cjs18 day 29 Jane LaFazio

Today’s artist was the lovely and talented Jane LaFazio. Her project used a lot of drawing skills which I don’t have, and would have needed more time than I have on a week night. However, I loved it so much I wanted to use the general theme. Since my weight loss surgery in late 2016 this recipe has become one of our favourite recipes, so it was good to document it.

day 29 Jane LaFazio


cjs18 day 17 Jen Crossley

Today’s artist, Jen Crossley, used metal for her gorgeous work. Simply put, I don’t do metal. Years ago it was trendy in scrapbooking; I cut myself a couple of times but persevered. Then I *really* cut myself and decided never again…

A day off today was good timing because Tony and I needed to get some stuff done in the kitchen. As part of settling onto insulin, the Diabetes Nurse wants him to have 6 meals a day, and make some food adjustments. So, we’ve given the pantry a good clean out and removed some stuff, such as white rice and pasta (which I don’t really eat post weight loss surgery anyway).

There’s weight loss, & then there’s skin!

I’ve been debating this blog post for a while now. I’ve been very honest about the whole process but blogging about my excess skin makes me hesitate. But if I don’t, how do others know what could be in store if they go the gastic bypass route? In the end, I’m not going to pretend it’s all pretty – cos honey it ain’t!

To recap – I started at 139.9kg, goal weight 75kg, current weight 63.1kg. I’ve lost 76.8kg. A friend who has about the same as me (started heavier but not as light now) just had surgery to remove excess skin and they removed 11kg worth – so I’ve possibly got 5kg or more of skin hanging round. And I do mean hanging round…

People tell me the excess skin isn’t obvious and, fully dressed, that’s fairly accurate. My arms are the most obvious bit. People say most women have flappy arms at our age. Yeah, maybe, but not so loose you accidentally lean on the excess and it hurts 😉

The reality is the excess skin *can* be uncomfortable. Aside from leaning on spare arm skin, I sometimes find I’m sitting awkwardly on a fold of spare bum and it’s unpleasant – try adjusting that in public!

I used to wear a 26DD bra, now I wear a 14D but I sort of fold my boobs into it. Last time I got fitted the lovely lady at Farmers said “I’ll let you do the origami, you know how they go!”. Karma got me on that one, because I used to laugh as I folded Mum’s boobs into her bra..

I had a botched open surgery hysterectomy in my late 20s and that scarring, combined with the weight loss, is pretty ugly to be honest. One side of my tummy is longer than the other, and the whole things hangs low … if I get up to the loo in the night it audibly flaps. Not cool, or sexy!

Would I consider surgery to tidy things up? No! For a few reasons. With all the complications I’ve had I think elective surgery would be unwise. I had the weight loss surgery for my health, not appearances, and the skin isn’t a health issue for me (but it is for some). And, as I’ve said to a few people, Tony is 18 yeas older than me – he never expected to gain a slim wife in his 70s so a few wrinkles don’t matter!

If you are thinking of weight loss surgery, great! It’s life changing and life saving. If you think you’ll have the body of a 20 year old, think again…

Footnote – I’m really struggling to hit publish. My head tells me people in a bikini show a lot more flesh than this, but I feel so exposed and so, what’s the word, faulty maybe?





As 2017 ends

As 2017 ends I can look back on a busy year with some unusual highs and lows even by our standards. Here are some of the things that stand out, from both sides of the ledger, in no particular order:

  • Losing my voice due to medical misadventure
  • Library conference, which was awesome
  • Getting down to goal weight, then 10kg below that!
  • Flying to Auckland for a shopping weekend with my sister, Ailsa
  • Spending time in ICU due to medical misadventure
  • Getting my voice back after about 7 months
  • Tony didn’t need surgery this year – fantastic!
  • Discovering I didn’t have a stroke but do have a spinal issue
  • Faith got settled on new heart & Cushing’s medication and is doing well

I don’t have major goals for 2018, in many way it’s just more of the same, but perhaps a bit more refined. So, my aims are:

  1. Painting more
  2. Doing art/craft regularly
  3. Stay at goal weight while eating a little more normally
  4. Drinking 1200 mls a day, every day
  5. Walking 4,000 steps minimum, every day
  6. Connecting with people who feed my soul, through snail mail and Twitter
  7. Making sure I am a positive influence in the world

That’s it – nothing too dramatic and no rocket science. Just a happy, balanced, quiet life. I wish you all peace, joy and a magical 2018.




