18 Months and 194 Pounds Gone... WLS Saved my Life. Carrollton, TX

This is going to be pretty long as I want to share...

This is going to be pretty long as I want to share as much as I can about my journey for anyone thinking about surgery, or has any questions. PLEASE feel free to ask anything. I am not shy, and will probably overshare! lol

I had thought about having WLS previously, but never was able to afford having the procedure. A friend of mine had the sleeve, and was doing very well. So, I really started looking at my life. I was 367 pounds, my Dr. was talking about changing my diabetes meds again, and maybe starting me on insulin as the 3 different meds I was on were not doing the job anymore. I was also on high blood pressure meds, and high cholesterol meds. I was not able to walk more than a block without being in a lot of pain. I met with a few different surgeons and decided to have my procedure with the same Dr. my friend went to.. and he was wonderful. Dr. Veninga in Carrollton, TX really took the time with me during our 1st meeting. I was able to ask everything I could imagine, and he explained everything in detail.

My insurance approved my surgery after doing 3 months of Dr supervised diet, a pysc eval, and a meeting with a nutritionist. I had my surgery on 4/10/13. I remember when Dr. V came in to talk with me the next day (I was really out of it the day of surgery) I was very disappointed when he said my stomach was much bigger than he expected, and so my pouch was larger than he planned. I really thought this would make a difference in my being successful. (I was wrong BTW). I also had 7 incisions, instead of the 4 or 5 he had said it would be and the surgery took 2 hours longer than planned as well. I also ended up staying 2 nights in the hospital, when only one night was planned. Not because of any complication, but I had not passed gas... the anesthesia took me a while to get over.

Once home I really was not in A LOT of pain, but I did sleep in a recliner the 1st night at home. Then it was at least a week before I could sleep on my side. The hardest thing for me was trying to get enough water in during the day... the 1st couple of weeks there is NO WAY I could get even close to my goal. I remember the 1st day I could have soft foods... I was so excited. I made an egg. I ate about 1/2 of it, and was full.... I looked at the 2 bites or so that were left, and the OLD me still very much in my head... so, don't leave that.. and I quickly ate it... it was ONLY 2 bites... UM..... THAT WAS PAINFUL! I don't throw up easily. Never have... but how I WISHED I could at that moment. It felt like when you swallow a chip and it feels like it is cutting you inside out then you have a gas bubble under it.... just something I learned VERY QUICKLY to not do... OVEREAT!

I went back to work after 3 weeks, I could have gone after 2, but was glad I took the extra week. Over the next several months the weight fell off... within 6 months I had lost over 100 pounds. I started to exercise some, walking and going to the gym. I could move and it didn't hurt. I stuck to my Dr.'s plan with my diet very closely for the 1st year. I didn't have bread, pasta, or rice (except once I tried sushi, and rice swells... OUCH). I didn't drink soda, which before I was truly addicted to... every morning like many people have coffee. Dr. V was impressed how much restriction I still had at my year follow up. I could not eat an entire lean cuisine... maybe 1/2. I truly believe it was because I stuck to avoiding anything that would contribute to my pouch stretching.

In the last 6 months, I do have some bread... usually just a couple of bites with a sandwich then I just eat the insides. I will have a sip or two of soda, but have yet to have a whole drink. I have become addicted to coffee... still need my morning fix! (now, if I could kick the creamer we would be kicking a$$). I allow myself too many sweets from time to time, and the last few months I starting slipping more and more, and my exercise has fallen off. I have only lost 9 pounds in 3 months. Which is still good, but I know it could have been better. So, I am getting back to what works for me. It is an effort everyday, but an effort that is worth it.....

