Yes, I’m still alive. Barely…

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No, I didn’t get hit by a bus or anything. I haven’t had a lot to report as of late, so I figured I’d wait until something important happened to post. Unfortunately,  I didn’t know that something would end up being the flu.

It was floating around the office last week, and I was lucky enough to be spared. However, my daughter Victoria was sent home early from work yesterday because she was sick, and I woke up with it this morning.

I’m feeling better now (marginally) but weak. So I’ll keep working on staying hydrated, and keeping a handful of pretzels down. Tomorrow’s going to be a long ass day.

I’ll give you more when I’m feeling better.

Be kind and love each other,

Linda ❤

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TGIFF: Thank goodness it’s Freakin’ Friday!

What a very long week, but it ended beautifully.  I had called the nutritionist, Pam English, a few days ago to tell her I’d need to reschedule my first appointment with her, as I didn’t realize when I had initially made my appointment that Dr Ali would have Weight Check #1 at his office. I’m trying to make sure I have all my t’s crossed and i’s dotted so that when it comes time to submit, everything goes through without a hitch.

She called me back this morning. SHE IS WONDERFUL!! We had such a great conversation! First off, she had no problem changing my appointment out two weeks so that I’m on schedule to have Weight Check #2 on day that the insurance company would find more appropriate. Secondly, she is just SO easy to talk to about everything! I explained to her what I’ve been doing since my appointment two weeks ago; cutting out pop (soda to some), cutting out caffeine, stopping the use of straws, increasing my protein intake and decreasing my portion size and caloric intake (I was right around 1000 – 1300 calories per day). I explained to her that I had received the weight record sheets from Dr Ali’s office that have to be filled out from our monthly check ins, and I saw some of the things that we needed to change over the next six months. I told her that I figured it would be easier to make those changes early on so that when it came to time have surgery, I’d be ready for those changes to be for forever, instead of having to struggle with them. I explained how determined I am to make sure I have this surgery, that I’m going to do it right, and make sure the insurance company KNOWS that I’m ready for this. She told me that it was great that I am so focused on making the changes necessary to get approved for my surgery.

I was thrilled to hear such wonderful feedback! I knew I was doing the right things, but to hear it from her just validated everything for me!

We talked a bit about her practice, and how there are so many governmental hoops to jump through when doing so. She knew from our first conversation that I have a background dealing with insurances, and we discussed that a bit, when I told her that if there was anything I could to help her, I absolutely would. And I will. So who knows? I could end up with a part time job! 🙂

I’m so very excited about what the next six months will bring. I wish it were February already. Not because I’m afraid to  do the work the next months will bring; I’m not scared at all. But because I feel so ready to do this. To make the changes, and have the surgery and get on to my healthier life!

Please be kind to each other, and enjoy your weekend with people you love.

Linda ❤

It’s hell being popular!!

When I went to see Dr Ali last week, I came home with a laundry list of orders for testing and bloodwork that needed done before my next appointment with him in September. Included in that list were an Endoscopy (EGD) and sleep study.

Well, imagine my surprise when I look through today’s mail and find an envelope from the Seneca Sleep Disorder Center, based at Warren Hospital and UPMC Hamot. My sleep study is scheduled for June 18th and I have to be there at 9:45am. My EGD is scheduled on June* 19th. at 10:30; I have to be there at 9:30 to register.

I’ve never had either of those procedures, so I don’t know how this is going to work. Do I sleep all day on Thursday? Then get on the road before 8 to be in Erie by 9:30?  I hate the idea of missing two days of work in a row, but I guess that’s just how it goes.

If anyone has any insight about the sleep study, I would very much appreciate the information. It reminds me that I need to get all the other junk done too. 17 blood panels. Xrays. ABG. EKG. Happy happy, joy joy. BUT, I know that they’re just steps on my journey to a new me, and I’d run there if I could.

I’m nervous about the tests, as I suppose anyone would be, but I’m anxious to have them behind me, so I can keep on moving forward to my goal- a happier and MUCH healthier life!

Be kind, Always.

Linda ❤

PS – A very special shout out to my supervisor, Cheryl. She is a wonderful person, and we are all lucky to have her. She is the glue that keeps our surgery center together. Thank you so much for this morning. I really needed it. And I’m sorry I made you cry.

*Edited – because I’m a dumbass.

