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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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…
A Widow's Journey: ~Weight loss~ ~Change~Skin Removal~Life~