Me before my journey began.

Me before my journey began.
And I thought I looked ok!!!

June 2004

June 2004
I just found this photo. Its hard to look at now!!!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Ages since I wrote!!

It is so long since I wrote on my blog.

Well, I am almost at 1 year now since my 2nd surgery that took the skin from my arms and legs. It hasn't been easy and there are some days that I can feel every bit of the scars, particularly on my legs and around the middle.

Having the skin taken off is certainly not the end of the journey. Every day I have to make sure I make the right choices with what I eat, and I still exercise every day. I am having to get used to the type of body that I have and that I am not super skinny!! But I am learning to accept the scars and the still imperfections that I have that surgery just doesn't fix!

The surgeon wanted to do the final tidy up of my legs last December but I just wasn't ready for more surgery. I still haven't set a date for it!

I have a much more important and exciting date to work towards!! Andrew asked me to marry him!!!! We are getting married in October!! I love the dress I have picked, and just being able to try on dresses off the rack has given me such a feeling of reward and achievement.

I have also just turned 40 and had a party to celebrate the new me. I loved wearing a black dress that showed my figure! Still not a perfect slim figure, but the figure I am happy with!!

So, in a nutshell that is where I am at the moment. Weight loss doesn't have an end point, well not for me anyway!! The changes I have made over the past 4 years have been for a life change and not a diet! So, as life continues, so do my new attitudes to health, food and exercise!

Oh, one more exciting thing is I ran in the Melbourne Marathon 5.5km event last October and beat my 17 year old nephew!!! (I didn't rub it in though!!!)

A special mention:

Just on a sad note, my darling cat Thomas needed to go to heaven just before Christmas. He was 18 1/2 years old. I still miss him and shed a tear about him not being here anymore. But he had become very sick and had such trouble breathing. It was an extremely difficult and emotional day when I said goodbye. I wouldn't have managed without Andrew by my side.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Finally an update!

It's ages since I added to this blog. Life has been pretty busy with lots going on.

Firstly I have been back to the surgeon for a follow up appointment. It didn't go as well as I would have liked. I was still getting quite swollen and didn't like the shape of my legs. The surgeon said it would still be a few more months to really settle down. He also spoke about further repairs on my legs and under my arm. Due to the amount of skin taken, there is always going to be some loosening of the skin. He isn't able to stretch the skin too far due to the way it all heals. I still have a handful of skin at the top of my leg that needs to be removed and a couple of tucks in the scar under my arm that can be repaired. He was aiming for December to do the surgery. Of course saying again it won't be as bad as what I have already had done!!! Ha Ha!! What would he know!!! Anyway, there was no way I could even consider more surgery in December. I just couldn't go through that again this year. I haven't done anything further about it at this stage. I am thinking about winter next year. I need to give my body time to recover properly and for me to feel comfortable with the body I have been left with. I want to make sure I am as fit and healthy as I can be, physically and emotionally.

Last week was the 1 year anniversary since my first surgery. I had an emotional couple of days having flashbacks of the experience. These flashbacks weren't pleasant. I was realising just what I went through. I am told to gain strength from what I survived and achieved, but emotionally I just can't get there yet. I still look in the mirror and see a body out of proportion. I still have nights where I am so swollen I forget that I have lost weight. Every step I take when I run I can feel my scars. It's like I have elastic band around my hips still.

I am happy most of the time though. But this is a long, hard journey of discovering the body I am able to have. I have to keep reminding myself that I am fit and healthy and can do so much more now than I used to be able to.

Last weekend was the Melbourne Marathon and I ran in the 5.5km event again. I had a goal of finishing in around 45 minutes. I did it in just over 43 minutes so I was thrilled. The course was different to last year and for me, a little tougher. But what also made me happy was I beat my 16 year old nephew by 7 minutes!!!! He told me he had been training, so my goal of beating him was put on the back burner as I didn't think I could beat him if he was fit. I had even made a bet with him of if he won I gave him $10 and if I won then he had to wash my car. We have the same bet for when we go to the basketball to watch Tigers V Townsville. I was sure I would be giving him $10 for our race but confident my Tigers wouldn't let me down!!! He thought it was going to be the easiest $20 he ever made!!! Well, my money has stayed in my pocket!!!! Of course I didn't rub it in as I could see he was a bit embarrassed that his nearly 40 year old aunt had beaten him!!!

When I think I only started exercising 3 years ago, and running about 18 months ago, I have to be happy and pleased with myself at what I have been able to achieve.

Andrew has been super supportive as ever and during my emotional times says all the right things to help me through it.

I am planning on getting on my push bike again as it has sat in the shed for quite some time. I bought a pump to pump up the tyres, so no excuses now. I am also hoping to do some more swimming again. With daylight savings and the warmer weather on the way, I can't put it off anymore!!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Sick of the swelling!!!

