The Ongoing Adventures of Naked Girl

The story of my quest to look good naked -- really good.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

What A Difference A Week Makes

So last Saturday, Don and I went for a walk along the beach, we laid out by the pool, we read, we relaxed. This Saturday, Don had to be up at 6:00 AM (after getting home at 11:30 PM the night before) and head off to the Vikings' training camp to watch the first practice which started at 8:45 AM (it about a 90 minute drive). I woke up with him and started in on cleaning the downstairs. I dusted, vacuumed, swept, mopped, moved furniture, organized, scrubed. I filled several garbage bags. I did 4 loads of laundry. And I didn't even touch the kitchen. Although if any of you showed up on my door step, I could entertain you in either the family room or the living room, and the kitchen table is actually clear enough to sit and eat a meal. I didn't finish organizing my one large bookshelf since I really need to spend a lot more time going through some of the books, but at least there aren't piles upon piles of books.

It did hit 90 degrees yesterday and I sweated every bottle of water I drank out. The good news is that I no longer have dust puppies and my cream carpet doesn't look like it has brown swirls. That's the one bad thing about having dogs -- dog hair everywhere. I'm going to try and take it a little more easy today. I have the sheets in the washer and the duvet in the dryer. I will have to launder clothes and pay bills. If I get up the energy I may make a CostCo run for water and a few other items. I really do need to work on the kitchen, but it just seems so overwhelming. I mean, I could just do the basics, but I really need to clean out some cabinets since where I have the pots & pans right now isn't working. I figure I can do the upstairs next weekend. My back is just too sore do do too much today.

My first week back at work went OK. My payroll got screwed up again. I left it with a different Admin, figuring the last Admin caused me so much re-work it was better to go with the newest Admin. Well, she didn't do it right either so I have to fix it on Monday. My boss did compliment me on how I handled the situation, giving constructive feedback rather than playing the blame game. I did tell him this is just one more reason why I should have access from home. It would have taken me 1-2 hours to do it right the first time.

A funny thing happened on Friday. I felt on edge all afternoon -- jumpy, a real ball of nerves. As I was leaving I realized it was because starting Monday, I will no longer be an American Express employee. Although nothing is really changing, just the name, I've identified with AMEX for so long it's going to be weird NOT being AMEX. I've been with the company 9 1/2 years. I wonder how many times it will take me to answer the phone, "Ameriprise Financial." Luckily I don't get too many external calls, and I don't have to answer my boss' phone too often. At least we get a bunch of new swag -- pens, coffee mugs, etc.

I better get some stuff done before it gets too hot. I really do want to spend some time relaxing this weekend. Plus I just started a new book, and I can just tell it's going to be a good one!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Photo Update

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Our wedding cake ordered from Montcito Confections. It was bittersweet chocolate cake with milk chocolate filling and a light buttercream frosting. For our wedding, we had fresh raspberries mixed in with the filling and a rolled fondant icing. Our cake was shaped like a stack of wedding packages and had red rose petals scattered on it.

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From left to right: Dean, Don, me and my dad.

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From left to right: Gavin (my brother), Leah, me, Don. In the front is Brandt and Evan (being held by Leah).

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Gavin and me.

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From left to right: Me, my mom, Deb.

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Santa Barbara, California taken from the pier looking south.

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Santa Barbara, California taken from a beach in Summerland (just south of SB) looking south.

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Don sitting at Longboards on the SB Pier.

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Me at Longboards.

Paradise Lost

We are back safely in Minnesota. The rest of our vacation was amazing. We didn't have one day of bad weather. We walked on the beach, sat out on the pier at sunset, swam, sunned, read, played Scrabble and Uno. We drove down to LA yesterday morning and met my mom and Deb for lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. Our flight was pretty routine and we got home around 12:30 this morning. We picked up the dogs about an hour ago and I am procrastinating unpacking, laundry and a grocery run by catching up on my blogging.

All in all, it was a perfect vacation. It would have been better if the dogs were with us and we didn't have to fly. I think we may look at doing two weeks next year and driving out so we can take the dogs and not have to deal with the airport. The worst part was getting in at 11:40 PM last night and Northwest deciding that the perfect way to top off a long, packed, hot flight was to take us to the farthest gate from the concourse (G21 for those who know the Minneapolis airport). After a pit stop, it probably took us a good 20 minutes to walk from the gate to the taxi stand. Of course we were carrying luggage since who wants to check bags nowadays. Thank God for rolling suitcases.

