One Hundred Thirty Pounds Ago,

I shed my shell and Got My Wings!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ruben Says.....

So, Ruben tells me that he doesn't read my blog anymore because our life sounds like a soap-opera. Is it un-normal of me to only really feel the urge to write when something goes wrong? When everything is great, I'm happy and have no problem showing it or telling it to the world verbally. When things are not-so great, I have a hard time verbally expressing my self and instead, choose to write. So that's when everybody gets to read about my problems. I guess I should take the time to right happy things more often...

So, today there is more soap-opera drama in my life. This week we got wonderful news that Ruben's cancer is still in remission (after having a scare that it was back). The very next day we got news that our land-lord is going to sell our home. We've gotta find another place to live...soon! The landlord called one day and said, "I want my realtor to come by tomorrow, is that too soon?" I was shocked. We love our home. We've been there three years and have really made it a part of us. We love our neighborhood. And in just a few more weeks my home, school, and work will all be within a 2 mile circle of each other. Aside from that though, we can't afford anything anywhere else. Neither of us have great credit, and right now we have roommates that help with rent and bills. We can't afford to live somewhere on our own, but no one will rent to two couples with crapy credit. And, we have to think about Hector. If we get into an apartment, he won't have a yard at all anymore. No animal should not have a yard, but I just can't give Hector up.

Got My Wings at 2:23 PM


Sunday, August 28, 2005

My Hero

A few weeks ago Ruben wrote about me being his Super Hero. If he only knew that he is mine as well. Isn't it funny how two people can feel the same way about each other? This picture is of Ruben with a cousin of mine, pretending to be strong and "Super Hero-ish." But, this is how I really see him all the time. He is one of the strongest men in the world....just not so much in the muscle department. He is strong in the heart and mind, even when he is scared and doesn't want to be strong. He amazes me everyday. He says he's that way because of me, but really, he inspires me to keep encouraging him.

Now don't get me wrong, neither of us are by any means perfect...we're far from it. There are days when he frustrates me too, and I know I do the same to him. There are days when we nit-pick and argue, sometimes even about his health and mostly about our finances; but every night we go to sleep in each others arms and we always make sure to never go to sleep angry. My parents instilled that into me. Mostly because if you go to bed angry at each other, there's no telling what will happen to you in your sleep...ha ha! No really though, they've taught me that's a key to a good relationship.

Anyway...back to the Hero story. Last Friday Ruben gave an inspirational speech to about 500 members of the Modesto Junior College Staff. He spoke about his disease and not about over coming it, but about dealing with it. He was great. Naturally, a little nervous at first, but by the end he seemed like a pro. He belonged up there, just like he thinks I belong in a class room. He needs to find a way to do this for a living. Not to profit from his disease, but to help others get through their problems (whether they be as severe, or not, or worse). Every one comes to this world with a calling, and I think he's found his. It only took him 30 years. I don't think that's too bad at all. I know 60 year olds who are still looking.

Got My Wings at 8:55 PM


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Today, I Ate

Today, I ate. I ate my feelings down for the first time since my weight loss surgery and I hated myself for it. I hated myself for not having the willpower to just "say no!" I felt like I let myself down, but more importantly, Ruben.

At 1:00 pm a nice woman came and took Ruben back into the doctor's office to get ready for his procedures. My dad was there with us for support. Ruben's procedure was to begin at 1:30 and take about an hour and fifteen minutes. I've only gone though these with him a dozen times or so, but the butterflies, dizziness and racing heart never get better with each time. At 1:20 I walked my dad back to his vehicle. He had to leave for work. At 1:35 I wondered to the hospital gift shop to try to keep my mind off of things, and by 1:42 I was in the cafeteria.

By 2:00 I was sitting under a beautiful old tree outside and I had finished two ice cream bars (a strawberry shortcake stick and a chocholate/carmel drumstick) along with two cookies and washed them all down with a soda. When I started with the Strawberry Shortcake, I felt no guilt at all. When I opened the Drumstick I told myself that I should not be doing this. Then, I decided I'd only pick the nuts off the top. Then, it was gone too. Through every bite of the cookies I cursed myself in my head. I was sitting two feet from a garbage can, but could not make myself get up and throw everything away. Afterward, I looked at the pile of wrappers and sticky ice cream stick in my hands and prayed to God that the sugar would make me sick and teach me my lesson, because I absolutely deserved it. But, nothing happened.

I went back into the hospital, up the elevator and toward Ruben's waiting room. I was there twenty minutes before they called me back to be with Ruben in recovery. He hadn't been able to eat for nearly two whole days before his procedure. I told him I had bought him two cookies to hold him over until I could get some food in his system. They were really just the only two left from the 4-for-a-$1 special in the cafeteria that I had forced myself from eating.

Got My Wings at 5:02 PM


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Luau Time!

Ruben and I decided to have a get together for everyone in our wedding party because very few of them have ever met before. I think it only makes since that if a group of people have agreed to stand up for us at our wedding, that they should know each other a little better than only meeting at the wedding shower and ceremony rehersal...right? So, we are throwing a Luau! I know the typical Luau stuff like Flower Leis and Hula skirts and Tiki torches. But, I need some other unique ideas....anybody got any????

