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Saturday, December 31, 2011

I have a choice and I choose.....

I wanted to sit down and catch up with what's been going on in life since my last blog. I admit it, I've been one of those bloggers I though I would never become! One who wrote for a while then  vanished into the unknown, putting the blog on the back burner, ignoring the importance of why I started this blog to begin with!
Well, Here I am admitting this is life and I've failed at it for quite a while but I'm somehow getting life back in order, finding my footing and I have a million and 10 thoughts, ideas, experiences that need to be shared so here it is! I'll try to not overstimulate and dump it all in one post! I'd rather thin it out and have some direction, purpose, reason for each posting!
Leaving off from the last blog I had revealed that Ted and I are expecting our first child! We found out on July 3rd of 2011 and it came as a complete and total shock to both Ted and I! After trying for the most of 9 years with no positive results I had begun to resign that it just wasn't in the cards for me to be a mother! Maybe it wasn't in God's plan! When thinking about that I'd break down and ball because as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a mommy, to love a child the way I know a child deserves to be loved, to give the best life possible and to watch them grow up happy, healthy, and safe!!
When I got the two VERY clear pink lines on the First Response test after putting it off for as long as possible, because who was I kidding...I NEVER get a positive test, why would I now? I freaked out, double, triple checked, screamed for my husband who thought I was hurt so he came barreling down the stairs. He comes into the bathroom and I was standing as far away from the counter as I could possibly get (why I don't know) and asked him to look at the test saying"What is that?". He did, picked it up, turned around and smiled! "We're pregnant?"  I said um YEA, read it again, as if this is going to change the outcome right? 6 tests later all of them positive it started to sink in that I was in fact pregnant! I know how it happens but how does it happen for me, when I'm told it would probably never happen because of PCOS, hormone issues, being super morbidly obese, and the fact that I had never ovulated and my uterus had developed a lining far to thick to safely harbor an implanted egg?
Weight loss was our last option before heading into series of drugs and medical interventions to achieve this dream we've wanted for SO long!! I had weight loss surgery for a few specific reasons.
1. To be healthy~ I wanted off the two blood pressure medications that still couldn't keep my blood pressure from being dangerously high. I wanted to be able to breath/sleep without dying! My husband and my friends have told me MANY times I snore VERY loudly and I stop breathing when I sleep which led to a sleep apnea diagnosis. I have suffered from GERD for a VERY long time and was on a high dose of a medication to treat it that wasn't affective at all!
I wanted to walk without a cane, bathe myself properly, clean myself properly and just be healthy for once in my life!!
2. Have Kids~ I wanted to be healthy enough and have my body respond and function like it should in order for this to happen! All the times in my life I should've ended up with a baby, I haven't and I could never understand why. My weight, pcos, hormone imbalance all kept that dream far far away from me! Reading the research and talking to people who have had weight loss surgery and similar problems with getting pregnant going on to have healthy, full term pregnancies when the odds all told them it wouldn't happen!! Maybe it would help me too!
3. I was a ticking time bomb! ~ Not realizing just how sick I was and finally getting it that I wasn't far from an early grave if I didn't do something NOW!!
It was never so much about being skinny or weighing xxx or fitting into xxx size! Where I was it was more about my health and getting healthy enough to possibly get pregnant and be as healthy as I could be for baby and myself!!
After talking to my Surgeon he gave me clearance to go ahead and start trying to get pregnant. We put it off for Ted's surgery in April and needed to make sure we were both able to really enjoy this journey instead of making it a chore!
We made some transitions, moved into a smaller place to better live within our means so we could best prepare for baby. Ted got a promotion at work which has really been a blessing! His new district manager adores him and instead of transferring him into the same position at a different store like he had wanted, she decided she wanted him to stay where he's at but give him more because he's been an amazing asset to the company for the last 6 yrs and she felt he deserved the change! Sometimes I'm amazed at God's timing and how he lets things happen that make NO sense to us! In October Ted ended up in the ER with right side pain and had to have his gallbladder removed. It was inflamed, infected and full of stones so after 3 days in the hospital and a week at home recovering he finally got back on his feet. We lost vacation time we had planned to use when the baby gets here but we'll work something out!
OK, about baby!! It's been a very scary, up and down pregnancy that's kept us on our toes! My last blog was written just after we found out and as I write this I'm 31 weeks with less than 8 weeks to go! At 8 weeks we went to our first appointments and got an ultrasound and right away you see this lil blob and in the center a flicker which was an amazing thing to see! She turns on the speakers and this strong, amazing rhythm is something you never get over, something that never gets old!