Now, to back up a bit. Right after the surgery, my PCP took me off of one of my diabetes meds. She cut my BP meds in 1/2 within 30 days. Within 3 months I was off ALL of my meds. I did not have any problems for the 1st year, my labs were always great. I take a multi vitamin, calcium, and B12 once a week. (though I have stopped the B12, and should probably start again). In June of this year I started having a pain after I ate in the upper right of my abdomen, right by my ribs. I was pretty sure this was gallbladder pain, from what others had described. it started on a Monday.... Wednesday it was bad enough that I mentioned it to my Manager at work that might need to leave. Thursday when I went to the restroom... my urine was ORANGE. LIKE NEON ORANGE. I knew something was not right, so I called my PCP Dr. and she was out on vacation. So, I made an appointment to see another Dr. in the practice for Friday. When I went in he agreed that it sounded like gallbladder, and said that they could see it was bilirubin in my urine which is a byproduct of blood from your liver. He sent me off for a CT, and said he would get back with me that day. I never heard anything... (I should have called.) Saturday, after coming back in the house from a walk with my dog my sister was cooking some BBQ chicken... and suddenly pain started. (yes, it really was just the smell of the chicken that started it). The pain just kept getting more and more severe... my partner came over and took one look at me and took me to the ER. I was jaundice, skin and eyes were yellow, I was double over in pain and really could not think. Turns out I had pancreatitis caused by a gallstone that decided to play in my pancreas. I was admitted to the hospital for 5 days. (BTW - the Dr I saw no longer works at their practice I made several complaints when I found yes they saw issues on my CT and he never called). Anyway.... I had to be on a VERY LOW fat diet once I was released because they wanted my pancreas to calm down before doing gallbladder surgery. I had my gallbladder removed end of July. When my surgeon talked with me after the surgery he pointed out something he wanted checked by my GYN, which lead to another surgery in mid Sept. However, it is not related to my WLS, or a complication of it, so I wont go into details here. So, from July until mid Oct my exercise became almost non-existent due to all of the issues, and I let myself snack more. (I have always been an emotional eater). I mention the gallbladder issue because it is a common side effect of having rapid weight lose. So much so that many surgeons remove it at the same time as doing the sleeve... something that I didn't know, and was not talked about before. Which would be my ONLY complaint about my surgeon. Would I go back and not do it???? HECK NO, I am IN LOVE with my SLEEVED life. It saved my life... in so many ways.

When I had my surgery in mid Sept my GYN mentioned that the surgery was more difficult due to the excess skin, and that it didn't have any tension, which they rely on to help hold the tools for surgery. He said I should look into plastic surgery... to which I said... no, way... I am no where near being "ready", I still have too much fat in my tummy. He pulled back the sheets and looked, and disagreed with me. He said he was just "in there" and they can take care of that with surgery. You are ready... I was in awe.

I did make an appointment for a consult with Dr. Kirby in Ft. Worth at the end of Oct.... I met with another PS, but I really like Dr. Kirby. Long story short... she would like me to lose at least 10 more pounds (I want to lose 15). Just so that everything is as lose as possible, and will allow her to make the TT as tight as possible. Before looking at me she said the most she usually removes of skin is about 10pounds. After the exam... she said she will easily be removing more than 10pounds. They are submitting everything to my insurance to see if any of it will be covered, and I am working on getting these last pounds off. Due to cost I am looking at waiting until March, but I would LOVE to have it done before my 2 year mark of having my WLS. So, I am beginning the next leg of this amazing journey.

I started at 367, and this morning I weigh 172.6. I used to wear a 30/32 and shirts were getting tight. I now wear a 14. I can shop in "normal" stores. I just bought tights for the winter, and they are a medium. It blows my mind that I weigh less now than when I graduated HS. (I was 197, I remember that I said I would NEVER be over 200...hahaha). I love seeing my collarbone, I feel it all the time. I freaked out the 1st time I felt my pelvic bone.. didn't know what that was! I love to cross my legs... I do it ALL the time. I can walk anywhere I want and I don't have to think about it.

I don't always see it, in fact, I know I still see myself as much larger than I am. However, everyday I am seeing myself a bit more clearly.

I hope that my "review" gave you some insight of what this journey may be like and know that EVERYONE is different, and please don't compare yourself with anyone else's. you are a unique person, and your results will vary. please feel free to ask me anything... really.

200 pounds gone

I am excited to say that as of yesterday morning I have lost 200 pounds from my heaviest weight. Yesterday morning I was 167!!! My goal was to lose 200 by the end of the year and I did it!!!
That was 57 pounds this year, 55% of my total weight lost, 95% of my excess weight GONE, and now I am10 pounds away from a "NORMAL" BMI"

My plan in 2015 is to get my extended abdominoplasty with a fleur-de-lis incision done, and then train for the 3-day walk in November.

I will keep y'all updated!

plateaus - time to make a change

Someone asked me if I had any plateaus during this process, and how long etc...

I did, but very few and they were short (2 weeks, every one of them). Until... now.

October 5th I entered the 170's - I was 176.6. Finally. in December I made it to the 160's and by the end of the year I was 167 200 pounds gone. Which was my original goal, and something I never thought was actually going to happen. However, it did. Since them Ihave struggled to get back to the 160's. Mostly, hovering around 172.

