Countdown Day 1

In Texas in the mid-to-late 1980s, my dad worked for a televangelist and tent revival preacher, R.W. Schambach. His granddaughter was a good friend.  We lived on the ‘campus’ as we called it, which was the trailer home park near the office and headquarters of his ministry.  There were some amazing experiences and memories living in that small little community of Bullard, Texas, moving through the forest until all hours, catchin’ lightin’ bugs, playing tag with all the other campus kids, catching crawdads at Little Creek, making mud pies underneath our humble trailer sure to avoid all those red ant hills, and running around with the dogs, Chopper and Lady, rummaging through people’s trash, because there wasn’t a regular trash pick up day, climbing the tree house, riding the neighbors go-kart full speed, these were just a few of the highlights.

The memories that were a bit mysterious for my 10, 11, 12, 13 year old brain were the social structures that existed during that period of time.  What I remember vividly, was being horrifyingly upset because we weren’t allowed to wear shorts.  Apparently God didn’t like shorts.  (At least that was how it came across to me at the time.)   We had to wear culotimgres-2.jpgtes.  I was mortified.  (What in the world are culottes?)  Modesty was very important to maintain proper standing within the church system, so anything revealing was out of the question.  I must say, to this day, I despise the word, culottes.  These were no hipster fashion statement, they were just plain, and boring —the skirt’s evil stepsister.

Backstory: I’ve always been a bit of a rebel when it comes to what I’m supposed to wear.  It sucks all the individuality out of picking an outfit for the day.  At the young impressionable age of six, my mom got these adorable Winnie-the-pooh turtle necks, and WOOL no less.  My mom was always freezing cold, and me, always a friggin’ heater.  If you know me, you know I carry a fan with me in my purse. I’m a menopause-lifer.  Even at six, I had hot flashes.  My sweet friggin’ cold mom puts me
in this adorable little sweater, and sends me off to school with no other clothing underneath.  I got so hot, when my mom came to pick me up at the day’s end,  I was like the HULK dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh and I wanted to rip my clothes off in the car before I got home.  Needless to say, my mom realized that my individuality was going to need to be embraced else she’d have to experience more Hulktastic episodes.
  So back to culottes, they’re dead to me.   Don’t even ask me to wear them again.  Don’t do it.

There was also an underbelly or darkness lurking in places on campus that you’d think would be full of light.  There were subtle and not so subtle dogmatisms and religiosity that made living scary.  I didn’t feel loved at times in the larger community.  I felt judged.  I also felt like if I did anything wrong, God was going to punish me.  On another level, I knew this wasn’t what I really thought the God of the Bible was…but I was too young to articulate it at the time.

Many years of living in different places with some wild characters have taught me tolerance.   I’ve had reach to a deeper place of loving people in spite of their misshapen ideas and radical interpretations of how to live this life and live in grace.  Grace is my middle name.   I’ve learned to make my faith my own. It’s personal. I’m blessed.

So in this time of reflection, I can’t stop the tears.  Probably because I’m so tired and hungry and all the emotions of the past two weeks are flooding me.

I’m still hungry,

…but I feel full.  Full of love.

Until tomorrow, The Big Day.  (Pun intended.)  Love you loves.






Countdown Day 2

Update on the No-Chew-Diet-From-Hell… it’s still hellish.  I smell food wherever I go.  I smelled hash browns from a little kid walking in front of me the other day. (Gimme your hash brown kid.  This mama’s HUNGRY! Come into my belly.) It’s strange, but I don’t even have to be near an In-N-Out to smell the beautiful aroma of grilled onions.  Gah! Mmmmm.  Food.  I miss it.