CMP weeks 40 & 41, and Auckland

Playing catch up after spending last weekend in Auckland with my sister Ailsa. The flights were my birthday and Christmas present – we shopped, went to libraries, talked, spent time with family, and had a wonderful time. I bought a bunch of summer clothes and got some real bargains.

CMP pages – Dina Wakley & Dylusions paints, stencils, Simon Says Stamp inkpad.


A trip to Christchurch

I’ve just come back from 5 days in Christchurch, attending the LIANZA 2017 conference. I was able to have dinner out with my brother-in-law Roger one evening as part of a larger group, and pop in to see my stepdaughter Yasmine, her partner Adam and our grandson Rory – it’s just a pity time was so short.

I hadn’t been to Christchurch since pre-quake. It was weird looking round because I can see the damage but, in many ways, can’t identify the changes as I didn’t know the city beforehand. We took a taxi a couple of times and it was interesting to note how careful the taxi drivers are to explain why they have to take the long way round sometimes; I suspect they occasionally get abused about detours which are not their fault.

This was the first time I’ve flown since my surgery. No seat belt extender needed this time. It was also my first test of eating ‘normally’ away from home; not totally successful but not a disaster either. I only felt really sick once, and lost a few hundred grams so the odd food choices did no harm. The worst moment that’s food related? I was sitting with the “cool kids” from Auckland Libraries – a really lovely bunch – and managed to throw my entire lunch down my jeans, over my sneakers and across the floor. They were so nice, they got me to sit still while they cleaned up, then got me some more food…

So, travel post-surgery is perfectly manageable – that’s another thing ticked off the “hmmm, I wonder…” list.

Photos are Lis & I ready for the gala dinner; Sumner Beach, Rory, Roger and I; Rory with his junior dragster; my seat belt on the plane.

Ch ch ch changes…

As you know, I had weight loss surgery a year ago. I weight less than half what I did. I can shop in ‘normal’ stores now. Does my head understand my real size yet? No. They say our heads are usually a year behind, so I still see myself as a lot bigger than I am.

I have always had nice clothes, particularly for work. If someone asked me, I’d have said I wore what I liked. Turns out whilst I did like my clothes, they weren’t actually *me* – as in, they weren’t what I would choose if I had real choice! Clear as mud?

I’m being careful not to shop too much, and to try things then make myself wait and go back if I still want something. Why? Because addiction transfer is a real risk after weight loss surgery and I don’t want a shopping addiction. Same reason I don’t touch alcohol.

But I am trying on a lot of different things and, having lived in trousers for years, it turns out I love dresses, and florals. Who knew? Here are some photos – a combination of ‘trying it on in shops’ selfies and new clothes, some second hand (because nothing I kept from last summer fits, even though stuff was tight and I thought it’d be okay).

I’ve included one photo of something I *thought* would fit, so you can see what I mean. The weird face I’m pulling with the floral t-shirt is because it’s a size 12 Charlo and my head was going “well, that can’t be right”…


One year on I’m half the person I was!

A year ago today Ailsa and I were in Wellington and I was recovering from a gastric bypass with Atul Dhabuwala. It’s been a huge year with some major medical dramas, some of them ongoing. Just this morning I received an appointment to see Dr Anderson (the neurologist) as a follow-up to a stroke caused by the lead-up to Aspiration Pneumonia. I have a paralysed vocal cord, which ACC agree is a result of medical misadventure at Base Hospital. It is slowly healing but I sound like Darth Vader! 

In 2010, before we went to Italy for the Legato exhibition, I weighed 139.6kg. I lost 25kg before we left, but slowly regained 22kg. Dad died of a heart attack at 65 years old, and Mum died at 89 having suffered 16 years of ill health related, in part at least, to her weigt. When I discovered I could withdraw my KiwiSaver to fund surgery there was no looking back.

Atul set a goal weight of 75kg for me, based on the average percentage of excess weight people lose. To be a normal BMI I need to be 68kg. I’ve dropped below Atul’s goal; one year on, I have lost 70.2kg and sitting at 69.4kg. So, I am officially half the person I was…

Thanks to my boss Fiona, staff and colleagues, and STDC as a whole, for concern and support. My sister Ailsa for going with me for the surgery and check-ups, for taking me to hospital more than once, for cleaning up and sorting out, and listening. My best friend of 48 years, Sandra, who has cared without fussing, and just recently asked me “are you okay being this thin?” (or words to that effect) and when I said yes, was happy for me and left it at that.

