Who’s That Girl In the Mirror? *Graphic Images*

Have you ever thought to yourself if I had this or if I accomplished this then I’d be happy? I mean…with whatever…be it weight, money, love. All my life I’ve imagined what my life would be like if I were thin. Surely it’d be better and it’d be different. So many times I’d look at myself in the mirror and say ‘man, if I could just lose {fill in the blank}, I’d be content’.

I’ve always been very unhappy with my boobs and my arms. So extremely self conscious. It impacted everything from what I wore to how I sat to how I had sex. I can remember very vividly when Paul had moved into my house and I was changing clothes and I turned away from him as I took off my bra. He kinda chuckled and said ‘why do you do that’? I instantly felt embarrassed. I told him that he wouldn’t understand and it turned into this huge conversation. In summary, I hated the way my boobs sagged and he loved me just the way I was. He told me so many times throughout our relationship how beautiful and sexy I was and how much he desired me. This is the first time I’ve really said this but I never really believed him.

It was and is so absolutely irrational. My body issues are deep seeded. It wasn’t until probably a year into our relationship that I actually took off my bra during sex. Because I hated how they looked. I hated the sounds that they made.

I’m a bundle of emotions today. I’ve said it a thousand times: grief is a bitch. She’s an evil bitch that I think waits until you’re least expecting it and the she pushes you down and laughs at you. At least that’s how I feel today; how I feel this week.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve imagined having my arms and boobs done. Probably the first time I ever really gave it thought was at 16! That’s a lot of years of fantasizing of what it’d be like to have slender arms and perky boobs. I’ve never had them. And I’ve always had a negative body image about it too. I’ve always thought about how amazing it’d be if they looked a certain way.

As I showered today, I could see myself in the mirror. My boobs are very perky; perfectly rounded. They look they way I’ve imagined they should all of my life. I squeezed the soapy rag against my outreached arms and watched as the suds streamed down my arm, down my body. I washed my stomach and the underneath of my breast. It was foreign to me that I did not have to lift my breast. I bent down to wash my feet and my breast did not hang or sway and neither did my arms. I got out of the shower and dried off. I tried to whip my towel around my back to catch it with my other arm like I always do but I wasn’t able to. My face felt warm and my head was pounding, my nose turned red and my eye began to water.

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Significant bruising to underside of right breast. Minimal pain now.
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I can almost extend my left arm completely now. I only have about half of this range of motion on my right arm. Both arms are tight. I continue to have to ice them.

I stood there and I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked at myself from head to toe. Not intending to critique myself in the least. Just kinda soaking it all in. And I began to cry. Who is this girl?

This face. It’s slender with a defined jaw line, no double chin. Topped with the darkest shade of brown hair, so short that it barely brushes my brow. And my boobs: my nipples are centered and in the correct anatomical position. My bellies are still there but as I put my hand on my hip, I can feel and I can see my bone. I take a deep breath in and I can see my chest rise, my stomach drawn in; I can see the outline of my rib cage. I turn to the side and I look at my arm. Slender. One smooth, semi-even line from my shoulder to wrist. I dry my back and I can see my shoulder blades. My lumbar spine is defined and there is no back roll or rather back ‘shelf’. I stand forward again. My thighs are still thick by not massive and when I look down, I can see my toes.

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I don’t recognize this girl. She’s everything I’ve bargained with myself to be. She’s everything I’ve been working to accomplish but I just don’t recognize her.

I finish drying and I have to put my compression vest on. And the tears come full force as I have my right arm in the sleeve and I can’t quite reach behind my back for the left sleeve. My arms are tight.

And I close my eyes and I see Paul.  We are standing in our home on 46th street. He’s holding my shrug as I put my arm in. And he tells me that it’s awfully warm outside and that this jacket isn’t really necessary. And I tell him ‘you know I hate my arms’. He kisses my shoulder and tells me he loves me just as I am.

I struggle but I get the vest on. And I snap it. And I look at myself tears streaming. He loved me just as I was but I didn’t. Now I look the way I want but I don’t recognize myself. And I have this rush…this panic…this feeling I felt for days, weeks, months on end following his death after all my friends and family had to leave my side to get back to their lives…I’m alone.