8 weeks

I was sent to a High Risk Maternal Fetal specialist because of a blood clot I had just after my Gastric Bypass surgery and because of my mental health status and the medications I'd been taking for chronic pain.
Had to have blood work done and was told that I have a rare blood clotting abnormality in my genetics that could be fatal for me or baby. This scared me because my younger sister lost twins at 26 weeks because of a blood clotting issue. My Dr. assured me that with extra folic acid and blood thinner injections late in pregnancy and after birth would keep both baby and I safe!
At 12 weeks I had some bleeding which put me in the ER and I was given a Rogham shot because my O- blood type and got another at 28 weeks! They did an ultrasound and baby was fine and VERY active earning it the nickname "monkey"
We're having a Boy and naming him John Lewis after my father John and Ted's grandfather Lewis! He wasn't shy about showing up he was in fact a boy! Ted is completely in love with his lil boy! He's very involved and over the moon excited about becoming a daddy! His face lights up when he hears his heartbeat, sees ultrasound pictures and feels him move! He talks to my belly a lot and recently the baby has started responding! When Ted talks to him, he starts moving like crazy. We're starting to prepare our space for his arrival. We put it off for a while because we wanted to be sure we were going to be OK in case something were to happen.
In regards to my mental health issues, it's been surprisingly well! There was a lot of uncertainty about how pregnancy would affect my bipolar, anxiety, depression, PTSD and how I would respond to not being on medications that manage these issues. I see my therapist once a week who's been such a great asset in helping me cope with the ups and downs.
I worry about how my mental health and my physical limitations will affect how I am as a mother. I don't handle some simple stressors and I worry about how I'm going to handle the stress of being a first time new mom! Will depression and anxiety affect how I'm able to function and take care of my son? Physically can I cope with the demands parenting will put on my body? Will the pain I'm in constantly and the meds I need to take damage how capable I am or keep me from being the best mother for him? All these things run through my head! As I get further along in my pregnancy, the pain gets worse to the point I can barely walk, sleeping is broken by pain which then triggers panic and depression. It seems my PTSD has surfaced and is triggering a lot of bad dreams, memories, responses to certain things like music, driving, or anything that is in any way associated with a lifetime of trauma, stress, injury!
Something that hit me like a ton of bricks and caught me off guard was this deep longing for a maternal connection and guidance....something I didn't have! My mother wasn't the mother I needed and how do I go to her for maternal guidance when it's been made clear that she wishes she'd never had kids? Our relationship is beyond damaged and I made a choice that as much as I love my mother, I don't deserve the conditional love that comes with being part of her life! She's made the choice and it saddens me that those choices have kept her from having healthy relationships with her kids and now grand kids.
Still, something inside me needed that connection! As I become a mother, I think about the kind of mother I want to be, I'm going to be and how her being or not being a mother will affect how I am with my son! Do I take this new beginning in my life as a step towards trying again to rebuild a relationship with her? Part of me wanted to believe she's made serious changes and was at a different place in her life and had let go of the past and wanted to be a healthy part of her children's and grand children's lives! After an incident with my younger sister it became VERY clear that again whatever changes she had been working towards making meant nothing and she was still hung up on manipulation, control, hurt, guilt.....turning everything into a dramatic "there all against me, everyone wants to hurt me, it's all their fault" circus! No accountability and turning into the victim she's very comfortable with being. It broke my heart because not only did it hurt my sister and her kids but again she refuses to allow herself to be genuinely  happy! As I'm considering moving beyond the past, letting go, moving forward so my child and his grandmother can have a relationship I'm saddened that realistically that may never happen!
All this reeling in my mind, I'm flooded with a million thoughts, emotions, fears about what's to come! Doubting my ability to handle being a mother, will my past issues affect the kind of parent I am, will I be a bad mother because I didn't have and don't know what a good mother is like? After talking to some close friends, my therapist, it becomes amazingly CLEAR that I have a choice!! I have a choice to stop the cycle, to be a better parent, to not let my past or the mother I had become my future or the mother I'll be! I get to choose to be a better parent and I don't have to allow the cycles and mistakes that have haunted me all my life become the defining factor in my life! I choose to love my son unconditionally, give him the best of me, encourage him, see the best in him, keep him safe, be proactive in his life and raise him knowing he's smart enough, good enough and no matter what he's worth EVERYTHING!!
She had a choice! She could've chosen to be better, do better for her kids, to let go of the past, break the cycle of dysfunction! She's taught me a lot about what kind of parent I don't want to be and what not to do! Will I be perfect? NO! Will I make many many mistakes? Probably! Will I always make the best choices? Probably not....BUT If I do nothing else right I will try my hardest to make sure my Son knows how much he's loved, wanted, cherished, worth!
I'm overcome by a sense of peace about it! It got pretty bad and I've been really worried, terrified that I'm going to fail as a mother, I'm not good enough to be a good mother, I won't be able to handle it, everything that's wrong with me will be passed on to him.....and all of this really had me doubting myself!
What if I'm not all these things? What if I am a good mother? What if I can give him what he needs to be healthy and happy? What if he changes my life for the better?
WOW, imagine a good mother? With all the negative affirmations I've heard replayed in my mind over and over, I REALLY need to replace those with positive affirmations of truth about who I am as a person, what I've accomplished despite my past and others telling I'd never be good enough at anything!

It's a LOT to process and part of me feels like I'm whining or complaining when I want to share my struggles. I know that those who love me want to help carry these burdens, lighten my emotional load but still part of me feels like I'm intruding or in the way because others have lives, jobs, school, families and their own stuff going on. So, I keep it to myself, share it with my paper journal but I know I need to reach out more! Apparently God thinks I'll be a good mother! It's all very surreal and as we get closer everything I've seen, read, thought, dreamed about is now about to be my reality and that scares me!