Got My Wings at 7:14 PM


Friday, August 12, 2005

Life Just Keeps Going

Well, I stopped posting again because after I changed my blog template quite a few of my new posts just disappeared (and they were one's I really wanted to save), so I got a little discouraged. But, I've felt the urge to write lately and figure this is the best place to do it.

When it rains, it pours...doesn't it?!? I'm trying to complete school so Ruben and I can move and start our lives. After my parent's party took a huge toll on us, I thought things would go back to normal. But, I had to cut my work hours to take a summer school class and for the last two months I've average bringing home about $700.00 per month. Our portion of rent is $400.00, so I've had $300.00 to cover gas, food, a car payment, credit card bills and utilities. Being that the car alone is $150.00 of that $300.00 and I have to be able to feed us and have gas to get the job that pays me that little amount, all of my bills have been going unpaid. We have credit collectors calling daily and they are driving poor Ruben insane while he tries to rest every day, and we just got a pink slip threatening to shut off our water and sewage service. Plus, Ruben's insurance just stopped giving us any financial aid for being low-income. Last week one trip to the doctor's office cost us $80.00 in co-pays, and a test he is having next week will be another $50.00. On top of that, the $80.00 last week got us to the conclusion that Ruben's cancer may be out of remission and tests are now beginning. Liver testing isn't doing too great either, so he's scheduled for two procedures next week with his gastro-interoligist. If his cancer is back, his chances of ever qualifying for a liver transplant go to zilch.

I haven't had blood work done since my surgery. I tried to at first, but my surgeons office kept canceling and rescheduling my appointments while they were merging with another doctor. Now that they want to get me in and promise to follow through, I can't afford to take off work. Ruben is getting worried about my health. I'm 16 pounds from my surgeon’s goal and I haven't lost weight in months. Actually, I've gained a few pounds, and that scares me. Between summer school and work I've been averaging about 3 hours of sleep every night for weeks. And while my dad's cancer is gone, he's now been diagnosed a Diabetic. Don't get me wrong, I'd take that over cancer. And while they were benign, my mother just had several lumps removed from her breasts. This isn't the first time. One time, someday, they'll be malignant. I just know it. Ruben's mom keeps having seizures and now has an appointment this month at UCSF for testing or something. I'm trying so hard to be strong, but it's killing me not to be able to fall apart.

Got My Wings at 2:59 PM


Saturday, June 11, 2005

I'm back!

Hello Everyone! I have to apologize for not posting in so long! A previous post of mine really hurt some family members, although it had no intention of doing so, and when they expressed their feelings to me it really un-motivated me from blogging. The post was about how unhappy I was with where I am right now in life and they felt it to be their fault (or like the blog made it sound to be their fault), when in all reality it's absolutely no one's fault but my own. I'm not un-happy about who I am or my relationship, just about where I am. I'm disappointed in myself that I'm not further and haven't accomplished more. I've made choices and sacrifices all on my own, with no one twisting my arm. I think it's all part of growing up and looking back--even when back isn't that far behind you. Growing up and taking control, and no longer making excuses or blaming and pointing fingers. Growing up and realizing all of the sudden--like getting hit with a semi-truck, that this is your life-your ONE time shot-and "Oh my God, what have I been doing with it!?"

Anyway, I'm back to writing now, as you can see. I thought now was as good of a time as any. I'm happy to announce that I just had my first birthday. My "Re-Birthday." It's been one year since my weight loss surgery and I've lost 130 pounds exactly. In a year! It's even hard for me to believe still. That's an average of about 11 pounds per month. Some months have definitely gone slower than others...some have even come to a dead halt! It definitely hasn't been easy. If anyone thinks that WLS is the "easy way out" of being fat, I feel sorry for their ignorance. This has been hands down the hardest year of my life, but also the most rewarding! I'll post a recent picture soon, promise. What I thought to be hilarious though was that all my family and good friends, for my birthday, wanting to take me out to EAT!!!!! Isn't that the addiction I've been battling? Society thinks that celebrations have to be centered around food...and a party isn't a party without dessert, right? I guess I just have a different way of thinking now. I love that I don't NEED food anymore. Just before my surgery a dear friend of mine reminded me that this surgery was going to change my stomach, not my head. Changing my head and my lifestyle was the hardest part! They (doctors) say that after WLS surgery, patients no longer live to eat, instead we eat to live. The down side of this surgery is that many can go the opposite extreme and become anorexic. I can go days without being hungry. But, I remind myself that I have to eat. And, I still try to make better food choices--but I'm by no means perfect--you can see my hamburger post to attest to that.

