Be Kind: To Others and Your Own Self

Boudoir 2017: Empower Me Pose
Boudoir 2017: Empower Me Pose

 

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The world is spinning but I’m walking perfectly straight–Except the physical world is not spinning but rather the world inside me turns upside down and inside out. To those around you, you’re put together. “Wow. You’re so strong. I don’t know how you do it.” That one is a common statement a widow hears. I can tell you this…just as with anyone else going though anything traumatic: the outside typically doesn’t match the inside; and that there is me.

“Hold it together. Don’t let them see you stumble. You have to be perfect,” says the voice inside my anxiety, grief stricken, perfectionist mind. Makes me think of the lyric in Miranda Lambert’s song Mama’s Broken Heart that says “Don’t matter how you feel, it only matter how you look…hide your crazy and start actin’ like a lady ‘cause I raised  you better, gotta keep it together even when you fall apart”. Not that my mom pushed that on me; maybe my grandma a little, who knows. But it is absolutely how I feel.

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Towards the end of summer 2017, I approached my breaking point and was in a full on grief/depressive/anxiety cycle well before the typical November time period. I realized that I was feeling quite a bit different from how I’d felt in past years. It is like I could see me falling in slow motion but unable to stop it. I tried to use some new coping skills I’ve acquired through self-reflection and therapy. Feel the good; let go of the bad. Release the burden. Listen to yourself. And after an emotional and life altering family trip in August, I removed myself from social media (Facebook and Instagram). I started going to therapy monthly and I started working on myself.

Five months later, I’m so much better. I feel as though I have made some tremendous growth in my personal and professional life. I’m past the holidays that I so greatly dread every year since we lost Paul.

I wasn’t sure if my blog actually reached anyone but I’ve had several people reach out to me and I feel validated and motivated to pick it back up J With my absence from social media, maybe you’d like a bit of an update on the past several months. I’ll expand on some of these in upcoming blogs but here’s a brief recap:

  1. I’ve gone places: Florida where Lisa and I realized how truly unique and amazing our relationship is; where a friendship dear to my heart ended. Colorado where we zip lined in the Rockies and slept in a VW van! Texas where we had our family Christmas and Emily felt validated.
  2. Had a boudoir shoot
  3. Had an uncomfortable boundary setting conversation with a family member
  4. Started to decorate my house
  5. Cut off burden/financial support to my dad
  6. Developed and deepened my relationship with my sister
  7. Stopped exercising
  8. Organized various areas in my home
  9. Drank more alcohol than I usually do
  10. Deep cleaned multiple areas of my home including painting my guest bath
  11. Lost connection (in conversation) with several people
  12. Went to a nursing consortium that was mind blowing causing a shift in my mindset
  13. First “fight” with Lisa; first “fight” with Emily; reached and overcame potential breaking point of our relationship
  14. Became passionate about combatting incivility in the work place
  15. Spent way too much money
  16. Am currently in remission of my slave to my ball and chain {i.e. scale}; currently maintaining my weight fluctuating from 153-160; and I’m okay with it!
  17. Battled with some crippling depression and overwhelming anxiety
  18. Found new depth within my relationships that are dearest to my heart
  19. Currently battling with a stomach ulcer
  20. Was recognized as Employee of the Quarter by my peers
  21. Started reupholstering my antique chairs
  22. Learned how to anchor
  23. Cleaned out the garage for Lisa to park
  24. Set a date for Lisa to move in| Postponed move in date
  25. Went to a Sexy Basics exercise class with my work peeps
  26. Implemented combating incivility in the workplace; have had a lot of personal success with it
  27. My brother turned 30; My sister makes some major life decisions and I support her
  28. Decided to attain a National Nursing Certification; got department to provide books J
  29. Got my momma up and walking several times a week with my sister and I
  30. Stopped walking when Christmas came around
  31. Improved communication between my immediate family
  32. Learned to sew on my sewing machine; made an apron
  33. Stood my ground with a leader in my department; getting better at staying calm/grounded
  34. Went 3 weeks without spending ANY frivolous money
  35. PURGED CLEANED ORGANIZED PURGED CLEANED ORGANIZED
  36. Cleared a drawer and a rod in the closet for Lisa; working on making my home ours
  37. Working on vocalizing needs versus analyzing other’s actions/words constantly
  38. Ate a few too many sweets; Do we see a cycle here?
  39. Had genetic sensitivity testing for my antidepressant/antianxiolitic medications; experiencing success with a new medication but with side effect L
  40. Was sick over the New Year holiday but spent a lot of time with my Lisa which made me happy.
  41. I tell Lisa specifically what I need; Lisa fulfills said need
  42. Maintained boundaries even when it hurt
  43. Leaned on relationships at work; promoting positivity in the workplace; encouraging others
  44. Recognition and validation of short comings within myself and their impact on past relationships; Live and learn
  45. Listening more; talking less. Ask more questions; criticize less
  46. Hearing, Learning and implementing: what’s so wrong with giving someone what they need? If it costs you nothing, what’s the harm? What a novel concept.
  47. Melding the following mottos into my life: What we accept, we PROMOTE; and, Being fat (or insert anything you battle with) is hard, Being thin (Insert something you struggle to attain) is hard: pick YOUR hard!
  48. Had a heart to heart with Lisa’s oldest and it went really well
  49. Have felt the pain/struggle of a “step-parent” role even though I’m not technically one
  50. And currently: working on healing my mind/life/emotional state much like my ulcer: rest, limitations/boundaries, “medications” and once healed preventing further “break downs” with maintenance similar to the previous statement.

This, of course, is not an all-inclusive list but rather hits the highlights of the last several months. It has been a time of incredible growth for me. I don’t say that in a elitist or snobbish manner but, rather with a voice of amazement. How inconceivable it seems that a person could go through this much and I can guarantee each of you who are close to me will think “I had no idea”. This leads me back to the beginning of this entry. In the mind of a person who battles with grief, depression and anxiety concurrently the world is spinning—but those of us who view ourselves as “functioning” walk a seemly straight line. I’ll end this one with a quote that is all too true: Be Kind, for everyone you met is fighting a battle you know nothing about –Wend Mass.

 

Much Love,

Jess J

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Toasting Rose Regale Champagne with my niece, sisters and mom in Dallas for Christmas 2017
Toasting Rose Regale Champagne with my niece, sisters and mom in Dallas for Christmas 2017
Boudoir shoot 2017
Boudoir shoot 2017

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Incivility guest speaker at work...I go in on my day off because I'm that excited and passionate.
Incivility guest speaker at work…I go in on my day off because I’m that excited and passionate.
Creating a wine/bar nook!
Creating a wine/bar nook!
Of course there were lots of Mollie snuggles. She was spoiled over the holidays.
Of course there were$ lots of Mollie snuggles. She was spoiled over the holidays.

