggie for supper, with milk in my iced latte in-between meals. I noticed yesteday already that when I just eat meat without a lot of moistening agents, I can still feel some restriction in my band. I already lost 2 lbs. That puts me at 30 lbs total weight loss. When the weekend is over, I'll probably go back on high protein until I get my first fill on August 11. I'll probably be back on a liquid protein diet for a few days after that, so my stomach can heal. That should jumpstart the weight loss again. I hope the Dr. puts in enough fill to give me restriction. Otherwise I'll go back 2 or 3 weeks after to get another one.

I have few clothes that fit me. I'm going through my closets trying to decide what's worth taking in, which of my "skinny" fat clothes fit me now, and what to give to Goodwill. I've started going to thrift stores, since I will not be at this weight for very long and don't want to spend money on clothes. I can't buy ahead because I don't know how fast the weight will come off.

But these are good problems to have. I've dropped one cholesterol med and one blood pressure med. I'm seeing if I can do without my stomach med since I ran out of it and won't be seeing my regular doc for 2 more weeks.

I get to see my relatives this weekend and I'm not going to worry about food!

God is good all the time.
All the time God is good.

Monday, August 3, 2009

An ADHD Evening

My husband is losing weight on my diet. Actually, he's not on my diet but he doesn't eat goodies in front of me at night anymore and as a result he's losing weight. The articles I read on the ADHD/ADD-eating disorders connection say that night-time is the hardest time for an ADHD/ADD woman to not eat. Evenings are our worst time because our projects are done. We need to find stimulating, adventurous things to do at night to keep us out of the food.

I bury myself in Facebook and my blog right now at night while watching TV at the same time. I may be in trouble when I start losing interest in Facebook (which is beginning to happen), and I imagine eventually I'll run out of things to say and start repeating myself on my blog. When church and school activities begin in August and September it'll be a relief.

I knew I wasn't nuts about the connection between attention deficit disorder and my eating disorder. There is a big connection for about one/third of compulsive overeaters. We have difficulty with organizational skills which is why food plans and food journals and countaing carbs, calories, or points don't work for us. We have poor impulse control which is why we're on the see-food diet: we see food, we eat food. And we have poor self-awareness which leads to not knowing when we're hungry or when we're full. When we're busy with something that stimulates us we totally forget to eat which sets us up for ravenous hunger later, and because we don't sense fullness we eat till we're stuffed.

Its very important that ADHD people speak up for themselves about being put (in all innocence) in situations where they are confronted with favorite food at a time when their impulsivity level is at their highest.

I had asked my husband to not eat treats at night in front of me and he graciously complied. He is now reaping the benefits.

I had a really ADHD evening. I steadily accomplished things all day today and then forgot a meeting I was supposed to attend tonight. (Sorry, Roger) I did the same thing last Saturday morning with another meeting. Mind you, this morning I told my husband to help me remember I had a meeting on Monday night and he said, "Today's Monday." I saw Roger today and we talked about the meeting. Up until an hour before the meeting I remembered. Then something distracted me and I forgot.

I'm totally off any regular schedule in the summer and my mind frees itself of the school year structure that helps me remember stuff. On the other hand, my mind is popping with creative ideas. I wrote two children's stories and came up with some ideas for my school. I write this blog each night. But I forgot two meetings in three days.

This kind of thing is not an infrequent occurrence with me. I wonder if you can imagine the shame this has caused me in the past? Understanding my own ADHD has greatly reduced the shame I feel, but I know other people find it frustrating and really don't understand.

According to the authors of the study, ADHD people are the ones least likely to succeed on any form of food plan. Does that explain a lot. They suggest that we keep a variety of the food we should eat available at home and at work because we're the type to forget to pack a lunch. They don't even suggest trying to restrict the food because we're such failures at it, just try to stay on a maintenance diet of 1800-2500 calories/day. Well, I'm glad I've got the lapband so that I'll actually lose weight faster than a maintenance diet.(Though, frankly, I would lose weight on that because I ate more calories than that.) And so that on really ADHD days, like today, I've got a tool that will stop me from getting too badly into the food.

Just for today, I did not get into the food. Fortunately, the knowledge that I missed a meeting happened just before I began working on my blog, giving me a chance to process the whole thing. I also noticed Roger was on Facebook and chatted with him online and apologized for missing the meeting. I've had to do that a lot in my life.

He sent me the minutes. I'll catch up. But I lost an opportunity to share ideas with others--something to which I was looking forward.

Oh, well. ADHD has its gifts as well as its drawbacks. Today was more drawback than gift. But by the grace of God, I haven't eaten.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Ta Da! I found some articles on the internet that confirmed that my ADHD definitely is a contributing factor in my compulsive overeating and that it makes it particularly hard to treat. People with ADHD do not do well with food plans, counting carbs or calories or points. Expecting them to remember to pack a lunch everyday is an excercise in futility. ADHD affects the organizational part of the brain. In addition, people with ADHD have poor impulse control, which is why so many of us are on the see-food diet. We see food, we eat food.

Many of us feel tremendous shame over our poor impulse control and focus. Its affected our ability to be "successful" with a lot of jobs, with our marriages, and even with friendship. And it helps make us fat and makes it hard to lose the fat. Double shame. We do not have the organizational and focus skills to be successful on a long-term diet or life-style change. Our failures feed our shame and shame leads to more eating.