I do have photos to post, and will do so as soon as I find my camera. I'm glad I have today off to get reacclimated to "the real world." If I had to go to work today I would be toast. Once I get everything organized and settled I will post more...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Wow. I had forgotten just how beautiful Santa Barbara is at this time of year. The weather has been perfect for us -- upper 70s in the day, low 60s at night. We're both feeling very relaxed and we still have five more days before we have to leave.

Coming back for the first time since I left last year, some of the differences between Southern California and Minnesota are glaring:

Diversity: Right after we picked up the rental car, we stopped by a 7-11 to get some bottled water. I went in and I was the only white person in the entire store. I can channel surf and come across several Mexican networks. Same with radio stations.

Weather: An obvious one. When we landed at LAX, a marine layer engulfed the airport. In watching the news, the tempurature range can be from 70 degrees at the coast to 120 degrees in the desert. There isn't that type of swing in Minnesota. Also, we haven't had any humidity. That's a relief.

Traffic: When Don and I were driving back from dinner on Sunday night, the 101 freeway was bumper-to-bumper -- at 9:00 at night. It took us 20 minutes to get home -- a drive that should not have taken more than 10.

Homeless: I think I have only come across a few homeless in downtown Minneapolis. Don and I stopped at a McDonald's in Malibu for some water and there were homeless outside. Of course, I would rather be homeless in Malibu than Minneapolis. There are a lot of homeless in downtown Santa Barbara as well.

Gas Prices: $2.57 for gas here. Wow. I think I paid $2.19 last week, and I was bitching about the price. If I lived back here I could not work 20 miles from home like I do now -- I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Anyway, Friday night's dinner was great. My dad was really surprised to see my brother there. The meal was incredible. Since we were sitting at the chef's table, the menu was prix fixe. We started with conch corn chowder, followed by lobster with shrimp hash, then Alaskan cod over wild mushrooms, and finally, pork tenderloin mole with black bean and corn salsa over grits. Yum. They did a great chocolate birthday cake with homemade candied orange ice cream followed by a SECOND dessert. I had a trio of sorbets (peach cognac, strawberry ouzo, raspberry/pear tequilia) instead of the banana split since I don't like bananas. The nice thing about a tasting menu is that I didn't feel stuffed, even after all that food. We had a different wine with each course plus sherry for dessert. We got home close to midnight which was 2:00 AM Minnesota time, so Don and I just crashed.

Saturday morning we headed to Santa Barbara. We stopped for In-and-Out burgers on our way up. I had forgotten just how good those are. I realized I had left a bag at my dad's, which he is sending FedEx so I get it today (Tuesday), but it had all my toiletries, my shoes, my makeup, my brush. That meant Sunday was spent in town purchasing replacement items. Luckily Macy's had a sale on summer shoes so I picked up a cute pair (cuter, actually, than the ones I had) for a decent price. We also got our groceries at Trader Joe's and I remembered how much I miss them. I can't wait until they open a store in 2006 near me. I'll make one more swing through there on Thursday so I can pick up some items to ship back. We also stopped by El Pollo Loco for lunch.

Dinner was amazing at the Wine Cask on Sunday. I had lobster medallions as my starter and then seared ahi tuna over ginger risotto and stir-fried veggies. I ordered a cake from the bakery that did our wedding, and we had that for dessert. It is so good -- bittersweet chocolate cake with milk chocolate filling with a light buttercream frosting. Talk about a last hurrah before having surgery....

The rest of the week will be spent by the pool reading, reading, reading. I just finished the 5th Harry Potter and I'm now into the most recent release (I always like to read the previous book to get caught up). With all that is coming up, both in my personal life and my work life, a week of doing nothing is exactly what I need. This is really all about recharging our batteries. We do miss having the dogs with us, and will probably look at a longer vacation next year so we can drive out here with them.

Off to get some more coffee and to make some breakfast. The sun is already out, there is a gentle breeze and the only sound I hear is birds chirping. I might actually have enough brain power to do the crossword puzzle while sitting in the cabana...