And of course to Tony, who has dealt with a very, very sick wife – he has cleaned up unmentionable messes without complaint when I was at my sickest. He has coped with a shrinking wife, which must feel odd, and smiled patiently as I bought endless rounds of smaller clothes.  

It’s been a hell of a journey and I have truly earned every gram I have lost. If anyone thinks weight-loss surgery is the easy way out I have news for them! It is a battle every day to drink enough, to eat the right things, and to understand my fat brain.

Has it been worth it? Hell yes! I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Have I rewarded myself? Hell yes! I have always wanted an Annah Stretton Flip dress. On Thursday Tony and I went shopping for the day to celebrate his 71st birthday, and enjoyed dinner on the way home.  The photos below tell the story…


A stroke, vocal cords & knitting!

It’s a month since I blogged, which tells me all kinds of things. No, I’m not 100% yet. Yes, I’m keeping up well with work, but it takes a toll. Yes, it’s too cold in my home office to spend much time in here!

I went to the Dr after seeing the ENT and she confirmed the stroke diagnosis because I have “foot drop” on the same side as the frozen vocal cord and lazy hand (which has healed already). She’s sending me to a neurologist for a check-up. A month on from the ENT specialist appointment  I keep telling people my voice is healing but, in reality, the improvement is pretty minimal so this is certainly a long husky road.

Over the last couple of months I have edged ever so slowly towards my goal weight of 75kg. I’ve felt okay being 77-78kg but it would have felt like a giant fail if I didn’t meet the surgeon’s goal weight for me. I’ve read about a lot of people who never got there, or regained, and I am determined not to go down that path.

July 2017In the last couple of weeks I have reached my goal weight, which just feels so good. And now, bizarrely, I am losing weight a bit quicker again, and am down to 72.8kg this morning. I was told I’d probably go lower eventually, and suspect I may end up sitting around 70kg.

knittingOn the doing side, it’s too cold to craft much in my office so I have taken up knitting again – something I haven’t done for 25+ years and something I was never that good at. I’ve competed one jersey, the front of another, and am taking a break from the 12ply and big needles to knit a 4ply Merino jersey for a library friend. It’s nice to sit in the lounge in the evenings with Tony and have something to do.


Turning into Darth Vader

A few days after I got out of ICU and HDU my voice became very quiet and husky for no apparent reason. If I try too hard to get real volume, or say a lot at once, or even talk too fast, I can get a bit dizzy. The doctors didn’t seem too concerned and thought it would come right in a few days.

My own Doctor thought it was inflammation from being intubated and said if it wasn’t right by the end of the month I’d need to see a specialist.

When I saw Mr Glenn Farrynt, to get the results of the MRI of my bowel, he strongly recommended more surgery otherwise there is a chance of another obstruction. I wanted to wait until I felt stronger but he said it was much riskier to operate with an obstruction because it makes me so sick.

His only hesitation was my voice; he wanted me to see an ENT urgently to ensure my airway was safe. In the meantime, he set a tentative date of 19 June for exploratory surgery and to fix whatever they found at the same time.

I saw the ENT, Mr Wayne Butt, on June 6. He put a camera up my nose and into my airway – which was as awful as it sounds. I’d said I wouldn’t let them do that, but he was so nice and gentle I didn’t feel I could refuse! My left vocal cord is totally paralysed, which explains my voice. He said even with heavy sedation it is rare to aspirate so he feels my airway can’t be trusted for now, especially as we also don’t know what caused the paralysis but have to assume it was damaged during intubation. He wants to see me again in three months because he’s hopeful my airway will heal on its own. There is nothing they can do it repair it but, if it doesn’t heal, they can improve my voice.

One thing we haven’t explored yet, which might explain a lot, is that since I came out of hospital my left foot sort of thumps down, particularly when I’m tired. I also tend to rest my left hand in my lap some of the time. There’s been some talk of a small stroke, but I didn’t want to explore the possibility. I might need to now, if it explains the vocal cord paralysis.

All I can say is, I have earned every single kilo I have lost. If anyone thinks surgery is an easy way out, I have news for them…

orange jersey