It's been a while since I wrote on my blog, so I thought I had better update my record of this journey!!

It is over three months now since my last surgery and I am still experiencing swelling. The surgeon did tell me to expect swelling until at least August, but as the weeks progress, I hope for a faster loss of the swelling. My legs are slowly returning to a normal shape, but still have a way to go. Around my middle is what really annoys me. The swelling goes up and down. Some days I feel like I have a beach ball under my skin, and other days its hardly noticeable. I have tried to work out what causes more swelling, but haven't found anything conclusive.

I know that if I have a day in the office for work, rather than being out on the road visiting clients, I have more swelling at the end of the day. Exercise and resting seem to have varying affects on the swelling. I get very frustrated with the swelling and have days of feeling very down about the way I look. I still struggle with accepting the way I look is because of the swelling. Body image is such a huge thing. It is hard getting used to such a different body and discovering what is "normal" for me. I still don't know how my body is going to end up like.

I am exercising a minimum of 1 hour a day and trying to tone up underneath the swelling!!! I am able to run again and am really pleased to be running up to 5km again. I still feel every step in terms of where I have had surgery, but I can ignore it now!! I love the feeling after a run. It's great to make my body work hard!!!

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Progressing well

I am approaching the three month mark since surgery and I finally feel I can see an end to the "recovery process".

I have much greater movement in my legs and can kneel now for a short time. My legs don't have as much pain, and usually only when I have had a big day. The right leg is worse than the left, and some days the left leg doesn't give me any trouble.

The swelling is the hardest thing to cope with still. My legs are still quite swollen. Some days I think I notice a big change, but then the next I get discouraged again. But they are definitely getting smaller! - slowly!!! I still have some swelling around my middle. That swelling goes up and down depending on the time of day and what sort of activity I have done during the day.

I am able to exercise daily, but to no where near the intensity that I am used to. But any exercise is better than none and while my heart doesn't get to pump as fast as it can, my legs are managing to tone up under all the swelling.

My arms are usually ok, I get some sore spots, but I can reach up without as much pain. I get a funny sensation around my elbows which is possibly the nerves repairing themselves.

I am often asked am I glad I had the surgery. I can now say, I am glad, but I wish I had a better idea of the recovery process. I suppose the surgeon and the nurses can only go by a general level of information as everyone is different. But I feel I wasn't warned enough about the length of time for recovery. (Or maybe I chose not to retain that part of the information given!!!)

I certainly love the range of clothes I can now wear, and shopping is so much more fun and less embarrassing. I like feeling like I am in the "normal" size range and if anyone looks twice at me on the street, I know it is not to get a second look at the really big woman!!

Andrew and I had the most fantastic weekend staying at The Windsor. We really treated ourselves and enjoyed every minute of our time. And it was so exciting to fit into the bath robe supplied!!!!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Fitting into my skin!!

Today I have had a day where I have been confident with how I look. Also a day that I feel like my body and the swelling haven't let me down. Some days I get really frustrated with the swelling and feel really discouraged that all this pain and discomfort has been a waste of time. But today as I have said in the title, I feel I had a day of fitting into my skin!!! Funny thing to say, but it describes how it feels to have such a different body to what I am used to.

To mark this day, I took the above photos. I purposely didn't take my face, but the parts of my body that have given me a real boost today.

In regards to healing, it still continues to be a slow process. I am happy though that the infected spots are all healing quite quickly. I only have one small spot on my right leg now. The pain and stiffness in my legs is slowly going and I can have moments of not even feeling any discomfort in them. The end of the day is a different story, but that is to be expected. The swelling is taking the longest to heal, but I have been doing a bit of reading, and see that this length of time is quite normal. Changing position, whether while in bed or getting out of a chair or in and out of the car is what gives me the most trouble. But that is getting less now, and as long as I don't stay in the same position for too long, I am ok.

So, it is the time to keep positive, and hang onto the confidence I feel today. And then to remember to use these great feelings to pick me up the next time I am feeling down and unsure of the whole process.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Six Weeks Post Surgery and Back to Work!!

I have had my first week back at work, and let me tell you, I am glad it is the weekend!!!
I was tired every day by 3pm but I managed. I was able to think clearly enough to get paperwork done and I had enough energy to visit clients. So I am pleased with that. Of course my diary filled up quickly but keeping busy is good also. It was great to think that in the 6th week post surgery I was able to handle being back at work again. And it was no where near as difficult or emotional as returning after my first surgery.

I have also enjoyed wearing some new clothes!!!

