My 60th Birthday Present to Myself-Getting Healthy. Grand Rapids, MI

I had a breast reduction in November 2012 and...

I had a breast reduction in November 2012 and tummy tuck in March 2013. I've tried every diet possible to lose weight, but find myself heavier than before the above 2 surgeries that cut and sucked probably 20+ lbs. off me. My weight is approx. 240, BMI 39, I'm 5'5" and will be 60 years old January 20, 2015. I need to get healthy. This year my doctor told me I'm pre-diabetic. In March my A1C was 6.3, thru some dieting and exercising I was able to get it down to 6.0 which is still prediabetic. I have had high cholesterol for probably 30+ years (I take medication), non-alcoholic fatty liver (which will eventually attack my liver just like liver scerosis), vericose veins, tingling in hands & feet, high blood pressure, sleep apnea (never diagnosed but I wake up gasping for air), short of breath, lots of arthritis in my joints that hurt more due to obesity. I tell people during my adult life time I've lost about 1,000 lbs and gained 1,100 lbs. I'm sure I've screwed up my metabolism and it's time to do something to get healthy before I find myself taking insulin shots and all the complications that come with diabetes and the other chronic ailments I have. I mentioned to my Dr. that I was seriously thinking about the Gastric sleeve procedure (after my diabetic class in his office) hoping he wouldn't think I'm lazy since I can't lose the weight. He totally surprised me when he told me he agreed 100% that it was the best option out there for me to lose & maintain my weight for the rest of my life. I was gifted some money from my Mom which will pay the $18,000 I've been quoted by St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Rapids, MI so I can have the surgery 30 miles from home. I have friends who have gone thru them and are extremely happy with the outcome. I have filled out the paperwork, have had many of the required tests done, my insurance will not cover this surgery so no waiting there. I'm going to their free seminar on Aug. 9th (1 week away) and hope to be able to move ahead quickly. I've asked my husband to go with me and hope he will to understand the process. After my TT he said "no more surgeries" so I want to get him involved and excited for me. I'm sure I'll be blogging alot like I did with my other 2 surgeries. I don't anticipate having nearly the pain/problems with this that I did my TT 16 months ago.

Before pics

I've never minded having my picture taken, even thou I've been a big woman most my life. I know many big women hide from the camera and wear dark clothes-not me. I believe big women can dress well and carry themselves proudly. Hope that self-confidence comes thru in my pictures. I'm looking forward to having my pictures taken after I lose weight.

Raring to go more than ever.......

My husband & I attended free seminar regarding gastric surgeries. I was the first person thru the door to register (after sitting in front of the building 30 min. waiting for them to open), I sat in front row (the only one) in front of our speaker Dr. Foote who is one of 4 bariatric surgeon at Grand Health Partners. With 4 partners there is always a bariatric surgeon on call. There's no need to go to the ER with complications. He went thru the different procedures and explained they take out more gastric bands than they put in since gastric sleeve works so well. He said he can complete gastric sleeve surgery in 1 hour and 17 minutes. The practice has done 8,000 gastic procedures. He had graphs showing the patient satisfaction percentages for each procedure. He gave me alot of confidence. They have before & after support classes. They will not do surgery on anyone who has mental issues or who smoke (they do nicotine testing) since this hinders healing and can lead to a host of health issues. Their practice does require the 2 week liquid diet before surgery. They will have follow-up appointments with me 3, 6, 12, 18 mos. and annually for the rest of my life. I can also continue to attend any of their support classes that I want. I like having support after my surgery 30 min. from my home. This is one of the reasons I'm not willing to fly off to Mexico for this procedure. They complete their surgeries at St. Mary's Hospital where each person has a private room and will stay 1-2 days. He said in our area 99% of their surgeries are covered by health insurance once you jump thru all the insurance hoops. I'm definantly the 1% minority doing self-pay. My husband attended with me and is on my side to have the surgery since my general practicianer endorsed this weight loss surgery 100% to help with my co-obesity chronic health issues. I've been ordering my supplies: 2 different kinds of whey protein, biotin, liquacel, torani syrups, gummy vitamins, vitamin D, calorie-protein-carb book and high protein/low carb protein bars. I'm calling Monday morning to start lining up the psych test and to review what medical tests I need before I can have the surgery. I would like to be on top of everything and be scheduled for surgery with in 1 month. That would give me 4 mos. to lose as much weight as possible before I turn the BIG 60.

Pushing forward....