Besides my birthday, life is pretty much the same. I'm taking an online summer school coarse and on Monday start a class that goes four hours a day, four days week for nine weeks...but, I'm excited because I'm be working with children again. I'm also planning my parent's 25th Wedding Anniversary party for next weekend. Boy, what a job! It's the least I can do for them though, and wish I could do much more. They've done so much for me! I'm proud of them. Not too many marriages last that long anymore it seems, and they've been wonderful examples for what I want from a marriage. My only problem now is that I can't find a man as perfect as my daddy. Ruben is working on it though. Maybe in 25 years he'll have it down...

Well, I'm going to end this here for now. Hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderfully relaxing weekend!

Got My Wings at 6:51 PM


Monday, April 11, 2005

2 Years...And Counting

Isn't it odd how two people who swear to be soul-mates can view life so differently? Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of when Ruben and I were told he had a terminal liver disease and may not make it more than another 2-3 years before needing a liver transplant, which he doesn't qualify for until five years due to also having cancer. Some news, uh?

The last two years have been quite the struggle with him. Definitely nothing I would ever regret, but quite the challenge. There have been on and off battles with depression, anger, denial, blame, and even acceptance that peeks out every so often...all of the things that all "the books" tell you should come with this type of news. I can honestly say that I could never imagine what it must be like to be in Ruben's shoes, but I truly believe it's almost more difficult to be in the shoes of the spouse or significant other. The patience that I have had to endure has sometimes been the most difficult times of my life. If what they say about patience being a virtue is true...I've got enough to go around for everyone! Yesterday though, I toed my border line.

Last year on this day we took the opportunity to celebrate! We left the kids with his parents and went out for a romantic dinner and a visit to the local casino. We celebrated that we had come this far and made it through so much and we vowed to never stopped fighting through the upcoming year. Since then, we have struggled and battled through more trials that I feel we've overcome and are worth (again) celebrating. We also got engaged, and by this time next year we plan to be married. We had spoken earlier in the week about what we would do this year to celebrate. After all, when you are told that you're dying, isn't each year that passes that you're still alive something to celebrate?

Instead, Ruben took yesterday as an opportunity to mope. With all my might I tried to be understanding. I tried to see his side ~ that although he's grateful to have made it this far, it also means that count down to the time he was given is closer to an end. But, I just can't live my life in the negative, pessimistic, shoulda-coulda-woulda-maybe way that he does. I was doing okay...really. Until, I was in the kitchen trying my hardest to make him a meal that he'd love and enjoy and all I kept having to listen to were the sounds of sad, depressing songs coming from the computer.

Lonestar's, "I Believe."
Garth Brook's, "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
Travis Tritt's, "Tell Me I was Dreaming."
And Darryl Worley's, "If Something Should Happen." - Which he went on and on about having to email a copy to all of his friends as a way of asking them to look after all the things he cares about when he's gone.

Today even, they are still stuck in my head driving me insane. Don't get me wrong, they are all good songs. But for someone to sit and torture themselves to tears is beyond me. I was amazed that the only song not played was Tim McGraw's, "Live Like You Were Dying." By the end of the evening we argued over who was going to do the dishes. No one I know even likes doing dishes - what a stupid thing to argue about. Like kids..."No, I wanna do the dishes...no, leave the kitchen, I want to do the dishes." There was no compromising to do them together. He did the dishes. I just left. I couldn’t sit there anymore. I came home around 10:00 and he was already in bed. When I left for work this morning, he was still asleep.

Got My Wings at 11:15 AM


Friday, April 08, 2005

Dresses From Hell

I hate wedding dress shopping! And bridesmaids dresses too! How stupid are the people in this industry? Everything is cut soooooo small! A couple months ago when I got engaged I was excited that I would actually be in a size eight for my wedding, maybe even smaller. The last dress I bought in the juniors department was a size 10 and fits great...even loose in all the right places. Since then I've even purchased size eight pants. But, every wedding and bridesmaid dress I've tried on this week has had to be a size 14 before my ass could squeeze into it and get it zipped. Even the 12's were just too snug! I've gone from feeling great about my size to feeling like a blimp again. I can't believe I've gone through so much to loose weight and still have to be considered "plus sized" for my wedding dress.

You're supposed to feel great about yourself on your wedding day. Wouldn't it be smarter for these idiots to make size numbers much smaller (or even accurate) so women feel better? I know it's just a number, and outside of that dress I'm still the right size...but this is one hell of a way to make me feel like a princess when I'm spending quite a few hundred dollars.

And my poor bridesmaids who are actually size 14 and 16's can't even try on dresses because the stores don't house any size 20's for them!

Ok...I think I'm done now...thanks for letting me rant!

Got My Wings at 7:03 AM


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Crying in the Twilight

Tonight I treated myself to a nice, long bath. Afterward, I made a large cup of tea and relaxed in my robe while I surfed through a few fellow bloggers' current entries. Oddly, Ruben had already headed to bed to begin reading for the evening. Normally, 9.5 times out of 10, I'm in bed hours before him and usually get awoken from my slumber by him trying to crawl into bed without waking me. Or, if he does get by without me noticing, I'm usually awoken shortly after by the laughter brought forth by the newest Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris book.