There’s some days when my house is so quiet and I walk through it and I have flash backs of a moment where he stood in that spot. And I think of the moment we stood there together. And now my memory is not of the girl that I see in the mirror now. And in some morbid way, it’s devastating.

**big sigh**

Being a widow is tough. Being a bariatric surgery patient who lost her husband on the same day is even more tough. In time wounds heal, but big wounds always leave a scar. I’m still healing. I still have days like today where it hurts like it is January 2015. On nights like right now, when my heart is literally aching and it seems that I’ve surely cried every tear a person could possibly produce, I try to tell myself to be thankful. I’m so thankful that I experienced Paul. I’m so thankful that I experienced a love that touched me to my core. I’m thankful that I survived. I’m thankful that I’ve pressed onward. I’m thankful that I’ve experienced new love. I’m thankful that I get to keep his memories with me. I’m thankful for this blog to share them with you.  And I know that sooner or later I’ll recognize the girl in the mirror and I’m gonna love her too.

Batwing-less {One Week Post Op} *Graphic Images*

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I had my one week post op follow up with my surgeon today. I discussed with him all of my concerns which included that my right nipple is slightly to the right and the underside is slightly red. He assured me that it will take weeks to heal and for the swelling to decrease but when it does all that will subside. He is very happy with my progress. Next week I see him again and he will be removing my surgical tape.

Healing status: my left nipple does not have much feeling. My right does. They are starting to actually look like nipples instead of weird cones. I still have numbness on the underside of both breasts. And the places with feeling alternate itching and pain. How obnoxious. As for my arms, they are mostly numb around the incision site. The source of the height of pain is at the axillary. No surprise there. Every bend of the arm I feel it. Ugh.

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Can you believe this is just 1 week apart? I know it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around!!! I am just ecstatic about the results. I feel like a different person. A batwing-less person :)

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The best part was that he let me put on my compression vest/bra in place of my ace wrap and hospital bra. It was amazing! It feels soooo much better. The pressure is even. It’s difficult to explain but it’s amazing. But it’s also hot. It’s satin and it doesn’t breathe as well as I’d like it to be.

Overall, I feel great about my surgery. I feel fat. And don’t even one of you discount that feeling. I’m bloated. First off, I gained 14 lbs from surgery. Then I didn’t use my nurse knowledge and add docusate to my mountain of daily meds until day 6 when I felt my belly and was like ‘ooo that’s not squishy skin’. Ugh. I won’t regal you with all the lovely details. (Although, I, of course, can have casual poo talk like most woman casually talk about jewelry.) I’m fairly certain I scarred Lisa’s daughter when we went to the store and I loaded up the cart with my plan for success. Anyways, I ended my seven days of constipation.

I still feel extremely bloated. My abdomen/belly is round and it’s usually just lumpy (from excess skin). I rationally know that when I get back to my regular activity level and shed this water weight that all will be well again. But since I’m thoroughly aware of my alter-ego— ya know that psychopathic weight obsessive irrational eternal fat girl—I asked Lisa to hide my scale so that I don’t torture myself. This has been a great thing for me. I feel bloated/fat but at least I don’t have to obsess over the number.

Running around today totally wore me out and when I got home I pretty much passed out for 2 hours unintentionally. I’m thankful to have one more day. Back to work Wednesday.

Lastly, I just wanna say a quick thank you to all of you that read my thoughts on here and all the amazing support that I have received. It’s truly overwhelming and wonderful.

Hope your day was great. If it wasn’t, make tomorrow one. :)

Love in many forms…

I have written and erased what I want to say here like at least 5 times. What I’m feeling right now, I’m having a difficult time putting into words.

I am absolutely and utterly overwhelmed by this exquisite person that has come into my life. I’m sitting here having a full on cry session and anxiety attack over a spat with a family member. I feel so upset that it’s like my nerves are on fire. And for the first time since I lost Paul; since my the best friend of over 20 years turned her back to me and left—my first instinct wasn’t them to call. I called Lisa. And that means something to me.

