Now Showing: Technical Difficulties

It is my unfortunate privilege to announce that tonight was the first time I have ever gone to the theatre and left without seeing a movie. There was entertainment to be sure, but no movie to be watched.

I’m visiting my Mom in Raleigh this weekend to help her get some decorating done in the house. We spent two hours at Ross (my favorite store), then a couple more hours rearranging decorative elephants on the mantelpiece and hanging (then rehanging) several pieces of wall art.

We thought we were treating ourselves to a well deserved dinner at Twisted Fork and a movie tonight. I was so excited to see Kong: Skull Island. Usually, I don’t go for those kind of movies, (you know, the weak storyline all violent action kind), but I was eager to see this film for two reasons. First, and it really should go without saying, Tom Hiddleston is H-O-T hawt and is an excellent actor. Second, I enjoyed the Kong: Skull Island thrill ride at Universal Studios when I was there over Christmas and was interested in how the film compared to what was seen in the ride. Sadly, my day was not made complete by seeing Hiddles all sweaty while running away from an impossibly large gorilla.

After waiting through the trailers, a quirky jazz theme began to play. The screen faded slowly into Michael Caine walking into a bank. Wait a minute. There’s no way a Kong movie starts with an old man going to the bank. Moviegoers began to leave the theatre as I realized that this is not another trailer. We have just started watching Going in Style. My Mom, bless her soul, had no idea this was not Kong. She was happily watching Michael Caine get caught up in a bank heist while whispering to me, “He’s a legend.”

I left the theatre and joined a throng of people in the hall. A teenager nearby told me someone had already gone to tell staff about the mishap. I went back inside to wait for the theatre to correct their mistake.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me. A while ago, my friend and I went to a rescreening of The Lord of the Rings in theaters in preparation for The Hobbit movie, which was soon to be released (RIP Hobbit book), when they started the movie 15 minutes into The Two Towers. It was weird, but they fixed their mistake right away and we all had a good laugh.

Ten minutes after our screen going blank, a staff member came in to tell us that if we wanted to watch the movie, we’d have to move to another theatre room. At that point, it was almost an hour after our original show time and my Mom and I were annoyed and tired. But, we took the trip to the other side of the building to a new theatre room where we were promised no additional commercials or trailers.

Finally, the movie started. Many people  had given up and gone home or chosen another film. We were determined. We were the faithful. I was going to see Tom Hiddleston if I had to stay up past midnight (a true sacrifice) in this terribly old, broken down cinema. Five minutes into the film with no Tom in sight, my Mom turned to me and said she’s already seen this movie and wants to go home. She forgot she already saw it with Rachel when she visited her in Boston recently…

So, I wasted an hour of my life, but at least I got a few free movie passes from the whole thing. #mylifeisbeck

I still haven’t seen Kong: Skull Island. Wait for me, Tom.



That One Time I Passed Out

I have never passed out before yesterday. The only time I ever got close to passing out was when I stabbed my left palm last summer while cutting an avocado with an unreasonably sharp knife. At the sight of so much blood, I got dizzy and lightheaded. I started sweating and hyperventilating. I sat in a chair with my head between my legs while putting pressure on my hand to stop the bleeding. But I willed myself to not pass out and I didn’t. I did end up having to get two stitches and couldn’t use my hand properly for a week or so. It was awful.

Fast forward to yesterday, I am at the lab giving blood shortly after 8am. I had just eaten breakfast and was feeling fine. The process took longer than usual because the nurse decided to use a butterfly needle.  Apparently, my veins require special treatment. I started feeling nauseated as I watched the blood fill the little tubes. My face became sweaty and my mind was swimming. I closed my eyes and tried to focus on my breathing. It felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. The nurse said she needed to go ask the doctor something, and I decided to lean back in the uncomfortable adult high chair.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the midst of what I thought was a dream. I opened my eyes expecting to see my bedroom, but I saw a kitschy painting of a dog in a red hat hanging on the wall. My vision was blurry and I was so confused and scared. I had slumped down in the chair and was still hyperventilating. A moment later, the nurse walked back in and started talking to me. Then I did what any normal 25 year old would do after their first involuntary loss of consciousness – I started crying. The nurse asked me repeatedly what had happened while I summoned the strength and the breath to tell her I passed out. She called for another nurse to bring water and crackers. Then it happened. I looked down and saw a small puddle on the floor. The second nurse walked in and said, “I think she urinated herself.” The first replied saying, “Why does today feel like a Monday?”

Yup. That happened. Because why wouldn’t it happen to me?

The nurses were really helpful. They gave me water and led me into another room to rest. I left a message for my boss and then tried to process what had just happened. I think I was too overwhelmed to feel ashamed about the wetting myself part. No one chooses to be incontinent. After a few minutes, I went to the bathroom to wipe off the mascara that had made a lovely trail down my cheek. They let me leave through the back door. Luckily, I had a towel I could sit on during the short drive home. I showered, did laundry, ate a banana and slept for two hours.

