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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BLINDsided by a PEPPER!

On Sunday morning.......this is what I was doing.....
Getting my hot peppers ready to stuff while the sweet peppers and zucchini waited their turn....

I was happily ensconced in my kitchen.
I had the food network on the TV.
I was sipping my tea.
All was good with the world. 
Then, in an instant, my world went crazy.
With a brief touch of a finger to my eye......the sting of the "pepper residue" ignited a fierce and debilating burn in my eye. 
It lasted all day.
And lingered a bit into Monday and Tuesday. 
Today, it's only a terrible memory. 
One I won't soon forget.....

No, that was not an excuse for why I didn't blog for a few days.
Sadly, it's the truth.

So, please, friends....if you are ever cleaning out hot peppers.....wear gloves and be sure to keep your fingers away from your face (and any other part of your body!).......

In better news--my stuffed peppers got rave reviews! 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Let's get ACADEMIC!!!!

If I wasn't a MOD (mother of a doctor) and if I hadn't spent more than half my life working in higher education at a major research institution, I would have no idea about the staggering amounts of research that is being conducted by very scholarly, super-smart folks on everything from the mating habits of the tsetse fly to the taxonomy of education to everything else in between.   If you are up for some kicks and giggles and have a huge chunk of time on your hands someday, take a gander at Google Scholar and put a topic in and you will be amazed at the number of articles that will come up related to that topic.  I can't guarantee you will understand all of what you read... I sure don't.... but you sure will be impressed by them all.  And, you will be mega impressed by how many authors with academic initials after their names are associated with each article.  It's humbling to imagine that there are so so many smart people who are willing to dedicate their lives to learning more and sharing what they learn on even the most benign and minor topics in hopes of making the world a better place to live and thrive.   Imagine spending your life dedicated to researching just a little spec of something with the dream of making that spec an integral piece of something that improves a major function of technology, health care, the environment, disease control, global safety.......and on and on and on.
I don't know about you but I can't thank these smarty pants enough......

 Ever since my 7 year Lap band appointment earlier this week when I learned that the research project I've been involved in hasn't been extended,  I've been a bit consumed by the thought that there hasn't been a good amount of research on the long term success and the long term effects of Lap band surgery.  All of a sudden, I'm wondering things that are very unJudilike.....things like.... what's it like to be a 80 year old Lap bander?    what if I want to eat pasta when I'm 92?  should I get a Lap band medic alert bracelet in case I inherit my family senile gene?  what if I gain 2 lbs a year and I live until I am 102 as planned.....?
 I am sure I will get over this stage of torturing myself with questions but until I do, I've been scouring the internet for whatever information might be out there....from reliable sources who seem to have strong credentials.   Although I am spending time doing this--to be completely honest.....I am someone who figures I will deal with whatever I have to deal with when I have to deal with it.  I've pretty much learned that sometimes no amount of planning or knowledge can stop fate.  But, I'm a pretty nebby girl.  And, if faced with spending my evening doing laundry or doing research on long term effects of my Lap band, I choose the later!  

Anyway, since I spent so much time on this project, I figured I would share 2 of  those articles that I actually read....A) Because I understood them and B) Because they weren't 345 pages long.  
And, if you don't feel like reading them...I will give you a brief snapshot of what they said....

 *Long-term outcomes after bariatric surgery: fifteen-year follow-up of adjustable gastric banding and a systematic review of the bariatric surgical literature, 2013
Basically, this research says that patients were able to maintain 47% of their weight loss after 15 years. 

*Researchers Say Weight Loss From Lap-Band Is Relatively Low; Critics Say Study Has Flaws, 2011
This study reports excess weight loss overall was 42.8% of excess weight after 12 years and 48% among those who still had their band at the end of follow-up. Greater than 50% is considered a good result, experts say. So, it's a below-average result.  Overall, 60.3% of patients were satisfied.

 After all of my research and reading and all of the contradictory information that's out there, I can pretty much tell you this--there's no definitive answer.  
A more practical person might find that hard to live with.  
I've never been accused of being practical.  
I figure success is up to me.  
It's in my hands.  
Perhaps I should write a paper, get it published and declare myself an expert.....