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Emily's last "child" Christmas 2017
Emily’s last “child” Christmas 2017
Jamie and Roxie: 2006 vs 2017
Jamie and Roxie: 2006 vs 2017

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Mom, Jamie and my niece: 2017 Christmas karaoke!
Mom, Jamie and my niece: 2017 Christmas karaoke!
"Pinkies up!" Chocolate Secrets is a must stop when visiting the Dallas area for the first time!
“Pinkies up!” Chocolate Secrets is a must stop when visiting the Dallas area for the first time!
2017 Warm Christmas Volunteering!
2017 Warm Christmas Volunteering!

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2017 Boudoir shoot! Learned how to give a pouty face by a professional
2017 Boudoir shoot! Learned how to give a pouty face by a professional

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2018 Volunteering at the Free to Live Sanctuary
2018 Volunteering at the Free to Live Sanctuary
2017 Thanksgiving with the Ashworths. Getting some air and soaking in some sun rays with Shellie, my MIL.
2017 Thanksgiving with the Ashworths. Getting some air and soaking in some sun rays with Shellie, my MIL.
2 year post op brachioplasty scar
2 year post op brachioplasty scar

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Happy 2018!
Happy 2018!
Warm Christmas bags for charity
Warm Christmas bags for charity
Sexy Basics class: Candlestick chair trick 2018
Sexy Basics class: Candlestick chair trick 2018
Family is everything (I licked her)
Family is everything (I licked her)
Mollie was puppy shamed after eating ALL the puppy Christmas treats for her cousins!
Mollie was puppy shamed after eating ALL the puppy Christmas treats for her cousins!
Secret Puppy Santa was a success!!!
Secret Puppy Santa was a success!!!
Volunteering at the Cattery at Free to Live
Volunteering at the Cattery at Free to Live
She makes my work life better!
She makes my work life better!

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2018 Teaze
2018 Teaze
Third Christmas together
Third Christmas together
Free to Live
Free to Live

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Thorough sewing lesson from the best work bestie ever!
Thorough sewing lesson from the best work bestie ever!

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Living that crazy nurse life
Living that crazy nurse life
"McCartney" Christmas 2017 Autumn put her finger up my butt--hence the face!
“McCartney” Christmas 2017
Autumn put her finger up my butt–hence the face!
Smoke Hookah with mom for the first time...all three of us got to be there!
Smoke Hookah with mom for the first time…all three of us got to be there!
Coffee with the bestie who supports your shenanigans even far away in Austin!
Coffee with the bestie who supports your shenanigans even far away in Austin!
Like mother like daughter
Like mother like daughter

Struggles With Compulsive Eating/Behaviors

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I haven’t blogged in awhile. I have been in a weird place lately. Where life is tedious. I don’t want to do anything. And the blog became like an obligation to me. I also didn’t feel like people cared about what I had to say aside from a few (I know people care).

I’ve noticed myself not being myself. I’m not participating in the things that I generally enjoy doing. I almost dread social interaction. I’ve been in this rut. Bare minimum. Come home, do my adulting, eat, sleep. The last weeks have been especially difficult for no single reason.

I’m a passionate person {on selective things lol} and that can really fatigue me. I obsess! I’m a fixer. I want it all fixed. I want to know what I can do to make it better or to tell someone else what to do to make it better. And when that puzzled does not line up, I can kinda take it hard. In fact, I spin out of control.

Case and point…my niece. For months, I’ve been watching her social media posts growing more and more upset about the image that she is putting out there. We aren’t close and I don’t feel that she really respects me or my opinion so I never say anything to her. But after I saw screen shots of bullying, posts that were merely for drama and over sexualized photos for a 14 year old girl…I couldn’t hold it in any longer. So I reached out to my sister. Told her what I was seeing and such. This doesn’t make much sense without a little back ground. My niece is a beautiful girl. She is smart. She has a good heart. She is a typical teenage girl…in love with love. But without a father figure and too much social media freedom, she is attracting the wrong kind of attention with certain behaviors. Okay…so anyways…as her aunt and just as a human being that cares…I worry about her. I want great things for her…for her to have the kind of life that a smart, beautiful girl as herself can have. Well, after speaking with my sister…the posts kind of continued. I reached out again. And my niece says to me “can you please stop sending screen shots to my mom”…um no. And I’m really upset about it all. Just too upset. Upset about something that I CAN NOT change. I have no power here but I get so obsessive and so upset that it causes harm to no one but myself.

Once last week, I found myself snacking on chips that make me sick! And not because I was hungry. I had purged my home of naughty foods and missed this left over bag. I had a handful of chips…cursed myself and took my butt to the dumpster and threw though fuckers away! I came in and I felt shame. I felt AWFUL!

After spending a night with Lisa, I drove back home. But I didn’t go straight home. I made multiple stops at fast food drive-thrus. Compulsively. I wasn’t hungry. I just felt compelled that I needed to have this crappy food. And I sat in the drive thru and argued with myself at each location “What are you doing?! NO No no!” and I reversed and I left each time. I pulled into Wal-mart thinking I’d pick up a few items…and as I sat there, I told myself “Jessica…you aren’t in a great place right now to make good choices”. And I left. It was a true emotional battle. When I got home…I felt AWFUL.

When I got home, I immediately took my Contrave (a medication that helps post surgical bariatric patients with head hunger) and emailed my therapist for an appointment. I felt so bad about myself. Like why do I do this?! I stand back and reflect on how I got here. I’m maintaining my weight but I’m not maintaining the life style change. I’ve been in this very dangerous cycle. High emotions–self sabotage–food obsession–shame/guilt. It is the cycle that got me to 341 lbs. (351 at the absolute heaviest).

But this time, THIS TIME…I did something different. Something that I have NEVER done. I confessed my compulsions/cycle to my 2 co-workers that are great friends. Then I confessed them to Lisa. And, today, lastly I confessed them to my mom. And it was HARD. My voice shook each time. My stomach was in knots. My anxiety was cranked to max. I was so fearful of the judgement; of the shame. And their reactions…were everything I needed and more. There wasn’t a gasp of appall; not an awkward silence as they judged and figured out what to say; no ‘why did you do that’; or “you know better’. I was met with no knee jerk reactions. Each conversation was just that…a conversation that ended with praise for changes in behaviors. And the anxiety that I felt… it melted and faded away. All this shame; all this guilt. All created by me.

My point is this…you gotta let that shit go. Sometimes it is someone else’s shit and sometimes it’s yours. Nevertheless…let it go. We must ALWAYS self analyze and self reflect. To look at where we stand right now and ask ourselves “is this the person I want to be” “is this the life that I want to lead” and “am I happy”. If the answer is no then you have to reevaluate what you are doing and change course. Your destiny is completely within your control.


I haven’t blogged since March so a few things have happened that are worth sharing:

I FINALLY graduated with my Bachelor’s in Nursing!!

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My baby sister got married and I was a bridesmaid. It is hard to believe that my little sister is starting her own family.

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We {Lisa, myself and the girl child} went to Niagara Falls staying on the Canadian side where we zip lined and rode the Horn Blower. We went to NYC and saw the sights! I left a little of Paul in Niagara Falls and at Liberty Island.

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Father’s Day happened where my Dad didn’t wear his teeth when we took him out.