Laverne, the UPMC insurance lady

So I was sitting at home tonight, thinking about everything that’s going on, and my phone rang. It was a 412 area code, so I figured I’d let it go to voicemail, because that’s what I do with numbers I don’t recognize. They left a voicemail- it was UPMC. I was kind of concerned, or curious that it could be someone scheduling my sleep study or endoscopy, so I called back. I got HER voicemail (her name’s Laverne), and asked her to call back. 15 minutes later, my phone rang again.

For Web CallCenter

This is how I picture Laverne. She was super friendly, helpful, and gave me her personal number before the call ended.

She said I’d been chosen for a call to see if I had any questions about anything to do with my appointments and my insurance. I asked if she had any idea what was going on with me, and she no, she didn’t have access to that information.

I proceeded to tell her about the process I’d recently started. I told her I didn’t believe I had any questions right now,  but I assumed I would down the road when we got closer to surgery. She asked what kind of insurance I have, and I told her Highmark. She asked what doctor and hospital I’d be using, and I told her Dr Ali at UPMC Bariatrics at UPMC Hamot hospital.

[There have been HUGE issues between UPMC (which is buying up every hospital they can in Western Pennsylvania. Highmark subsequently “fired” 700 UPMC physicians. A serious shitstorm for Highmark patients in the region.]

She asked if I was in the “five county radius”, and I replied that I didn’t have any idea what she was talking about., but I live 3 hours north of Pittsburgh, and live an hour and a half from the hospital. She asked me to hold tight a minute, saying that she wanted to look something up.

Then she said the magic words:

UPMC facilities, doctors, and other providers outside the five-county area (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland counties) will be in-network, including hospital and doctor services at:

  • UPMC Altoona
  • UPMC Bedford Memorial
  • UPMC Hamot
  • UPMC Horizon
  • Kane Community Hospital
  • UPMC Northwest.”

I asked “Ill be IN NETWORK?”

She replied “You sure will, honey.”

I cried. I told her that I hadn’t been sleeping because I worried about how I was going to pay the $7000 for 2015 and 2016 Out-of-Network deductibles. Now I only have to come up with $2000!!!! She was so sweet, and so genuinely happy for me. And I couldn’t tell you how much I appreciated her help. I’m still grinning like an idiot. I just hope she’s right.

Be Kind. Always. – The most difficult blog to write.

I saw a photo on a friend’s Facebook wall tonight, and it really resonated with me.

BeKindAlways

I say this, because I’ve been struggling with the idea of posting my starting weight.

Part of me is scared as hell. Mortified. I can’t believe I let myself get to this place. It’s a number that’s painful to see, and I believe that anyone who sees it, and knows me, will likely be shocked. I was when I saw it. But I need to post it. I need to hold myself accountable for my actions. So here goes….

486.

I weighed 486 pounds last Wednesday. The biggest I had ever been in my life. Even when I had babies, I was never as big as I was that day.

I use the past tense because in my heart, I know it’s the past. This is my new beginning.  I’ve been asked if I’ve made any goals, and as of yet, I have not. Except for the 36 pound goal Dr Ali set for me. I am most concerned with getting to a place where my body isn’t sick anymore. It doesn’t hurt to walk. It doesn’t make my head hurt when my blood pressure shoots up. Where I don’t snore like a freight train. (Sorry, Tori.) Where I don’t have to worry about dying before my girls get married or have babies.  Where I don’t have to worry about dying in my sleep, and my kids being embarrassed because they don’t know what to do with their fat, dead Mom. I won’t do that to them, and I won’t do it to myself.

I choose to live. And live I will.

I’m going to wind this up now. I’m tearing up a little bit, and think it’s best to end here. A couple of things before I go.

Cam – You’re an incredible lady. We’re both in it to win it, and win it we shall.

Kelly – I’ve got your back, girlie. If you need me, please get in touch with me. I’m here to help.

Finally, I posted my weight in the hopes that if there is someone else out there that is uncomfortable or embarrassed by their size, that they have company. I was afraid before that when this journey started, that I would be the butt of jokes among some of my coworkers, or “friends” on Facebook. But, as I’ve stated before, I have received so much support, that I’m overwhelmed at times. Truly.

Be kind to each other. Always.

Linda ❤

And now back to our regular programming….

Well, thankfully, it appears yesterday’s piss poor attitude was a fluke. I’m still sore today, but I’m not in a crappy mood!