Thursday, August 7, 2014

7 years later......what are the odds?

I am not a betting girl.
Sure, I'll go to the casino with my crumpled $50 bill and do a few slots but when I am not getting anything for my money, I realize I am just throwing my money into a machine!
How crazy is that?
I'm not good at waiting to hit....I'm way too impatient for that. 
So, I usually just head to the bar to get something for my money!
I order up a drink and settle in for some people watching.
Now, that's what I consider getting something for my money...... 
A Judi-style winning night at the casino!

As you know--this past Monday I had my 7 year Lap band appointment.  From day one of my Lap band journey, I have been involved in a clinical study of Lap Band patients.  Part of each appointment with my surgical team has also involved a bit of time with the researchers.   It's been a wonderful experience to be part of this project and it has afforded me quite a bit of information and assistance over the years. Plus....being the information junkie that I am--getting the inside scoop feeds my need to be in-the-know.
(to see more on the overall study....go here)
 Unfortunately, the National Institute for Health funding for the project was not renewed beyond this year.  Although they are hopeful to find other funding...they can't say what will happen going forward.  Naturally, they want to know the long term effects and successes of Lap Band patients. And, the only way to do that is through more research.   So, continuing to follow us would definitely be a wonderful way to be able to produce good documentation on the very long-term (lifetime!) effects of being banded.  Right now, their studies cannot produce solid statistics beyond the 8 year mark.  Now that I am at this point of my own journey---I would love to know that too!  When I got my Lap band, I was so focused on losing the weight and feeling better and improving my health and fitting into the fashions that I loved that I was  not exactly thinking too much beyond losing the weight and getting on with life being a thinner, healthier, happier person.
Did I wonder what Lap banded life would be like 10 years later?
Did I ever wonder if I would be able to keep this weight off forever and ever?
And, NO.
Seven and half years ago, when I made the decision to have WLS, I was frustrated and miserable and desperate enough to place my faith in this new and exciting tool that promised to help me!
Did I think about it scientifically?
Did I weigh the pros and cons with good solid information?
And, NO. 
 I just crossed my fingers and my toes and I told myself that I would make it work.
I had complete and utter confidence in the team at Magee Hospital.
My surgical team was highly regarded.  I felt safe in their hands.
And, I trusted that this was not some fly-by-night band aid to make money off of obese people.
And, most importantly, I didn't want to live the life of an obese person anymore!
I willed myself to believe that everything was going to be okay.
Even better than okay. 
I went into it hopeful. 
Thankfully, I was right.
My luck has held out for 7 years now....I've had major results with only minor issues. 
But, you know all of that....

As you also know--at my 7 year appointment--I was a little discouraged with my weight gain.  
The funny thing one else in the room was!
As a matter of fact, I was praised for not gaining that much weight.
Now, as much as I love to hear praise for my weight--I'm not used to hearing it for weight gain.  
The researchers knew I was stumped.
That's when they told me that I WAS A SUCCESS STORY.
That's what they consider me. with my 12 pound weight gain was a SUCCESS STORY. 
It seemed quite backwards to me. 
Why weren't they counseling me and telling me I had to do better?

Sure they handed me information on this website and  we talked a little about incorporating weight lifting into my current exercise routine.  
But, beyond that, they were more interested in knowing how I was so successful....
They wanted ME to tell THEM about my lifestyle changes and habits that helped me to keep my weight off.  Even though I gained 12 pounds....
Before I left my appointment, a scholarly looking gentleman in a white lab coat came in to ask me a few more questions and to thank me for my participation over the past 7 years.  He shared his frustration and disappointment over the fact that the funding for the research was ending and he let me know that they are committed to identifying the long-term success rates of Lap band patients.....saying that they just don't know much beyond 5-7 years because they don't have the solid data to formulate dependable findings.
And, he also wanted to congratulate me on my SUCCESS.

My head was still spinning a bit when I left my appointment.
I wasn't too happy about the 12 pound weight gain.   But, I already told you that.
Initially, I didn't think much about all of the kudos I got to for only gaining 12 pounds.
Vain girl that I am--I was too busy looking at my bulging belly and worrying about what my bathing suit might look like on the beach.

