Post-Op: 254 lbs. 5'7.5" 43 years old female I...
43 years old
I decided to have the Sleeve Gastrectomy in February of 2013, after attending an information seminar on Bariatric Surgery. I didn't even know the Sleeve was an option. I didn't want the Bypass and figured I'd have to have the Lap Band even though I wasn't thrilled about the idea of having that done either. I was pleasantly surprised when the surgeon discussed the Sleeve. I thought "Why wouldn't I have that?!?"
So I started the process right away. My insurance company required six months of weigh-ins and nutrition classes. In February my BMI was 40. I wasn't aware that I had any co-morbid conditions. I didn't have any of the obvious ones, but as it turned out I do have sleep apnea. My general practitioner has labeled me as a "healthy, big person." :) My insurance company approved me for the surgery and it is scheduled for September 30.
I had my pre-op visit today. It took about 2 hours. I met with the surgeon who asked if I had any questions and went over lab work that I had had completed a few months ago: EKG, Upper GI, etc. Then his assistant met with me to go over the pre-op diet and what to expect from my stay in the hospital. I had to sign all sorts of paperwork too. One thing that I feel is important to mention is that when I received my approval letter from the insurance company it specifically stated that it was for one night at the hospital. The doctor said I'd be there for 2 nights and that they would take care of informing my insurance company. Afterwards, I met with a nurse who talked with me about what to expect after the surgery. She also gave me some sample protein shakes and I watched a video about what to expect before and after the surgery. It was fairly repetitive -- they had given me the same information in paper form, but I didn't mind the repetition. I was able to ask a lot of questions, which mostly centered around my being nervous about how to manage my diet afterwards.
The nurse told me today that I should expect to miss 2 - 4 weeks of work with the Sleeve surgery. I, fortunately, am able to work from home so by week two I'm hoping I'll feel good enough to work. She said that it's important to get used to the new way of doing things and adding work to the mix can sometimes take your mind off of things you should be concentrating on while recovering: drinking enough, eating enough, etc. This made total sense and I'll be careful to not push myself.
I only have to do a five day pre-op diet, which will start on September 25. I'm not feeling all that nervous about having the surgery. My nervousness comes in when I consider life afterwards and the changes that will ensue. But I'm also excited about finally having some help in my weight loss struggles and efforts.
The only people that know about my surgery are people that are close to me (family, friends) and even then it's a short list. I have told my boss because I knew I'd have a ton of appointments and such and it would be easier if she was informed, but none of my co-workers know. I'm not sure if I'll end up telling others about it, but for now I'm content with who I've told.
Here's to a positive experience and life changing event!
Start of 5 day pre-op diet
Just Got Home from Surgery
For the first day they had me on a pain killer drip and then on Tuesday afternoon switched me to a liquid. Monday went pretty good, and Tuesday morning I felt great, but Tuesday evening the pressure in my abdomen got really bad. I had dry heaves a few times which was terrible with the incisions. The nurses were pretty accommodating with nausea meds but they could only do so much. There was a lot of grinning and bearing on my end. This morning was a lot of the same the the doctor came in and told me the more I walked and the more I drank the better I'd feel. I figured I'd give that a try since I really wanted to come home today. I walked a lot, around the halls, and was able to drink 30cc's every 15-30 minutes. I drank water, had a little bit of sugar free jello and some diluted apple juice. The water felt and tasted the best to me.
I feel much better than I did last night. There's a lot of movement going on in my abdomen but it's not causing too much discomfort (thank goodness). I'm hoping that will subside in the next day or so.
My incisions are sore and are all very high -- right under my breasts -- which is helpful with standing and sitting. There are 5 of them. I have to hold them even still, when I sit down or stand up. I had my gallbladder out a few months ago and the incisions were similar and the discomfort lasted for about a week with them, so I'm expecting the same.
For the next week I'm only allowed to have clear fluids: sugar free popsicles, diluted juice (apple, grape, cranberry), sugar free jello, broths, water. I have a follow up appointment next Wednesday and after that, if the doctor says it's okay, I can start some foods like scrambled eggs.
I'm not hungry at all, but have been thirsty today which is good since I need to get 64 oz. in. As long as I drink a cup an hour I"ll be all set.
I haven't weighted myself and probably won't for a few days, only because I've read from other people how they've not lost weight when they first come home from the hospital.