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I went to Pride in OKC for the first time!

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My Dad celebrated 90 days of sobriety!

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And I’m finding my peace through yoga and taking a break from the kind of exercise that I don’t really enjoy.

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Thanks for all of your support. Love you all! Live the life that you desire; not the one that life makes for you -Jessica-ism :)

 

A Simple & Good Man: 5th Would-Be Wedding Anniversary

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“A widow doesn’t move on; she moves forward”. I read that on a blog that I follow. I can’t agree with it more.

My brother and I had a long conversation on Monday. He talked about 2010 when he lived with me. It was a tough time in his life as he was having some mental health issues. This happened at the same time that Paul and I’s relationship began. He told me about a couple talks that Paul and him had had together. He told me of a conversation from 2014…the last year Paul was alive and the year that my brother began to finally be on the mend. Paul had told him that he has finally gotten to “know the brother that Jessica told me about” because all those years ago, I told Paul over and over “this isn’t my brother. This is an impostor” when my brother was going through the most challenging times of his life. He told me that Paul told him that he was his brother. Jon told me about how much Paul’s words meant to him because to him he was like our Papa (who passed in 2009)–“he was a simple and good man. A man a few words”. Our Papa was my brother’s role model and he loved him dearly as did I so this was a great compliment and it made me weep.

My brother went on to ask me if I had any animosity towards him for the terrible things that he had done in the past. I quickly replied ‘no’ and he insisted that I be honest. I went on to elaborate on how I feel about the whole situation. I love my brother. We have a very special relationship. And I hold nothing against him for what he did when he wasn’t in his right mind. And how Paul reacted to the situation with my brother made me fall even more in love with him. He was the calm and the rock in my life. Even though he didn’t understand, he was tolerant and didn’t judge. So I don’t feel that my brother took anything away from our relationship–on the contrary, what was going on at the time acted as a catalyst in our relationship. It sped it along even more so–in hindsight, this was a good thing given that we would only have a handful of years together.

A co-worker of mine that has become a friend over the last year or so had tears in her eyes when I told her about what my brother had said about Paul. She went on to tell me how incredibly strong I am; that I’ve been through so much and yet I’m an accomplished and a sweet person.

I’ve thought on this. In the moment, I was taken aback. I’ve heard these words before from various people; especially since Paul has passed. I never know what to say or how to feel. I don’t really think of myself as any sort of extraordinary or a particularly strong person. I don’t think of myself as courageous. What I do think of myself is that I’m a person of perseverance. I’d like to say (and probably have said) that I take my life a day at a time but anyone who knows me knows that that isn’t exactly true. I don’t really like to leave things to chance and spontaneity gives me anxiety. I’m very much a planner. I like to, or rather have a habit of, obsessing about what I want to do, what I need to do and how I will accomplish that goal to my most perfect outcome. Although over the years, I’ve definitely learned that life isn’t quite that simple. Since Paul has passed, I’ve tried my best to incorporate a part of his soul into myself and into my every day life. I jump hurdles as they come and I try to enjoy my life each day.

It doesn’t do much good to be defeated. Actually it does you no good at all to be a defeatist. I have met these types and I’m related to these types. And I refuse to be a victim. Even in the face of tragedy, I refuse to be defeated. There’s something that you can take away from each and every situation that you come into contact with–I truly believe that. A few examples:

My dad disowned me several times: You have to accept people for who and what they are. You can’t hang your hopes on what you think a person should or could be. You should always ‘consider the source’ when you are met with statements that are crushing.

I was sexually abused: I have been able to achieve forgiveness and to let bitterness go.

My high school bf broke my heart: The value of family was reinforced when my brother drove to see me every day after work for a long while. I learned that heated words and passion do not equate love like it does in the movies.

My relationship after that: It is sometimes better to be alone. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary to have solitude; to discover who you are separate from another human being. You should always follow your instincts. And if your family does not like your partner, you should heed that as a huge warning.

My brother had a emotional breakdown in my home; We almost lost him: Each person is definitely fighting a battle that you have no clue about. What it looks like to you and what it truly is are two very different things. Sometimes it takes a lot of time, patience, therapy and relapses before you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I love my brother more than words could ever express and hold no ill feeling towards him.

I was paralyzed by this obscene amount of weight that I’d accumulated over a lifetime: The lessons learned here are never ending. You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. It isn’t selfish to put your needs before the needs/wants of others. You deserve to be healthy. Being fat is hard. I deserve to live a life that I’m proud of. Fucking dance even though you look ridiculous.

The man that changed it all for me died on the night of my gastric bypass surgery: Again, so many things. To experience true love, no matter the length of time, is priceless. Terrible things happen for absolutely no reason. You are capable of anything. The bitter makes the sweet sweeter. Love as though you’ve never experienced pain. Say what you mean; mean what you say. True colors are shown amidst the times of tragedy.

My BFF of over 20 years quit me: The loss of a true friendship is just as painful as the death of your husband. People experience grief in their own manner. You can’t make someone love you. I deserve to have a friendship that does not make me question my worth. Just because a friendship ends doesn’t mean that the friendship didn’t happen; it had a purpose.

Skin removal surgery: They say your body is your temple; well you feel free to jazz that temple up. I’ve worked very hard to lose over 180 lbs and I have no guilt over the vanity that is perceived in me having my skin taken off. I fucking love not feeling the need to HAVE TO HAVE a bra on at all times. Working towards having an equilibrium between the inside and outside.

Well I surely went off on a tangent there…ultimately to come to this: Life is what you make it. I’m always working towards making mine great.


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Today was our Would-Be 5th anniversary. This one was a hard one; what the hell am I saying? They all are hard ones. Paul and I dreamed together out loud. It is something that I loved about our relationship. And our 5th wedding anniversary was going to be epic. We were going to go to Ireland–after all, we were married on St. Patrick’s Day.

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Last night I couldn’t sleep. I was too much in my own mind. I ended up dragging my wedding gown out. At first I just opened the bag and looked upon it but then I wanted to wear it. I decided I was going to take a picture with Paul. I put the dress on…I didn’t even have to unzip what used to be a fitted bodice. Even though I had to hold it up, I still felt like a beautiful cake topper. I thought about how I happened upon my  $1800 valued ‘Craigslist Killer Dress” that I paid $300 for (including the can-can, a bustier and a black dress).