I turned 30 on the 16th which brought a little anxiety but not nearly as much as I thought it would! Looking back through pictures of my late teens and throughout my 20s it was VERY clear how unhappy and sick I was! Going into 30 I feel better than I did my entire 20s and the blessings I have in my life now at 30 I wouldn't trade for the world! Finally at a place in my life where I'm happy, healthy and everything that I had hoped my life would be is and I couldn't ask for more! I have a husband who's my best friend, who takes care of me, loves me unconditionally, shows me what I'm worth and reminds me every day how much I mean to him! I couldn't ask for a better father for my son and I know that God brought him to me for a reason! He's going to make an amazing father and will be everything our Son needs and more! I'm a mother about to bring a life into this world! Yea I thought it would've happened by now but who am I to question God's timing? It's happening at the right time! So in the first year of my 30s I'm healthier than ever and I'm blessed with my own little family! Going places and doing things I've never done before! My life has become much richer! It's not about me anymore! I get to share my love, my life with others who deserve all the love I have to give! The realization that I get to choose what my life becomes is a liberating thing! I've been so afraid that I was doomed to be a product of my past, of the cycle that's plagued my family for so long! I choose what I allow to affect my life and how it affects me! We all have a choice and I'm finally seeing that I deserve more and I'm choosing to be happy, to have more than I've settled for!
30 weeks

4D 30 weeks

30th birthday

Friday, July 8, 2011

Big changes and big blessings!

So there's been a lot going on lately. Life has been a roller coaster ride the last few months. Hubby recovered from his surgery really well and is now down over 70 pounds! I'm so proud of him for everything he does. It hasn't been easy for him as he's had some problems adjusting to post op eating. We get so Ed to eating a certain way that it takes a while to adapt to all the new changes! Reminding himself to chew well, not knowing when he's full and eating a little to much, not being able to eat some of his favorite foods. For a few weeks he has trouble keeping food down. It seemed to get stuck and it was hard to pinpoint whether it's eating to fast, to much, not chewing enough or the possibility of a stricture. He had to have an upper endoscopy and dilation because the outlet to his pouch had healed to tightly not allowing foods to pass through. He's doing much better since that procedure and is still learning to gauge and really pay attention to his eating.
Being that we're both post op patients who require vitamins and protein and with other medical stuff that's come up we've realized we were struggling financially and something needed to change so that we weren't chasing our tales and digging a deeper hole.
We are moving out of our current house and into something smaller and less expensive. Our rent is really high and other bills are climbing making it harder to keep up with everything. It's frustrating because when we moved in it was in our budget and something we were able to do, but life happens! Realizing that we don't need a big fancy house in the best neighorhood to be happy and living within our means was a healthier choice to make.
As all of this is going on I discover last weekend that I'm pregnant! It's something we've been trying for but this came out of nowhere in the middle of this financial crisis. This new discovery has made us realize the best choice was to be in a place that's more within our budget and that will allow us to save money for baby.
I never thought I'd be able to get pregnant! I was diagnosed with PCOS which causes infertility and other issues that keep me from conceiving. One of the main reasons I chose to have weight loss surgery was to hopefully someday be able to get pregnant. It's known that weight loss surgery improves the symptoms of PCOS and many women have gone on to have babies. Since March of 2010 my periods have been normal for the first time in my life and that gave me hope! We've been trying to conceive since March when I passed my one year surgery mark and got clearance from my Dr. To start trying. I felt that I needed to make sure I charted my cycles and did everything I could to ensure getting pregnant which was causing more stress and every negative pregnancy test my heart would sink and I would get depressed. After years and years of negatives it was really starting to make me feel hopeless! Then I decided that I would just let it go and allow it to happen naturally if it was going to happen. I had to trust that if I was meant to be a mom God would take care of it on his time, not mine. Its hard to do but I couldn't keep stressing about it and I couldn't make it happen when I wanted to.
I've been feeling sick the last few weeks but thought it was a combination of the antibiotics I was taking and a flare up of the fibromyalgia. I was a few days late for my period so reluctanly I went and bought the pregnancy test. Now usually when I do that my period starts and that's what I was expecting. Sunday came around and I had put it off long enough and figured I'd just get it over with. I glanced over at the test and was completely shocked to see two clear pink lines. I screamed for my husband which scarred him, he thought I was hurt or that I saw a spider. 4 tests later it was pretty clear that I was in fact pregnant! It's very surreal and it's just starting to sink in. There are moments where I feel like it's just a dream and I keep going back to the picture of the test. This is huge! Hubby is excited and can't wait to be a daddy! Im excited, scared and every other feeling and emotion out there!
It's one thing to talk, think, dream about it but when it becomes reality it's a totally different thing!
I'm not sure how pregnancy will affect me or my medical conditions! I deal with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, back injury and I am also dealing with a lot of psychological issues as well and had to stop taking certain meds that have kept me stable for years. I knew that pregnancy woldnt be easy for me and I'm still unsure of what the next 7 1/2 months holds for me in regards to my health. As scary as it is, I'm blessed to be pregnant and I know that the end result will be worth it. I just have to trust that God will get me through this and with the love and support of my husband,family and friends I'll be ok!
There are lots of changes going on in life right now and I feel a bit overwhelmed buts it's temporary and I know we'll get through this!
So as I embark on the next part of my journey I'm excited and hopeful that I'll continue to grow and become a stronger, better person. There's been so many changes the last year and everyday I'm reminded of how far I've come and how far I still have to go!
God's been doing amazing things in my life and there's no doubt he will continue to do so! Life isn't always easy, nothing worth having is!
Weight loss surgery has not only saved my life but it's been an amazing tool that's helped make so many dreams come true for me!
I'm going to be a mommy!! WOW! Just thinking about that is amazing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Being on the other side!

