Simultaneously Thrilled and Petrified! Yet Knowing This is Much Needed... - Kirkland, WA

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Recently one of my kids asked me why I wasn't in...

Recently one of my kids asked me why I wasn't in any of our family photos. That question stopped me in my tracks. I can't deny it, I've been the "phantom participant" for most of my kids' life. And that saddens me immensely, but I cannot change the past. But I can change this path going forward....

I'm in my mid-50s and, like most folks on this board, I've been extremely successful in losing weight. Heck, I've lost so much weight in my life, repeatedly! I'm a master dieter. I've been on every diet possible for the past 40 years, including Optifast, Nutrisystem, going to a summer camp for heavy kids when I was 16, Weight Watchers off and on (I was one of the first to go to WW when it first began in the 1970s in my home town), LA Lite, Atkins, cabbage soup, you name it, I've done it. And they all worked. Temporarily. Blame it on a lifetime of bad habits or genetics or factor "x", but the same 30-80 plus pounds slowly crept back, each and every time. I figure, I've battled my weight my whole life. It's now or never to get this under control. I'm lucky not to have any chronic health issues, but I'm realistic enough to know that my luck's going to run out eventually, and I want to have a good quality of life with my family, and be around for a long, long time.

I've researched the VSG after hearing of a friend in AZ who had it done a few years ago. I immediately thought this surgery was the way to go (for me, at least): least invasive, no foreign bodies implanted, no "parts" that need tweaking or managing, no issues with malabsorption, etc. My GP referred me to The Center for Weight Loss Surgery, and I had my initial consultation today.

I immediately liked Dr. Srikanth: he was easy to talk to, open to questions, took his time explaining the whole process, and has a fabulous sense of humor. He put me at ease right away. I unfortunately was weighed (LOL) and I'm at a personal high weight of 220 (I'm only 5'-3"). Because my lousy insurance doesn't cover any bariatric procedures, this will have to be a self-pay deal, which is a killer, financially, but at least it means I don't have to jump through any insurance hoops or wait. But I DO have to lose 20 lbs first and have quite a few tests done pre-op: bloodwork, EKG, chest x-ray, abdominal ultrasound, endoscopy, spirometry test, upper GI test and bone density test. (If my insurance won't cover the latter two tests, I'm not going to get them, as they are not mandatory). I also will need a psych consult and get a medical clearance, and there are a few other requirements.

We decided on a target date for the surgery: October 15. I am so very excited, but also apprehensive. I'm a terrible patient and just the thought of the endoscopy alone gives me the heebee jeebees.

I've started a protein-rich diet which I will be on for the next few weeks. After that, oh joy, it will be liquids only. I'm going to wean myself off my beloved Diet Cokes. That might be the most difficult part. But I am determined, and I'm looking forward to blogging about my experience, and continuing to read all about all of yours!!!

Water, water, everywhere....

I'm trying to wean myself off my Diet Cokes, so I'm drinking a ton of ice water. It isn't really my "thing", but I promised my dr that I'd be 100% compliant, so I'm doing it. Meanwhile, I'm seriously considering investing in some of those "astronaut diapers", as I'm finding myself running to the bathroom every hour it seems!

How on earth do you all deal with this?

Blood work and all labwork?

Done today!

Good news!

I've only notified a few friends that I'm having this procedure done, as I'm a fairly private person. I'm ok with sharing my story with the millions of you, but not with all the people I interact with in person. I'm just not ready for the barrage of questions and comments. (In time, I know this will change).

At any rate, I informed a friend of mine the other day, only to find out that she too was having this procedure done!!!! I'm very excited, as is she, as we can both support each other on this journey!

Abdominal Ultrasound? Chest X-Ray?

Done and done!

Endoscopy cancelled as insurance company declined authorization....

I'm so disappointed. The endoscopy was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, and I did all the prep work (including fasting and NO WATER. It was rough!), and had my supervisor authorize my leaving work early to get this test done. Literally an hour before I was about to leave, I got a call from my dr's office that my insurance declined the authorization. They cancelled the procedure (it'd cost me at least $1,000 - and probably closer to $1,500 or more - if I had to pay out-of-pocket, as it's done in the OR with anesthesia). The dr's office and I were really surprised that this was declined, as I do have heartburn, and it was coded as such. My dr is going to appeal.