Friday, July 15, 2005

Heading West

I leave for Los Angeles this afternoon. We'll overnight in Los Angeles at my Dad's and then head for Santa Barbara on Saturday morning. Tonight we are celebrating my Dad's 65th birthday. The plan he knows about is that he and Dean, my mom and Deb and Don and I are going to dinner at Norman's on Sunset. What he doesn't know is that my brother and SIL are in from Las Vegas and two other close friends are joining us at the chef's table in the kitchen. I've never done something like this before so I am really excited. Plus I love surprising people, especially people like my dad who really aren't expecting anything.

We'll spend the night at my dad's tonight and then leave bright and early for Santa Barbara. If I time it right we should pass In-and-Out at about 11:30 so we can have lunch. Part of this trip will be all about visiting some of our favorite restaurants that we don't have here. Heck, I'm even making a Trader Joe's run and shipping stuff home! As long as I get some good Mexican food, I'll be happy. On Sunday night we'll be having dinner at The Wine Cask, which is the restaurant who catered our wedding. The rest of the week will be spent reading by the pool, Scrabble and Uno tournaments and relaxing. I am really looking forward to it.

As usual before a flight, I didn't sleep well. I even had wine last night to try and induce sleep. I fell asleep right away but was up around 4 AM, tossing and turning, wondering if I forgot anything. I sat for a few brief minutes with the dogs but didn't want to make a big production out of leaving them. Luckily it's Don's job to drop them off at the kennel. They seem to like it at The Hound Dog Pet Hotel & Spa so that makes it a little easier. Even though they won't be with us, we'll probably spent half the time talking about them.

Yesterday I did the second half of my psych evaluation. I tested normal (although we did joke about what normal is) and there were no red flags. She has 2 weeks to get the report together and I should have a consultation with a surgeon scheduled the first part of August. I think I am going to shoot for a surgery date of October 7 -- the Vikings have a bye that weekend so Don will be home. It's later than I would have liked, but that way I know Don will be able to be with me and it gives my parents enough time to arrange for travel.

I will have access to a computer in Santa Barbara, so I will post once or twice while I'm there. Off to get some breakfast since I didn't eat dinner last night and I probably won't eat until I get to the restaurant tonight, which will be around 10 PM my time!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot, Hot, Hot

Holy crap, was it ever hot this weekend. Not only hot, but sticky. I could not get comfortable. I was so out of sorts yesterday, I spent seven, YES SEVEN, hours watching I Love the 80s. See, it was so hot my mind wasn't even functioning properly.

I actually did go out and do some errands on Saturday -- I got a manicure and pedicure and got my hair done in preparation for my week of vacation. I'm thinking about changing from my usual blonde I've been doing for the past 6 years and switching to a cinnamon base with blonde highlights come the fall. I haven't decided if I'm brave enough to do something like that, so we'll see. Maybe at the same time I'll get it cut off for a very dramatic change.

Thursday and Friday were spent at a hotel that had seen better days decades. The Thunderbird Hotel is a relic from the 60s. It had an Indian theme -- all the conference rooms were named after tribes, there was Indian art and artifacts, a totem pole was by the pool, etc. Way, way over done. The class was good, though. Microsoft Access made easy in two days. I don't know when I might use these skills but since the head of the Administrative Assistants invited me to take the class, I figured I couldn't really say no. It did get me out of the office for two days, and that isn't a bad thing.

This week is going to be a little hectic since I'm trying to get so many things done before I leave on vacation. To add some fun into the week, I will only be in the office a half day on Wednesday since it's the annual boat trip on Lake Minnetonka. Wednesday night I am going to try and attend my first WLS support group. On Thursday I have the second half of my psych evaluation and Thursday night is a going away happy hour for the VP of my department. On top of that I need to get packed, the dogs ready for the kennel and miscellaneous crap done around the house. So why am I stitting here blogging? Good question.

Off to make my To Do list for the week so nothing is forgotten. I really want my desk as clean as possible so I have very little chaos when I return.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Late Fireworks + Early Alarm = Grumpy Shannin

One of the downsides, if you can call it that, of a late nightfall is that fireworks, which need to be launched at night for maximum effect, don't quit going off until 10:30 PM. That's all fine and dandy -- if you don't have a 5:00 AM wake up call. I'm operating on about 6 1/2 hours of sleep, so it's a good thing my boss is away and I can hunker down at my cube and let the caffeine do its work.