I was planning on having my tummy tuck, but it is pricey and I don't want to take a loan. So, I was saving money. the plastic surgeon said she wanted me to lose at least 10 pounds 1st. Which would put me at 165. I am not sure if because I hit my goal, I let myself relax, or if I am somehow subconsciously avoiding the surgery by not losing more weight. I don't know.

So, I did some evaluating what I was or was not doing and where I want to be in the end. I have not been really working out, not the way I know I can or should. I decided to make a change. I took the money I was saving for my surgery and I am making a commitment to me. I paid for a gym membership ALL up front with a year of personal training 2xs a week. I need to gain muscle mass, really I don't have a lot of muscle. I am not weak, but I could be much stronger. I can't do a full crunch. a push up, and surly not a pull up of any kind. If/When I get my TT I want to be in the best shape possible. I want to have abs when it is all done, and I do not want to have to go have a "touch up" because I lost more weight and it is poochy again.

I have had 4 sessions with her so far, and I love and hate it all at the same time. I need to be better about going on the other days during the week, but I am getting there.

Today is my birthday, and I do my "resolutions" on this day. (not new years). This is the start of a new year for me, in a body I don't know, but want to become more familiar with and know it limits and push past them. I want to be in even better shape next year.

I hope that anyone who reads my thoughts is helped in some way by my journey. Please feel free to ask questions. I wish you all great success in your journeys

Time to get back in gear!

I have not updated this in a while.

I think I have been having a bit of the "ostridge syndrome" that I tend to do from time to time. If I don't look at it, it will go away.

I have gained about 20 pounds... I am at 188 and have been for a couple of months. This is WAY to close to 190, which is WAY WAY to close to 200. I can't go back. I wont...

Insurance denied my claims for having my excess skin removed, and I just don't have that kind of money to have the surgery... yet.
I took the money I had saved for it and paid for a 3 year gym membership up front, and a personal trainer. Which I need to keep me going... I have been going, but I KNOW I could do more, push myself a bit more. I have ALOT more muscles that I did. I can do more than I could. I do understand that muscle weight more than fat.... however, clothes are just a bit tighter, and I can see that it AINT all muscles.

my diet... ahh.. yes, there is the culprit. I know it is... I have been making poor choices, and snaking on all the WRONG things... and I tell myself to stop that train, and fix it. I know what to do... It just seems like I have not been able to....

Today this 15th day of August, I am recommitting to working on ME. I want to lose the 20 I gained.. and IF I can lose another 10 pounds. my goal.. to be in the 150s.

Not many changes...

However, that is a good thing really.

Now, when I say not many changes, I am JUST talking about my weight, and the journey that I am on. I still have not be able to get my skin surgery, however, I am still planning on it.... eventually. Insurance denied me, so I need to save up. My weight.... lowest was 167 on 12/27/14 - I gained about 25 pounds during the year. I managed to put a HALT on that, and currently I am back down to 171-173... to me that is a great success.

I am still going to the gym, although, the last couple of months I have been not so good at that...
Today is the start of a new year, and new goals... mine is to get BACK in the gym. (my membership is paid for through 2018!!!)

I managed to stay OUT of a hospital for all of 2015, and have had no further issues!

Now, outside of my weight and all things related to that my life is 100% different. Jan of 2015 I ended a 15 year relationship. I knew it was coming, it was a mater of me building my resolve. In March (yes, that is fast) I met someone that I had an instant connection with, and we starting building a relationship. Only one major problem... he lived in the DC area. (I am from Dallas). It has been a magical ride, and an adventure for sure.... On Thanksgiving.... he flew down to Dallas, we packed up a uhaul, and i now live with him!

New man, new job, New life.... may 2016 continue my grand adventure.

As for the skin surgery, with the new job comes new insurance, so I will be trying again. If not, he is committed to helping me save the money if it is what I want to do... and it is.

I hope that everyone has an amazing 2016 filled with love and laughs.
Dr. Veninga

Dr. Veninga and his entire staff are amazing. From my 1st appointment they were very caring. He sat down with me and talked with me for almost an hour during the consult. He made sure he answered everything, and gave me a lot of details and options. I can honestly say that they saved my life. He also did my gallbladder surgery because I knew I would be in good hands.

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 Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
4 out of 5 stars Wait times
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