So on April 1st (no joke) my husband had Gastric Bypass Surgery. The same surgery I had a little over a year ago. Now it was my turn to take care of him, support him and help him along a very similar journey that he's supported me on for the last year. I thought I was prepared and ready to be on the other side of it but boy was I WRONG! I was more anxious than he was going into it and as we made our way to pre op area it began to get more real for both of us. My mind reeling with all kinds of thoughts wondering what he's thinking, is he scared and just not showing it so that I don't stress, what if something happens during surgery?...and all the other crazy thoughts and scenerios my mind could come up with. Even as he's getting ready to go into surgery he's trying to protect me like he always does. If he can do something to keep me from being upset or worried he'll do it, it's just how he works. As they wheeled him into surgery I felt panic set in. I knew he was in good hands, from the Surgeon, nurses, even the anesthesiologist were people who had all taken part in my care so I knew they'd take good care of him. A few good friends of mine were kind enough to sit with me while he was in surgery which helped a great deal in calming my nerves. His surgery went fine and there were no complications whiched made me feel better and as I made my way up to his room I thought the worst part is over..WRONG again! When they brought him in, he was white as the paint on the walls and looked so helpless, so weak. I wasn't ready for that! In the 8+ years that we've been together I've never seen him in such a way. Sure I've seen him sick, cry, and at other low points but this was something that caught me completely off gaurd! I was told that one day our roles would be reversed and I would have to be the one taking care of him. I guess it's another step in our journey together, being in different roles. He had some post op sickness being this was his first surgery and though the nurses were assuring me he'd be fine It scared me. I'm so grateful for those who were able to help calm me down. Later in the evening once he was more responsive and getting some of his color back I was able to relax and know that he was ok. He rebounded really well and wasn't in much pain at all. We are greatful for those who stopped by and for the amazing love and support that surrounded us that weekend and for all the nurses and Drs who took great care of him. He's a very stubborn person and is so used to being the one doing the taking care of, for him to set his pride aside and allow himself to be taken care of is a major step for him. He's done so well and has progressed nicely. It's been a major learning experience for me because I went from being the patient to being the coach. Helping him, guiding him, supporting him through these first few weeks where it can be the most challenging. I have had to go back and remember what it was like in those first few weeks and it's reminded me that I am an example for him and it's helped keep me in line with remembering to make better choices and try not to revert back to old habits. I'm sure there are moments he questions his decision, after a year I still have moments where I question my decision but one thing we both agree on is the overall goal of health and a better life is worth the risks it takes to get there. I'm proud of my husband and how far he's come! It's not an easy choice to admit you can't do something alone and in the few weeks he's been on this journey he's already learned so much! It's weird being on the other side of this journey and as I see it in a whole different way I've learned that much more about myself and my relationship! I've watched friends go through the weight loss surgery journey but I've learned it's so different when your spouse is the one making that journey. I'm excited to watch as he finds himself and gains the confidence he longs for. I already see such a change in his attitude and it makes my heart so happy to see my husband come to life again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

One year later!

WOW!! I can't believe it's already been a year since having Weight Loss Surgery! This last year has gone by a lot quicker than I thought it would! It hasn't been easy at all and as I look back on this past year I'm grateful for all the changes! I've grown in so many ways while shrinking at the same time! As I sit here and reflect on where my life is and where it's headed I get an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and love! I couldn't have gotten where I am today without God's grace and the love and support of the amazing people in my life both in my inner circles and the online communities! I've learned so much about who I am and who I want to be and although it's a daily struggle to move beyond years of mental conditioning, I have faith that I'll always be where I need to be because I'm not alone! Some would say that I took the easy way out and to them I say unless you've lived this life, you have NO idea! It's been rewarding sure, but it's also been the biggest fight of my 29 yr existance. I'm really learning to love myself for the first time and I'm really starting to believe that I deserve all the happiness God has in store for my life. I look at myself in the mirror and am beginning to see someone worth while, someone who deserves to be healthy, someone who has the passion and the desire to live life the way I'm supposed to live life. I've always had an internal hunger for more in my life but never felt like I was strong enough or good enough to go after and achieve more. Always standing on the outside looking in, dreaming, wishing life could be something greater than what I had settled for. I've been given a second chance at life, the opportunity to step up and move, live life instead of watching it pass me by. I've always had this deep feeling that God had more in store for me, I just wasn't letting him show me what it was! I've said it before, this is SO much more than a physical journey! Every fiber of my being has been shaken to the core and it's downright uncomfortable at times because I'm somewhere I've never been before and that scares the shit out of me! Fighting those old comfortable feelings, thoughts, habits and pushing beyond my personal comfort zone is absolutely a struggle, but the more I push beyond those feelings and thoughts the more I long to keep pushing, even when they push back. I've been seeing a therapist for a while as I adjust to the changes and face head on the issues that have in the past held me back. It's raw, it's uncomfortable, but I know that I can't grow unless I clear out the junk that's holding me back, keeping me from growing like I should be. I've been through a lot in my life and God's gotten me through some really serious struggles and I have faith and trust that as I continue my journey God's going to be right there along with my wonderful husband and amazing family and friends! As I celebrate a year since my life was saved I get to be there as my husband begins his journey to better health and a better life! I get to take care of him as he has taken care of me since the day we met! God only knows what's next and I'm anxious and excited to see where he leads us. We are planning on starting our family soon and as we both continue on the journey to better overall wellbeing, I see great things happening! Today I will challenge myself to look in the mirror and see myself as God sees me, love myself as God and others love me! I'm perfectly imperfect and I'm starting to think that's perfectly OK!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Give up trying to be anything but YOU!!!!

