Welcome to the forum.
Here's my take on your questions:
1 Sparkling water helps me soothe my stomach and back during my time of month. What other alternatives may I use?
After your operation many of the things you liked previously may upset your stomach while it's healing. Everyone tends to be different about what things effect it. Carbonation is generally not well tolerated after surgery. It's a myth that it stretches your Sleeve but it does give you a lot of gas and can be painful. I would suggest you let your sparkling water stand for a while to let most of the fizz out and sip it very slowly. And never eat and drink at the same time.
2. I am an emotional Eater. I am at my worst when stressed or with my well meaning, healthy sized but often exasperating family. Their constant worrying and weight make me feel like eating a mountain. Does anyone else have a similar problem.
I think the majority of us can be emotional eaters, although I tend to be more of a boredom eater. I think it is really important to put in strategies to take the place of eating as a coping mechanism. A lot of people are surprised after surgery to find they get depressed or angry because they can no longer rely on food. Most surgeons get you to see a psychologist before surgery, this is a very good idea. You can get a health care plan from your GP to get 10 subsidized appointments. Ask the psychologist to help you with some methods of coping with stress. There is a common saying "that they operate on your stomach not your head". It's up to us to manage the mind games.
3. Can I eat red meat and chicken if I chew slowly?
Once you get to that stage of your diet plan most people can tolerate meat if it is very tender and moist. I have no problems eating steak or chicken. Steak did take a little longer to tolerate as it is a more "tougher" meat to digest. Don't rush your different stages, it takes time for your stomach to heal. If you try a food and it doesn't sit well leave it a few more weeks and try it again with a lot of gravy/sauce. Slow cooker meals are a great way to introduce meats.
4. Does anyone have needle phobias? Would love tips for blood tests?
I don't have a phobia but let them know ahead of time that you have needle phobia so they can put on emla cream to numb the area, don't look at them actually taking the test, try to take someone with you to distract you or listen to some soothing music/relaxation deep breathing exercises through your ipod headphones while it's done.
good luck Nini