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We made a Wedding Ceremony Wine Box. Inside this box was our favorite bottle of wine (Tres Suenos Anniversary Red), 2 wine glasses and letters to one another. My sister decorated the inside of the box with childhood pictures of us, our Save-the Date card and a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day. My friend and our Officiant said beautiful words about the box on our wedding day. In the letters, we told one another why we were marrying them.  If ever there came a time that it all became too much and we thought we may separate, we would open the box, drink the wine and read the letters. If that time didn’t come then on our 5th wedding anniversary, we would open the box and enjoy the wine and letters together. {We wrote letters to one another on our first anniversary and I wrote one on our second. But he never did.}

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Today I went to the lake where we were married. I opened the box in the very spot where we closed it together 5 years before. The wind was blowing intensely just as it had on our wedding day. The water wasn’t as high as it was 5 years ago but I could still hear the sounds of the lake as I sat reading the letters and sipping the red wine. My letters were all several pages; his several sentences. I cried as I read the line “I love you more than you will ever know!!!!” and “I’ll continue to give you all that I have”. I held the letter to my chest, took a deep breath and felt the tears land on my fingers. In my letter, I talked about all the things that I adored about him and the things that were going on in our lives and about the things I was most proud of at the time. I stood in the same spot that I stood 5 years ago and I listened to Train’s “Marry Me” which was the song that I was supposed to walk down the aisle to but Paul forgot the stereo. Then I closed my eyes as I listened to Blake Shelton’s “God Gave Me You” which was the song that played during our first dance.

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After that, I packed it all up and met up with one of my girlfriends for pedis and lunch. She was frustrated as she told me that her husband and her had just gotten into a full on argument. I thought to myself “I wish I could fight with Paul about money”. I listened to her intently as she told me about their spat. Paul and I had had these types of quarrels as well. And I acted much as she did in this situation so I absolutely knew where she was coming from. My unsolicited advice that I gave to her was that there was a compromise in there. There isn’t sense in being so strict with finances that it makes you unhappy even if the end result of financial independence is within arm’s reach because…tomorrow is not promised.

I’ve said many times that I don’t have too many regrets about my life with Paul but the one that I do have is in regards to my rigidness. I wish I had been softer with our finances and allowed for more spontaneity in our everyday lives. I do that now as a result. Life is meant to be lived. Everything in life is about balance. When you find that balance you find harmony and with harmony, you find happiness. That’s what it is all about.

Tonight I had planned to have pizza and drinks with Lisa and our friends but I cancelled. As much as I wanted to be this rock of stability…the poster child of triumph over grief…I wasn’t. What have I done? I’ve put on Paul’s shirt, the necklace that has the 2 pendants that he gave me over the years and his wedding band, my wedding set and bands. I’ve sat on the couch and wandered in and out of thought. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve used my yoga breathing to try to find my center. But mostly, I’ve just thought on how much I miss that goofy guy. I thought about how much I wish he was here. I’ve thought about how much it hurts and how the pain has not seemed to change in these types of moments.

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Please hug your loved ones extra tight tonight. Tell them you love them and mean it. Think beyond your own selfish wants and needs. Think more on the needs of your partner. Find balance in meeting their needs and satisfying your own. But, above all, make this day count.

Love,

Jess

Coping with Stress; Bikini Ready.

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How do you deal with stress? Are you a stress eater? Take it out on the gym? Lash out at loved ones? How do you cope?

My go to has always been food. I could always ‘solve’ any emotion with a full belly. I found in comfort in the satiation feeling after a sugary treat or every greasy thing off of the Taco Bell menu.

These days it is a little different. If you follow me on Facebook or IG, you have probably seen my healthiest and newest outlet: exercise. In my vision of the healthiest person inside and out is a person who doesn’t abuse themselves with substances (i.e. fast food, alcohol, smoking, etc.) and who channels their frustrations into healthier avenues.

Lately my world is just like yours. Not the picture that you see on social media. I try my very best not to air all of my laundry there. In recent weeks some stressors that I’ve been enduring are that I’ve started a new semester of classes to finish out my BSN, working out almost daily, struggles with processes/politics at works and the biggest one, my siblings and I have taken over the healthcare of my father. I won’t weigh this post down with the ins and outs of this process but it has become a day in and out stress. To say that I’m experiencing caregiver fatigue is a gross understatement.

The always there stress of grief is a constant in my life but with everything else that has been going on I’ve been pushing it to the back. I tell myself I’ll think of it later. I’ve purposely been pushing thoughts of Paul and our upcoming would-be 5th wedding anniversary to the back of my mind; refusing to deal with it for lack of time. How crazy is that? Like it is like in my mind that I can compartmentalize this kind thing, stick it on a to-do list and get to it when I have the time. It has worked oh…not too badly until yesterday. Yesterday it hit me. All at once. BOOM! On a day that was already rationed to be a 100% study day, I spent the better part of the day in full effect, ugly tears that demanded vocalization. You know what I’m talking about.  I cried so hard that I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t focus. And all I could think on was him and how cruel life is. I reached out to my friends for support. They were helpful. I ended my night with a pup taking up 3/4 of my bed and a tear stained pillow.

Anyways…I digress…

Exercise has been a good outlet for me these last 8 weeks. It has given me something to focus on that isn’t for anyone but myself. I’m a goal oriented person. I enjoy having a list and checking things off. And so January 4th after I was cleared for activity, I set to complete 6 Week Abs with Jillian Micheals and Couch-2-5K. I’ve been the most consistent and compliant that I have ever been since beginning this journey in May 2014. I’ve taken progress pictures everyday because I’m a firm believer in them; although, I’m sure that some people are really tired of seeing this bellah! I’m trying to transition from being scale focused to focusing on my overall health and the way that I feel. My body just doesn’t want to let go and get under 153 (which is my lightest so far) and she feels most comfortable at 155.  I have always had the goal of getting to 149 so that I wouldn’t be classified as over weight but let’s face it…I love tacos, alcohol and chocolate too much! What is life if I had to give it all up? A life of protein and veggies only is a bland life and I’m nothing of the sort. I calculated my body fat percentage which was somewhere around 27-28%. That’s average not overweight so bam! This is the healthiest that I have ever felt in my life.

I’m now trying my best to focus on some self love. To not be so rigid in my activities and goals but to just let it be. I started doing yoga on most mornings and I love it. It is so relaxing. And tomorrow I will be exchanging my Jillian 6 Week Abs for Jillian’s Bun Burner. I’ll be working on that a few times a week and continuing with my C25K–trying to improve my stamina/endurance.

So are we ready for some pictures? {FYI…there’s not a difference in weight in these pictures!!}

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I’m comfortably fitting in a range of sizes. lol. The vanity sizing in America is rather comical. I’m anywhere from a 6 to a 8 depending. These thick thighs are usually the determining factor though. But I’d be lying if I told you that it didn’t make me giddy to buy a pair of size 6 jeans that didn’t require aerobics to get into and that lack a muffin top :)

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Rue 21 junior size 7/8
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No muffin top; not ‘sucking it in’ (Feb 2017)
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Size 6 with some room (Feb 2017)

Abdominoplasty Post Op 4 Months

I’m healing very well from surgery. I couldn’t be more pleased with my results. I can’t even explain how wonderful it feels to not have that pannus anymore. I hate running but I love that when I run that there isn’t the sound or feel of my stomach slapping my thighs. I love that I am no longer self conscious about the way my body looks. I’m so proud of what I have accomplished and continue to accomplish. I’m looking forward to summer for the first time in my entire life because I can actually wear a suit without fear of my belly plopping out.

Below, the green shorts, are my “surgery goal shorts”. They are a size 4 and I couldn’t begin to button them prior to surgery. Now it is time for before and after over load!