I called Grand Health Partners when they opened at 8:30 this morning. I was able to schedule my Dr. White internalist appointment for Monday Aug. 25th (2 weeks from today) and also schedule Fri. Aug. 29th for my Psych test & Surgeon Dr. Foote for that day. I would gladly schedule my surgery date but guess I have to do these meetings before they will move forward. I would of like to get into the internalist sooner but Dr. Sandy the 2nd internalist is on vacation this whole time. Oh well I need to practice patience.

Waiting & planning.....

I'm getting the supplies that I've been ordering since starting this journey. I have my chewy vitamins, biotin, vitamin D, protein power, liquaCel and Isopure-160 calories, zero carb, 40g protein drinks, zero calorie flavoring for my protein drinks and new pj's for the hospital. Today I went shopping with my daughter to get school clothes for granddaughter who will start school in less than 3 weeks. Since we had the day out alone we also went to Lane Bryant. I didn't plan to buy any new clothes since I won't be wearing 20-22W for much longer. So to give me motivation I bought new clothes in size 14-16. I even bought a new cinch waist little black dress in size 16. I know none of it will fit me right now, but I'll keep trying everything on until they do fit me after my surgery. I also bought new sexy bras in size 38C & 40C, I currently wear 44C. Only 8 days until I meet with the internalist, and 12 days until I meet with psych & my surgery doctor. This is real and time is moving on. I'm more than excited to put this behind me and start losing the 60-70# that has gotten too comfortable riding around on this body.

More before pics & (too small) Size 18's

I'm going to include some new before sleeve photos with better lighting. I also ordered 2 size 18 (regular womens sizes not W) dresses and a size XL top. I thought I'd take my 'before' photos with these very tight clothes then some of my 'after sleeve/weight loss' pictures when these clothes actually fit me, instead of my 'big' (before surgery) clothes as I loose weight. Hope that makes sense.


I went to the internalist today. They performed the EKG in their offices. I was so anxious & nervous I thought I'd have a panic attack (had a tight chest) and my heart was racing. So the internalist thought my heart murmer was loud and said I'd need a new echocardiogram (the last one was 2 yrs ago) and gave me an order for a bunch of bloodwork tests. So now I'm doing my fasting bloodwork tomorrow and waiting to get an appointment for the new echocardiogram. I see the behaviorist & surgeon on Friday. The Dr. today thought my surgery would be scheduled soon since I'm a self-pay.

Moving-Moving-Moving forward.....237.5lbs & 39.5 BMI, 49.3% fat

My official "before" numbers are: 237.5 lbs, 39.5 BMI, 49.3% fat, 117.0 fat mass. My goal weight will be 150-160, I have to be 150# (max) to get to the very high end of "normal" body weight. Desireable range for fat is 23-34% (mine is 49.3) with 36.0-62.0 lb fat mass (mine is 117.0). The real numbers will be when I have A1C of less than 6% (no longer prediabetic), and can quit taking pills for other health issues.
I did all my fasting blood/urine tests today. The results will be sent directly to the internalist (Dr. Dawn White) who ordered them. I have my echocardiogram scheduled for this Thursday with results also sent to Dr. White. Friday is behaviorist & surgeon visit. I'm hoping all my tests will be with the internalist this week or 1st of next week. On Friday I'm going to ask to set a surgery date. Wanna keep moving forward.

I'm getting sleeved and starting my new life on 9-15-2014

Met with behaviorist today and he didn't see any reason I wouldn't be a good candidate. Then met with Dr. Foote and we were able to set surgery date for Monday September 15th (17 days away). He could of actually done surgery on Sept. 8th but I have a mammogram & need to be at the hospital with my Mom on the 10th. On Monday Sept 8th I go into their office for a 4-5 hour training class. Since my BMI is (barely at 39.5) below 40 I only have to do 800 calorie/per day pre-surgery diet for 1 week. Also I do not have to do all liquids like some people report. The sugeons office had my blood/urine tests results and should have my echocardiogram (I had done yesterday) in their office by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. My blood/urine tests were all within 'normal' range except my A1C was showing 6.3 again (was 6.0 in July) which is a measure of my blood sugar. I'm hoping after surgery to have this below 5.7 which is 'normal'. I need to hold off diabetes for a few more years. This will give me 4 mos. & 5 days to get off as much weight as possible before I turn 60 years old on Jan. 20, 2015. Dr. Foote explained post-surgery my diet will be liquid for 2 weeks then soft food for 4weeks. Also great news was I can continue my water aerobics right up until the day of surgery and get back in the pool 2 weeks after surgery. I'm so excited I think I'll burst!