Love. What a beautiful word. What a simple word. Just four simple letters that seem and for me are the center of my world. Have you ever tried to define love? Have you ever tried to describe it? I know I certainly have; each and every time I do, I fall short. There have never been the right combination of words that really gives justice to that feeling–that thought–that action–that everything.

And right now in my life with her I’m experiencing another level of it. This week I feel like we reached like a level up status. I didn’t have to tell her to do anything for me. Not anything. She just knew. I’m sure some of it has to do with her natural nurturing aptitude, but it’s more. For over a year, my world has been flipped and spun round and round. But I’ve had several moments with her where there’s just calm. I think about her helping me shower for the first time post op. She was calm and gentle; although, I know she was petrified. ‘I’m right here. It’s going to be ok’ were the words I heard as the room was spinning and I was having a full on panic attack.  She rubbed my head and took her time–and bit by bit, minute by minute she continued until all my dressings were off and I was able to shower and then look at my self in the mirror.

Over these days, she’s help lift me into bed. She’s brought me ice packs. She cooked, cleaned, kept me hydrated. She’s lit my candles because she knows they I love them. She’s kept my house in the order that I like. She has made me eat when I don’t want to. Slept on the couch, just to be close to me. Sat and talked to me. Sat in silence.

She’s eternally and nonobligatory supportive. She lifts me up. She tells me it’s ok to cry. She talks to me about Paul. We talk about our life together. She gives me a security that I never thought I’d have again. And security has always been my number one expression of love.  She makes me happy even when I’m sad. I’m just so very thankful for her. I’m so thankful for the lack of drama in our relationship. I’m thankful that it’s easy but not the easy that means boring. It’s always interesting.

Post Op Day 5 **Graphic images**

These last few days have gone by quickly. I’m healing slowly. I’m thankful to have Lisa by my side. She’s like the best ‘tucker-inner’ ever. haha. She caters to my neuroses: picks up the messes through out the house (no matter how small), cups lined up the way I do, lights my candles throughout the house, hangs my laundry, knows how I like my coffee, knows all the veggies I like in my eggs, knows that even though I’m hot my feet never are, doesn’t  sugar coat things, just judge my anxiety-helps to calm me until it passes.

The majority of my pain in above my right breast where there’s a lump that I’ve been assured is not a hematoma and will resolve. The other is my armpit. It’s difficult to get comfortable. I’m retaining water like no other.

Also, I’m constipated. Shame on me, I know better. With being out of it the first couple days, I didn’t tell anyone about my probiotics so I was off those and I hadn’t added a stool softener. Yesterday, I was putting on real pants and realized my stomach wasn’t all squishy–it was distended and firm. And I counted…holy fuck 6 days. I’m literally full of shit. So I load up on bowel meds. I’m wicked bloated and uncomfortable.

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On a positive note, I undressed myself solo today (lisa stood by to help). I was pleased to see that my nipples are starting to look like actual nipples instead of purple cones. I might have literally ‘eeked ‘.The left one is starting to shape nicely. I have no sensation in my left nipple but I do in my right, I’m a bit concerned about the right one that has so much pain. It’s slightly red, still has the lump and lightly warm to touch. I have been keeping up with my temp and I’ve been running a low grade fever but nothing to be concerned about. I have my post op appointment tomorrow so I’ll be discussing all of this tomorrow.

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Still swollen. Right one is a bit off center and is red and tender. Nipples now have a bit of shape. The itching in my cleavage is way annoying!

On an emotional note, I looked at myself in the mirror and reflected. All my life I’ve wanted these boobs. I’ve always had sad boobs. Never was there a time where Paul disapproved of my boobs. He always thought I was gorgeous and sexy and he never wanted me to alter myself. And so I look in the mirror…over a 180lbs smaller; all types of piercings; another tattoo; short hair; lost my double chin; no glassess; small perky boobs; slender arms. And I think…I’m totally different. My dad had said the other day ‘geez Jessie. Had I passed you on the street…I wouldn’t have recognized you’. I can’t help but wonder, would it be the same way for Paul. But then I take a step back and I reflect on the man Paul was…’I want you to be happy, baby. I’ll do anything to make you happy.’ I can’t tell you how many times he said that to me. I love that man. And, man, I sure to miss him.