We had a beautiful 4th of July. I did some shopping at two of my favorite stores, Target and Bath & Body (semi-annual sale, you know). I also, once again, proved that I cannot walk through a book store without buying something. I ended up with two more Carl Hiaasan books and Patricia Cornwall's Trace. I'm still having a bear of a time getting through Little Women and Wicked, both of which I would like to finish before heading off to Santa Barbara. The weather was perfect -- mid 80s, low humidity (something I have come to appreciate) and a nice breeze. The people behind us had friends with kids over for dinner, and the dogs spent most of the afternoon patrolling our back fence. The kids would occasionally launch a large ball over, and even a pair of glasses, and the dogs felt it was their duty to notify the entire neighborhood. We BBQ'd some rib-eyes and corn and I made peach cobbler (yummmmy).

This morning I got started on my routine which will need to be kept up until the surgery. I did my four minutes of arm exercises before I got in the shower and took all of my new supplements. I don't swallow pills well, so I opted for as many chewables as I could -- multi-vitamin, vitamin C and calcium. I will be having a yogurt and Zone bar for breakfast and a green salad and Zone bar for lunch with a piece of fruit for a snack. I will get in my 64 ounces (minimum) of water (this is the easy part). I will have to drink 4 ounces of milk. I will also need to do my 30 minutes of cardio (5 minute warm-up, 20 minutes of walking, 5 minute cool-down) and my 3 stretching exercises when I get home. Dinner will be a sensible one with protein, veggies and carbs. We have a ton of leftovers from a few meals, so I won't have to cook at all this week. Can't beat that!

To follow up Saturday's post, today I will tell you the story of my parents' coming out.

Growing up, I thought I had the ideal childhood -- two loving parents who didn't fight or argue much. Compared with some of my friends' childhoods, mine was paradise. Everyone loved coming over to my house. My friends had crushes on my dad, and they thought that my mom was the "coolest."

When I was about 20, and my brother and I were both off to college, Gavin at UNLV and me doing a year abroad at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, my parents started spending more and more time apart. I guess because I wasn't right there I didn't see it, but when I came home from Canada, my parents told me they were taking separate vacations. Later that fall, my dad moved out of our house. Since Gavin was out in Las Vegas, I was the focus of my parents' attention, and that wasn't always a good thing. They were in therapy together and individually and thought I should be in counseling as well. The therapist I saw was the same one who saw my parents together. One session I told her I had a dream that my father was gay. She said, "Hmmm, very interesting. Have you spoken to your father about this?"

My exposure, at the tender age of 20, was very limited to gays. My dad, who worked in "The Industry" (Hollywood-speak for the entertainment industry) had his share of gay and lesbian friends. Judging from what I knew of them, he wasn't like that at all. He was masculine and athletic. Sure, he didn't chug beer while plopped in front of the TV; his viewing preference tilted towards "The Lawrence Welk Show." But there was no way he was gay.

Christmas of 1989 was especially difficult. My parents weren't living under the same roof, but we celebrated it at the house together. I think I knew my parents wouldn't be getting back together, but like any child watching their parents in the early stages of separation, I had hopes they would. I remember going back to my apartment on Christmas day, leaving my parents and my brother behind. About 2 hours later, my dad calls and says he wants to drop by to tell me something.

He came over and told me he was gay. The first thing I thought was, "Thank God I'm old enough to drink!" The first thing out of my mouth was, "Oh, I had a dream about that." It was one of those moments where all of a sudden everything seemed to make sense, and his being gay explained a lot of things.

I was OK with his revelation -- my brother and mom, not so much. Gavin ranted and raved how this wasn't right, how my dad was hurting my mother, etc. but that he would still love him because he was his father, he just didn't have to agree with "that lifestyle." My mom blamed my dad for ruining her life, how could he have lived this lie for so long?

For the next seven years, there was a battle between me supporting my dad and my mom trying to make me feel guilty about it. Although there were many examples, one that sticks in my mind is when, at my friend's grandmother's funeral, my mom came up to me and said, "How can you possibly support your father? Do you have any idea what that does to me?"

Christmases were the worst. My mom refused to spend the holidays at the house, so every other Christmas I spent in a hotel room -- New Mexico, Las Vegas, Hawaii. She eventually sold the house, which was really hard on me. I loved that house, and I wasn't ready to leave it. Plus is POURED the day we had to move. Moving = bad. Moving in rain = really bad.