Tonight I went to my first support group that meets bi-monthly at the Lewis Auditorium at Arcadia Methodist Hospital.  The group facilitators are Dr. Klein and Lorrie, the nutritionist.  I asked all sorts of questions from bowel movements post-surgery, to feelings about people commenting about weight loss.  As I’ve said before, I don’t like being the center of attention.  Heaviness is a form of safety, an insulation if you will.  It protects me from all the things in the world that are scary, chaotic and dangerous.  At least that’s the way it feels.  However, if I look at the opposite effects of how being heavy has changed me, picking out an outfit can be one of the most tortuous events in my day.  Ready to hear my inner thoughts…? (Uh, Joy, haven’t you already been giving us your inner thoughts?) Well, yes, but these are the nitty gritty nasty thoughts I tell myself.  I’m a mean girl to myself, like Lindsey Lohan’s belittling high school peers in Mean Girls. This all happens in front of my closet. (You don’t want to wear that shirt with those pants, Joy, it shows too much of your belly.  Or, you have pick a cover to wear over that because no one wants to see your arm fat.  Or, gosh, your belly, always, the belly.  Half of my clothes don’t fit right! Ah, hell, just wear a vest over it.  Or, maybe you should just stay home.  Stay home, hibernate and isolate.) This is the downside of how heaviness has affected me.  I miss out on connection.

One of the group members tonight that is 3 months post surgery, said that she isn’t telling anyone about her gastric bypass because she doesn’t want to be judged if she gains weight back.  She doesn’t want people to say that she “took the easy way out” by having a weight loss surgery.  Does this No-Chew-Diet-From-Hell seem easy to any of you?  Guaranteed, hands down, this is the hardest thing diet-wise that I’ve had to do.  The prolonged routine of it has been very difficult.  I like to eat with people and be festive, yo!

One thing Dr. Klein said tonight is, “This is not an easy way out.  You still have to do the work to keep the weight off.”  Basically if you’re a grazer, you can gain weight by just letting small amounts of food all day long and consuming excessive amounts of calories by eating constantly.

I can’t believe tomorrow is my Gastric Bypass Eve of the Eve.  Weird.  If gastric bypass is the wedding, then the process after surgery is the marriage.  Marriage ain’t easy people. (Can I get an amen?) Gastric bypass is a TOOL that helps you change.  You still have to  manage your emotions, work the program, and make decisions daily that affect your future.


Peace.  Until tomorrow.   marriage photo.jpgLove you loves.


Countdown Day 3

There’s something I fear more than the boogey man.  At a recent school assembly of insect and reptile presented by the Lizard Wizard, there was a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. One of my students said, “We have lots of cockroaches in our house.”  I immediately flashed back to my 1980’s house in Arkansas in the bathroom in the middle of the night going potty.  As I flipped on the lights, the cockroaches scurried to every corner.  Some just hung out, just to creep me out.  I was afraid they were going to get me.  People would always say, “They’re just water bugs.” (Uh…no, they’re Cockroaches!)  There was something so disconcerting about these invaders.  They weren’t supposed to be there.

In Texas, in the mid to late-1980’s, there was a whole other kind of Cockroach, the flyin’-Texas-run-for-the-border-Cockroach, because everything is bigger in Texas.  In our humble trailer home, these Cockroaches would appear and run lickety split in any direction and scare the crap out of you.  It was especially frightening when they were anywhere above my head because they had adapted to fly, (yes, fly) when threatened.  I would freak, chase, and kill them. Instead of STOP DROP & ROLL, it was FREAK, CHASE, KILL. Exterminators are a luxury, people.  When you’re poor, you find the nearest shoe and smack the hell out of an invader.  This scenario of shoe smacking happened, like almost every day.

So now, unfortunately Steve has witnessed this, when I see an especially large Cockroach, in my house, I FREAK.  And then I’m paralyzed.  I call Steve to CHASE & KILL.  This has only happened about 2 or 3 times since 1999, but it’s 2 or 3 times too many.  I insisted we call an exterminator.

I have other fears too, fear that in this commitment to stay put in San Dimas, that I might not be challenging my children enough.  They have no idea of what unmet needs are, what scarcity feels like. I want them to experience hardship and struggle, but I don’t want to manufacture it.

Another fear, dying.  My dad passed when he was 50.  I’m 43.  I have the same body type.  I don’t have high blood pressure, like he did, but I think that’s only a matter of time if I continue eating and living like I do now. So, for me, gastric bypass seems like the best solution.  Back in July 2015, when my primary care doctor talked to me about diabetes, she said, “These are a list of foods that you need to cut out to control your blood sugar with diet: beans, rice, bread, all sweets, limited fruits, fatty meats, and any kind of junk food or high carbohydrate food.”  (Why don’t I just stop eating now, then?)  Then she said, “Or you could elect to have gastric bypass, and your diabetes will likely be cured.” (Well, that sounds better. )  From her perspective diabetes related complications are all too common.  I feel fine now, but let’s look ahead 20 years.  I don’t want to be sitting in a mobility scooter as I shop at Walmart. (Yes, I do shop there, I grew up in the south, remember? I know Target is way more hipster, but Walmart folks are my peeps. And Walmart has Rollbacks, which is something you won’t get, if you don’t shop there.  Jealous, huh.)  


