Liberty & Life

cover1-150x235Change is inevitable, like nature – life evolves and constantly moves around us, if we do not adapt we wither, and thankfully adaptation seems to be something that we are good at… even we we proclaim not to be.

Change is not always easy, depending on the circumstances it can in fact feel arresting, the other side of that coin however is liberty, which is the topic of todays post.

I have under gone an enormous amount of personal change over the past 3 years (longer if you count the time from which I had gastric banding surgery) however the last 3 years have been monumental in bringing me to the point I am at today.

In 2010 I went back to University full time and started a graduate degree in education. It was a busy year with crazy timelines, I started a job the same time, working part time with at risk adolescents at night of the streets of Melbourne. At the end of 2010, I finished my degree and although I loved my teaching rounds (for reasons to numerous to go into now) I made the decision to stay in the job I was at and accepted a full time role with the team. I still believed however that I would move towards teaching eventually, but now was not that time.

The full time role and work we engage in is tough, at night and with young people often marginalised by a society that barely accepts them, let alone make the time to understand them. We work with young people who are tough and hard on the outside, but like us all underneath are just looking for acceptance and belonging. I love this work, I love the interactions with young people, I love advocating for them, encouraging them. But  like all meaningful work it comes with a price.

My role involved working 10 hour shifts (often with long overtime) and was always at night either 4pm till 2am or 6am till 4am, and it entailed working 7 nights a fortnight, which always included one weekend in that block… I know that for this work to be possible this is the way that it needs to be, it has to be at night, on the streets, rain, hail or heat. This is the role.

I think that these hours worked for me for a period of time, I could prioritise my exercise during the day, sleep in (I am a bit of a night owl) and engage in work that is both rewarding and meaningful. However there is always a cost. Working night shift continually eventually turned me in a vampire (not literally) but yes, I rarely saw sunlight, found it difficult to sleep at night or during the day, became disengaged from family and friends given that I only had 7 nights a fortnight to see people, and add dating to that – well you get the picture.

I have had 4 surgeries this year, hard enough for anyone, interrupted sleep and poor eating routine and crazy hours found it hard for me to return to my best healthy self… Add to this a number of stressful events at work and I was a powder keg just waiting for a spark to set me off.

I knew in my heart in the middle of this year that this would in fact be the last year I would be able to stay in my outreach role. I love the role, but my heart yearned for something more. I love working with children and young people, and have a desire for them to see and realise their full potential.  Social work is great, I am passionate about it, but it is  not where my calling lies, I believe that my calling is in realm of education.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce (now that I have formally told work) that I have resigned from my job today, and will not return there. I am currently on annual leave and my resignation will dovetail right into my resignation date. I have accepted a position teaching next year, I will be teaching in a suburb about 10km from me, I am under no illusions that it will be tough at times, but I know it will be rewarding also. I will be teaching Year 6, and get to journey with a group of students from Jan to Dec in 2013 seeing them grow and graduate from Primary School…

I am sad to leave my colleagues and young people on the street, but I know that this is where I am supposed to move towards.  I can work in education with a group of students and hopefully become a teacher that allows students to see and understand their intrinsic value and develop as individuals, building resiliency and skills that will  afford them full lives and divert them from coming into contact with social workers protecting kids on the streets.

The door is officially closed to my last role, I will miss some of it and most definitely my colleagues who are simply amazing people… But I feel strangely liberated, like I am moving towards myself, my path in life. I look forward to a life of living in the waking world, exercising and eating with more routine, not feeling socially isolated and having every weekend free; but more importantly, I am looking forward to a  2013 where I will open the door to the learning space that will begin my next journey.

Till next time,

Lin.

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Gastric (Lap) Band – Part 1; What is it?

Gastric Lap Band Illustration (the port at the bottom right of pic is what is stitched to the muscle wall under the skin)

Part of understanding my journey is knowing that I had a Gastric (Lap) Band surgically implanted around 4 years ago. I realized that I haven’t written a lot about the Band, why I had it, what is does, and why I chose that path.

This first post (in this series) will look at what the lap band is, and how it works. I get a many questions about this and hopefully this post will be able to clarify some of the more popular queries.

A Gastric Band is a device that is placed around the top of your stomach. Looking at the picture to the right we can see that there is a plastic ring which on the inside has a silicone tube, this section is adjustable via saline solution being filled into the port.

The inner sections are adjustable with saline solution via the port and when filled contracts more around the opening of the stomach section is adjustable. From the band a tube runs down to a port, this is how the saline solution is injected into your band, essentially filling the silicone up and tightening it around the top of the stomach.

The lap band is inserted into you body via keyhole surgery.  The surgeon places the band around the top section of your stomach, where the stomach meets the esophagus. When adjusted the band creates a small opening into the stomach.

The band works in two ways;

  • It causes the brain to believe that you feel full, with a very small amount of food or sometimes even when you don’t eat. The band stimulates the nerves that sends these messages to the brain.
  • The band also physically creates a small pouch like stomach above your stomach. The food that you must chew well slowly enters the stomach. This makes you feel full and you don’t consume as many calories.

The port of the lap band is stitched to the muscle wall of the abdomen under the skin. After surgery your doctor / surgeon adjusts it with using a needle to inject saline which travels up tubing into the band tightening it. The adjustment is a simple procedure, seeing a doctor at their rooms like a normal consultation, I am usually in and out in 5 – 10 mins after a quick weigh in and chat about my progress.

The lap band can stay implanted indefinitely as long as are no issues. As it is adjustable all the fluid can be removed and you will have no restriction if required.

The Gastric Band is not an easy solution, you can cheat the band, eat all the chocolate, ice-cream, mushy food and anything liquid you like, they slide right on through and the calories on these add up quick. The band does have some issues however, sometimes I can’t keep food down, I can have days where I feel a bit more restriction than others and the band feels tighter and when happens food gets “stuck” and won’t go through the band – it can be painful and results in food coming up (not quite vomiting more like a painful swallow back up).

The Band is an aid in weight loss, it doesn’t do the work for you, I have worked hard to watch my portions, my food choices, and then there is exercise – a lot of exercise. For me the band was the tool I needed to get off the bulk of the weight to allow myself to begin to have success reprogramming my former failure mentality and be able to engage in physical activity.

In my next post I will discuss why the band worked for me, what I have struggled with, and would I recommend it, etc – If you have any questions please feel free to leave it in the comments section and I will do my very best to answer them…

Till next time, Lin xox