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Above all, love yourself. You deserve to be happy. Without it, what is life? Live this day. Love this day. Thanks for all of your support.

Love,

Jess :)

One Year Anniversary-Bat wing free And Pannus Free

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1 year post op

Oh man. The last several weeks have been crazy insane between coming off restriction, taking over dad’s health care and starting school. I feel like I’ve been going 90 to nothing. I haven’t really had a chance to decompress. Although, on Thursday I leave for Seattle to see my bestie! I’m pretty darn excited about that.

I can’t believe it but last week marked 1 year post op of my brachioplasty and my mastopexy. And, also, the anniversary of this blog. Yay.

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The day of my surgery. One year apart: same shirt.

I can’t say enough how happy I am with my results. It is truly amazing to not have my bat wings. I’ve had them for forever and I can tell you, whole-heartedly, that I don’t miss them. Not a bit! A year later, I enjoy wearing strapless or sleeveless tops most any time I can; before, going braless was not an option and now I prefer it; bras are way easy to find in my size 36C; no worries about black eyes with cardio; no contorting my body to hide my arms in pictures; and, best yet, I actually have some muscle that you can see. My scars are healing nicely. My arm scars don’t bother me at all (even when people, yes strangers, ask me what happened). The only scar that is still a little red and raised in the inner incision on both breasts. I am not diligent about putting on my silicone gel. I plan to work on that though. But, man, check out this comparison:

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1 year post op brachioplasty and mastopexy

 

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And, if you didn’t notice, I got a little bit of a bra upgrade:

I am now 10 weeks post op of my lower body lift (360 abdominoplasty). I wanted to give you a bit a of an update. My incisions are all healed. There’s like 2 or three spots along my incision that have a tip of a suture poking out. Although, of course, it is on my back side so I can’t clip it. I’m so happy with my results thus far. This last weekend I was able to put on a pair of size 6 jeans (they were huggin these thighs but hey..) and I didn’t have a muffin top! Like whhhaattt? It was crazy. I just love it.

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Since being released from restriction, I picked up exercising again after a 8 week hiatus. It was hard. My abdominal muscles wanted to cry. I started back at the C25K which is 3 days a week and Jillian Michaels on the off days. I’m doing the running on my treadmill. The first couple times, it really hurt my booty. So I put some compression shorts on and that really helped. I also wear my waist trainer as well which holds everything in. We all know that I’m not a runner and I don’t know why but in my mind…running is synonymous with healthy. So I just always have this desire to be a runner even though I hate it. On the flip, exercising without a pannus slapping against your thighs is kinda hard to believe. It allows me to really focus what I’m actually doing rather than on the sound that my belly flop is making. I’m working my way up. And yesterday, I was able to jog 6 minutes straight at 3.4 mph without dying. C25k told me to jog for 3 minutes but I was like I can totally keep going. I’ve been up to as high as 4.0 but not for that long. I almost feel embarrassed to share these numbers. But I also think it’s important to show what goes into leading a healthy lifestyle.

I continue to struggle with the scale. I know I KNOW…put it up. For all of my forever, that number has defined me. What a terrible way to live. It’s just ingrained in me. I told Lisa that I think I’ll put it up again because that scale hates me. I thought that taking that skin off would equate to a loss of pounds but I haven’t seen that happen. What I’ve seen is a 2 lb gain since beginning my workouts. Which I know that that is probably muscle but it still sucks. So I’m taking frequent progress pictures so that I can compare them.

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   Post Jillian Michaels workout. I now push myself and I drip sweat!

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Im dying for that ab. Just the one.



I’ve been missing my Paul something fierce. I’ve had a few restless nights and a few mornings filled with tears. I had a story that I wanted to share about a conversation that I had with another lady but I think I’ll go into that another day because I AM EXHAUSTED at this moment.

You guys…make it count. Love you life. :)

8 Wk Post Op & 2016 Reflection

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Progression of my transformation of the past 2 years

With the hustle and bustle of the going back to work, holidays and my site being down…I haven’t had a chance to blog in weeks! Eek. Where to start?

I am now 8 weeks post op. I have returned to work and I am now off restrictions. I have some amazing co-workers and going back to work was a breeze. Although, I’m now glad to be a ‘full nurse’ and able to completely do my job. I’m very thankful to have taken the full 4 weeks off of work. In comparison to returning to work after only a week after my brachioplasty and mastopexy. I was fatigued the first week but I didn’t have to go home early. It was a much better outcome for sure!

My problem areas: my buttcrack and pelvis are on the mend. I still have some pain in my buttcrack and my pelvis is now approximated with a few scabs left.  I no longer have wound care so that’s good.

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The middle pic is 8 weeks post op.

I am so very pleased with my results. The only area I’m not so keen on at this point is my back/butt. My crack extends up my back still. I call it my back crack. The crack is able to be seen above my pants. Then there is a slight hump above it. I have spoken to my surgeon and he continues to assure me that these tissues are still swollen and it can take MONTHS for it completely resolve. My butt continues to be numb soooo sometimes my pants (especially my medium scrubs) will sag and I won’t realize then OOPS PLUMBER’S BACK CRACK!

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Hump above my butt

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I haven’t had a huge emotional crisis in some time now. I’m very happy about this. It is just so amazing to have the flap/pannus gone! I just feel so much more comfortable. It is wonderful. Every once in awhile, I’ll feel the need to check my pelvis for wetness and then I realize that I don’t have to do that anymore.

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Pre Op (11/2016) VS Post Op 8weeks!
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Pre Op 2014 vs Post op 2017 8wks!

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And of course…my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE part of my body? THE BELLY BUTTON! I have just never been able to see it without pulling up my upper roll. I love to just give myself belly rubs even though I have no feeling from my belly button down.

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On my first day off of restriction I was eager to work out. I can’t really completely explain to you this feeling. Like I LOATHE cardio. I truly am a couch potato at heart. But then there’s this other part of me that feels like compelled to work out on some level. Like there are days where I just feel like I need to run even though I am not a runner…not even a little bit. Anywho..I have decided I want to work it out and see if I can get myself some abs. I also decided that I want to try the Couch to 5k thing again. It is colder than a witch’s nipple here so I decided to start on my treadmill. I can’t find my body shaper (my surgeon told me that I would want to wear a waist trainer and shaper for support for quite awhile). My first work out I wore just my sports bra, waist trainer and regular shorts. And it was painful. My abs were okay but what wasn’t okay? My freaking ass. The jerking from the impact was almost too much to bare. I usually can jog a steady pace at 4.0-5.0 with sprints but even 3.0 was difficult. So today, I found my compression shorts and wore those instead. I was able to jog at 4.0 with minimal discomfort. Now…other than the butt..I didn’t completely hate the 30minutes of jog/walk cardio. You know why? No flapping. No sweat within the undercarriage. No jerking of skin. So i hope to keep this up. Tomorrow I plan to do a Jillian work out…either abs or buns.

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Waist Trainer and Compression Shorts for my cardio.