Unlike my strategy for taking down Cockroaches: FREAK, CHASE, KILL; my strategy for making the decision to have gastric bypass has been, FREAK, CHANGE, LIVE LONGER.

Until tomorrow.  Love you loves.

Countdown Day 4

3 states, 9 cities and towns, 12 different living situations, and 12 churches— all before I was 18. When I look at it this way, staying put, for me, has become sacred.

You might ask why I moved so much, which would be a logical question.  To be delicate, there were many reasons but for the sake of discretion, I’ll just say there were financial and spiritual motivations as to why my parents felt we needed to move.  I’ll also say, as an adult child, I don’t agree with all the decisions my parents made, however, I do believe they were doing the best they could at the time.  And they loved me and my siblings, deeply.  They always did the best they could to provide in the face of immense struggle.

For an intuitive, sensitive, shy little girl, these moves were challenging.  This may be why I feel anxious when entering a room full of people I don’t know.  That feeling of all-eyes-on the-new-girl.  All-eyes-on-the-new-family, happened far more often than was comfortable for me.

My parents lived on the edge.  In Arkansas, in the late 1970’s early 80’s, my dad was taking whatever odd jobs he could to provide for his family.  He went without consistent work for 2 years during that time.  My parents believed with fierce faith that God would provide for their needs.  My mom sent dad to the store with a grocery list and $7 to eat on for a week. He had gotten everything on the list, but didn’t have money for the bread.  Lo and behold, as he’s walking out of the grocery store, there was a loaf of bread in puddle. Untainted, perfect loaf of bread.  (What? Yup. This happened.  And when you’re hungry and it’s on your grocery list and you have to feed your family, you’ll pick up that loaf of bread.)  Reflecting on that event, my mom said, “God took care of us in the strangest ways.” (You think?)

We all have events in life where there is so much uncertainty. Often, the predictable way we’d like for things to work out, is not the outcome.  I have a ‘bread in the puddle’ situation that I’d like solved, instead of it being food for the week, as it was in my parents’ lives, it’s whether or not we’re going to have to rip a wall out of our house (not kidding).  I’d really like a miracle.  This whole solar-panel-debacle has lead us to building code violations, which have lead to so much stress and torment about this wall that is 1 foot too close to the property line. (Also not kidding.  Uh, county peoples, no one in our hood cares that this wall that has been here since the 1950s, now is used as a bedroom instead of a garage. Really county peoples, no one cares, except you.) No wonder I have ulcers.  Maybe, God, could you just give me a loaf of bread in a puddle?  Stranger things have happened.

So as we prepare for my surgery, there are looming cloud-questions; what’s going to happen to our house and how much will it cost?  Where will we put all of the stuff in our room while it’s being remodeled? How will I be able to help move stuff (we’ve got a lotta stuff) after surgery? I’ve done all I can do.  I’ve prepared my ‘grocery list’. I’ve gone to the county office in Arcadia 3 times, we’ve hired an architect to draw new plans. Cha ching! Meanwhile, these wonderful solar panels that have been installed sit, unused.  Until we get the back of the house properly permitted, we can’t have the final inspection for the solar panels approved.  Maybe, God, could you just give me a loaf of bread in a puddle?  We’ve stayed put in this house.  This is our home.

WARNING: The ‘Real Deal’ Alert:

My stomach or intestines are making some noises like action happening in the Wild West. From the moment I woke up this morning, my stomach be like, “Hey, I’m here, don’t forget about me, I haven’t seen any of the food you normally eat.  Could you throw me a bone, please?” Bowels have become more fluid and more often over the last 2 days, after several days of no bowel movements.  I’m not sure what this means.  It’s, well, ew.