I think part of my issue was caffeine. As in, I haven’t had any since Thursday. Nor have I had anything carbonated either. That’s right…

I have stopped drinking Diet Pepsi.

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I know, I know. Impossible to believe. I’ve been drinking it since I was a kid. I can remember the 8 packs of glass bottles, and how if we were good, mom would let my brother, sister and I split one. It was always such a huge deal to us-whoever poured, the other got to choose. (And Carl was pretty much screwed either way.)

Well, I’m done. The plan was to cut down to 1 20 ounce bottle a day for a week. Then have one every other day. Then, in the third week, cut it out completely. Well, screw that! I’m going all in. And I haven’t had any tea either. Just good old water. Mariah bought me a pretty pink 28 ounce water bottle (with no straw so I can get used to that, too), so I know if I fill it up two and a half times, I’ve got my 64 ounces plus for the day. I just filled up for the third time today, and added some lemon to it. Unfortunately, I’ve peed 10 times so far, so at least that’s extra steps (to the bathroom!).

If I haven’t mentioned it before, my mother is a smart cookie! I was complaining to her about the “proteiny” taste and smell my shakes had, and she suggested drinking them over ice! Brilliant! But I took it one better, and put it in the freezer!  They go down sooo much easier when they’re super cold. The first one took me almost an hour drink, but now I can get one down in about 20 minutes. Major breakthrough.

I still haven’t been able to get much exercise, aside from my half hourly jaunts to the potty, but I’ve been doing some lifts so that I’m at least doing SOMETHING.  I’ve decided that when my budget allows, I’m going to get some resistance bands. I think they’ll be easier on my joints than anything else I can come up with at this point.

And I’m struggling over something. There is a part of me that WANTS to post my starting weight, as an incentive to lose. However, there is also a big part of me that is really apprehensive about it, because it’s a number that’s hard for me to look at, especially since I’m just getting started. I’m thinking I might wait until my first weigh-in and see how I did the first month, so I have weeks yet to think about it. If  I don’t do it now, I know I’m going to do it at some point. I NEED to see it, regardless of how bad it hurts to look at it.

Enjoy the rest of you Sunday. Be kind and love one another.

Linda ❤

PS – Special shout out to Angela – Thanks so much for the blender! I’m sorry Tori hasn’t picked it up yet, but she will! You rock!

Rainy Saturdays get me down.

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The weather today sucks, and I can feel it in my joints. As soon as it stops raining, my knee starts swelling up again. It’s the damnedest thing. I am in a lot of pain today. 😦

I decided I should take my HCTZ since I know the Lisinopril is working now. Consequently, I have to pee about every 68 seconds. That would be fine, if I weren’t gimping around my house like I am.  Since the hysterectomy, I’ve developed stress incontinence. That’s why I haven’t been taking the Hydrochlorothiazide in the first place – it takes me so long to limp to the bathroom, I’m afraid I’ll pee my pants! So I decided that for now, I’ll take it on weekends when I don’t have to worry about peeing my pants at work, just home. Lord. Thankfully, my blood pressure was 150/82 at Dr. Ali’s during my workup, which is a far cry from the 210/102 it was in the ER a few weeks ago.

And I knew that surgery was not an inexpensive undertaking, but the more I think about all this, the more worried I get. (And that isn’t even taking into account the Out of Network deductible business.) This isn’t cheap. The protein shakes I have to take (one a day) are not inexpensive, nor are they easy to drink. Yesterday, it took over an hour to get it down, and I got nauseous about half an hour after I finished it . I don’t own a blender, so I’m going to have Tori pick up a cheap one at today when she picks up some groceries for me, so I can try and figure out a way to make protein shakes of my own that I can actually get down without gagging. I’m also going to have her pick up a food scale, which I need for the diet. Maybe I’ll hit the lottery one of these days and I won’t have to worry about any of the monetary issues.

That’s another thing. My 18 year old is living with me because with my knee being so bad, I can’t do the basement stairs to do laundry. Hell, I can’t even walk through the grocery store to get my own damned groceries!

Yes, I am fully aware that this whole blog has been whiny bitchfest. I don’t care. I know I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I know I can’t do it forever, but this has been my first down day in weeks, so I think I can day off from shiny, happy, perky.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a much, much better day.

Linda