In the meantime, my dad got involved in a relationship with a wonderful man. Dean was also "In the Industry" and is pretty well known. They moved in together in about 1992 or so and I was welcomed by Dean with open arms, and vice versa. He and my dad were good together and I had never seen my dad so relaxed and happy. I would dog sit for them and I've really come to look at Dean as a part of the family. Of course, since I was the first to meet Dean, I got more grief from my mom.

Things started to ease up early in 1996 or so. Mom actually met Dean, and there seemed to be less barbs tossed my way. It seemed like things were more amicable between my parents, and I felt less stress when my mom would ask me what I did over the weekend and I could tell her I had spent it with Dad and Dean instead of lying.

When I met Don in May of 1996 I had told him my dad was gay, and he seemed to take it well. I had learned early on to be upfront about my dad's homosexuality because I actually had a guy break up with me because he thought he might get AIDS by dating me.

The next major date in this saga was in summer of 1996. My mom was having an art show and I was going to bring Don. I figured this was a good place for him to meet my mom -- it was public, she couldn't cause me too much embarrassment and we could escape if things got bad (I still did not have the best relationship with her). Don was actually on his way to pick me up when I got a call from my dad. "Hi, honey. What time are you going to be at Mom's show because Dean and I are going to be there and we don't want to miss the chance to meet Don." WHAT? My mom, my dad and Dean were all going to be in one place at the same time? I wasn't sure if the universe was ready to handle that. Don had only been prepped to meet my mom -- not the entire family. I was a wreck. To Don's credit, he stepped right up and seemed very comfortable with the whole thing. I did slug down two margaritas once we left....

That was the turning point. We all started to celebrate holidays together. My mom spoke highly of Dean. My parents went to dinner together. Heck, we even had a great time at my brother's wedding -- no hysterics or drama (well, there was behind the scenes, but more on that later). Don and I would go visit Dad and Dean in Santa Barbara. It was all good.

In 1999, my mom and I were at a conference together and on break she blurted out she had something to tell me and she wasn't sure if I was going to like it. By now, our relationship had improved remarkably and I told her she could tell me anything. "I'm like your father." Well, that was rather cryptic and she could tell I wasn't putting 2 and 2 together. "I'm also gay." I have to admit, I didn't see THAT coming. I remember going home to Don and telling him, "You're not going to fucking believe this -- my mom is gay, too!" In preparation of our wedding we had already told Don's mom that my dad was gay (we were having the rehearsal dinner at Dad and Dean's and couldn't really explain Dean as a roommate...) and now we were going to have to tell her that my mom was, too. Talk about unneeded stress!

I, of course, had questions. If she was gay, why did she give me grief about my dad? She had told me she had been dating women for about 3 years and was worried I wouldn't support her. She was worried about telling my brother so she wrote him a letter. The funny thing was, he already knew. At his wedding, my mom had brought a "friend" who told my brother's wife minutes before she was to walk down the aisle that her soon-to-be mother-in-law was a lesbian. My brother had been sitting on this information for three years. He was more pissed than I was, mostly because she had been so hypocritical.

In the end, I realized I loved both my parents no matter if they were gay or not. My dad has been with Dean for 14 1/2 years and my mom is now with Deb, and they are going on 3 years. I think by having a gay parent, or in my case, two gay parents, I've learned to be far more open-minded and accepting of others. I've become educated about "gay issues" like adoption, hate crimes and marriage. I'm proud of my parents. My mom was recognized as a top teacher at La Canada High and her retirement two years ago was quite the production. My dad swims for the West Hollywood swim team (the WH20s) and has won gold medals at three Gay Games.

I joke that we look pretty dysfunctional on paper, but I wouldn't trade my family for the world. And that's the most important thing.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

Back in college, I had a group of high school friends who all went to San Diego State. For several 4th of Julys, I would go down and we would have a long weekend of BBQ-ing, drinking and watching Wimbledon. We would actually get up at 6:00 AM to watch the matches live. Breakfast was usually Wheaties and beer. I'm well out of college, and even though I enjoy watching Wimbledon (it's much easier in Minnesota with the 2 hour later start), I now have a much more sensible breakfast. Today it will be iced coffee, bacon, eggs and toast. (ed. note: I ended up deciding I wans't that hungry and opted for iced coffee and a yogurt.) I don't even think I could stomach a beer before noon any more. I really must be getting old.