Future health issues without GSV surgery

A couple health issues that are going to be bad if I don't get this weight off. My non-alcoholic fatty liver will attack my liver and destroy it like liver scerosis. My Dr. has told me this is extremely painful and can/will eventually kill a person. Also, with all the heart problems in my family carrying all this weight in my middle will definantly affect my heart in the future, if it hasn't already. When I talked to Dr. Foote 3 days ago he told me that the abdomon/middle fat responds very quickly after gastric sleeve surgery and should be some of the first fat that is gone with surgery & weight loss. This was very encouraging to me since I want this middle fat gone-gone-gone. My surgery is 2 weeks from today.....can't wait to join the (weight) losers! I also found a new website with lots of pictures:

Debbie Downer or Gym Addicted?

I run into a acquaintenance today. She had heard I was having gastric surgery & asked me why. I tried to explain to her (she's probably 30 yrs old) that I'm having health issues and need to get the weight off permanently. She told me she knows several people who have gastric surgery and put it back on. I understand that. Most days she spends 3-5+ hours at the gym working out. I give her alot of credit since she's lost around 120# just with diet & exercise. At almost 60 years old I'm too tired, old and hurt all over to spend 3-5 hours at the gym and I want to have a life after I do my water aerobics. I wished her well and walked away. She hasn't worked in many years she receives disability checks for her croans disease yet has the energy to spend countless hours working out. Why do people need to put down a decision we've made to better ourselves? If I could lose my weight and keep it off I would.

6 days to sleeve

I spent 4 hours at surgeons office doing pre-surgery appointment. My head is spinning with all this info. I have to have last minute blood tests done to make sure my levels of everything are good. My weight was down to 234.8 today. I immediately start my presurgery diet of 600-800 calories per day. I'm thankful I only have to do this for 6 days and not 2 weeks like those with BMI above 40. My post-op 2 week & 6 week appointments were set. I have to quit taking all supplements plus my premarin, aspirin & celebrex for the next 3 weeks since they are afraid of blood clots. I can use tylenol for my arthritic hands but not looking forward to them getting worse like they did when I went off celebrex before a previous surgery. I'm now thinking that most of the supplies I've already bought (probably $400-$500 worth) are worthless since my surgeons office had me buy their products since the calorie & protein levels are what they require. I have 6 days of presurgery meals & 14 days post surgery meals and the cost was $348.75. I did some extra supplies for variety since some items come in boxes of 7 and I don't want to eat the same thing everyday. The doctor suggested we start taking biotin immediately to help prevent hair loss. Also, taking their vitamins & iron. So before you start ordering protein powder, vitamins, etc. see what your surgeon suggests. I will continue with my low calorie meals until Sunday at 6PM, then only liquids until midnight, then nothing until my surgery at 3:30 on Monday. I was glad to hear that Michigan is the gold standard (among all states) regarding gastric surgeries. Everyone in my class is part of a survey group (along with 5,000 other patients who have this surgery every year) where our information is sent to University of Michigan where they review all parts of the bariatric procedures & processes to make it better. We were told that bariatric doctors from all over the U.S. come to Grand Health Partners to learn how to do this procedure. Glad I'm being operated on by the experts.

For comparison...

3 days and I'm going to get VERY hungry before surgery.

I've done my last minute blood/urine tests and had to answer questions to surgeons office why my urine was clear on Aug. 26th & Sept. 11th but showing an infection in between. I went to my family Dr. with urinary tract infection, took antibiotics and now it's cleared up. I Did my registration and everything I needed with hospital. The scheduler at the hospital called today and gave me my surgery time of 3:50 on Monday. The hard part is going to be NO food Sunday after 6 only clear liquids until midnight then NOTHING until after surgery. Can you say 22 hours between last light meal and surgery??? I'm thinking of setting my alarm for 11-12 and having some high protein clear soup. I'm already waking up at 2-4AM every morning starving and can't sleep, how will I get by another 12 hours without food or water? Not excited about this part of the process but will get by I know. Maybe I'm getting a bit nervous (and hungry on approx. 1,000 calories per day) now. Keep strong my gastric sisters!

1st meal after sleeve.

The little cups are my breafast. I'm doing so well I may get to leave this afternoon. That would be less than 24 hours post surgery.

Finally sleeved!