I was 244 on Monday.
Day 5 post op
Today was SO much easier than yesterday. I'm supposed to have a minimum of 48 oz. of clear fluids with a goal of 64 oz. Yesterday (day 4) I only reached 44. Today I am almost at 56. What worked for me was to buy a 16 oz. bottle and I fill it with 1/2 water/1/2 juice (I've been using apple & grape). I figure I'm up from about 9 AM to 10 PM, with an hour for napping. If I drink 1 bottle every 3 hours then I will reach my goal of 64 oz. It's an easy way to make sure I'm on track. I also had 2 popsicles but they are very low ounce wise so I'm just using them as a break from the juice/water. I have to take sips and no big swallows or I experience discomfort in my abdomen. My pain level is decreasing every hour it seems but I still need the roxicet every 4 hours. I took a shower today. That wiped me out but it felt good to be clean.
I've been taking short walks around the outside of my house, which I'm sure looks funny to my neighbors, but it's been beautiful outside and it at least gets me up and moving around. I have helped a little today with doing the dishes but that's about it. I get tired fairly quickly so am trying to take it easy.
Week 2 | 10 days after Sleeve G.
I had my 10 day follow up appointment today. I'm down 20 lbs. since my surgery. It's shocking really. We talked a lot about what my diet will be in the next 2 months. I was able to start with soft/pureed foods today but the Dr. told me to take it slowly. It takes about 4-6 weeks for the swelling of your stomach to go down, so even though I'm able to eat a little bit I will still feel some pressure from the swelling. After that it should be a little easier to eat. I was so happy to be able to eat something, but the outing to the Dr. made me so tired that I came home and took a 2 hour nap! I did have some Greek yogurt, about 1-2 tablespoons of it at dinner time. It took me about 20 minutes to eat it. I didn't want to get sick so I just took very small (very small!) amounts over that time period. It didn't bother me at all. I'm really afraid of overdoing it -- the last thing I want to do is to throw up -- so I will be very careful. He told me to start with yogurt, protein shakes and creamed soups and if by Saturday I'm doing okay with those things then I can progress into eggs and some fish. My incision pain is so much better today. I'm thankful for that because I'm tired of sleeping on my back. I really do feel a lot better today except for the tired factor. I'm returning to work on Monday. I was going to try to go back tomorrow, even if for 1/2 a day, but decided to just wait.
Day 15 post-op Sleeve
End of week 3: post-op
End of week 4: post-op
8.5 weeks since Sleeve
It's been a while since I've written an update but wanted to let everyone know how I was doing.
My recovery was not easy. I had A LOT of nausea. It lasted for about 7 weeks. I was given an anti-nausea medicine which I had to refill once. It really helped to take the edge off but didn't take the nausea away completely. It seems to have gone away on it's own. Thank goodness!!!
I feel great now. The nausea is gone and I'm able to eat 'normal' food and have tried many things. I do not tolerate any high sugar desserts/food or caffeine. It took me a while to be able to drink Crystal Light (a lifesaver). I would definitely say my taste buds have changed. They are really sensitive. If I can even remotely taste artificial sweetener then I can't eat/drink whatever it is.
I'm really careful about eating slowly and chewing things completely. I've learned the hard way (threw up twice) that you can't take a bite of something without really chewing it. Also, the rule about not drinking while eating is something I have to follow as well, but it's all getting easier and I don't have to concentrate as much anymore with those two things -- or to remember those two things.
I'm able to to quite a few things, but I stick to some regulars: eggs, cheese (yay!), ham, turkey, chicken, yogurt, cottage cheese, soups, etc. I am making sure to eat protein first and that usually doesn't leave me much room for anything else. I eat anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of food at one sitting. One thing that I do enjoy each night is a 1/2 english muffin with peanut butter. My dog appreciates it too -- I can't ever eat the entire 1/2 so she gets the leftover. It is like a big treat for me to have that. That's really the only 'bread' type substance that I'm eating.
Eat is really easy. Not being able to eat a lot has really simplified my life. What is not simple is my mind where it's all concerned. I know, now even more, why I was so heavy before. I'm still amazed at the value that I put on food: how is makes me feel, comfort, boredom, etc. I still struggle mentally with all of it, but fortunately I can't eat much and because my taste buds have changed and because I'm not craving sugar anymore, so it's helping me to wake up and realize and understand my actions.