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who are you? No really Who are you? We're all given a name when we enter this world, it's as we grow that we begin this ongoing quest to find out who we are. I'm 29 yrs old and I still don't fully know who Amanda Jolyn Matthews is. We live in a society that tells us we have to aspire to be something else. They tell us to be smarter, taller, skinnier, change our hair color, eye color, weight, boob size and THEN we'll be who we want to be right? WRONG! We grow up in a world that's constantly telling us that in order to be worth anything we have to change everything and be this way or that way and only then will we be good enough for...what?
We've allowed society to dictate how we look at ourselves and as we see this false image of "perfection" that we'll never obtain we beat ourselves up for not being a certain way. We take it as truth that we are in some way less of a person because we don't fit into this absurd mold that we've come to expect ourselves and others to fit. We're sent the message that we're not lovable as we are and we need to do XYZ and then we'll be lovable, but when we don't achieve XYZ we beat ourselves up and convince ourselves we're never going to be good enough.
As I go through this change physically I'm beginning to feel more insecure about myself. I was insecure about myself at 450 pounds, why am I more so at 263? I look at myself and although I should be happy with what I see, my mind goes and picks out all my flaws and tries to convince me that because I have saggy skin and stretch marks I'm still not beautiful!  I wish for one day I could see myself as my husband does, as God does. On my worst day, hair a mess, wearing yesterdays tshirt my husband will tell me I'm beautiful and often I respond by rolling my eyes or saying "whatever, you need your eyes checked" and he tends to get upset if I say something negative about myself. I try to tell myself he's just being nice, but in reality does he love me just as I am? Truth is he does! I often doubt God's love in the same way. How can someone who's as broken, messed up, and imperfect as me deserve to be loved unconditionally, as I am, serious baggage and all?
Last week began the lent season and I never really thought about it until this year when I read a friend's blog post on instead of giving up something like coffee or soda why not try loving yourself as you are? Giving up trying to make yourself different or trying to be what society tells you that you should be? This friend of mine gave up a hair straightener, which to some may seem odd, but it's a big deal when you've spent much of your life trying to live up to everyone Else's standards as to who and what you should be! We are the only version of us that we have, why not embrace it? We're all different, flawed, scarred but we all deserve to be loved just the same! As I continue on this journey to a healthier me, I'm doing a lot of work on the psychological aspect of who I am, who I've been and who I really want to be.  Focusing on letting go of those preconceived ideas that I have to be a certain way or do a certain thing in order to be worth something in this world! What would happen if we ignored all the in your face garbage about how this item or that item or changing everything about you will make you prettier, more "socially" deserving? Whether it's freckles, curly hair, glasses, intelligence level, your weight, choices you make or anything else, you are just as beautiful and just as deserving as anyone else! Don't let anyone tell you you're worth less than everything!!
I challenge all of you to spend some time thinking about the good qualities you have and focusing on loving yourself AS YOU ARE! Write down a list of things that make you amazing and see yourself the way you truly are! It's easier to believe the negative self talk, it's so easy to believe the bad things that have been drummed into our heads most of our lives. As we go on this journey of growing and learning who we truly are it's important to love ourselves because we're worth it! As my friend Lindsay says "be a self love warrior!" There's an affirmation I used to have that says "Never be afraid to be outrageously YOU"

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 20, 2011

One Step at a time!

It's a hard concept for someone who has the all or nothing mentality. I've been working really hard on realizing that it's OK to do things a little at a time. I have the tendencies to want to go all out or make sure everything is perfect, done completely not half done. My mind and my body are still not on the same page and it's a daily struggle to make conscious efforts to slow down. Here I am 159 pounds lighter, I feel great, have all this energy so my mind says GO, while my body says um, not so fast! It's usually not until I've overdone it and am not able to move that I realize that my body is still broken and deconditioned and it will take some time for me to be 100% physically. One of my Dr's calls this "superman" syndrome and clearly I've got it! I think OK, I'm feeling good so I'm going to be active, next thing I know I've been over active and I'm in pain because I'm moving my body in ways I haven't in a VERY long time! It's frustrating to feel like I'm being held back when I have all this energy and just want to GO all the time! Realistically I need to understand that in every aspect of my life, I need to take it a step at a time in order to get where I need to be! Like an athlete trains every day for what they do, I need to train myself physically, spiritually, mentally a little at a time in order to reach my goals in one piece. It can't just wake up and run a marathon when I've never even so much as jogged! It's never easy when in my mind I should be able to do all these things but my body responds in a way that doesn't concur with how I feel or think. I've always learned my lessons the hard way, it seems it's how I'm wired. As I get older I realize that I need to stop and think about things before I do them or say them because the after affects can be painful. I'm definitely a work in progress and I'll probably learn more lessons the hard way and there will be more painful I should've taken it easy afterthoughts! Life is a journey and it takes a while and many little steps to get where we need to be! As they say "Rome wasn't built in a day" same goes for anything in life! We can't just wake up expecting something to be a certain way or expect to be able to do things we've never done before! It doesn't mean we can't work towards these things, it just means that we need to pace ourselves and give our minds and bodies enough to time to adjust and by taking everything we do a step at a time, we will get where we need to be! I know that every day I move a little more than the day before and every day I'm able to accomplish something I wasn't able to yesterday! As I get stronger physically, spiritually, mentally every day I learn something new along this journey and I'm a better person for it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Walking out of my comfort zone!