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The upper bra area is already smooth which I am so pleased with. No bat wings!

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These incisions are by far the worst. You probably are having some empathetic pain for me but, really, the most pain is right in the crease of the arm pit. Thankfully, the majority of it is numb. I’ll have wicked scares but, man, my arms are normal size even with all of the swelling!

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Post Op Day 2: BOOBIES! **warning: pics may be graphic**

New pains came with the second day. The most significant is my right breast. It feels heavier and the nipple hurts. I’m able to get up on my own. I thought I’d be taking a hiatus from exercise but nope: HELLO AB WORKOUT every time I move. It really is amazing how much you use your arms on a regular basis. And what I’ve learned: I need more core workouts.

My sister spent the night and a great nurse/friend came by later to check on me. I’m pretty self-sufficient with the exception of a few things. I can’t open my pill bottles. They are apparently children and boob job patient proof. Lisa is getting me some regular lids today. I, also, struggle with opening the freezer door as I have a french door fridge and that fucker is heavy. Other than that I’m pretty good. I don’t have much of an appetite but Lisa is making me eat.

I’ve tried to back off my small dose of pain pills and I think I could handle just tylenol ES if this right boob pain would let up.

It’s been 48 hours, so that means I get to unwrap, see my new boobies and shower. I was nervous about it all day. I can’t even explain to you why. Since surgery everyone has joked that they are so small and don’t look like a C cup. So I had that pressure. I knew they wouldn’t be pretty, I was prepared for that.

Post Op Day 2: very sore. Very tight. Very swollen.

Lisa comes over to help me. She starts by undressing my boobs. Off with the bra and all the padding. I’m VERY aware of them and they feel extremely heavy. Then she undressed my arms. Easy until she go to the bottom and there was xeroform. I was not prepared for that. None of the staff told me it would be on there. I was expecting clear tape. I had a panic moment because I remember from my trauma days how nurses would use that shit on road rash and when it dries, it pretty much glues itself to you. Which is exactly what happened to my arms. We had agreed on a sponge bath until I could talk to the doctor. So there I sat, butt-ass naked on my toilet when he teenage daughter walked in. Omg poor kid. She quickly ran away. I now reached another level to repelling children. But all kidding aside, I am so thankful for Lisa. She was so calm and gentle. She’s a truly amazing person

I feel so fortunate for my medical friends. I called one of them who is an expert in wound care and this procedure and she walked me through it. She put my mind at ease.

So I calmed down and we tried again but this time, I go in the shower. OMG…that water though. It was like the best shower of my life. It felt so good. Lisa and I both worked at getting the remaining foam and xeroform off. At the end of the shower, although calm, I had a near syncopal episode. Noises were muffled and I thought I might pass out. Lisa helped me out of the shower and to lay on the bed. After a couple minutes it passed.

Now, finally with that out of the way. I got to see me boobies and arms!!! Wow. They are ugly but beautiful at the same time. They are very swollen and tight. My nipples look weird and my left one does not have sensation yet. They dont look exactly symmetrical so I’ll be calling the doctor to see what he says but from what I’ve researched this is normal and they should even out.

But you know what I was most excited about? MY ARMS. Lisa says, “baby, your arms are the same size/shape as mine”. I could have cried!! They are so small. Aside from the swelling and incision, they look normal. I can’t remember a time in my life when I had normal arms. Its so exciting!!!

The back fat upper bra area (what I call it) is something that most women struggle with even if just a smidgen over weight. I felt like mine was just skin, so I had asked about it in pre op. He started by telling me that he couldn’t really fix it…but then he looked and says ‘you’re , literally, one of the only people I’ve seen where this is skin no fat.’ So during my surgery he fixed that as well. I have a nasty incision in the area on both sides. The bruising and tenderness is significant. I’ll get pictures next time.