I’ve decided to try to get a head start on these scars. I’m terrible about putting on lotions or oils so I’m trying these strips. The research I’ve done and my plastic surgeon say that silicone is the best. Although…you may not see results for 60-90 days. So that is a lot of waiting and a lot of money without really knowing what your results will be. I can say that putting these strips on was much easier than putting the silicone gel on; although, they do have to stay on for 12+ hours.

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Silicone Scar Away strips

This Christmas holiday was enjoyable. All the family came and we got to spend a lot of time together. Lisa attended the Ashworth holiday which was nice. My niece has grown like a weed and I’m sad to say that she is significantly taller than me and her boobs are bigger. Sigh. I think the highlights were listening to my niece discuss conspiracy theory with my brother, learning to yo-yo and seeing my dad use the Google Home that we gave to my brother. The down side of the holidays…gastroenteritis. The gift that kept giving. Within a couple days, 9 of 10 had it. And then I was the 10th, becoming symptomatic over New Year’s. Ick. But I had a wonderful nurse in Lisa and we got to spend the weekend together so that was nice :)

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The Ashworth Christmas!
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After a breakfast discussing dad, we went to the candy store down town for our sugar rush!
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My niece might be growing up but this aunt whooped her booty in checkers!
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And this is how I spent my New Year’s/…

A recap of 2016:

Overall, it was a great year for me. I was able to complete my body transformation goals having 2 skin removal surgeries. Lisa and I went to the Bahamas for my 30th birthday and kissed a dolphin. I got to visit my bestest buddy Kati and we rode bikes throughout DC. Which then inspired me to buy my own bike then Lisa and I rode 8 miles around the lake. We took a dancing class, went sailing and took a culinary class. We celebrated Lisa’s 40th birthday in style…going to Vegas for 12 hours where I got drunk and sober probably three times and we rode the roller coaster at the New York New York.

I’ve really worked on myself—inside out. It will always be a working progress. I’m trying to be less judgmental and more understanding. Trying to be more tolerant and not so critical to myself. This year I’ve really worked to restore my anchors by nurturing my relationship with my mother-in-law, Shellie, and my family.

I’ve finished all of my RN-BSN courses and I’m only lacking 2 undergraduate classes that I will complete Spring 2017. So I’m only my way to graduation.

Lisa and I are still going strong. We have really grown as a couple. She has been an integral part of my life and my happiness. I really look forward to what this next year holds for us.

I continue to struggle with my loss of friendship with Abby. I have good days and I have bad. I have received all sorts of great advice and an abundance of love and support when I struggle with it. Above all, I just want her to be happy and I want to be happy too. I’m not sure if there will ever come a time where I don’t miss her. And some times are harder than others. It pains me that I love and miss someone so much who doesn’t want to have any active part in my life. My mom told me ‘Jess, you gotta stop’…but how does one just stop? I think some people can turn it off; my off switch is broken apparently.

I continue to struggle with the grief of losing Paul and, moreso, living my life without him. I have had less sleepless nights than I had in 2015 but he continues to visit me in my dreams. I constantly struggle with survivors guilt. And there are so many moments when I experience happiness or achieve a goal where this dark cloud shadows me…and I think…he’s gone; I shouldn’t be happy. This year has been a struggle for me to continue to work towards finding the balance…of grieving him, keeping his memory alive and continuing on with my life. Overall, my thought process is that I live for him because he can’t live for himself. I plan to continue to excel in my life in his honor. And that, in itself, brings me peace and comfort.

I sure hope that you all had wonderful holidays and that you are seizing the day. Love y’all!

 

From Pretty Pannus to Pretty Panties

Currently I am in Outpatient Surgery waiting on Lisa while she has her uterus evicted. I’m glad that this day has finally come for her and that I get to be here for her.

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Lisa in preop!


Yesterday marked my 4 week post op mark! It seems like forever but also like a blink of an eye. Weird how that goes.  I got my release to go back to work Monday on light duty. I went to work to turn all that in and it was so nice to see all of my co-workers. I really REALLY have missed them! They are so sweet! I really do have an amazing work family.

In preparation for my return to work, I bought a new pair of scrubs. That was quite the workout. I refused to take my clothes off to try them on for fear I would tire and not be able to get them back on. lol. It was pretty exciting though. I bought an XS top (it does have a stretchy side panel) and a petite small pant! Wow! I just can’t believe it. To top that off, I tried on my medium scrubs and they are so baggy now. Thank goodness for drawstrings because scrubs are so expensive!!

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While at the surgeon’s office, I had them take a look at my pelvis incision because it STILL is not approximated! Well…turns out that there were some staples that are suppose to dissolve which had poked through under the glue and have kept my incision from healing properly!! She pulled the remaining staple and after just a day it already looks so much better.

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On the bottom left photo, you can see the white string looking thing…that is the culprit….the dissolvable staple!!!

Overall, my incisions are looking really good. I’m very pleased with them except my pelvis. The swelling has really gone down quite a bit. As you can see, the swelling in my hips was quite severe and now it has calmed down.

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My activity tolerance is better. Showers still continue to be a workout. Sigh. I’m now having back pain. It is in my lower back. It sucks because there isn’t much that I can do about it since I can’t stretch or get an adjustment. Basically, I’m just really tight and I think I’ve slept wrong…couple that with inactivity and VOILA back pain! I talked to my exercise physiologist and she suggested ham string stretches. That has REALLY helped. I’ve also been using essential oils and alternating cold/hot packs. Slowly but surely I’m getting there.

Mobility wise I’m doing a lot better. My abs and back are so tight that I can’t arch either way. I can ALMOST bend all the way over but have to squat just a little bit to touch the ground. I’m not able to twist yet. I can tolerate lying on my sides and back. The numbness in my booty is still there. I’m not sure if the severity is less or I’m just used to the ‘bubble butt’. Again, it feels like I have two half deflated balls in my buttcheeks!

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I had my 2 year bariatric surgery follow up. I was quite nervous about going in because of the weigh in. I remember from last surgery I gained over 10 lbs in water weight and it took me over a month to lose it. And this surgery was much more invasive. Although they removed at least 7lbs of skin/tissue, I knew that I’d still be up on the scale. Because I know myself, I put my scale up before surgery so that I wouldn’t be torturing myself with the numbers! I was 162ish pre-op and I weighed in at 158.3. Last weigh in at the doctor in July was 157.8. I was relieved but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered by the gain. It was my first gain at the doctor since July 2014. My APRN laughed at me and told me I was silly. Pfft. I’m trying really hard not to be weight obsessive and look at the bigger picture. My blood pressure was 122/69. My HR 67. I fit in the chairs with extra space. My belly didn’t sit on my lap when I sat on the examine table. I’m excited to exercise next year. I surely have come a long way. As my best buddy Kati said ..I’ve gone from pretty pannus to pretty panties! Love you all!

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From pannus to panties. I’m wearing panties in both pictures but now you can see them!

 

 

Week 3: Roll Free…That’s Me!

I can’t believe that it has been 3 weeks already! Time really has just flown by.