This has not been any easy rode. I'm still not 100% happy that I had the surgery, but I do feel it was a last resort for me and I'm determined to not fail. It feels really good to be able to get rid of clothes that are too big for me. It also feels good when people comment on my weight loss. I physically feel great. My struggles are all mental and emotional, which is not surprising.
Having this surgery is truly an aide. Fighting the demons that I've fought for years is still a war, it's just now I have controls that I can't easily overcome, so I'm thankful for that.
So that's the scoop. Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer any that you may have. Thanks! I'll add a full body shot soon.
Happy New Year -- 3 1/2 Months Later...
It's been 3.5 months since my gastric sleeve surgery. I can confidently say at this point that I'm very happy that I went through with the surgery. Everything has evened out and I'm able to eat what I want (more about that in a bit). People notice all the time that I've lost weight. I get a lot of "Have you lost weight?" "Wow! You are looking skinny!" It's nice to get validation and it feels good that people notice. I've also had to get rid of tons of clothes, especially pants. I haven't spent money on new ones yet (I had quite a bit of jeans stored up in varying sizes) and am wearing jeans to work until my weight loss evens out. Fortunately no one has a problem with me wearing them.
It's SO easy to follow the protein first rule. My body wants protein. It doesn't want sugar which is strange to say since I was a sugar addict. I find that I can have one cookie (opposed to 5 or 6) and that even then the thought of it is much better than the taste of it. Christmas had its difficult moments and I felt a little envious of everyone else who was eating treats but in the end I didn't miss it all that much.
I've gotten used to eating small amounts and when I overdo it my stomach is not shy about saying "I'm going to hurt for a little while because you ate too much!" So it's really easy to stop eating. The feeling of being full isn't one that I enjoy now because of the discomfort that soon follows.
I'm eating many, many things just not large amounts of them. I eat often too. Small meals throughout the day works best for me. I'm also not counting calories. I hate doing that because it feels like a chore. I'm aware of what I'm eating and if it's 'good' or 'bad' for me. I know enough about food and what it does to my body to be smart about my choices. And again, as I said above, my sugar cravings are gone and I feel that has been the biggest help.
I love how I look and feel and that is motivation for me to continue on.
Here is a list of what I usually eat throughout the day:
Greek Yogurt, cheese (I LOVE cheese), sandwich meat, chicken, fish, sushi, veggies, rice, potatoes, peanut butter on 1/2 english muffin.
That's the norm for me, though it does vary depending on my day. I'm not able to eat an entire 1/2 english muffin but I have that almost every night and it's a great treat for me. The carb's listed above I might have a bit or two of. I find in the afternoons that I want something crunchy so I will eat a handful of Goldfish crackers or cheeze its, or something like that. But again, I don't overindulge on any of it. I stop when my body is satisfied or little bit before.
I drink water, Crystal Light and also protein shakes. I put the shakes on ice and drink them like I would water. They are also more like a treat since they are usually chocolate or vanilla.
I just joined a gym and am trying to go 3 times a week, plus walk on the off days for about 20 minutes.
My weight loss has definitely slowed down, but I'm still losing about a pound every 4-5 days or so.
Good luck to everyone who is starting or continuing their journey. It is worthwhile but does take work. Lots of mental, emotional and physical work but totally worth it!
4 Months Since Sleeve
It's hard to believe that it's only been 4 months since my surgery. It feels like so much longer than that. I'll cover a few things today and try not to be too repetitive of my last posts.
The first thing I want to talk about is hair loss. I've not talked about it before. I thought that I might be one of the few that didn't experience it but unfortunately, I'm not. My hair is definitely thinner and though it's been getting thinner as I've gotten older, I've definitely lost a lot of hair over the past month. I read (and was told) that it would happen around the 3-4 month time frame and it certainly has. Every time I shower I get quite a bit of it in my hands (when I'm shampooing). It's not totally horrible but I don't want to lose anymore for sure. No one else can tell but I can. I'm hoping it slows down soon.