Monday my surgery time was set for 3:50, we got to the hospital around 1:30, which made for a long day since I hadn't eat/drink since 9PM Sunday night. They finally came for me a little after 5 for surgery. I remember being in the surgery room, then nothing until I woke up in recovery. As soon as I woke up I was taken to my private room. Since I've had MIRSA in the past every doctor, nurse, cleaning lady, etc that came in my room had to put a blue plastic full apron on. The waste baskets were always full of blue plastic aprons. I was taken for a walk around midnight the night of surgery then around 4AM. In between anytime I would get to sleep someone else would come in and wake me. Plus they needed my bed head up 45 degrees so that makes it a bit hard to sleep also. Tuesday morning I went up the elevator to a floor with a chapel, beautiful grand piano and beautiful places to sit & relax. They have a courtyard & I went out there (pushing my pole with my IV solution) and let the sun shine on my face for awhile. Tuesday everyone came in and said I was doing super since I'd quit the pain med pump around 4AM and hadn't had anything else for pain. Finally one nurse said as long as I was doing so well I could go home if I wanted. So I took that to mean soon, I called hubby and started bagging my stuff up. In reality "soon" actually turned into 5-6 hours of getting my pain meds and the doctors to sign off, etc. As soon as I got home I went to sleep in my bed without anyone poking and proding me. I finally got up and heated up some core protein drink (chocolate) and sipped on that-it was just like hot chocolate. Then I started trying to push the liquids and then I took a valium and went back to bed. I was up around midnight hurting-so I had to drink some protein & liquids before taking another pain pill. I found I could sleep on my back pain free, but when I rolled over to my sides everything hurt. It's Wednesday, I'm home and able to relax, and nap when I need. In the hospital they said the liquids are much more important than the protein at this point. I'm trying to get both in. I'm glad the surgery is over and I'm home to rest and heal. I'm hoping every day will be a bit better. They must of pumped alot of liquids in me at the hospital since my weight is up 5# since surgery. Thank-you for all the caring & prayers....Judy

3 days post-op exercise-exercise-exercise

These are my thoughts-they may or may not be true. I believe with the low calorie diet before surgery and 21 hours before surgery with no food or water, major surgery on the stomach, then 16 hours of IV fluids only, that my stomach virtually fell asleep and forgot how to work. Of course when trying to put food (liquids only) down there it became VERY angry at the idea of having to wake-up and do it's job again. I've been out of the hospital 2 full days and I feel better each day and even notice how I feel better at night than I did that same morning. Yesterday I was able to get in 60 min of walking, 46 g protein & 42 oz of liquid in my very angry stomach. Today it's being a bit more cooperative so todays totals are: 60 min of walking/bike riding, 65 g protein & 66 oz of liquids and I'm feeling pretty darn good since I had major surgery 3 days ago. It's not easy getting in the nutrients but I want to feel good & I want to heal so I'm taking little sips & making big progress. Also I truly believe I'm doing so well since I was doing alot of water aerobics & bicyling right up to the night before surgery. I also got up the morning (1-1/2 days post surgery) and went outside and proceded to walk my driveway-very slowly. Each walk was a little easier and I kept walking. Today I didn't take my heavy duty pain meds only tylenol so I decided I could safely ride my bike on our busy road-and I went 3 miles without getting overly tired. I will keep riding my bike farther & farther everyday and drinking my water and drinking my protein while I heal this angry tummy of mine. It would be easy to lay around complaining about the pain (believe me it's there) but I don't feel that is the solution. My daughter & her family came over tonight and couldn't believe how good I'm doing. I'm actually surprised how good I'm doing also but I'm going to keep working to get better everyday. This morning my fingers were so swollen I couldn't get my wedding ring on, tonight I have my ring on and it's sliding around so I'm thinking I'm losing some of that IV fluid. Thank you for all your well wishes, Judy

Dr. James A. Foote

I've been given a great review from a friend who had this surgery. She loved her surgeon Dr. Baker who is with Grand Health Parnters weight management team. After looking at their 4 partner doctor reviews I know they are all very, very qualified in this procedure. My free seminar was conduced by Dr. James A. Foote, M.D.,FACS-General Bariatric Surgery today and I have decided on having him do my surgery.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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I'm glad to know your surgery went well. You appear to be doing a good job in such a short period of time which is great.
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You're doing so well, congratulations! :-)
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Kirsty I'm doing so much better than I expected. I have pain & discomfort but I keep pushing forward. I keep drinking my protein & water and walking-walking-riding bike. How are you doing?
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That's great, keep doing what you're doing!