H. Pylori test could not be given yesterday, because apparently the breath test will not be effective if I’ve been taking Protonix. Unbeknownst to me, you have to be off these type of stomach acid reducing medications two weeks prior to taking the breath test.

Until tomorrow. Love you loves.



Countdown Day 5

“I believe our most sacred moments are often our most human moments,” Sarah Bessey, author of Out of Sorts.

I am under no grand illusions that losing weight will make me happy.  I know I’ll still overthink situations and replay & rehearse them in my head.  I know I’ll still feel awkward in a room full of people that I don’t know well.  I know I’ll still wonder why so many people can be so hateful.  I know I’ll still feel loss.  I know I’ll still get angry and impatient with my kids.

On the flip side, it’s amazing being alive and loving wholeheartedly.  Seeing the blue paint on the doorframe reminds me that I have two girls who, on a whim, decided that the swing set needed a new coat of blue paint.  Hearing Boy play his guitar riffs over and over gives me joy that he’s learning the discipline of a new art form.  Messy rooms and stray socks in every corner of the house remind me that I’m not in this house alone.  Middle’s hamster smells like corn chips (Don’t ask me why.  Give me a break, I’m hungry) and I just wish everything could be more tidy. There are so many things to be thankful for, although at times I just want to scream and tell everyone just STOP ARGUING & SHUT UP, (as it’s actually happening right now.)  The arguing never ceases with 3 kids.  But I know they’re learning to negotiate the massive world by beginning in this safe place called home.  There will be a day, I’m told, when the kids grow up. “They grow up so fast.” You’ve heard this as many times as I have.  In meantime, I’m going to cherish them and find the sacred amidst the mess.

Speaking of mess, I just helped clean up the girls’ first independent chocolate chip cooking making experience.  They said they read the directions, but they just read the ingredients, not the words that explain how to mix the ingredients.  They just threw all the ingredients in and stirred and stirred. Middle said, “Mom, it doesn’t look right.  I think we did something wrong.”  It didn’t look right, but the cookies were still good, I think (actually I wouldn’t know, they sure smelled good).  They’re arguing AGAIN, Boy is involved and it’s now about whether or not the cookies can be eaten.  (Oh boy.  Give a girl a break, it’s Friday for goodness sakes.  Um, yes girls, he can have one…  That’s why you made them!)

As I’m thinking about it, I definitely eat to escape the constant struggle.  I like to crawl in my cave and have a bite (as the British say).  

Just now Boy comes in as I’m writing this post, “The cookies didn’t turn out very well  (as he comes in to grab a different non-chocolate chip cookie snack). The girls don’t like them. (He forgot to mention that he doesn’t either.) That’s the way the cookie crumbles.  Get it mom?”

Yes, I get it.

I’m livin’ a whole lotta human moments here on Baseline.  How about you?




Countdown Day 6

So, my new favorite treats are these ah-maze-ing calcium supplements called, Adora.  I adora them.  Ba-dum-dum.  When you can’t have chocolate OR chew anything all day, this lil’ sucker gives me just what I need. Like, a little prize for taking my calcium.

Speaking of little prizes, whenever I meet with a dear friend, I feel like I get special insights into life.  Talking to this dear friend I acknowledged that  I’ve come to place of acceptance about he way- I- am.  It’s okay.  I’m okay.  I love me now. (I must tell you it’s taken a whole lotta therapy, prayer, and rethinking insane cultural beliefs to get here.) So part of me is a little sad to lose weight.  I’ve accepted this independent, loving, wild at times, belly-laughing me.  (By the way, my middle child has told me on a couple of occasions that my belly shakes like Santa when I laugh. I always think, lovely.  Santa’s cool, right?)  Anyway, back to this sad part of losing weight.  I’ve come to feel protected by heaviness.  There’s a certain amount of invisibility that comes with being overweight.  Often, people look past you.  And when you’re an introvert, this isn’t a bad thing.  I don’t want to be the center of attention.  So, I’m grieving my current self even before I lose weight.  I feel like there’s a sense of comradery amongst women, when you know you’re not perfect and you love each other anyway.  I don’t want to lose that. On some level, I know I won’t, but on another level, I feel like I’m more approachable because of my weight.  I clearly look like I don’t have it all together.  Does this make sense to anyone else?