Participating in any walking event always sounded like a good idea and I always thought to myself "maybe someday". You see, walking was a major challenge not even a year ago. At 426+ pounds, a major back injury and bad ankles all made walking something I couldn't do much of. It limited what I did, where I went, and severely affected my life. I became a recluse, a shut in, agoraphobic and was terrified of simply going outside of my house because I knew the physical pain that would follow. 158 pounds lighter and walking is a lot easier these days. There's still the back injury and the bad ankles which still give me problems but I'm not limited like I was a year ago. Stairs don't scare me anymore, shopping doesn't terrify me nearly as much, and just simply leaving my home is something I do a lot more of! I'm making this year a year of I can, versus all the I can'ts that have been my life for so long! I find myself being more social and forcing myself to step outside my comfort zones and challenge myself to take on life! Last weekend I was told about the Walk For Life that happens every year in support of A woman's pregnancy center here in Tallahassee and I told my husband I wanted to do it! Last year I would've had every excuse in the book as to why I couldn't do something like this, but this year is different! I have a few friends who are into marathons and I have watched their journeys and have been inspired. Hoping that someday I would be able to do something like that! What better way to start than to walk? It's only a few miles but it's SO much more than I could have done less than a year ago! So, on Feb. 26th, which happens to be 11 months since I had weight loss surgery I will get up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and participate in The Walk for Life! As someone who loves children and desires to have a family it's a cause that means a lot to me. I know how important women's health is and how important it is to support healthy pregnancy! If you'd like to help me by sponsoring me please let me know or you can go to this website and make an online donation or pledge! Amanda Matthews is my name :)
I'm super excited to challenge myself to step out of my comfort bubble and actively participate in life!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Check up from the neck up!

We all need one at times right? A friend of mine who's 6 years out from having bariatric surgery used to tell me all the time that every now and then we all need a check up from the neck up! It's a vital piece of this journey and is something everyone can benefit from. I've started seeing a therapist a few weeks ago because I couldn't get out of my head and was getting overwhelmed and having a hard time adjusting to all the changes that life has brought in the last year! I like him and think he'll be able to help me. He had me give him a list of things that I am struggling with and that I need to work through. He's not the first therapist I've seen! I've been in and out of therapy since I was 7. It's hard breaking habits and changing the thinking that you've had your entire life. Not only are we trying to deal with all the physical changes our bodies are going through but we are relearning how to eat, altering our relationship with food, having to find new ways of dealing with stress and having every aspect of our lives being affected has it's effects on our mental health! A lot of times we think that happy will automatically come with the weight loss and we aren't sure how to handle it when we've lost the weight but don't understand why we're not on top of the world happy! When the weight is gone and we find ourselves lost and not knowing how to cope with the new reality that we are in it can cause serious psychological issues! Breaking a lifetime of behaviors and those deeply embedded psychological patterns is probably one of the hardest parts about this journey I'm on. Realizing that my reality has been defined by so many outside interferences and circumstances is unsettling to say the least! Part of better health includes mental health and just like we spend so much time and energy on making ourselves physically healthy it's equally important to spend the time and energy on making ourselves mentally healthy as well. As I navigate trying to get to know this new person I see emerging I am hoping that by making my mental health as much of a priority as my physical health I'll be able to embrace the new me! There's no shame in seeking professional help in order to be able to better cope with the curve balls life throws at us! It's important to remember that we're not alone in our struggles and there will be times when we need to ask for help from someone whether it's a friend, coworker, pastor, counselor or therapist! It's normal to not want to "burden" others with our stuff, but chances are, there are people in your life who are waiting to be our support!  It's our responsibility to hold each other up and encourage each other and sometimes that can mean just listening to a friend or being that shoulder for someone to lean on! By doing these things we could be saving someone's life! If you find yourself struggling with anything please talk to someone! Chances are there's someone more than willing to be that support for you! It's a hard pill to swallow when you realize you can't do it alone, but the good thing is that you don't have to do it alone! We all want to be independent and be able to manage our situations without needing help but it doesn't mean you're any less of a person if you find yourself struggling and needing help! There will be times in our lives when we are able to help others and there will be times when it's us that needs the helping!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Mirror Vs. The Mind!