Don and I went to the Taste of Minnesota yesterday. The weather was beautiful, and the location was picturesque. It's on the St. Paul side, right on the Mississippi River. We didn't eat anything too crazy. I had cheese curds (like fried cheese sticks), roasted corn, a corn dog and ice cream. Don shared the cheese curds with me and had a bbq'd turkey leg, pork chop on a stick and a root beer float. I was tempted by one of the fried desserts -- fried Oreos, fried cheesecake, fried candy bar, fried s'mores and fried Twinkies -- but I figured I really didn't need something so heart-clogging, especially when I am considering WLS.

Marla had a few questions on my last post, specifically about my being adopted and my parents coming out of the closet. I was adopted at 25 days old. My mother had miscarried twice and she had been told that she could never carry a child to term. My parents contacted Children's Home Society in Los Angeles and started on the paperwork to adopt. They had been told they were going to get a boy (they had requested first available) but when they got to the hospital, the boy they were to adopt had come down with some illness and was not ready to go home. Their adoption counselor told them that a girl had just become available. While the paperwork was being prepared, my parents went to lunch at El Cholo and tried to come up with a name for this baby girl that was about to enter their lives. When they thought they were getting a boy, they had decided on the name Gavin. Now that they were getting a girl, they had to come up with something else. My mom is an artist and a very visual person. They were torn between Shannon Michele and Erin Elizabeth. As she was doodling on the napkin, she changed the spelling to Shannin. In May, 1970 my parents started considering adopting a second child. On the same day they were supposed to go in to start the paperwork, my mom went into the doctor because she thought she had the flu. As it turned out, she was pregnant with my brother. They discovered it early enough and they were able to take precautions against her losing the baby. My brother was born 8 weeks early, and they named him Gavin.

I don't ever remember not knowing I was adopted. As soon as I started asking questions about where did I come from, they explained to me that babies come from mommies, but I didn't come from my mommy. There was a woman out there who loved me so much she knew she couldn't properly care for a baby and she wanted to give a couple a chance to have a child who would be able to love and care for the baby. They instilled in me that I was special because I was picked (in fact, my birth announcement was a silk screened card my mom did with a flower on the front and my picture in the middle of the flower with "I've Been Picked" on it). I don't think I ever really felt that I was that different, even when my brother would tease me that I wasn't really his sister. I did, however, use it against my parents during those rebellious teen years with, "You can't tell me what to do. You're not my real parents!"

I have toyed with the idea of finding my biological mother. I did file the proper forms with Children's Home Society when I was about 25. If she had filed the same forms, we would have received information on how to contact each other. She did not, and has not. I have a little bit of information -- she was from Colorado and dated my biological father for about 18 months. He was from Iowa and eventually served in Viet Nam. She wanted to be a nurse. Once she discovered she was pregnant she was sent to Los Angeles to have the baby. I know she was the second oldest of 6 kids. It also seemed that all of my biologial family, at least what she listed, had green or blue eyes, so it's kind of weird that I ended up with brown. One of my uncles had to go to a special school for the "emotionally disturbed" and that one of my aunts was training for the Olympics in skiing.

I've heard too many horror stories from biological parents and children about finding each other when one side isn't ready for it. If my biological mother came to Los Angeles (I am guessing from Colorado) to hide her pregnancy, I'm not confident she has told a lot of people about it. I wouldn't mind knowing about my medical history, but I don't want to disrupt lives.

More on my parents tomorrow. I need to get to the store before it gets too crowded!

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Start of Another Long Weekend

I was supposed to take this as a half day but because I spent four hours with the doctors yesterday, I'm here at the office, hoping to get everything done early so I can get out of here. Although, I have to go home, pick up Don and come right back seeing how it's one of the Team Leader's last day and we're all going out for Happy Hour. I'm hoping the traffic won't be too bad; it did seem a little lighter coming in this morning.