I was understandably tired for the remainder of the day, which consisted of me taking my service club members who I advise to the Cheesecake Factory and bowling for our End of the Year Celebration. It was actually not a bad day, and I can’t help but laugh now when I think about it.

Sorry for turning your Friday into a Monday, LabCorp nurses, but #mylifeisbeck. It’s kind of what I do.


A New Direction for Weight Loss

I’ve been pursuing bariatric surgery as a solution to my chronic obesity for a few months now. I just have a couple more appointments left before I can schedule a date with my surgeon. I’m hopeful I can have the surgery before the end of June.

This is something that I have been thinking about in one way or another since 2012 when I first started talking with friends and relatives about it. The tipping point for me was going to Harry Potter World last Christmas and not being able to fit in any of the seats for the rides. (I just want to Escape from Gringotts with Harry!) Besides this, my aunt has had the surgery and she has seen excellent weight loss results. I decided that I would not let another year go by without taking serious action for my future health. I am 25 years old; I should not be worrying about chronic co-morbidities that accompany obesity. I should be traveling the world, climbing mountains, and meeting my soulmate (my earthly one anyway). When I was a child, I could reasonably expect other people to be responsible for me. Now, 7 years into my adult life and finally having a salary job and benefits, there’s really no excuse for me not to take ownership of my health and my body.

My family, after an initial period of concern, and friends have been overwhelmingly supportive and are happy for me. I am incredibly optimistic (as usual). I believe in my ability to follow the pre and post-op rules (like being on a liquid diet for 4 weeks). Whole 30 has prepared me for some of the eating and lifestyle changes that will occur. In fact, I’m doing my fourth Whole 30 right now. #day24

What really concerns me is the emotional aspect of all of this. The trauma I experienced throughout my childhood has had a serious effect on my relationship with food. While I am capable of not acting on those impulses, the temptation will always be there as long as I have these underlying issues. I worry that addressing my body and eating habits alone will not be enough for long-term weight loss success. I need mental and spiritual healing as well. Besides the fact that for the first six months at least I will only be able to eat a quarter cup of food or liquid at a time, the social and emotional aspects of food and eating remain. Bariatric surgery is not a brain surgery.

To this end, I’ve been seeing a therapist regularly since March who has helped me reprocess some of my trauma through a therapy called EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). It’s evidence based and it works, for me at least. We started with my earliest traumatic memories and well, it’s the end of April and we’re still working on elementary school memories if that’s any indication how much work I still have to do. Even if we eventually address those traumatic memories associated with emotional eating, weight gain, and everything that goes along with it like low self-esteem and emotional eating, I will most likely struggle with for this for the rest of my life.

Anyone who thinks that bariatric surgery is the easy option for weight loss should educate themselves on the process. The preparation has been extensive and comprehensive. I’ve had to make multiple appointments with nutritionists, behavioral therapists, surgeons, primary care doctors, and hospitals. I’ve attended seminars, support groups, and read books and research about outcomes and various other factors related to weight loss. I’ve spent hours on the phone with my insurance company and the hospitals gathering information about the cost of surgery and my ability to pay. It has been a sacrifice of time and money and has taken mental and physical tolls. All of this happens before surgery. The real work begins after surgery with a 6 week recovery.

It’s a 100% lifestyle change. It is not easy, but it is worth it. And I am ready because:

  • Bariatric surgery is the single most effective treatment for morbid obesity available today.
  • Diet and exercise alone is more likely to fail than to work. The success rate of long-term weight loss maintenance with lifestyle changes ranges from 2-20% (Wing & Phelan, 2005). This failure rate increases to 95%-98% as the starting weight increases for morbidly obese people (whose BMI is over 40).
  • Bariatric surgery, especially the one I’m getting, has a 95% success rate. Success is defined as keeping off at least 50% of excess weight. According to a recent report, five years after surgery patients had maintained a weight loss of 60% of their excess weight.

Ultimately, I do not want to just loose weight, I want healing in every way – physical, mental and spiritual. Bariatric surgery is not an easy solution or a cop out for lifestyle changes, it is a tool that I am using to help me in my journey towards healing.

 All of this is happening at the same time that I am quitting my job at CPCC, planning a move to Raleigh, starting a new job, and starting graduate school at NC State (yes, I finally got in!). It’s all a lot to think about, to plan for, and to be excited about. There’a also a lot of uncertainty and change coming. I feel bittersweet about moving away and quitting my job and overwhelmed with the coming changes, but I can do it. I know I can because I want this so much. Those are real results and I’m coming to get mine.