Post Op Day 2: everything is tight. I still had the bandage on but you can already see the HUGE change in my ‘back fat/skin’

Overall, I’m so very pleased and excited!!! I’m so very thankful for my wonderful girlfriend, family and friend. I couldn’t have done this without each of you.

Skin Removal & Post Op Day 1

Over the past couple days, I haven’t slept well and have had some anxiety. I thought this was odd for me because surgery hasn’t ever really scared me. As I thought about it more, it was Paul. It was me thinking that the last time I did this was the last time I saw Paul. It was the last night  saw his sweet face. The last hug. The last kiss. The last good night.

Pre Op 1/19/16: marked to remove bat wings!

Yesterday, we got up bright and early to head to the surgery center. The staff was so very friendly and they were so pleasant. The anesthesiologist was extremely personable and he was all about my comfort! It was very efficient. They even used lidocaine to numb the area the nurse chose for my iv. What a wonderful practice. Then my plastic surgeon came in and spoke with me a bit, then got out his maker and drew all over my arms and breasts. I looked like something out of the show Nip/Tuck. Then he gave me the pen. I thought that was funny. They rolled me back to the OR. Everyone was super nice and chatty and I wasn’t nervous at all. Then came the versed and a couple breaths later…I was in PACU. I was very impressed with my PACU nurse. I was the last patient. It looked like a ghost town in there but she was vigilant in ensuring my comfort and when she thought she saw a hematoma, she called another nurse over and then my doctor came back to assess personally. No hematoma and now I was ready to go.

Out of surgery. In my sexy new bandages and bra! Ready to go. I’m extremely loop at this point!

I was out of it for the rest of the evening/night. Lisa was amazing. She took great care of me and replaced all my jewelry. I didn’t sleep to well since I’m a side/belly sleeper and without the use of your arms, it’s quite difficulty to reposition. But I got a couple hours. Lisa doted on me, helped me position, kept me medicated and hydrated.

Today, I mainly stayed on the couch with my arms propped. There is a lot of pressure just as the dr had told me. The only real pain-pain is at my sternum. To lift the breasts, he sutures the breast tissue to the rib cage. Ouch! My boobs appear to be smaller than the C that I’d hope they’d be but that’s ok. Even is I end up with a B, I’ll be okay with that.

My arms are banded from pit to 3/4 down my arm. They feel like I’ve hit gym way too hard. Only sparks of pain when I hit something. You never realize how much you use your arms, until you can’t use you them!

I haven’t gotten dressed today. I changed my panties and am wearing Paul’s old undershirt which is like dress on me. It is way comfy and reminds me of him. I’m always sad he isn’t here, but in some way I’m sad even more because now I feel like I totally look like a different person. I remember going over my bucket list with him once. One thing listed is breast augmentation (lift and reduction). He always laughed it off. He always told me how perfect I am just the way I am.

Day before first skin removal

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY THREE. 183 pounds. 640,500 calories. That is what I’ve lost. Over the past 601 days, I’ve worked towards becoming healthy, towards shedding these pounds that have held me back my entire life. I’ve spent most of the minutes of my adult hood uncomfortable: with how I look, how I feel, how I imagine that I am perceived. And to this day, when I look in the mirror, I still see that same 341 lb girl. I know I’m not her but that image is still what I see. Tomorrow I get to complete step one to being closer to shedding this suit.

When the topic of extra skin comes up, most ask about my stomach. I guess when you think about extreme weight loss that’s the area that is most dramatically impacted. Although, for me, that isn’t what is most bothersome. It’s my arms. They’ve always been big. I’ve always been self conscious of their size and stretch marks. And since the dramatic weight loss, I now have floppy, old lady arms AKA bat wings. When I do a plank, I can see the skin wrinkle and it looks like a 90 year old woman’s arm. When I run in a sleeveless top, they clap. And tomorrow, I get to change that.

Day before brachioplasty and mastopexy BUST: 36 BAND: 32 ARM: 12.5 BRA SIZE: 34DDD

On my list of things to accomplish by 30, is breast augmentation. I turn 30 in March. I’m beyond excited that I’ll be checking that off my list. I come from a long line of big busted beauties. And I am going to be glad to get rid of them. In the words of my surgeon …’they’ll be beautiful and up to my chin’!!!