Yesterday went well. It was interesting and educational and well worth it. I'm not sure how other programs work, but from what I understand, a WLS patient usually has to arrange all of these types of appointments on their own. By going through Park Nicollet, they have a whole bariatric department which includes their own dietician, psychologist, physical therapist, etc. That way, instead of taking off an hour here and an hour there to meet all the requirements, it's kind of like one-stop shopping.

There were two other people going through the rotation yesterday morning, a woman and a man. I wish we would have had a little more time to interact with each other, but the system they had there was pretty efficient with little waiting around time. Here is each meeting in a nutshell:

Dietician: This was basically a meeting to go over my past diet attempts, my food history and eating habits. She then explained what life after surgery was going to be like. Some of the habits I am going to have to develop are things I can start on now like taking 20-30 minutes per meal, chewing each bite 40 - 50 times (to applesauce like consistency), eating without distractions (computer, work, TV, reading), not drinking with my meals, starting to drink a glass of skim milk a day, eating the protein in a meal first, drinking 64 oz. (minimum) of 0 calorie liquids (i.e., water), etc. She also said that there are no real food restrictions because each person is different and it's an on-going learning experience. She did say that many people lost certain cravings for foods, especially sweet and fatty foods. I heard over and over again how, for the first 6 months, I won't even want to eat, and that's when the majority of the weight comes off. I will meet with her once again before surgery and then once after surgery. She did remind me that for the first few weeks, I would only be able to handle two tablespoons of food per meal and by the end of the year it would be up to 1 cup. The most interesting note is that they require all surgical patients to go on a liquid only diet 10 days before surgery (I thought about asking if vodka, wine and beer would be appropriate liquids, but refrained). She listed Ensure, Slim Fast or Carnation breakfast but I may go with a protein powder I've used before and liked.

Psychologist: This is the first of two mandatory meetings. We went over my childhood, family relationships, support network, relationship with food, past therapy, etc. We didn't get into the test results, so that will be covered on July 14th. Nothing really new here -- we spent some time on my adoption and how I dealt with both my parents coming out of the closet. I don't get the feeling that she's going to recommend further counseling, but you never know and it might actually be beneficial if she does.

Doctor: She was a specialist with bariatric patients. She did a brief exam of my heart, lungs and abdominal area. We discussed my medical history, my current limitations, my expectations from the surgery, etc. She made some recommendations on my supplements, so I will be switching to a chewable multi-vitamin and calcium supp and adding iron and vitamin C. I will also be switching my current blood pressure medicine closer to a surgery date since the one I'm taking now may interfere with some of the drugs they use during surgery. The good news is that the majority of people are off blood pressure meds within 2 - 4 week post surgery. Ideally, a month after surgery I won't have to take blood pressure or GERD meds any longer. She did say I would have to do an overnight sleep study to ensure I don't have sleep apnea since they have to treat patients with that differently during surgery. I'm not excited about that, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. I also have to have a gallstone ultrasound to makes sure I don't have stones. If they think it's going to be a problem later in life, they will remove the gallbladder during the WLS. The good news is that she believes I am very low risk for this kind of surgery.

Physical Therapist: My last appointment of the series. We discussed my exercise history, what I'm doing now, what I like to do and what activities what I want to do after surgery. We monitored my heart while walking and she gave me pointers on how to get more out of my exercise routine. She told me that I should actually walk a little slower than what I've been doing, but do it for a longer period of time. So, going forward, I will be doing the treadmill for 30 minutes (5 minute warm up, 20 minute walk, 5 minute cool down) 5 - 7 times per week. In addition, after every cardio session, I need to do 3 stretching exercises. I also need to do 4 toning exercises for 1 minute each 5 - 7 times per week. I will start the toning without weights and eventually build up to 5 pounds. That's all she wants me to do, and that's all that is expected immediately after surgery. She said eventually I might want to invest in more weight equipment or join a gym, but she doesn't recommend that until 6 - 9 months post op. She did mention that about 90% of her patients discover yoga after surgery.

The next steps are getting the Sleep Test scheduled and done, getting the gallbladder ultrasound scheduled and done (both should be completed by the end of July) and having the second session with the psychologist (July 14). It looks like, insurance willing, I will meet with the surgeon the first week of August and have my surgery scheduled within 30 days (early September). That really gives me about 9 weeks to start implementing some of the suggestions I got yesterday to ensure I am successful with this surgery.

Off to get some work done so I can actually accomplish a few things before leaving early!