People with ADHD, especially women, are prone to anxiety and depression, because we are the proverbial square pegs trying to force ourselves into round holes--societal expectations for our roles as women into which we just don't fit. Anxiety and depression are known contributors to overeating. They're a form of self-medication.

It's also hard for women because we've been socialized not to do the stimulating, adventurous things we need to do that would keep us busy and out of the food--especially at night when we're expected to keep the home fires burning. We use food to calm us down so we can sit or do the boring, tedious housework expected of us. We use food to stimulate ourselves when we're bored, which we easily are. Of course, stimulants (caffeine and carbs) calm our brains and help us focus. We eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of coffee.

In addition, we really don't have an off switch with food. ADHD people can have poor self-awareness. We don't know we're full until we're stuffed. Conversely, when we're really busy with something that interests us, we go into hyperfocus, and we have no clue that we're hungry and we don't eat till we're done with the project, which helps set up the ravenous hunger we get later. With poor impulse control and no off switch we eat till we're stuffed.

ADD/ADHD women would be voted least likely to succeed on a diet by those scientists who are studying them. Actually, the effects of chronic pain mimic ADHD and lead to similar difficulties with diets. Ding-ding-ding. I'm a two-for-one winner. Two causes for one disease. (I'm not even going to talk about codependency here.) And I would add that chronic pain limits the physical activity and stimulation and adventuring that would allow me to self-medicate my ADHD without food. I eat to sit still so I don't hurt.

I'm blessed to have a husband who has made it his mission to see to it that I can fulfill my mission as a teacher to at-risk children. (Many of you saw the video I posted in a previous blog that highlighted one of my students.) Ken keeps me organized, acts as my social secretary (unless I forget to tell him about an event), does all the paperwork, researches things for me, does all the housework, laundry, and grocery shopping, makes sure my car has gas, etc. At school my assistant also takes care of the paperwork and keeps the room organized and efficient. She's become my chief consultant as I constantly bounce ideas of her. She has a son who's ADHD and she knows just how to be helpful, leaving me free to be creative and flexible and good at my job.
I've had a lot of affirmations and successes at my job. I've earned a lot of respect and even a certain amount of influence. People know I'm ADHD but, frankly, teachers are an eccentric bunch, and none more so than at my school, so, basically, I fit right in. In many ways, God has pulled my life together and made it work.
That leaves the food and the obesity. And now I've got a tool for that. A tool that works with my ADHD instead of against it. As long as I keep plenty of options for food that's on my protocol stored at home and stored at school (for when I forget to pack a lunch) my band will let me know when I'm full. As long as I continue to get support from my on-line friends and continue to write this blog to help me deal with all the assorted issues that accompany my food addiciton, I think I can beat the odds against me as an ADHD, arthritic woman recovering from this eating disorder.
By the grace of God, I am Cheri, a recovering food addict.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Progress Isn't Just Measured in Pounds Lost.

In 12-step programs there is a saying: Progress not Perfection. I wrote in response to a comment on a post: Progress isn't just measured in pounds lost. I came home late last night and tried to write my blog but couldn't. I kept falling asleep. I reread what I wrote and thank God I didn't publish the post. I could not get my thoughts together.

Part of what threw me was that I wasn't yet able to write about having had a chocolate malt while I was out with my husband. Intellectually, I don't believe there was anything wrong with that. It was a conscious choice on my part to allow myself a treat. But the subconscious fear was also there, waiting to sabotage me. Will this trigger me to start eating a lot of carbs again?

There are a lot of so-called experts out there who believe that carbs, especially simple carbs like sugar, trigger binges. They may be right. But a freshly made turkey or a spit-roasted chicken can do the same to me and according to the gurus, protein isn't supposed to do that. So was the malt the healthiest choice I could have made? No. Was it a bad choice? No. What's going to make me binge? The malt or the guilt? I vote guilt.

Today, I am right back on my protocol. I may eat a little less to make up for yesterday's extra calories. I may not. I am one of those "get a phone call may travel" kinds of people. Some days I have an idea what I'm going to do for lunch and supper, other days I don't. I always leave myself open to possibilities.

So is progress not ever having a chocolate malt? Or is progress making it a conscious choice to have a treat and then getting right back on my food protocol? Is progress pretending I didn't have that chocolate malt or going ahead and writing about it and working through the issues it brought up?

I think you know where my vote lies.

All things in moderation is a very Biblical concept. Do I want to flaunt that chocolate malt and lead others astray who might not be able to handle it? No. I would not flaunt alcohol in front of an alcoholic either. What's right for me is not right for everyone. We learn the difference through trial and error.

Let me tell you. I see so many people beating themselves up for gaining a lb., not reaching a certain BMI, falling off their food protocol, losing too slowly. I think they would be better off keeping a progress journal with entries like: My stomach doesn't stick out farther than my boobs. I can sleep on my stomach. I'm not snorting myself awake. I can cross my legs now. I can walk for over an hour. I had a treat and got right back to my food protocol. I didn't binge. Good for me!

I've said this before in an early blog: Don't "should" on yourself. Don't "should" on others. Don't let other people "should" on you (don't internalize their criticisms.) Or, as the Bible says, "Judge not that ye be not judged."