I plan to upload progress pics of my transition/progress (be forewarned that they could be graphic and disturbing and your breasts might have sympathy pain for me ). I’ll be wrapped or in compression garments for a total of 6 weeks. Swelling will be a great concern. I’m told it will take weeks for it to recede.

I love that my surgeon gave me my scripts ahead of time. I’ve already gotten them filled. My bag is packed. My pillows are ready to go. I’ve got my support system ready to go. I’m very fortunate to have so much love and support from friends, family, acquaintances and co-workers.

I’m prepared for pain and pressure. I’m prepared to feel like poo. I’m beyond ecstatic to take one step closer to completing my transformation.

Love after death and bigotry: Love chose me; I said yes. It’s not your place to judge.


Love chose me; I said yes. It’s not your place to judge. 

I’m from a religious family. All my life I’ve heard how homosexuality is wrong. I’ve never agreed. I’ve always believed in love. I’ve always sided with equality. I’ve always been loudly in favor of the freedom of choice. And when I found myself in a relationship with a person who brightened my life on the darkest of my days; who accepted and celebrated my love with Paul; who quickly became my best friend and love interest; when that person was a woman; I tolerated and even walked on eggshells for others’ religious convictions. After a few conversations and encounters over the past couple days…I reject the bigotry of my family and friends. We can agree to disagree. Have your convictions. But have them silently. Because at the end of the day, I still believe…if you can’t say anything nice; don’t say anything at all.

All my teenage and adult life, my father has been absent. My father is an intelligent man and a wise man in many ways. My father has devoted the last 10+ years to ‘Yahweh’. He rejects Christianity but in many ways he is just like those certain Christians that we all have encountered. He has preached time and time again about how wicked homosexuality is and how Yahweh hates it. My sister is homosexual and don’t get me started on the struggles that she has had to endure on her own journey along with those she’s faced with my father. To his credit, he has tried in the best way he can to be tolerant. I have walked on eggshells with him. I try just not to mention it. But in recent events, he has made efforts to give the appearance of acceptance. And at the first opportunity, he is quick to point out his efforts. Today was no exception. He told me today that he has done more for me in terms of accepting my ‘choices’ than he has with anyone else because he loves me and that credit should be paid given his beliefs. While I recognize his efforts, I reject the pedestal he is perched upon! Accept me; don’t accept me. I don’t really care but don’t you put on a show of tolerance and expect me to bow at your feet. It’s not going to happen.

On the flip side, my heart was touched by my mother in law, a very conservative Christian. A wonderful woman. A woman with a huge heart. She of all people is allowed to take pause. I knew that me announcing that I was pursuing a relationship with a woman within the first year of my husband’s, her son’s, death would be a bitter and difficult pill to swallow. I did not push her. I did not say anything directly to her. I allowed her time. I had no expectations of her. I was fully prepared for her to shun me; for her to not accept me. This weekend she left me in awe. She was so very honest with me. She shared with me how she had a difficult time coping with the news last year. She told me she had to unfollow me on Facebook for a period of time. She went on to tell me that she reflected and she realized that I wasn’t disrespecting Paul. She saw what a positive force Lisa was in my life. She saw how Paul’s memory and our love still lived on. She recognize what a wonderful person she must be to accept that in her life and in our life together. I was truly humbled. Here in front of me sits the mother of my late husband. A mother who should have never had to ‘bury’ her son of only 30 years; a conservative Christian mother. She told me that she could never condone my choices but that she accepted me and loved me. She told me she wanted to know her. She told me we would always be family. And I love her more deeply for this conversation. I recognize how hard this was for her to arrive at. I love her more for never making me feel ashamed, for recognizing that she had to step back and do some soul searching. And I love her for being able to have her convictions and to still be able to love and support me without making it feel as though she’s doing me a favor.