My activity tolerance is greatly increasing which is great. I can now start bending as tolerated. Whoa. That’s a stretch. I am still so tight and this makes it very difficult to bend. Having this restriction lifted has made putting on my body suit (body shaper) immensely easier; although, it still is not easy!! Now that I am able to get in and out of it on my own I have increased my wound care. I’m now doing wound care daily versus every other day. I think that this has been extremely helpful and my incisions are remarkably improved. Still the area of concern for me is my pelvis. It really is the most painful part (it is still swollen…gravity ya know). I’m drowning this incision with bacitracin and bandaging it (Um ..can we say OW…freaking mini wax everyday). After showering, I am laying out to try to give all of my wounds some air.

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Also, my buttcrack incision is not entirely closed so I have begun to dress that as well. In the second week, it was causing a quite deal of pain but not anymore. Now it’s itchy! My butt cheeks have still not dropped. The right is better than the left though. So at this point, I still have what reminds me of that scene in Sex and the City when Samantha sleeps with that wicked old  but insanely rich guy but just when she sees his naked ass walk to the bathroom, she bolts. My ass reminds me of his. But…it looks good in pants. So…fortunately for most…Lisa is the only one that has to bear to look at this…well and you that are reading this. HAHA.

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I am standing more upright now. I’m working on my posture but it is difficult. The swelling in my hips is pretty close to gone. I’m very satisfied with how smooth my outer thighs are. My tummy is roll free and now I just have this little pooch. I remember all my life enviously seeing girls with pooches like this. It seems rather unreal that this is me. I have found myself worrying if I’m sweating under my roll…then I have to catch myself and say…we don’t have that roll anymore. But still I check when I go to the bathroom…because I’m so NOT neurotic. And there ya go…dry. Collage 2016-12-05 21_07_25

Also, today I was cleaning out my drawers. Well attempting to. And so many garments to subdue the rolls. And I’m not exactly sure what size panties I am…so I actually didn’t throw any of them out. My drawer houses panties from S-XL. Hey..if they don’t fall..they fit right? Not really…because some of the bikinis and boyshorts sit at my new waist. Weird. Like isn’t there where briefs sit?

I took notice when I was walking that I didn’t feel my belly or panties touching the top of my thighs. That’s like way embarrassing to admit but it’s true. These are things fat girls deal with every freaking day…damp rolls, panties to hold the rolls and roll flops. But I’m roll free now. Whatever will I do with myself…when I do a jumping jack. Eek. I’m pretty excited. Now I’m can die from the pain of my gasping breath rather than from the embarrassment of a pannus flop out of my yoga pants!

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As you can see, almost all of my incisions are approximated. The lines are smooth and thin (with exception of my pelvis).

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Week 3 Post op Lower Body Lift. Healing nicely. Bikini panties hide all of the incisions!!!

And anyone who has spoken to me in the last couple weeks knows my obsession. BELLY BUTTON! Guys…I just can’t tell you how awesome it is to see it. I can’t wait to get cleared for exercise because I am determined to get this belly transformed into abs!!

I’m entering into week four which means that I go back to work next week!! Oh…and I ventured out to buy a new set of scrubs. And even though the top has a stretchy side panel…I got XXS top and S bottoms!!! Eep! I’ll post pics in my week 4 post!


Let’s talk emotions. I’ve have been doing so much better this go around but I’m not without obstacles. This is a very hard time of year for me (for all of us). I miss Paul immensely. As I’ve mentioned so many times, I feel that the more I change…the more I leave me behind. I struggle with this constantly. I look at my body and I’m so proud of how it has transformed, how healthy I am. When I sit and think about the road I was on previously and the change in navigation, I’m truly astonished. I think about all of the things I have done and all the things that I hope to do and it is amazing. I reflect on statements that I’m making…how I’m excited to work out so that I can have abs! That’s crazy. This Jessica doesn’t do that…OH but she does! And I’m so happy about all of this. But then there’s that other side and, man, do I struggle with this bitch. The more I change…the more I don’t feel the same. Although I love what I see in the mirror, I don’t really recognize her. I was looking at pictures from Thanksgiving and I thought…who is that girl. The similarity between my mom, myself and Jamie was always so undeniable but now…I don’t know. And I see pictures of my beautiful niece, Autumn, and my niece I haven’t meet yet…and their resemblance to Jamie is awesome. And sometimes this makes me question my identity. Who am I? Paul isn’t here. Just me and that mirror. Lisa has told me multiple times that I am the same girl…and mentions my eyes and my smile. So I got pictures from my sisters and niece to put side by side.  All beautiful fair complected brown eyed brunettes. Three ladies that I think of to try to reign in my tether…

It’s just a constant struggle.

Hoping that one day…these two images will merge into one for me. I just hope to one day be whole. Love you all. Thank you for your support!

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Pictured L-R: Jennifer (my older sister); Jamie (my younger sister) Autumn (my niece) and myself.

Sitting on Balls & Belly Button Beats: 2 Weeks Post Op {WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES}

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Swelling is decreasing but still there. Butt cheeks still aren’t together. Swelling has increased in my lower abdomen but significantly reduced in my hips.

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Two week post op fell on Thanksgiving this year. As you can imagine, it has been a very busy week.

I saw my surgeon to look at a few areas that were bleeding. I’ve been quite concerned about my pelvis. It has black areas and has opened a little. It is also the area I’m most concerned about. He looked it over and told me that everything is healing nicely but I do need to take it easy. He confirmed that he did want me to complete my 4 weeks off of work. The black area on my pelvis is a mix of blood in the surgical glue. He advised to place bacitracin and bandages over the concerning areas. Then he pulled my second drain!!! Again, it felt like a snake crawling out of my back. So creepy. I am so relieved to have that drain gone. It was literally a pain in my ass. (Pun intended lol)

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A little over 2 weeks post op: incision over pelvis. Slightly painful. Not warm to touch though.

Having both drains out means that I have graduated from abdominal binder to bodyshaper which I will be in for the next 4-8 weeks. When I got home, I showered and set out on my challenge. I am not even exaggerating a little bit when I tell you that it took me 45+ minutes and it was like putting on pantyhose that were 3 sizes too small. If you have this procedure, I highly recommend that you do this with assistance. Lisa was at work and I was home alone…and well let’s face it…I so thoughtI could do it myself. Turns out I was right but geez. Once I did struggle into it, it felt great. All my parts were hugged and I felt very secure. At this point, it is not comfortable to be nude, as you feel that everything will fall out. I opted for this type of shaper after of advice from others that have had similar procedures and I don’t have to worry about the top rolling down.

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The bodyshaper struggle be real. Every step of this was exhausting. I worked up a sweat. It was awful.

 

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There is a crotch hole that is not comfortable and I dont feel right sitting on the furniture uncovered. So I put some wonderwoman underwear on and I think it was epic!

I’m trying to be more active. I’m on my own at home but not able to bend for another week (doctor’s order). It is a challenge. I might be slightly stubborn. My mom loaned me her grabber and it has been a life saver. I tire very easily. Mollie and I have gone on short walks after which I feel like I’ve worked a 12 hour shift. The night sweats have stopped so that’s nice.  I’m no longer on pain medication. Extra strength tylenol seems to do the trick but I do require it about every 6 hours.