Next: taking vitamins. I've never had to take a pill (regardless of what kind) for a long period of time. I've definitely struggled with taking the few vitamins that I'm supposed to be taking. At first, I avoided the multi-vitamin because I struggled with nausea for so long after the surgery and was told to slowly get into taking it. So my resolve this month is to start taking all of them (I think there are three) and to not miss any doses. I do understand the value of taking them and know that it is important for my body. This is more of a life-style change since it's a habit and I need to create the habit within myself.
Food: So far, so good with eating and drinking. I could always drink more, but I've created some new habits to ensure I am drinking enough. "Enough" means at least 40 oz. a day, and I really mean "at least" because I know I drink more than that but it's hard to measure swallows here and there that I take. I still do not crave sugar. There is about 2% of me that wants it now and then which is a DRASTIC change from 4 months ago. I consider myself a recovering sugarholic and am amazed that I no longer crave it. I can have one cookie or 1 bite of a dessert and that's all I want/need. I'm totally satisfied with that. I find that my body WANTS protein so it is very easy for me to eat that first, above anything else. I've very good about that. When I first had the surgery and was able to eat food I could eat about 1/4 of a cup on a good day. I'm up to about 1/2 - 3/4 of a cup. It really depends on the time of day and how long it's been since I've had a drink. If I know that I'm going out to eat then I'm careful about what I eat/drink before hand. It actually is fairly easy for me to think about things like that ahead of time. It's really about planning and knowing that in order for me to enjoy myself when I go out that I need to pay attention to what I'm doing. There are still times that I crave 3 slices of pizza or a meal that is going to give me the secure feelings that I used to get from food, but it's just impossible for me to eat that much. I'm thankful for that, even through my feelings of want.
Alcohol intake: I had my first drink a couple of weeks ago when I went out to dinner. I told the waiter that I wanted something sweet and small in quantity (knowing I'd not drink a lot). He suggested a brandy type drink that was only 2oz. I only took one swallow of it (about 1 oz.). It was strong and hit me fairly quickly. I was happy to know that I could get a 'buzz' off of that much liquor. I've never been much of a drinker, but it was a good science experiment! I was curious to know what affect alcohol would have on me because of what I've read about it and bariatric surgery.
So 66 pounds later. I'm now able to fit into a size 14. I was pushing a size 20W. It's now exciting (though exhausting) to go shopping because my clothing options have tripled. I've had to shop for pants finally. I had quite a bit of jeans stockpiled from years past that I'd saved, but most of them are 16's and they are all loose. I've not bought too many clothes yet because I wear a lot of layered type tops that work for multiple sizes, but once the warm weather hits (I live in the Northeast) I will have nothing to wear. So I will be shopping for multiple items in the coming months.
I joined a local gym and have been slowly getting into going. The biggest difference in my body is my ass (hopefully no one minds that word). My son says "It doesn't stick out as far as it used to" so I did some research on the best exercises to do for your backend and am doing those. I'm thankful that it's smaller but I don't want it to be flat! My stomach was pouchy to begin with and no amount of exercise will take away the excess skin, so unless I have surgery for that it won't be going away. It looks good with clothes on, but naked is another story. My boobs have definitely lost some fat but I'm not overly concerned about them either. I have an attitude of "it is what it is". The only other area that bothers me is my upper-inner thighs which have some loose skin too.
My weight loss hasn't slowed down since my last post (which was 16 days ago). I'm still losing about a pound every 4 days. I have my yearly physical this week so I'm looking forward to that -- which is an odd thing to say! The last time I saw my doctor was in mid-September, when he approved my surgery.
Physically I feel great. There is nothing about the surgery that has had a negative on how I feel physically. I have tons of energy and feel amazing. Mentally I feel great, most times. I will probably always struggle with my addiction to food. During those stressful times of life I do miss going into the kitchen and eating until I'm full enough to feel 'good'. I'm learning to redirect that stress to something else. Eating to that degree is just not an option anymore so I have to find other ways to handle my stress.
I will post a picture later on today of how my body looks now -- have to take a couple.
Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks everyone!
Five Months Since Sleeve - 72 lbs. lost
It's been five months since I had the Sleeve. I'm so thankful that I went through with it. Everyday I am reminded of how thankful I am. Almost everyday I get some type of comment from someone who takes notice of my weight loss. It's very encouraging to know that people can see the changes in me. More importantly, I can see the changes both mentally and physically.