After hours of rehashing the appointment in my head, I found myself at a very interesting place....I was fearful.  
Fearful that maybe my Lap band might not be the lifelong tool that I needed to help me maintain my weight loss forever.  
And, fearful that maybe this 12 pound weight gain was just the beginning of my decent back into obesity....
Was this the beginning of the end?

I thought about a few friends who also got their Lap bands and didn't have the success they hoped for....some of them gave up, others never gave up and decided on another WLS to help them.
I thought about all those "failure posts" on those Lapband forums that I used to read religiously.
I thought about all the Lap band bloggers that have come and gone.   
I thought about my cousin who wanted the same success as me and who I coached into going to my surgeon and getting the Lap band and who lost 75 pounds....only to regain them all...and then some.   And, now, each time we see each other--I can sense his shame and embarrassment...which makes me so, so sad. 
And, I thought about all those people who were naysayers in the beginning of my journey who questioned me and judged my choice and told me horror stories about other people who had WLS.
Then, I did the unthinkable....I GOOGLED Lap band statistics...

The odds are not in my favor....

Then, I remembered......I am not a betting girl.  



Wednesday, August 6, 2014


 Seven years ago this week, I started this blog....
Seven years ago this week, I had my LapBand surgery.
Seven years ago this life changed. 
Happy Bandiversary and Happy Blogiversary to ME! 
It's a bittersweet celebration....
It's a little bit PITY PARTY and little bit PARTY PARTY.....

This past Monday, I had my 7 year Lap Band check up with my surgeon and her great team.
As their gift to me....they walked me through the past 7 years. 
WITH A BIG CHART......A VERY BIG CHART..... projected on a very BIG wall....

Regardless that it was jam packed with successes, inspiration and helpful information--in the end...the only thing I heard gained 12 pounds.

It's taken me a little shy of 48 hours to digest that appointment....thinking it through and trying to learn from it
And, most importantly.....finding a way to go forward from here.....
Bruce can always be counted on to capture how I am feeling and what I am thinking....

My 7 year appointment was a reminder call.
Simple as that.  
It was a huge reminder that my journey never ends and that my Lapband is my very own personal tool to keep me on the road.  My Lapband was here when I was 48, it's here when I am 55 and it shall be with me on every road that life takes me on.  It was a gift I gave myself forever....and EVER.   
I must respect the gift and myself and my hard work by continuing to do  the hard work that it takes to make sure that my precious gift keeps on giving.........

My 12 pound weight gain over these past 5 years (since I lost the initial weight) was  the bitter part of that call and the path of discovery that it led me on these past 48 hours was the sweet part of it.....

When I was able to process the entire appointment as it relates to my entire journey...I realized..... 
Yes, there was more to it than just those 12 pounds.....

I had to step back to see the big picture.....

The progression of my weight gain was rather telling as it relates to more things than just the number on the scale.
The fact that I gained the weight put me into a mode of analyzing everything from where I was in my life at certain points  to where I am today...7 years later. 
The number on the scale at my appointments was only part of the journey. 
That number doesn't tell the behind-the-scenes story......  
It doesn't tell about the minor weight gains and weight losses in between appointments.  Nor does it mention holidays or vacations when temptation raged on and I was able to avoid pitfalls that once derailed me.   And, it didn't nod to those stressful times when I walked through the fire and came out the other end without eating 2 pounds of pasta.  My triumphs were hidden in between those weigh-ins.....just like my heartbreaks were tucked inside there too. 
Those moments of recorded weight at my appointments did not tell the story. 
But, part of the story that it tells me today is worth it's weight in gold. 
It tells me what I knew all along.....this blog....this little blog that I started way back in so deeply, deeply connected to my Lap Band success....