Tonight though, he was nestled away in warm blankets buried into a book, while I took the turn of night owl. The bedroom door was open and all I could see was a faint glow from his bedside lamp. I heard the familiar, yet almost forgotten, muffled-trembling cry of pain. He always tries to hide it from me. It started with what I thought may be a laugh, but then remembered he wasn't reading a comical book this time around. Next came a cough, not quite even worthy of a cough title...perhaps a sputter really, and finally a cry for help. I stupidly called to Ruben, as if I didn't already know the true answer, "Honey, are you ok?" He stuttered back, choking down his tears, "I'm ok baby."

By the time he got his answer out I had already made my way into the bedroom. He was sitting on the edge of the bed with one hand gripping his side so tightly it reminded me of the way someone would clinch onto an article of soaked clothing before wringing it out. The other hand still held his book. He was trying to continue with his reading to keep his mind off the pain, but the only person he was fooling was himself - his eyes puddled over so heavily with tears, there was no way those little printed words were anything more than a blur.

Like I said, tonight was a familiar scenario, but it hadn't happened in a while, and it wasn't missed. It happened frequently for a long time, but not much since his surgery in October. I t scared me, but not as much as it scares him. As always, I promised him he'd be okay, and got him to slow his breathing and calm down. I fetched his pain medicine and then nestled him back into the warm blankets and held him until the quivering went away and he fell asleep.

I had written this out on paper after it happened so I wouldn't forget a single way that I felt while it was happening. Ruben found it laying by our computer and read it. Like a little boy about to confess stealing a candy bar, he hesitated telling me he had read my paper - feeling like he had invaded my privacy. I wasn't upset at all. His eyes swelled with tears as he went on to tell me what a wonderful writer he thinks I am and how much my words mean to him. I wish with all my heart that these could be the fictitious writings used by an author to draw readers in and not want to put the book down. These are nights that most people just read about. Instead, I live them. I wonder if those authors are just incredibly imaginative, or if they have also lived through something similar before being able to write in ways that touch people enough to make them feel the author's and character's pain and cry themselves.

Got My Wings at 8:13 PM


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Somewhere Over the Wrong Side of the Rainbow

I don't know how old I was in this picture, but I do wonder what happened to this little carefree girl. Who would have ever thought that she would become who I am today? Did anyone look at her and know that she'd get molested at 11 years old, pregnant and forced into and abortion at almost sixteen, graduate high school a hear and a half ahead of schedule and dive head first into college to get a jump start on her career, only to be working two jobs and cleaning her mother's house once a week for extra money to pay bills while she struggles through one class each semester-still at the same junior college she started at- five years later, knowing that somehow it's all worth it while she loves a man who may or may not make it past the next two years?

Quiet houses make you think things you normally wouldn't. I'm going on just over an hour of sitting here alone on my couch. This is the first time I've actually had alone in my home in almost a year. I used to love time alone more than anything; I needed it to stay sane. I enjoyed being with just me. Cleaning, sewing, baking, doing laundry, writing, reading, watching movies...I could occupy myself contently for hours, days even, without another living soul. Since Ruben stopped working I don't get time alone anymore, at all. There is never a time when I'm home and he's not, except for the occasional 10 minute trip to the corner store to get milk or ice cream. I'm sure you're thinking this can't be true, there's got to be at least a little time or one day where he's had errands to run, but there isn't.

Just over a week ago I actually had the nerve to complain about this. Ruben and I even sat and tried to figure out what we can do so that I can get some time alone at home. We came to the conclusion that perhaps he could take an evening class next semester purposely on a night I don't have school. That would give me about three hours to myself one night a week. Now, I wonder. Have I gotten so used to not having that time that I now don't know what to do with myself without him? This afternoon we watched a movie together. He gets so easily tired, even when things don't take any energy, like cuddling for a movie. When it ended he asked me if I'd be ok with him taking a nap. I could tell he felt guilty asking; normally he naps while I work so we can spend time together in the evenings. I could also tell how incredibly exhausted he really was, because he didn't even take with him the new book he's lost himself in. Normally, even when exhausted, he always reads even if just for a few pages to get his body to relax and calm down, but "Tuesdays with Morrie" lies next to me on our coffee table still while he's in our room sound asleep.

When he went to lay down I almost felt a burst of excitement. I made a nice big cup of hot tea and as I walked into our living room it hit me that I didn't know what to do with myself. I sat and stared into space for a good twenty minutes, only my space was our closed bedroom door he lays on the opposite side of. Then, I began writing here. I'm lonely, almost sad now. All I can think about is the smile that will be on my face when I see him open that bedroom door. Perhaps the depressing sound of rain on the roof of the porch and wind rattling the windows doesn't help. Hector helps a little. It's amazing what the love of a little puppy can do for you. Is this loneliness without my partner another side of love, or just a dependency I've let myself fall into? I miss the cooking, baking, cleaning, movie watching, and sewing part of me. I also miss the dedicated academic over achiever that started college so many years ago. I need to find me again. I need to find me and figure out how to balance it with loving Ruben. I want both, not just one or the other. Am I asking too much, for my cake and eating it too? I feel like I just want to give so much to Ruben incase he doesn't make it through this battle. I want to know I gave him all of me to enjoy. But, while I keep thinking this way I'm telling him each day to only live for today, one day at a time. Am I doing this for myself? Maybe I need to listen to my own advice. It would be unfair of me to keep living this way now that I've realized what I've done to myself.