Mirrors much like scales can be at times your worst enemy! A few weeks ago I was at church and I heard one of my pastors say something along the lines of "who you think you are, may not be who you really are". That got me thinking and it came in the midst of this inner battle I've been having with my brain. I thought for the most part I've been handling these crazy changes pretty well with the occasional can't get out of my head moments but for some reason this most recent one has stuck with me longer than usual and It's bugging me! My husband usually has me look at a picture of myself from a year ago and that usually brings me back to reality! As of late though even when looking at pictures of my progress or I look in the mirror I see the 450 pound person I was a year ago! The scale still says I'm 150 pounds lighter but my mind doesn't seem to get it! I understand that my mind is going to need time to catch up to all the major changes that the last 10 months have brought with it, and thus far I've dealt with it all in strides and with a pretty level head...I think! I guess what I'm having a hard time with is why I physically see whether in pictures, the scale, clothes, or even really looking at myself a different, smaller me but my mind sees something else? I guess when you spend most of your life as one person you're almost conditioned to see yourself as that person even if you've changed. I look at all the different ways I've changed and maybe I'm having a problem with it because I don't recognize the person I see in the mirror. I'm treading in unknown territory, doing things I've never dreamed of doing, being the person I've never been in a lot of ways and it's very foreign to me. It's terrifying to see someone emerge that I kinda secretly hoped I would become but either was to afraid to become or never thought I was supposed to become! Am I that De conditioned mentally/psychologically that I'm afraid to become the person God intended for me to be? Maybe I am afraid of the person that's emerging because all my life I've thought of myself and seen myself as something else, something less. To see myself as the confident, happy, social, beautiful person that I'm becoming is surreal, almost like it's a dream that I'm going to wake up from and be back in that dark, unhappy place I was a year ago! The reality of it is, I'm not in that place anymore and I'm not that person anymore and as exhilarating and freeing as that is, it's also the most terrifying feeling for me. It's like I see the walls and the insecurities coming down and I feel like I'm scrambling to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild because I feel exposed and uncertain. It's confusing because I really like being that confident, genuinely happy person who has a passion for life! It's a struggle learning to love who I'm becoming and embracing this person and letting go of the chains and stop trying to rebuild the walls that have served no purpose other than to hold me back! It's hard breaking a lifetime of self doubt and image issues and it would be so much easier to put the walls back up and hide in the corner, but I know that God has me on this journey for a reason and I can't hide from that anymore, I don't want to! There's no easy way to make the changes to better your life and it's a constant struggle to be who you really are instead of who you think you are! God wants me to be more than what I've been and he wants me to see myself as he and others see me, as a beautiful, strong, confident woman who loves who she is and truly believes she deserves to be the person she's becoming!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Preparing for the unknown!

It's a human condition to want to know what lies ahead. The unknowns in life can be scary and unpredictable. No one knows what will happen or how we'll react and handle certain situations we're in. This year brings with it a lot of unknown and a lot of hope. This journey I've been on for the past 10 months has been full of surprises and unexpected outcomes that have impacted ever aspect of my life. It's no secret that my desire to be a mother is very strong! As I get healthier and take better care of myself the possibility of that dream is more real than ever. At 450 pounds that dream was nothing more than an unreachable goal that really made me feel like I was broken somehow. I felt like it would never happen no matter how much I wanted it to. My health and my weight made conceiving a child impossible. I always thought I'd have children young and didn't realize that I needed to be healthy and in a better place before I brought a child into this world. For the first time my body is functioning like it should and I understand now the reasons God had me wait. From day one, my choice to have bariatric surgery had very little to do with being skinny and everything to do with being healthy and being able to have children. It was advised that I wait a year after having surgery before trying to conceive and as I get closer to 1 year since surgery it's something that is on my mind. As I focus on being as healthy as I can be and taking the steps I need to take in order to have the best possibility of having children I'm faced with a lot of anxieties and worry. It's an emotional roller coaster and there are a lot of issues that I'm dealing with as we talk and think about starting our family. There are things that I am dealing with that complicate an already complicated process. As I do more research, read about other women who have been unable to conceive prior to bariatric surgery but who have gone on to have healthy babies post op I'm hopeful but scared! Aside from being a post op bariatric patient I deal with severe mental illness and chronic pain. I'm aware that if I want to even think about becoming pregnant I need to address the situations that could potentially be very dangerous. I take medications to manage my mental illness, most of which are unsafe to take during pregnancy. I addressed my desire to start a family with my psychiatrist and didn't expect the reaction I got from him. He flat out told me that it's a bad idea for me to be pregnant because I'll be unstable without my meds and since I can't take most psych meds while pregnant I just shouldn't do it! WOW, I wasn't sure how to react. I don't think he understood that I was fully aware of the risks associated with the situation and that I was asking him to help me find the safest plan. I'm faced with a great deal of anxiety over this and I find myself doubting whether or not I will be able to handle being pregnant and not on medications. Deep down I realize that I'm strong enough, I have enough support, and with God's help I'll be able to handle any situation that comes my way but the doubt and the fear still linger! As my physical health has improved so has my mental health! I'm no longer in a constant state of hopeless misery! I feel better about myself and although I know that I still have these mental health issues, I'm in a much better place now than I was then.  I'm in a state of panic and uncertainty because I've been on these medications for a long time and in the past (pre-op) have had some issues with being off of them. I've become dependent on them in so many ways to help keep me mentally stable. I'm not sure how or even if I'll be able to cope well without them and my poor husband tends to be on the receiving end of my frustrations and that's not how I want it to be and he doesn't deserve that! The more I think about it the more I realize I'm going to have to find some way to deal with whatever comes up in a healthy way. I can't turn to food anymore and I shouldn't be taking it out on my husband. I am joining a gym in hopes that by exercising more not only will I get stronger but it'll be a physical outlet that will help me manage. I'm also submersing myself in my music, writing, social interactions, therapy and a lot of prayer! God's brought me through some pretty tough times! I have faith that he'll bring me through this as well. I'm excited for the next chapter in our lives and look forward to becoming a mother! If it were only possible to turn off the chaos in my mind long enough but I know the reality of it is something I'll have to face! He's excited and wants very much to be a father and as we travel this journey together I know that It'll bring us closer together.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Supporting him!!