I'm good. It will have been 1 year for me on the 25th of this month, so I'll do an update then. :-)
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Looking forward to your update Kirsty and hopefully new pictures.
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Judy, I am shocked that you are actually riding a bike this quickly. That is totally awesome! I pray that you continue to improve and settle that angry stomach. I am still depressed, but we'll see what happens. My appointment isn't until 9/29 and I thought it was next Monday, so more of a wait than I thought. Boo-hoo.
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Mari: Do you have a cardiologist now? Maybe pay a visit to him and talk about the surgery and the benefits. If he puts in a good word (or letter) for you that the surgery is risky but needed to help your heart issues, would that help? I understand you being depressed, I felt the same way when I found out my insurance excluded bariatric surgery. Luckily my Mother gifted me $20,000 that I used for my surgery.
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Stay strong. We'll just name you "The Girggly Girl"! XXXXOOOO. Mari
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Judy, you are just having normal pains. Pop those pills and relax and be sure you get your broths and proteins in to give you strength! Praying that you will recuperate quickly! We're here if you want to throw out any four letter words! A friend of mine that had it done said "What the hell was I thinking?" She looks beautiful now. It's like labor pains-you forget them soon enough! XXXXOOOO
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I'm a bit under the weather today but have been keeping hydrated, walking, taking pain pills and sleeping. I sure wish I could get the air out of my system where they blew me up, those pains can be pretty sharp at times. Oh well I'm sure everyday will be better. I also compare this to my tummy tuck and what I'm feeling now is a walk in the park compared to the TT. Thanks for keeping in touch.
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Well, I am so devastated. The doctor's office just called and they will not be able to do the gastric bypass because I am high cardiac risk. All they can do is the lap band and Oct. 2nd is off until I meet Monday with the doctor-so now I don't know when. I want to cry.
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Oh My God Mari !!!!!!!!!! I had a massive heart attack in Aug. of 2013. I've got 3 stents and repair to one of my valves. My cardiologist told me that bypass will only help with heart issues. This news just sickens me as you were so excited. BUT, it's not the end of the world. If all you can have is the lap-band all 3 of girls will still be together working through this awful fat thing. I'm am so here for you if you want to let lose with some 4 letter words. The 3 of us will talk everyday and we'll help each other the best we can. You let me know if I can do anything for you !!!! Go ahead and cry. You've earned the right to. Then get MAD, really MAD....You may have to take a different path but the goal is the same and we'll help you get through it. I'll check in with you later this evening. Kim
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BABY STEPS my friend. Listen to me....I make it sound like I know what your going through. I don't, but I'm here for you each and every day. Please remember that you are my inspiration. You talked me through a very difficult decision. You will be my mentor and will be your sounding board should you need one. Talk later ~ Kim
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Sorry to hear the disappointing news. Maybe once you meet with the doctor, he will have some ideas for you. Keep your head up. :-) Wanda VA
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Thanks Kim. I know God made this change for me, so I must accept it. I hope the result will be the same and improve my heart. I'm really down right now.
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Thank you Wanda-I will just have to keep the faith. Thanks, my friend.
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I've heard a lot of people take Gas X, but I really don't know.
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If they blow me up, I can volunteer for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade!
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Mari I'm so sorry. Any chance they will consider the sleeve? The band just doesn't work well from all I've heard. I hope you can appeal their decision. How about any other issues: sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes?
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Mari: I will be praying for you when you meet with the doctor on Monday. What can be done to make you less of a cardiac risk? Don't you need to have this surgery to prevent further heart issues? Go ahead & cry if you need, then be ready to fight for what you want & need with your doctor on Monday.
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Ask them about the sleeve, it's less time in surgery and less invasive as gastric bypass. I'd hate to have you settle for the band, then later they want the band out to move forward with another surgery. I guess it doesn't hurt to ask. Maybe time to search out different surgeons.
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Medicare won't pay for the sleeve anymore. I've got an appt with the surgeon on Monday. I have been so depressed because the lap band is not my choice. They just don't want to make any cuts inside that could spur a heart attack. A longer wait - it's upsetting. Won't cry anymore...
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I will. I really could use a virtual hug from my Bariatric sisters!
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Hi Judy ~ This whole thing with Mari is so disturbing. She wants this so bad and both you and I want it for her as well. I guess we just have to wait for news when she comes back from the Doc on Monday. I've got my abdominal ultrasound tomorrow. Still waiting to get an appt. with the physicologist (don't know if that's how you spell it). Any way they told me it's like a 4 hour appt. Did you have one and what the heck do you talk about? I've never been analyzed before. My next appt. with the surgeon is Oct 16th. The exercise physiologist is going to test my Resting Metobolic Rate, and they'll draw more blood. Everything is starting to fall into place. I just wish I could have gotten this done before the Holidays. But you know what ~ I'll take it anyway I can get it. NOW ~ How are you feeling? Are you resting, walking, sipping and blowing into that little device? OH, big ?...Did your Dr. tell you how much weight you could expect to lose in a year? My Dr. told me with the Sleeve about 60% of my extra weight. Does that sound right? Have to run. Need to go pick up dog food LOL!!!! Kim
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