So, today, in preparation for the walk with that dear friend, I shook the new shoebox-clean off those 2-year-old tennies.  Walking with a friend is one thing, but I actually despise doing any sort of exercise out on the street in the hood by myself, because I just don’t want people looking at me.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  I can’t describe it any other way.  It’s just one of my weird quirks.  I will walk with a friend since I have someone to talk to, but walking by myself is just, ‘ew’.  (If you haven’t seen this Jimmy Fallon video it’s hilarious.)  I often say ‘ew’ just cuz it makes me laugh and then think of my friend Jimmy.

Grieving has many forms when you’re losing weight: a loss of the idea and way of indulgent living.  I miss nachos right about now and chips & salsa with guacamole, carne asada, mashed potatoes, coffee and chocolate.  I miss chewing and escaping into a hearty bowl or plate of food.  Relearning how to eat at 43 is tough. As I made the family dinner tonight, it was all I could do not to take a bite.  I’ve been spending a lot of time AWAY from the kitchen.  I’m grieving that too.  Cooking for my family and making them foods they love gives me a sense of pride.  In a few months I’ll get to eat again solid foods again, so at least this isn’t forever. It’s just feels that way now.

I’ll leave you with this: A not-so-perfect story of losing 180 lbs. Real life isn’t a fairy tale. Jen Larson’s book: Stranger Here scroll down to view the video advertisement for her book.





Countdown Day 7

My feet feel skinnier.  Yeah, you heard it, feet.  You’re jealous, huh?  

In the morning I went to my surgeon’s office and met with the surgical coordinator, Mary Ann.  She made sure that all of the pre op procedures had been faxed to her: mammogram-check, ekg-check, abdominal ultrasound-check, blood work-check, chest x-ray-check, endoscopy-check. You’re really jealous now, huh? Prescriptions for Actigall, Norco, and Prevacid were prescribed for me to take post surgery.  Actigall is so that my chances of developing gall stones are reduced to 5%, Norco for pain management (which I hope as all get out that I don’t have much of), and Prevacid for stomach acid reduction which will help with my ulcers.

Disappointed that the gastroenterologist, Dr. Sidhom, (Yes, doc, you’re being thrown under the bus, feel that?) didn’t test me for the H. Pylori bacteria during the endoscopy, Maryann gave me orders to go to LabCorp and have a breath test done.  So far I’ve only been taking Protonix for the ulcers, but if it turns out that I test positive for the H. Pylori bacteria, I need to begin 1 of several rounds of antibiotics to get rid of it.  She did not think this would hamper my surgery date, whether I test positive or not.

The upside, and only upside, of this diet: 10 pounds of weight loss in 7 days.  It’s been so hard and I have a miserable headache today.

Mid-afternoon, I scarfed 3 Werther’s sugar free caramel cappuccino hard candies like a wild animal.  I just want coffee!  Just a little coffee flavor helped a little.  Just a little.  In an attempt to describe how hard this is, every time I smell food I want some, just one bite, please.  Oh, that salad looks SO good.  Oh, greek yogurt, looks so tasty.  Oh, that hummus looks so inviting.  Rice cakes even look amazing right now.  All those mouthwatering recipes on Facebook, you’re killin’ me!  Today when I walked outside, I thought I smelled corn chips.  Weird.  This is why I don’t diet.  It’s just ALL consuming for me.

In the late afternoon, my last appointment was a pre-op appointment at Huntington Memorial Hospital. I’ll be there again for a pretty awesome sleepover.  Now you’re really really jealous, right? Wanna come?

As Day 8 comes to an end, I’ll leave you with a couple of interesting Ted Talks weight loss and dieting. Peace y’all goodnight.  I’m gonna breathe out some of my weight while I’m sleeping.  You’ll understand if you listen to the Ruben Meerman Ted Talk.

He answers these fundamental questions: “When somebody loses weight where does it go? How does it get out of your body?”

Sandra Aamodt is a neuroscientist. “Your brain has it’s own sense of what you should weigh no matter what you consciously believe.” About 7 minutes through the end of the talk is totally worth a listen.  Her conclusion based on her research experience, “What if we told all those dieting girls to eat when their hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it? I think most of them would be happier and healthier and as adults many of them would probably be thinner.”