My husband has been contemplating having Bariatric surgery for a while. At first he was sure he wasn't going to and a lot of people assumed that just because I did that he would too. He's had weight issues as long as I've known him and has tried many many times to lose weight on his own and he's always had that mindset of wanting to keep trying without surgery and there's nothing wrong with that. His health has started to really affect him. He came to me one night about 4 months ago and asked me if I had any regrets about my choice and would I do it again. He's watched me go through a really rough time since I had surgery and he's seen both the ups and the downs that have come with it. I told him that without a second thought I'd do it again because the fact was, I was really sick and well on my way to an early grave if I didn't do something immediately! He has always done so much for me, I want to be as healthy as I can so that he has the wife he deserves to have. I want to be around for him and to be able to give him babies and live a long healthy life for not only myself but the ones that I love! He has made the decision with much thought and much prayer to start the process of having WLS. He's been through all the steps and is hoping to have surgery within the next few months! I'm so excited for him because I know how hard he's worked and I know he deserves to be healthy and happy! He's done such an amazing job at taking care of me and now I get to give that back to him and help take care of him as he starts his journey to being healthier! I've always told him that it's his choice and it's something that only he can decide on and I've never tried to convince him to have surgery because it's such a personal choice and it's not for everyone. I'm glad that I've inspired him to want to be healthier for himself and our life together! I'm so proud of him for everything he does and for wanting to be healthier because it's not an easy change for anyone who has goals for better health and a better life. We both want to be around to have children, watch them grow up and be as healthy as we can be in order to live the life we're meant to live. We've started really talking about starting a family and what that looks like for us. For me it's a whole mix of emotions because for a long time we've been trying and I've always felt "broken" for not being able to give him a child. I know that God has his timing and that I needed to get myself healthy before bringing a baby into this world. As I've lost weight my body has responded and is now functioning the way it should be which gives me hope that conceiving is so much more of a possibility now than it was before. So many changes and so much to look forward to! God's doing some major renovations in our lives and I'm excited to see what this year holds for my husband and I!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Finding lost passions!!

Have you ever lost your passion for something? I used to be so passionate about so many things and somehow I lost a lot of those things that used to light a fire in my soul. In some ways there was still a flicker, a yearning for these things but I let life get in the way, I let so many things smother the flames until they were nothing more than smoldering ash. I was the queen of procrastination and excuses as to why I had let these passions fade. Whether it was I don't feel good today so I'll do it when I feel better, or I'm not good at it anymore, it's been to long, or some other embarrassing reason. Two of my greatest passions, playing piano and writing I have let slip away and although I keep the occasional online blog I found I don't actually write much anymore. I used to love writing poetry, and keeping a journal and haven't put pen to paper in such a long time. Playing the piano was something that I was never great at but I loved it, self taught I learned by copying what I heard or by reading through some of my mother's teaching books as a kid. As I got older the love for it was still there, but something always got in the way of me really learning anything and advancing as a piano player! Since this transformation began I'm noticing so many shifts in my personality, my thinking, how I relate and communicate with others and my desire for things has changed. To say that every fiber of my being has been affected by this journey would be the understatement of a lifetime! As the pounds drop I notice myself becoming a different person, or maybe it's me becoming the person I'm supposed to be, either way I hardly recognize me! Of course I look like me, sound like me but there are things that are surfacing that I never thought would be...well me! There are things about me that I remember that I'm now seeing again, like a best friend who's been out of touch for years but is now back! It sounds strange but I feel things again, not just feeling but FEELING, with my soul. I didn't realize how much I had let my love for life get away from me. My husband has always supported my passions whatever they may be at the moment and has always encouraged me to pursue them. This Christmas/Birthday he blew me away and has brought two of my greatest passions back into my life. He surprised me with a journal and a piano with the hopes that this transformation I've been going through would inspire me to reconnect with some of the things I love to do! It's like he's in my head when I'm secretly wishing I had a really nice journal and a piano to play again. I had forgotten so much about playing the piano it was almost embarrassing, some songs I could play well and others...not so much!  Instead of giving up or getting frustrated like usual I decided that it was time I relearned what I had lost. The piano has always been an escape for me, a stress release and writing is as well, it's how I share my thoughts, my story, it's how the mess in my mind comes unraveled! I'm finding old passions again and discovering new ones every day and it's an amazingly freeing feeling! The intensity I always dreamed, thought, wrote about is now becoming who I am and as scary as that is, with God's help and a lot of patience I will embrace who I'm becoming and trust that it's who I am supposed to be!