Love, life, death and grief are hard to juggle. They are even more difficult to explain. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think of Paul. I don’t ever foresee a day where he won’t be a part of me. He has forever changed my life and who I am and I will love him forever. Love does not end when death rears it’s ugly head. My life did end the day my husband died but I did not die. I could have but I chose not to. I chose to go on and to make a new life. I have a big heart. And I’m able to love him and love another. I’m able to keep my memories and to make new ones. I’m able to grieve and to laugh. I don’t have to choose between the two. The grief of losing a spouse is never ending.  You learn to adapt. I’ve chosen to adapt. You can’t know unless you’ve been here. I feel fortunate to have found someone who accepts all that I am; all that I’ve been through; a person who wants to make my life brighter but allows me my darkness; who wants to celebrate this life with me and to make it better. Who be it to say that it is wrong just because she is a woman? Who be it say that it wrong because I’m a widow?

I hope that everyone finds love like these; a love that changes you-that enhances you. I hope that everyone gets to experience the look in these pictures.

First Year: Progress Pictures/Milestones!

My First Year Milestones

*Roller coasters in Orlando, Fl.

*Spread Paul’s ashes at Cocoa Beach

*By 6 months, I’d lost 121lbsDisplaying May2014vsMay15.jpgDisplaying May2014vsMay15.jpgDisplaying May2014vsMay15.jpgDisplaying May2014vsMay15.jpg

*Completed Paul’s 50th state and spread ashes at Mt Rushmore  

*Took a trip alone

*Spread some of Paul in San Diego off the USS Midway

*No seat belt extender on airplane   

*Donated blood—vitals within normal limits and only 1 needle stick

*Completed 5K marathon

*Attended my first adult pool party and wore a swim suit

*Rode a horse  

*ONEderland (under 200 lbs) 

*Rode in a helicopter

*By 1 year, I’d lost 157lbs

*Consultation with plastic surgeon for skin removal plan

*Size 10=no longer plus sized   


*Dressed up for Halloween

*Weighed LESS than stated weight on driver’s license


*Smoky Mountain trip where we spread some of Paul’s ashes

*Size 8 (first time in single digit size)  

*Have lost MORE POUNDS than I actually weigh 

*Pixie hair cut (no longer feel need to hide behind hair)

*Booked surgery date for first skin removal surgery

*Only 9 lbs from ‘average’ weight on BMI scale

My Story: my weight struggle, gastric Bypass and my husband’s death…


Senior in high school 2003 I hadn’t stepped on a scale in a long time Estimated weight 230lbs
After a break up and living on my own, my weight soared. Estimated weight >300lbs
2009 About 250 lbs


2011 280 lbs
My wedding day March 17, 2012 The happiest day of my life. Weigh was about 285lbs.

My entire life I’ve been the chubby girl, the overweight girl, the shy girl. I never knew what it was like to shop in the non-plus size section of a clothing store.  I didn’t know what it was like to enjoy physical activity.  I didn’t know that food played such a large part in my life until I started my weight loss journey in May 2014.

I was the yo-yo dieter. All or nothing—starve myself and exercise incessantly or binge at every meal and sit on my butt all day. Drop 50lbs; gain 60.  I didn’t know moderation.  I remember us as a family gorging ourselves at family dinners. Everyone ate until they were miserable.  This is how I thought you were supposed to eat.  I loved food. I still love food. Food was my crutch in every way. I was happy-I ate. I was sad-I ate. I was bored-I ate.  Food probably was the best friend I ever had-it never let me down.

First picture together 2010

I met the love of my life, Paul  , in the summer of 2010. I was the thinnest that I had ever been in my adult life. I was 225lbs for all of one week. Our romance and love story began. He was absolutely everything I never knew I wanted. I knew instantly that he was different and he was going to be very important to me. I knew I was going to marry him within 2 weeks of knowing him. And such the way it usually goes with dating, we drank—we ate—always in excess. I was the absolute picture of ‘fat and happy’.

But in 2014, I found myself in a place where my weight peaked at 341lbs. I was constantly out of breath. I avoided activity for fear of what I’d look like, not being able to do it, etc. I missed out on a lot. Paul and I dreamed of traveling but it never happened. Sure money played a part in it but, more so, was the fact that I didn’t think I’d fit in the airplane seat. There were all these things I wanted to do: travel, sky dive, horseback riding, roller-coasters, marathons—none of which I could because I was too heavy, too out of shape. I found WeightWise (http://weightwise.com/). I looked into Gastric Bypass. I was skeptical but I was overwhelming surprised by their program.  It was everything I needed. And so I started my journey. I made dietary changes. I got active. I told all my family and loved ones.