Here.....let me prove it to you....
  • 2009 marked the year that my weight was consistently going down in small, healthy increments.
  • 2010 marked the year that I was at my lowest weight.
  •  I was able to maintain that weight throughout 2010.  
  • 2009 and 2010 mark the highest number of blog entries throughout my 7 years of blogging. 
  • In 2011,when the weight gain began...albeit not blog entries curtailed a bit (2 pounds). 
  • In 2012, when there was a bit more of a weight blog entries dropped off even more(4 pounds). 
  • In 2013...when my blog entries upped a bit....the weight gain was very low (1.5 pounds).  
  • Now, in 2014...when my blogging is dwindling,I have had the most significant weight gain (4.5 pounds). 
Do you see the correlation?
Well, I sure do.  
I am someone who needs to stay accountable and who needs to focus on a path.
When I don't do shows.
My little daliences away from Stories from the Road reared it's ugly head on the scale. 
Conversely-- my commitment to doing daily entries kept me focused and empowered.
The proof is right there.  
From the way I see it--the fix is not all that hard. 
Blog more=Maintain my weight. 

Thank you for sharing my Stories from the Road.....
And, I hope that each time you leave here, you leave with 
a little bit more than when you came.

For my next entry.....I will share more of my 7-year Lap band appointment thoughts.....!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons from July......

As I sit here on the last day of July, I am a bit out of sorts.
And, I know exactly why........ 

There's actually a few things that are contributing to how I am feeling today.....
FIRST of all--
I am suffering a major hangover. 
It's not from what you might think.
Although a few too many cocktails or glasses of wine can leave me feeling a bit woozy the day after--rebounding from it only takes about 24 hours (in my experience, at least!).
Rebounding from the kind of hangover I have takes a tad bit more.....
Getting back on the wagon of regular exercise, eating the right foods and staying hydrated with water takes more than just 24 hours.  
Especially if you haven't been doing it for an entire month (or, possibly more...).
Although part of how I am feeling has something to do with the extra bulge about my belly that I see in the mirror and that stops me from wearing certain things....there's more to it than that.
Eating shitfully and not caring about exercising and sitting around instead of getting up and moving and  not being conscientious about my choices is leaving me with an overall feeling of blah.  
In other words---I am not as happy as I deserve to be.  

Not caring for myself as I should is crueler and more damaging to how I feel than after a night of throwing back shots of tequila.
 Not that I would know anything about that....
What I DO know about is that our minds and our emotions are affected dramatically by how we treat our bodies. The food we eat plays a major role in feeding not only our bodies but also what makes us tick....or not tick. We eat to live.  It's the way we nourish ourselves.  Nourishing myself with sugar and excessively fatty foods is not very smart.
 Regular exercise not only helps us to tone our muscles and fight fat deposits but it also helps us to stay energized.  By sitting back and doing nothing only makes me more unwilling to get up do what I need to do to keep the fat at bay and to be energized enough to enjoy my days! 
Supplying ourselves with enough water keeps us alert by flushing the toxins that linger in our bodies. By reaching for anything but water when I am thirsty is putting more toxins into my body and not flushing it out.  Thus my bloated feelings and those major rushes and falls from more sugar or caffeine than I really need.... 
The fact that I know this makes it all more derailing. 
You see...when I was obese and I found myself in this place, I would feel so defeated and miserable and ashamed that I would ignore the fact that I knew what was doing it to me.  I was so tied up with the feelings of being hopelessly fat.  My guilt and my shame would cripple me from seeing what was really happening.....
Now that I know better.   I need to DO BETTER.   

 SECOND of all.....
Now that I am face-to-face with August....the month that I will celebrate my 7th Anniversary of Me and My Lapband.....and I am up against my 7 year Lap band appointment on MONDAY.....the reality of everything is waking me up.
I'm taking notice of the fact that I am feeling the way I used to feel all those years ago when I was this close to a doctor's appointment when I would have to get on the scale. 
Crazy thoughts like this are creeping back in....*I  NEED TO LOSE 10 POUNDS IN THREE DAYS*
The scale haunted me everyday when I was this girl......

THIRD of all......
We are going to the beach.   Yes, we are.  And, you know what that means?