I had my yearly physical recently. My doctor said I was doing great but that I should "really lose 20 more pounds." Ha. I said "Really?" My BMI is 27.5 which is in the overweight category. I have a few issues with the BMI, one being that it doesn't take in to account a persons body frame. I am SO happy with how I look right at this moment. I still have some shape and I don't look skinny -- both things I was afraid of either losing or being when I started this process. I told him that and he said that one of the biggest things with having bariatric surgery is not gaining the weight back and the farther away I am from a BMI Obese the better. I agree to a certain point with him, but I also know myself and know that I will be successful with keeping the weight off, weather I'm in the normal BMI range or half-way in the overweight BMI range. Anyway, I'm not stressing about losing anymore. At this point I am concentrating on being healthy and exercising and trying to remember to take my vitamins everyday!
With that being said, in the beginning of last month I was still losing a pound every 3 - 4 days. That totally stalled a week and a half ago. I went for 9 days without losing anything (or gaining anything either). I was really amazed but had been saying that at some point my body was going to slow down with the weight loss. This past week I did drop another 2 lbs. I've noticed that when I get constipated (sorry for the TMI) that my weight loss seems to slow a little. I also threw a party for my daughter and ate things that I wasn't used to eating: fruit, a little bit of chocolate. So I'm not sure if that had something to do with it. But it's probably a mixture of things going on and I do believe that my body is reaching a weight range that is considered normal for myself.
One SUPER exciting thing that happened last month was that I was able to buy a size 12 jeans! I've not been in a size 12 in 25 years. It made me feel like I've accomplished something so grand. I started this process as a size 20. I'm now able to fit into size Large tops too.
I have had to buy clothes. I waited as long as I could but couldn't wait any longer. I've especially had to buy pants. Tops are a bit more forgiving and since I live in the Northeast (USA) wearing sweaters and layers is a necessity.
I'm still sticking with my diet but I have added a few things to it. Here is a list of what I eat on any given day:
cheese of any kind
chicken (grilled, baked, chicken salad)
tuna (usually in salad form: mayo, pickles, etc.)
fish (grilled, baked, sushi)
rice/potatoes (very little of)
english muffin/bread (very, VERY little of)
chips (just a few to satisfy my crunch cravings at times)
Crystal Light (aka sugar-free flavored water)
Diet Pepsi (also another VERY little of)
milk (only a swallow here and there)
I have had a few desserts but I can only stand and only WANT a bite or two. I used to eat a meal of just cookies and milk and I have no desire to do that anymore. My cravings for sweets are almost 100% gone. With everything that I've experienced over the past 5 months, that is the most amazing to me. The satisfaction that I used to feel from eating sugar just isn't there any longer.
Going out to eat is still interesting. I take home most of what I order or I try to order small plates of food or off of the 'kids' menu. Most restaurants are willing to give 1/2 portions too. It's just a matter of remembering to ask.
I can eat about 1/2 to 3/4th's of a cup of food at one sitting. I also eat small meals throughout the day and I am very aware of NOT drinking if I know I'm going to be eating soon. I've tried to keep that one rule ever present in my mind. It does make a difference in how much I can eat if I've not drank something beforehand. I ALWAYS, always, always eat my protein first and I ALWAYS have a protein with anything that I eat. If I take a bite of something sweet I'll also take a bite of some cheese, or a piece of sandwich meat. The protein offsets the carbs. It's a good rule to follow.
I also make sure that I take the time to grab food that I can eat at work when/if I get hungry. I always grab a greek yogurt, cheese sticks, and things like that. I take a 32 oz. drink with me every day and finish it before I get home. It's good to be prepared!
I'm excited to see the doctor who performed the Sleeve surgery. I have my 6 month appointment with him this month. I'm curious to see his reaction to how much I've lost and if he feels I've done a good job or went beyond the expectations, etc. It's something to look forward too. As with my regular doctor (above) I'm expecting him to give me the warnings and precautions about gaining the weight back.
That's the scoop at five months! Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please ask away!
So far, so good. One name the hospital has is The Center for Minimally Evasive Bariatric Center... A center of excellence. They specialize in Bariatric surgery and I can tell. Everything they have done so far is excellent in that I don't have to worry about making appointments or worrying about lab work and such. They take care of all of it. Everyone is friendly and on top of their game. I appreciate how effortless my experience(s) has been thus far.