The swelling is still slowly going down on my legs and my infected spots are improving. I still seem to have an increase of swelling around my middle by the end of the day, which mostly goes down by the morning. I had another little spot open up on my right leg, but nothing too serious. I am finding that the spots that open up and ooze have a tiny stitch in them. The stitch eventually comes out after a couple of days - or if I pull hard enough on it - but that hurts. The stitches are just under the surface of the skin. Hopefully there aren't too many more.

I have tried to start a bit of exercise as I was feeling too sluggish with not doing anything structured. I have made sure I keep as active as possible, but I have been missing that feeling of having a good walk or a session of aerobics. I have had a couple of easy walks, one for 30 minutes and one today for 50 minutes with a few hills. I also tried a very easy, gentle 30 minute walk aerobics. I can tell you I felt every single step!! My legs hurt with each step, but not so badly that I had to stop. Generally I now have a feeling of a tight band around my knee and thigh area rather than pain. I get a stinging feeling where I have infected spots, but that settles after a while.

As for my arms, the scars have healed really well now and even starting to fade a bit. I still get a few twinges of pain around the elbow area, and reaching high is still a bit painful, but otherwise my arms are doing really well. I still have a little spot along the bra line scar that is open, but in the past few days it has gotten a lot smaller and doesn't ooze anymore.

Some days I still get very frustrated and low about how I feel and how long it seems to be taking to feel ok again, but last Thursday when I realised it was 6 weeks since surgery, I thought to myself that for 6 weeks post surgery, I am not doing too badly. I am such an impatient person!!!

I am starting to enjoy my body and my new shape. Andrew is so great encouraging me and telling me how great I look. I am enjoying the way I look in some of my new clothes. I am totally different to how I have been my whole life. I still catch myself in mirrors when I am out and can't believe it is me staring back at me! If I am having a confident day, I sneak a look at myself in anything that gives a reflection!!!!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Recovery progress continues.............

I am so pleased to be able to report that I am feeling so much better. I have much less pain and I only have one infected spot left. My movement is getting easier and I'm not as stiff when I change position. I am even able to manage a bit of shopping now!!!

I saw my surgeon the other day and I wasn't entirely thrilled with that visit. He advised me that the swelling would take another 3 months to go down. My thighs are still quite swollen, the right is worse than the left. He didn't seem to be able to give me any other information about the recovery and the expected results as he also has to wait for the swelling to go down. He has told me there may be small areas where the skin is a bit puckered that may need a bit of work. AAARRGGHHH, I don't know if I can stand anymore procedures!! Anyway, I don't have to see him again for another 3 months.

I am going back to work on Monday. I will go straight back into full time work, but my manager has been great saying I can take Wednesday off if I am getting too tired. I am ready to go back to work, I'm getting tired of being in the house all the time. I have started going out a lot though for a few hours at a time. I get a bit tired but its manageable.

Along with all the physiological changes to get used to, there are a lot of emotional and psychological things to work through. I see every little imperfection on my body and sometimes blow it right out of proportion. Its not that I want a perfect body, because what is a perfect body anyway! I just want to feel like I have a normal body, and a body that I am happy with and can be proud of the work I have done. When I see the swelling around my middle or on my legs, I don't always think clearly and rather than see it as swelling I see it as me getting bigger. Andrew is great at getting me back to reality and he is so supportive and encouraging. His words are often enough to fix my thoughts, but this thinking is part of the process also. I have been a certain size for all my life, and I have only had this new body for a short time. The way I perceive myself has a great impact on my confidence and belief in what I have achieved. Sometimes it is daunting when I think about my whole lifestyle change and that it has to be for life. I can't just relax now and think that is all I have to do! I am looking forward to being able to get back into my routine of exercise and the eating plan I have when I am at work and then the weekends. I feel safe when I have that routine. That is the routine that works for me!!

As I have gotten better over the past few weeks, my favourite thing to do is to look through my cook books and try recipes I have always wanted to make. I love cooking, and find it very relaxing and therapeutic. The challenge is to find good, healthy things to bake and cook, or to adapt the favourites so that they can be enjoyed without too much guilt!

Well, I hope to continue with the positive steps of recovery that I have been having. Next hurdle is getting back into work!!
These are the balloons my sister organised to be delivered to me!!

December 2004

December 2004
Here is another photo I found of myself before I made the changes in my life. I think I still have that blue shirt, so I should hunt it out for a photo now!!

Me at Noosa - April 2007 - Always pretending to be "Australia's Next Top Model!!!"

Me at Noosa - April 2007 - Always pretending to be "Australia's Next Top Model!!!"
Quite a difference hey!!

Finishing the Christchurch Marathon - 10km walk

Finishing the Christchurch Marathon - 10km walk
Not the most attractive photo, but I had worked hard!!