And, FINALLY.....
 I worked too damn hard and spent too much time and energy and money to get to the Judi I am today.
My Lapband is the gift that I gave myself to help me get to where I am.
I've been a very disrespectful girl in July.........I was taught better than that. 

many apologies for my behavior!
Love, Judi 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Although I do not have any home grown zucchini of my own (my Italian farm boy isn't growing it this year.....)....'tis the ZUCCHINI season.  So,  I am patiently waiting for all of my zucchini farmer friends to call me up and say "NEED ANY ZUCCHINI?" 
To which I will respond...."As a matter of fact, I do need me some ZUCCHINI.....hand it over!"
In preparation of that momentous phone call, I spent some of my 1960's, 1970's and 1980's TV-watching time (while staying with my father) pouring through online sources such as Pinterest for new recipes and going through some of my trusty menu diaries seeking some zucchini recipes I would like to repeat.
As much as I love finding new recipes--I have to admit that I love, love, love my recipe and menu diaries.  They are in date order so I can never really look up recipes by any specific ingredient.  Therefore, I am always forced into going page-by-page looking at each entry and looking at my little scibbled notes---about the occasion, about the guests, about the menu, the table settings, any other tidbits of interest and there's always little sprinklings of comments about who loved what, what I might change next time I make it....and on and on and on.  Some of them make me laugh...other times I find I am *THIS* close to tears.  And, other times, I realize I may have had just a little too much wine or one too many cocktails when I was writing the notes....God knows *whatthehell* I was talking about!
So, as you can see....these diaries are like storybooks .....I  can get so lost in them......
What a e perfect way to get through those long hours of Barney Fife's and Aunt Bee's  ditzy yet well-intentioned antics and the random violence in Police Chief Bill Gillespie's Mississippi town!!!
Although I must admit, some of the recipes had my cravings in overdrive--it took everything I had not to run to the store and get all the ingredients and begin a zucchinithon!   But, when you are large and in charge of a rambuctious 94 year can't go too far....
So, I had to settle for just savouring them as I sat there.....saving my calories for when my father demanded his ice cream.....I couldn't let the man eat ice cream alone....
 Anyway.....there were 2 specific recipes that I could just taste as I sat there!  
 Given that I made both of these recipes before--thus being able to vouch for their wonderfulness--I wanted to share them with you to help you as you plan on how you will use all of your zucchini this zucchini season......  

According to my diary ramblings, I served this easy,  delicious dish in August  2010 with grilled lemon garlic chicken, grilled corn-on-the cob with basil butter and peach cobbler. notes indicated that we drank lots of mojitos! (no wonder I don't remember much about this evening!) We were hosting a small gathering as a farewell to our next door neighbors who were moving back to West Lafayette, IN.   Evidently, we could not eat on the deck due to a severe storm that came rolling in.  But, everyone raved about the scalloped zucchini!  And, my notes also indicated that I wore a new maxi dress that everyone referred to as a "hostess gown."   (yes, those are the kind of notes I write down after a few libations.....)

  1. 3 large zucchini
  2. 3 Tbsp. butter
  3. 3 Tbsp. flour
  4. 1 1/2 cups milk
  5. 2 cups shredded Italian Blend Cheese, divided
  6. salt
  7. pepper
  8. garlic powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking or casserole dish with non stick cooking spray.
  3. Slice your zucchini into 1/4 inch slices
  4. Layer the bottom of the casserole dish with half of the sliced zucchini.
  5. Season the layer of zucchini with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  6. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter on low, then add the flour.
  7. Whisk together until incorporated and golden brown.
  8. Slowly add the milk and continue whisking until smooth and thickened.
  9. When it’s smooth, add 1 cup of the cheese and stir until completely melted.
  10. Remove from the heat.
  11. Pour half of the cheese sauce across the first layer of zucchini.
  12. Place the remaining zucchini on top of the sauce and make your second layer.
  13. Season that layer well with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  14. Cover with remaining sauce and top with the other 1 cup of shredded cheese.
  15. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  16. Place the zucchini under the broiler for a few minutes, but watch closely being careful to not let it burn.
  17. Remove from the oven and serve warm (NOT HOT!)