May 2014 Peak weight: 341 lbs

In the months leading up to my surgery, my husband and I listed and sold our current home, built and then closed on our brand new dream home. We both had very solid jobs and our future was bright. I was slowing losing weight and becoming healthier. He had, also, quit drinking. My husband was very supportive. He was so happy and up for a promotion at work.

Day of surgery Last picture Paul ever took of me 295 lbs

November 12, 2014 was a Wednesday. Paul and I got up super early and drove to the hospital. He was rather nervous. I was excited. My mom met us there. While in pre-op, my surgeon came in and instructed Paul to be my water Nazi, to line up medicine cups, fill them with water and make me take a shot every 5 minutes after surgery. I remember my mom telling Paul ‘take a look at her ass. It’s the last time you’ll see it’. We laughed. My surgery took a few hours longer than anticipated. I arrived in my room where mom and Paul were waiting for me. They took care of me. I had terrible nausea. Paul lined those medicine cups up and did just as he was instructed. I’d never seen him look so concerned since he was the happy go lucky type. I wanted to walk. He was nervous about it. He wanted me to stay in bed. But he escorted me around the hallway each time I got up. He got me ice packs. He was perfect. He was tired and wanted to go home. My mom was staying the night with me since he had to work the next day. Before he left, he filled my ice pack one more time. He hugged and kissed me good-bye. His last words to me ‘Drink. Drink. Drink. Walk. Walk. Walk. I love you, baby. I’ll see you tomorrow’.

Day 1 post op

If only I had known that that would be the last time. I would have held him longer. I would have…

There’s no sense in talking ‘what ifs’. They will drive you crazy. I hadn’t heard from him that next morning or afternoon.  I was worried. After being discharged, I called around to try to find out if anyone had seen or heard from him. I remember having this just nauseating feeling in the pit of my stomach. I remember telling my mom that I knew something was wrong. Once I spoke to our friend that he worked with and him saying ‘No. He wasn’t at work today’. I knew that he wasn’t okay. My sister agreed to go check on him. Our friend agreed to go check on him. My mom’s friend agreed to check on him. Our friend called when he got to the house. I walked him through how to get in our garage. I asked how many cars there were. He says ‘two’. Oh my god. I can’t even describe the sick feeling I had. I knew. I heard the alarm say ‘garage door’ as he walks through the house I hear him ‘Paul? Paul? Are you here?’. The phone dropped. The call ended.  I screamed at my mom telling her I needed to get home right at that moment. I’d never seen my mom drive that fast. I kept saying…’He’s dead, mom. I know it. I just know it’. We were speeding down the road when the phone rang. When I heard ‘Jessie, is your mom there…” in this voice that was trying so hard not to crack. I swear my heart stopped. I knew…I knew right then. I pulled at the door but it was locked and mom pulled over as she talked on the phone. I fell out of the car. I screamed ‘He’s dead. He’s dead. Noooo.’ I pounded my fists on the ground and I pulled the wet grass with my bare hands. My mom pulled me up, tears in her eyes, trying her best to console me. I have no idea what she was saying. I punched the dash board and screamed. That whole ride is a blur. I remember just mom and I sobbing. We pulled up to the curb across the street as there were cop cars in front on my house. The officer kneels down ‘Ma’am. Mrs. Ashworth. Do you know what has happened?’.  ‘Yes, my husband’s dead’.  He and my mom’s friend practically carried me in.

He had had his favorite meal: Papa John’s ham and onion pizza and a cookie and a bowl of ice cream. ESPN was still on the T.V. Mollie was curled in his arms; his phone on the charger on the night stand.

My husband died the same night I had my Gastric Bypass. How cruel this life can be. Paul’s life ended where my new life began.

And so my real journey began…

Day of Paul’s Memorial Size 20 pants