Friday, September 7, 2012

Comparing Visits to Two Island Prisons, Two Years Later

At Alcatraz Island with San Francisco in the background, September 2012.
Two years ago in September 2010, almost to the day, hubby and I visited Robben Island in Table Bay off Cape Town, South Africa, where legendary SA President and Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years (of his total 27-year imprisonment) along with many other political prisoners.

In spite of the shape I was in, I remember it as a fabulous vacation — one of the best ever — and thankfully, I didn't have to walk much. That was a good thing because of my much higher weight at the time. I'm guessing I was probably in the 250s and now I'm in the 190s.

At Robben Island, South Africa, September 2010
My husband snapped lots of pics of me in South Africa and one is to the right. I have no idea how much I weighed at the time, but believe it or not, I thought I was looking pretty good even if I was somewhat self-conscious and wanting him to shoot from the waist up only. I remember how bad my body felt at the time: sluggish, painful knees, painful feet, out-of-breath constantly. Not good. On two blood-pressure meds, one anti-inflammatory, one anti-depressant, size 24 jeans.

Last weekend, hubby and celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary in San Francisco. We did lots of walking, but what struck me was when I saw the picture taken from our tour of Alcatraz Island, where the country's worst criminals were kept.

When the Alcatraz pic was snapped, above, my muscles were sore from having walked up and down about 20 blocks of San Francisco's super steep hills the day before en route from the hotel to Fisherman's Wharf, but it was a different kind of sore. It was soreness from using my muscles in a new way going up and down the hills. A good kind of soreness.

I'm now off all my meds except for one blood pressure med and in size 14 jeans. I wasn't huffing and puffing up the walkways at Alcatraz, and didn't have to take the tram for elderly and/or disabled people to get to the top or down from "The Rock."

What a difference two years make. My journey toward better health has slowed down since my gastric sleeve surgery Dec. 27, 2011, but the progress continues.

Another notch in my belt, so to speak.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Hairy Dilemma

Bald is beautiful. On Jean-Luc Picard — yes. On Shaquille O'Neal — yes. On LL Cool J — most definitely yes.

Baby hairs growing back now that the hair loss is slowing down.
But usually not on women, although I think my "sisters" battling cancer are all beautiful. I don't have cancer, so that's a whole 'nother deal.

One of the things they don't tell you about before you get weight loss surgery is that many people have trouble with excessive hair loss three or four months after surgery.

My hair loss hit at four months almost to the day and with a vengeance. Every time I brushed it, blow-dried it, touched it, ran my hands through it — out it came. Usually in a handful of four or five long strands. Or more.

Fortunately, I have or had a thick mane of prematurely silver hair and a lot to lose. And I've always shed a lot and gotten teased about it.

This was different. It was coming out fast. It was all over my car, my house, everywhere.

I did a lot of reading on my favorite gastric sleeve surgery website, Apparently it's not uncommon to lose hair after having any kind of anesthesia or major surgery. I don't remember having hair loss after I had a C-Section with my now 26-year-old daughter, but I've slept since then and she was one heckuva distraction. I probably wouldn't have noticed anyway.

Mine is starting to grow back out and I have little baby hairs like crazy around my part. Hubby and I were in San Francisco celebrating our fifth anniversary over the long weekend and those baby hairs frizzed up and I was actually happy about it. Hubby says I'm "regenerating." I understand this is pretty common.

Here are some of the suggestions I've read. Of course, I'm not endorsing any of the products, obviously, because I haven't tried them all. Just throwing them out there:

Cut your hair shorter. I didn't, because darlin' hubby likes it shoulder length and I like it too. Hasn't made a lot of difference to have it longer. Suit yourself on that one.

Don't put it in ponytails. I do this a lot when I work out or just around the house or gardening. I hear that if you pull it tight, it can be tough on the roots. I've cut back on pulling it back except for working out or gardening in 100-degree Oklahoma or Texas weather. But I don't pull it back hard.

Take Biotin. It turns out there is 600 mcg or 200 percent of your daily needs in the Bariatric Advantage multivitamins I take like religion daily, so I don't take any additional Biotin. Read your labels.

Nioxin shampoo. I haven't tried this and I understand it's expensive. I'm just throwing it out there. I personally use Kiehl's shampoo (also not cheap) and love it. Now if I lost more hair, I might do some experimenting.

Aveda Invati Scalp Revitalization System shampoo, conditioner and spray. I just learned about this and it has some great reviews online.

Nutri-ox from Sally's Beauty Supply. I also haven't tried this, but ditto on the good reviews.

Stay hydrated. I understand that being dehydrated can aggravate hair loss. Who needs aggravated hair loss? Nope. Not me. And staying hydrated has so many other benefits, like making your skin look good, systems function right, etc. My doc recommends no less than 64 ounces a day, which I usually take in via PowerAde Zero, Fuze Slenderize or Sobe Life-energy drinks, which have less than 15 calories per eight-ounce serving.

Massage your scalp. Hey, that's going to feel good anyway. Or better yet, get your significant other to do that.

Start early. Make sure your locks are good and healthy before surgery or the dreaded three or four-month hair loss. The more you have, the more you can lose.

Hope that helps if that's an issue you're having.