Got My Wings at 6:51 PM


Friday, March 18, 2005

The Day is Coming!

It’s Official! This is where I’m getting married. Well, almost official, we just have to show it to my parents and give the lady a deposit, but we are penciled in her book for Saturday, April 22, 2006.

There is a staircase I will be walking down, a gazebo for the ceremony, ponds with waterfalls full of koi, and flowers every where! The name of the place is The Heirloom Inn. It’s a bed and breakfast in Ione, California. It’s perfect and beautiful and everything I’ve dreamed of…and cheap! Cheaper than comparable places anyway. Plus it’s only 15 minutes from Jackson Casino and thirty minutes from some great antique towns like Sonora, Jamestown and Columbia, so our guests can have a fun little weekend vacation while they are in the area.

Ruben and I are excited. This is our first big step and now we are realizing that it’s actually gong to happen, and in only one year! It doesn’t seem far away at all. Just the other day he was telling me how he can’t wait to wear a wedding ring again and feel complete. He’s jealous that I already get to wear one. He just keeps telling me that he can’t wait to call me his wife…I can’t wait to call him my husband either. Although, funny enough, I’m having the hardest time calling him my fiancé…that’s just a funny word, but he is so much more than a boyfriend.

We have so many plans and ideas already, in our heads the entire day is planned, we just need to figure out where to get started and make it all real. From flowers to dresses and tuxes and shoes and hair and centerpieces…we know it all! We've even began planning the honeymoon. We're thinking Belize and Guatemala. The next thing on the list though is my dress!

Got My Wings at 2:27 PM


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Feeling Great!

I just thought I'd update about my weight loss. The picture above is of my newest niece and me. It isn't the most recent, it's about a month old, but I don't have any more current.

Oddly enough lately I haven’t been losing any weight, but I have still been losing inches around my body. This, I'm told, is normal for my surgery...it's a break my body takes to catch up from losing weight so fast. Yesterday, despite my recent trip to McDonalds I told you all about, I got into my first pair of size eights! I don't think I've been in a size eight since I was about six years old (regardless that those are a different kind of size eights...this kind of size eight I think I just flat bypassed as an adolescent and went straight into 14's, 16's, and XL's). I also bought a size small t-shirt. I'm still very comfortable in a size 10 dress though.

Almost a year after surgery and this all still seems so surreal to me. It was only mid January when I got so excited that I fit into my mother-in-law's size 12's that I left her standing in a room in her underwear while I ran to the living room to show everyone that her pants fit me! Not even two months later and I'm already down two more sizes! Man oh man is this getting expensive though! I'm starting the summer with nothing...literally...at the end of last summer I was happily just getting into a size 16, now all of those just fall off me.

Got My Wings at 1:51 PM


Monday, March 07, 2005

Hamburger Happy

Today, for the first time in ten months, I sat alone in my car and stuffed my face with a McDonald's Big 'N Tasty Hamburger. A year ago this was a daily ritual, sometimes twice daily, for me and would never have seemed so sinful. A year ago through, it would have been accompanied by a super sized fry, soda, and vanilla ice cream cone...today it was just the burger, and I only got through half of it before I just couldn't take another bite.

I haven't yet used this site to journal much about my Weight loss Surgery Journey, but I'm going to take today as an opportunity to start. 10 months ago I had my surgery at 292 pounds and a size 26. As of today I've lost 120 pounds and am in-between a size 8 and 10. Sure, I've been in hurries or on road trips where I've eaten fast food, but I've consciously made better choices...like chicken or salad, or only eating the insides of something and discarding the bread or tortilla, but today I just wanted to bite into a huge greasy, bread included hamburger and enjoy it! I'm not proud of myself, even in the slightest....and I actually feel worse because I don't even have the excuse of stress, PMS, or a big fight with Ruben...nope, everything is fine for me today, I just wanted a hamburger!

Part of my reasoning for posting this is because many people think my surgery is the easy way out of fatness. It's not that at all. I've worked harder in the last ten months then ever in my life to stay healthy and make the right choices. A few bad choices have made me very sick even. It's a struggle every day to know that there are things I want and shouldn't have (not can't though). I can eat whatever I want, knowing that in doing so I would in fact gain my weight back. My surgery isn't the answer to my addiction to food and obesity, it's just a tool that has helped me see a better way of life and get healthy. My surgery fixed my stomach, not my head. Fast food still tastes as good to me as it used to, and as good as it does to the person sitting next to me.

Got My Wings at 1:39 PM


Saturday, March 05, 2005

Happy Birthday Boy

Today is Ruben's 30th Birthday. This beautiful balloon bouquet was sent to him earlier today from his girls. We took this picture and emailed it to them along with a thank you.