This was a "show-off dinner" that we were hosting August 2012 for some visiting  associates (who are known foodies!) of my husband's.  THIS RECIPE I DO REMEMBER.....because I actually made it twice.  The first time was the test run because I get a little skitchy when I cook scallops (worried they will get tough!). Since I turned the first cooking of this recipe into a party by inviting my  2 spirited girlfriends over to taste test, I was super duper careful. It turned out impeccable!   I will never forget how we just sat there eating and moaning with delight.  For the actual dinner with my guests, we started out with  a little Apertivo before dinner with some classic Italian cocktails, cheeses and nibbles.  Thankfully, the scallops with zucchini turned out just as amazing as the first time.  Although....I should tell you that there was no moaning!   I served this with the Proud Italian Cook's Caprese Style Portobellas on top of Spring Mix drizzled with a balsamic reduction and risotto with marscapone and basil.  To end it sweetly, we served Lemoncello on ice, iced capaccinos and a gorgeous tray of cannoli and tiramsu petites, rum balls and cheesecake balls rolled in pastachios and chocolate from this tantalizing den of sin.  The notes that I scrawled--- "an elegant summer dinner that should score me some jewelry..."
  • 2 dozen sea scallops
  • Oil suitable for high heat cooking (I used coconut oil)
  • 2-3  zucchini, sliced thinly into ribbons
  • 2 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • good splash of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light stock (I used seafood stock)
  • Juice from 1lemon
  • 2-4 ounce logs of soft, fresh goat cheese
  • lots of basil leaves, julienned
  • Coarse salt (sea salt or kosher salt) and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pat the sea scallops dry with paper towels.  Lightly season with salt and pepper, and set the scallops aside.
In a saute pan, heat  butter with a splash of olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the shallots for about a minute – but not long enough to brown.  Add the stock to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Toss in the zucchini ribbons and cook for a few minutes, continuing to toss the zucchini,  until it is just tender and the liquid in the pan has reduced a little.  Stir in 1/2 of the goat cheese with the lemon juice, until the goat cheese has melted and the liquid in the pan is sauce-like.  Stir in some of the basil, saving some for the final garnish.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, but keep warm.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until VERY hot (cast iron is good, but any heavy-bottomed skillet will work).  Add a very thin layer high-heat oil) to the pan, swirl to coat, and immediately add scallops, flat side down.  Do not crowd the pan – you may need to cook the scallops in two batches, depending on how big your skillet is.  DO NOT move the scallops – sear them for 2 minutes, then turn and sear for about a minute (maybe 1 1/2 minutes) on the other side.  It is important not to overcook the scallops or they will be rubbery and tough.  They should be nicely seared on the outside, but should still be a little translucent-looking in the middle as you look at them from the side.  They will feel a little springy to the touch – not stiff.  When they are done, remove them from the pan and keep warm while you finish cooking them all.
To serve, place a mound of zucchini noodles on a plate, and place the scallops around it.  Add a dollup of the remaining goat cheese to the top, and garnish with the rest of the julienned basil.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Daddy and me.......

Yes, that's what the past 10 days of been filled with......
Just when you thought I was gone from Stories from the Road because  I was frolicking on a beach in some exotic corner of the world, you come to find that I was actually just living in another little suburban hamlet...not far from Judiland....doing the 24/7 with my dad....along with a bevy of wonderful caregivers, I must add!  
My dad's caregivers and I......beaching it.....or were we "bitching it..."?

My sisters ventured off to the beach with their families while I stayed back to keep the home fires burning.....going to work, caring for my dad, listening to his stories, planning his menus, watching lots of Andy Griffith and other high-quality shows from the golden years of television, slipping him an occasional ice cream sundae,  dolling out his meds and keeping everything in his world right-side-up.  
My life was anything BUT right-side-up.  
As my sister's texted me pictures of the beach.....I texted them pictures of what was happening here in my world
Escaping to my own private outdoor bar by the air conditioning unit at my sister's drink wine and grab a smoke...

Loading up on caffiene and lounging at the office to keep up my stamina

More to the cache of my father's meds....

Yes, it's been quite an adventure.
Life will be returning to my normal frivolity and festivity shortly.  

Confetti and cupcakes all around....