After 2 weeks of being pretty much home bound, I ventured out. It felt wonderful to get dressed in real clothes. I drove for the first time. I padded myself with a pillow and headed downtown for vanilla extract. I also got myself a manicure. It was a nice treat. The sun felt great and it was nice to get out.

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2 weeks post op: Size medium bell bottom pants and small top. Im beyond amazed with my shape!
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First venture out after 360 Lower body lift 2 weeks ago!

I’m beyond excited about my belly button. It’s so weird to actually see it. With my rolls before, I couldn’t see it–ever! The weird part, you can see my heart beat. Yes. The pulsating from my abdominal aorta. It’s wicked. As I’ve lost weight, I’ve been able to feel it but now you can see it! Crazy!

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Belly button!

 

Overall, I’m healing very well. I’m thankful for the time to recover. As I learned from last time, it takes time and lots of energy. It has been emotionally and physically draining to go through this transformation. Right now, my struggles are: sitting on my butt as it is numb and the left side has not dropped–it literally feels like I’m sitting on balls; activity tolerance; pain in my pelvis; and my buttcheeks have not come together and the incision across my crack is painful and uncomfortable.


This marks the third Thanksgiving without Paul. To say that it is a struggle is an understatement. There are no words that can describe the feeling. On a brighter note though, it has been the best family time I’ve experienced in years.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving lunch at mom’s–just the immediate family. It was quaint. I really enjoyed the time we had together. It’s very rare that we have time all together with schedule and distance that play against us.

Paul’s family opened their home and hearts to Lisa this holiday. It was so very unexpected and literally brought tears to my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected this. They have religious beliefs against same sex relationships (as previously discussed). And to have them invite my girlfriend into the home of my husband’s family is just amazing. Lisa was beyond nervous but it all went very well. I just love them so much. I’m so lucky to have a family like this.

My mom didn’t invite my dad to Thanksgiving (which is a long story). It was devastating to him but it allowed us (myself and my brother and sister) to have alone time with him. We spent a whole day together. We (really they did because I couldn’t bend enough) played pool, went shopping and had lots of laughs with him. It was a first and very enjoyable time.

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Thanksgiving 2016. Lunch at mom’s. Mom and Jamie protect my incisions from the pups. Movie with the siblings. Pool with Dad and the siblings. Putting up the Christmas tree with Jamie and Jason.

Entering into week 3: I’m excited that I will soon be able to bend. Hoping to become more active and not tire quite so easily. I have to get back into gear as Lisa’s surgery is coming up and then I’ll be going back to work! Time is flying by!!! Love you all!

Holy Butthole, Batman! {WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES}

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MY FLAPS!!!!! And that canister is the fat that was liposuction-ed. Bye Bye “tramp stamp”
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Pre Op (Gastric Bypass 2014) VS Post Op (Lower Body Lift 2016)

Yesterday was post op day 7 and my follow up appointment with my surgeon. I was really excited! It took me over 30 minutes to undress, give myself a whore bath and get dressed. It was quite the work out and very tiring BUT I did it. I was really excited especially since the last 24+ hours has been a struggle with these drains!**side note**

 

**I’m very familiar with JP drains but when it’s yourself, it is another ball game. I awoke and the sides of my pants were saturated. My first thought was that I was bleeding! Eek. I stripped down and my dressings were saturated with serosanguineous drainage. We had noticed previously that the right drained was not sutured in place and wiggled. I tried to tape it down but it was leaking around it. I couldn’t see any clots in the line. The output in the drain had gone from about 90 ml/6hr to less than 10 (probably since most was leaking? I called the office and was told to continue to strip the drains. So we did. My mom is amazing at stripping these drains. Best I’ve even seen. Long story short, if you have this surgery some tips for your drains. Right at the entry of the tube into your body–pinch that tube. Squeeze and let go–squeeze and let go. Multiple times. Even if you don’t see a clot. Then get a damp wash cloth, with your free hand pinch the tube at the end closest to your body, use the damp cloth to strip the tube. Keep doing this until the line is completely empty. My surgeon told me to do it once every 6 hours but sometimes you have to do it more frequently. So I’ve been doing it every time I go pee.**

Anywho…so I got myself all dressed and ready for the doctor appointment. My surgeon was extremely pleased with my progress. He removed my belly button sutures. You could tell that he was very VERY please with my belly button. I am too. More about this later. The right drain that has been troublesome, he removed. It was WEIRD!. He kept telling me not to look but I couldn’t help it! This tube was inside all the way across my lower abdomen and as he removed it, it felt like a snake was slithering around in there. CREEPY! Oh man but I was so very relieved to have it out!!! He said that I’m healing nicely. We will continue to monitor. I’m on a strict no bending or squatting restriction for at least 2 more weeks! He wants me to stand as straight up as tolerated. This is definitely a struggle as my posture is terrible anyways and my abs are so tight and sore.

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Post Op Day 7. Dressed myself and ready for my follow up appointment.

I’ve been amazed at the size of my hips/thighs. I was actually able to wear a pair of Paul’s XL basketball shorts. My curves/lines are sleek and loving em but I’m just like ‘holy hips batman’. The surgeon told me that, of course, I’m still very swollen and the tool that he inserted into the saddlebags to pull up that outer thigh really causes some trauma. So that will subside over the next weeks/months.

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My hips are so big that they hold up Paul’s XL basketball shorts!!

Here’s the REAL funny. I can’t recall if I’ve blogged about it or just told my friends/family, but my butt…it’s crazy. In the hospital, on my first walk, I told my mom that I felt like someone was pushing my butt cheeks up and apart. She looked and was like…that’s exactly what it looks like! Since losing all of this weight, I have lost my butt. I have had a flat, bony booty. Not fun. So this surgery was suppose to help that a little by adding some bulk with my lift. The swelling has separated my cheeks! And…you can LITERALLY see my butthole! OMG it is so weird. And it reminds me of my grandma. She had gastric bypass in the 80s and lost a lot of weight but never had plastics done. Her booty was much like mine. Omg it’s just so hilarious. Today, I tried to clinch my butt-cheeks…nope. Can’t do it yet

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Pre Op VS Post Op day 4

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Holy….BUTTHOLE Batman!



I’m really having a lot a of time to really think about how far I have come. It’s completely unreal. People ask me all of the time how I feel about it. I’m still working on the correct articulation of that right now. I’m in awe of myself. I’m in awe of my life; of what has happened to me and how I’ve come out.

Lisa said last night “You are truly an inspiration. Everyone I share your story with tears up just a bit. It’s so powerful.” To which I responded: Awww. It’s insane. Unreal. I can’t believe I’ve survived. I can’t believe I’ve achieved.

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A 2 year transformation: Pre Op 11/2014. 6 Months post Op. 1 Year Post Op. Post op 2 Years (pre op 11/2016). And now 11/2016 (Post op Day 7)