I miss them so much. It's been just over a month since we've seen them. It always seems to go that way. We see them for about six months out of every year. Everything gets really great and our weekends with them are the happiest times we have, then something always goes wrong and we go a few months without seeing them again. Ruben says it's his ex’s entire fault, but I wish he could see that yes, it is her fault for purposely trying to push him out of his kids’ lives, but he is the one that ultimately makes the final decision not to see his kids. Is hurting your children and ruining their childhoods really worth not having to deal with their mother that you hate so passionately?

Without trying to sound conceded, I was really the best thing those girls had within a few hundred miles. I'm the only one they have that actually cares about their mental and physical well-being. It's so sad to me that they have to grow up with two incredibly shitty biological parents that care more about making the other one’s lives miserable than putting their children first, a step dad that doesn't care for them and would rather pay a babysitter to watch them while he only watches his ‘real’ children, and a soon to be step mom that loves them more than anything in the world but isn't even allowed to call them because their mother resents that they actually love me back and wants to keep them away from me.

It’s difficult to deal with these feelings today. Last night should have been our legally scheduled dinner visit with the girls. I should have been able to see Lauren’s smile while her dad read a carefully hand-crafted birthday card, and heard Grace’s squeaky voice sing Happy Birthday to her daddy while I took pictures for our family photo album for Lauren to later help me put together. Something just doesn’t feel right without all this. It doesn’t feel right when I hear Ruben on the phone answering with, “I just don’t know Lauren; I can’t play your mom’s games anymore. This isn’t my fault,” when I know the question he’s answering is, “When will I see you again Daddy?”

At twenty, I know this is all wrong. Why is it so hard for a man of thirty to see? Will I be hoping for the same smiles, hugs and squeaky voices on this day next year? The ring on my finger promises my forever love and dedication to Ruben, as well as his children, how is it possible for me to hold up my end of the bargain when the children aren’t in my life to be loved? It hurts to be an adult who understands all this; I can only imagine being a child who doesn’t.

But, today Ruben has enjoyed his birthday, with or without them. Last night we saw an amazing movie and had a wonderful dinner. This morning we woke up holding each other and listening to his mother sing Happy Birthday into our answering machine. I took him to a nice breakfast and then we got grocery shopping done for his party tomorrow. It is also my mom'’s, brother'’s and cousin'’s birthday this weekend so we’re having a “"Together"” party at our home. It will be nice to be surrounded by family. I just wish Ruben's family was close enough to share his special day with us as well. They are in our hearts though, and this is one of many birthdays we will have with Ruben, I'’m convincing him of that more and more each day!

Got My Wings at 5:28 PM


Monday, February 21, 2005

Bahama Mama

I had the most incredible weekend in San Francisco with Ruben! He planned a romantic getaway for us to celebrate our engagement. Actually, when he was talking about this trip weeks ago I had convinced myself that because he was trying to make it so special that this was when we would propose, little did I know the real plan and that this was only a celebration of me accepting his proposal! But, I somewhat ruined our most romantic night, completely on accident. A Bahama Mama knocked me on my ass! Before I get too far into this story, let me explain shortly how alcohol affects Weight Loss Surgery patients. Right after surgery my new stomach was about the size of men's thumb. Now, at nine months out I can hold about 4-5 ounces of food. In addition to a new stomach, my intestines have been re-routed. Because of all this, Gastric Bypass under goers are very cheap dates when it comes to alcohol! With our stomachs so small, and our new intestines, beverages go through us and into our bloodstream much faster than normally. Therefore, we feel the effects of drinking quite quickly, and at the same time it also goes through us at almost the same rate so we sober up more quickly as well (which is good for some occasions if you want to start drinking all over again, but not at all something that should be taken advantage of.) Now that you have this information, you should also know that I very rarely drink in the first place, maybe 3-4 times a year at special occasions and it's never to get drunk. But!!!! Sunday evening Ruben reserved a setting for us in Union Square at a restaurant called First Crush. It was beautiful and elegant and the food was incredible, melt in your mouth quality. Back at the room were candles and chocolate covered strawberries awaiting our arrival and wanting to make our night only oooohhhh so more perfect!

Ruben felt bad that I had taken so long getting ready for our evening for it to only last the hour of our dinner, so on our way back to the room we stopped at the hotel lobby for after dinner drinks and dessert. He had a coke and cheesecake and I had a Bahama Mama! I felt fine while in the lobby, and on the way to the elevator and up the elevator and all the way into the room. I sat on the edge of the bed to take off my shoes and remember Ruben telling me he was going to use the restroom. That's it! Hours later, board and lonely, after a movie and reading a while, Ruben woke me up. He said I was passed out when he stepped out of the restroom and that I had looked so pretty and peaceful in my formal dress that he didn't have a heart to wake me. I felt awful. It was comical to him, but I couldn't help but feel awful.

For anyone without my impaired system, I do recommend this drink! It has a wonderful splash of coconut and is very refreshing, but watch out, it does sneak up you!

Got My Wings at 8:47 PM


Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My Prince

One week ago Ruben swept me off my feet when he asked me to take his hand in marriage. It was the sweetest, most perfect proposal I could have ever dreamed of. All my friends and family were there! My parents cried, but the best part was my first hug afterward with my father. He wrapped his arms around me so tightly, his little girl - a newly engaged woman. I whispered into his ear, "Did he ask you first, Daddy?" He tightened his grip around me and said, "Yes Meg, he did it all right. Congratulations, I know he'll make you very happy." And he will, I know it. More than anything in the world, do you know how to tell when you're with 'The One'? I didn't truly know until that night. I mean, I've known that I love him for a very long time, and I've known I want to spend my life with him for two years now; but, it wasn't until that one moment that any sliver of doubt disappeared. Have you ever seen in the movies when two people are so into one another that the entire world going on around then just disappears? Forces of Nature comes to mind with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. There is a scene in the end when Ben reunites with his fiancé on their wedding day after almost not showing up. They are in a hurricane, all the guests are scurrying for safety and the props are being blown away and for the most perfect moment there is nothing in the world that could distract them from the hold on one another's eyes. There is a bubble around them. The wind isn't even blowing their hair out of place, while entire bodies are being blown everywhere around them. Each others voices are the only things they can hear and each others eyes are the only things they can see. They are shielded from the rain, safe and happy. This happened to me. Things in the movies never happen in real life, but this happened to me.

Ruben got up in front of 100 people to read a poem written for me, at the end of the poem a familiar song began to play, "Come Rain or Shine" by Billy Holiday. I remember the song coming on, but it faded quickly. Ruben called me to the stage where, he knelt on one knee and offered me his heart, in a silver heart shaped box. It wasn't until we finished hugging and kissing that I realized we were in the middle of a standing ovation and the song was still playing overhead. The following day I watched the video tape my mother had recorded, it wasn't until then I realized that the song never in fact faded and the audience had been clapping and hollering long before I ever 'came to'. I was in a bubble with the whole world going around me and I didn't even know it. Ruben was my whole world!

Today Ruben got a call from his Liver Specialist. Tomorrow will be more blood work, and then a decision will be made as to weather or not he needs another ERCP to help clear his bile ducts so his liver can function longer. It’s been well over a year since his last one, which is good in the since that some PSC patients have this done every 6 months, but the last one was actually the one that diagnosed him. This will also be able to give the doctor an idea of how the disease is progressing. Ruben is scared. The last thing he wants right now is more bad news. He wants to get through our wedding and have a life together. He doesn’t want to be sick any more. It kills me inside when I have to hold him while his eyes begin to weep and tell him everything is going to be okay. I don’t know that. The only thing that keeps me thinking that is the hope that God won’t take this person away from me too. He’s taken every one else I really loved. My best friend, my favorite uncle, my grandma and grandpa. All the significant people I’ve ever wanted at my wedding day, and now he wants to take the man I’m supposed to wed! What kind of God does that? We’re supposed to spend the rest of our lives together, but what if the rest of Ruben’s is only a few more years? What have I ever done to deserve going through so much pain and always having to come out of everything as the strong one? I’ve always been spiritual and a believer, uplifting and positive. I’m one of the most optimistic people you’ll ever meet, mostly because it’s the only way I really know how to deal with things, but I’m finding it hard to stay this way more and more lately. No matter what though, I will remain strong for Ruben. If his ‘till death do us part’ is that much shorter than mine, I will be by his side all of the way. I know I’m signing on for that possibility by accepting his proposal and becoming his wife. There’s also a chance he will get a transplant and live much longer than myself. And I’m ok with either, I’ve done a lot of thinking about it and I’m at peace with it. Marriage is “for better or worse, and in sickness and health,” and I want more than anything to be his wife. If the time comes when he does get really sick, I want to know I’m taking care of and standing by my husband. But, that doesn’t mean I have to like God for it all the time.

This is Megan, signing off………..

Got My Wings at 9:31 PM


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Introducing Megan

I'm not even sure where to start here...a little more than two years ago I met the most amazing man, Ruben, and knew instantly that I wanted to spend my life with him. We moved in together after three weeks (with much grief from our parents, but knew in our hearts everything just felt right). There's ten years between us. He has a previous wife and two beautiful children. Grace is four years old and Lauren is eight years old. I've been in their lives since just before Grace turned two years old. They both tell me I'm just as much of a Mom to them as their mother is. It tickles my heart more then anything in the world when Grace occasionally calls me Mom. Ruben has told me that Lauren has asked him about calling me Mom; I know she'll do what feels right when she's ready. She’s very independent and not one that anyone should ever push. She always comes around in her own time, and there's nothing she's ever done that I'm not incredibly proud of.

Six months after Ruben and I started dating I tagged along with him to a simple routine procedure purely to provide a ride home. He was having an ERCP to help clear his bile ducts of gull stones that had gotten stuck and were causing him to be jaundice. I was told the procedure would take 45 minutes; two hours later nurses finally brought him to his recovery room. He was completely passed out because they had given him two doses of anesthesia due to a violent reaction to the first dose. Since he was unable to wake up, but could only be kept for a short amount of time due to insurance coverage, the nurses bombarded me with release paperwork. The doctor came with salt and peppered hair and an incredibly straight, unreadable face. He carelessly began telling me that Ruben had no gull stones in his bile ducts and that what was found was ten years of scar tissue build up from a terminal disease that had caused his liver to cirrhose. He went on to tell me that the disease was rare, incurable and not very much was known about it. There were no medications that were proven to be affective. He then slurred the name of the disease and mentioned Walter Payton (who I’d never heard of) and patted down his shirt in hopes to find a piece of paper. With no luck, he took the release paperwork from me and scribbled the name of the disease down. He then told me to go home and research the disease online, since he could tell me no more about it than I could read about it and said he’d be on vacation for five weeks and to call his office and make an appointment for when he returned. I looked at Ruben, who was still sleeping. He looked so peaceful, almost dead. There was no snoring like what I was used to and his breathing was shallow. I asked the doctor, “Are you telling me he’s dying?” He smugly replied, “We’re all dying. This is just most likely what he’ll die from.” I was devastated when he left the room. More than being devastated about what he had said (because it hadn’t sunk in), I was blown away by how he said it. What kind of inconsiderate doctor was this? The nurses had me go down to drive my car up to the exit while they wheeled him out. He slept the 40 minute ride home, then just woke up enough to have me help him into our bedroom to go back to sleep. He slept for another four hours while I frantically searched the internet for information about Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I called my mom and told her what was going on. I couldn’t believe that this doctor had put it on me to tell this man he was dying. I selfishly thought there was no way an eighteen year old girl should have to be faced with telling anyone such news, but how on earth could I be so selfish at a time like this, I should only be thinking about him and what it’s going to be like to hear this news. My mom came over to be supportive for both Ruben and I. His family lives four hours away and I had wanted him to choose to tell them or not, so I hadn’t called them. He woke up finally that night to my mother and me and could sense that something was wrong. We sat at the kitchen table and told him everything that I had been told. He took it amazingly well at first and then fell apart in my mother’s arms. That night after my mom left he cried himself asleep in my arms. That next morning was the best morning of our relationship. It was amazing to him that I was still there the next morning. He thought that I would get scared and leave since we hadn’t been together very long. I was there that day, and I’ve been there everyday since.

That was in April of 2003. Two months later he was told he had cancer - Hodgekin's Lymphomia - completly non related to his liver disease. He went through surgery and radiation because his liver could not handle chemo. By federal law, he has to be in remission from cancer for five years before her can get a transplant; and from liver biopsy results doctor's are saying his liver only has about 3 years left.

He’s on social security now. He tries to take a few easy classes here and there and works on Modesto Famous out of our home so not to over-do himself. We’ve been through cancer treatment, three surgeries and many trips to doctors and hospitals. We’re waiting to see if a liver transplant will be an option in the next few years. He’ll need that to survive.

After standing by him through so much, this year it was finally his turn to stand by my side medically. In May of 2004, I had weight loss surgery. I had struggled with weight my entire life and shortly after turning eighteen was told by my doctor that I was a “walking heart attack.” So, at nineteen I made this life changing choice to do something about it. I spent a year researching and going to support groups and was confident this was a path I wanted to take. I just had my twentieth birthday in early November and gave myself the best gift in the world…I was down 97 pounds at the time. Currently, I’m down 110 pounds and feel great. I’m 30 pounds away from the goal weight that my surgeon set for me just before surgery. This is where the name of my blog comes in. The butterfly is the symbol for Weight Loss Surgery because we are all caterpillars that break out of our cocoons into beautiful butterflies as the pounds shed off us and we find ourselves. In the past seven months I truely have “Got My Wings.” My body has changed so much and Ruben has supported me through all of it. At my first check up after surgery I had lost 16 pounds. I didn’t think anything of it until we went home and he made me carry around 16 pounds of canned goods in a paper bag. He was so proud of me and wanted me to feel that I had accomplished something important. There was no way I could have carried that 16 pound bag on a mile walk, and now I’d hate to see a grocery bag full of 110 pounds! If there’s anyone interested in my weight loss journey, please feel free to check out my surgery journal and email if you have any questions: http://www.obesityhelp.com/morbidobesity/profile.phtml?N=H1073072962

Well, I can promise you that none of my posts will be this long and drawn out, but I did want to introduce my self and my story. Still not sure if I’m doing this right or not, but this a glimpse into my life. Hopefully some will be touched or motivated if they follow this every now and then, but it’s completely fine if some are not. Really, I’m doing this for me, but I’d love if my life touched someone else’s along the way.

So until next time, thanks for reading this far. If you are at all interested in getting to know Ruben, who is a much more eloquent writer than me, please check out his blog:

This is Megan, signing off…..

Got My Wings at 2:54 PM