Now I'm worried that I'm going to get a crazy bill for the abdominal ultrasound and chest x-ray I did the day earlier. Why do they (insurance companies) make a stressful situation (medical testing) WAY more so? Why? I feel like this was a big set-back, but I realize these bureaucratic machinations are beyond my control, and I have to have faith that it will all work out.

EKG? Spirometry test?

Done and done!

I forgot to mention...

While at the dr's office today for my EKG, I had to be weighed. Two weeks ago at the bariatric surgeon's office, I weighed 220 lbs. Today I was 207 lbs. So not a bad 2 weeks' loss, on simply proteins and vegetables.

I start my liquid diet today. Oh joy.

Almost done with my pre-op required tests

Tomorrow I have my last session with the psychiatrist. I have yet to hear how my dr's appeal of the insurance denial for the endoscopy went, but I should hear tomorrow (I'm quite nervous about that. We still need to have that done, but I'm praying that insurance covers it). So other than the endoscopy and a nutritional educational session, I'm done with testing!

Oh, and I got weighed today. Down 18 lbs in the past 3.5 weeks (my dr wanted me to lose 20 lbs in 6 weeks. I'm way ahead of him! LOL I've been 100% compliant on the diet he prescribed. The past week, I've been on protein shakes. It isn't fun, but it's do-able).

Good news, for a change!

My awesome dr was successful in appealing my insurance company's denial for authorization for my endoscopy! It's a go! Scheduled for this Friday 9/19. I'm a little nervous, only because I'm a big woos, but jazzed because this is the last big pre-op test requirement.

A lot done today

Today we were able to schedule my surgery! It's going to be on Oct. 17th. We also scheduled my mandatory pre-op educational session, my dr's final consultation, and the first of many post-op appointments. It all seems to be coming together, and it seems so....real. It's a little unnerving. But I'm excited!

Endoscopy? Done!

I was really nervous about this procedure, and I'm happy and relieved to say, it was nothing! I went in to the hospital early, had the most amazing team of nurses who put me at ease, and a super anesthesiologist. They had me change into a "lovely" hospital robe (which nothing underneath!). They put an IV in which I barely felt. The worst part of the whole ordeal was not eating or drinking - not even water - all day. My throat was SO parched. So the IV fluids were actually quite welcome.

They put compression pads on both my lower legs and then wrapped me in the most interesting blanket: it had a vent-like circular hole in it in which they affixed a hose (not unlike a vacuum hose), which was attached to a machine by the side of my bed. And when they turned it on, it pumped WARM WARM AIR into my blanket!! I was in heaven! Have you ever heard of such a wonderful contraption?

My awesome bariatric surgeon arrived, we all signed some papers, the anesthesiologist returned and injected a syringe of some sort of med into my IV and I was immediately more relaxed. Like, 3-glasses-of-wine relaxed. Immediately. They wheeled me down to the OR, strapped EKC leads on my chest, a pulse-meter on my finger, put a plastic block of some sort in my mouth, and wished me pleasant dreams. I was OUT. And then, seemingly immediately after (although I learned it was 20 minutes later), I was awake. And I felt great! No grogginess, no sore throat, nothing. It was as if nothing had happened.

All in all, this was such a positive experience. And now I'm not fearful at all about the upcoming surgery, as it will be in the same hospital, the same surgical suite, with most of the same personnel. Now I'm more excited than apprehensive.

Ugh. Some People!

So I'm being extremely selective in telling people about my upcoming plans for this surgery, but today I divulged my plans to a good friend (who's 80, but quite liberally minded). And she went on and on about her daughter and other people she knows who had various sorts of bariatric surgery over the past 15 years, all of whom overate afterwards and didn't exercise and gained back all their weight, and them some. Why did she feel the need to go down that road? How is this info, in any way, shape or form, supportive? I just don't get it.

Fast question about this site

Just wondering why some people's profiles have a green thumb's up sign with a "WORTH IT!" note beside them, and others (like mine) have a question mark inside a yellow circle. I gather it has something to do with ratings. I tried emailing the RS folks via thier "help"/"Contact us" page, but the link didn't work.

I notice that some "worth it" profiles have less comments and activity than some of the question mark/"Unknown" profiles, so I gather this ranking has nothing to do with comments or posts.

Thanks in advance for any explanation!


Tonight I went to the mandatory 2-hour pre-op educational session. The ARNP (who was awesome) went over SO much info: preparing for the surgery, surgery day stuff, what to expect post-op, the various diets we'll be on (10-days pre-op, 1-week post op, week 2 post-op, weeks 3-4 post-op, weeks 5-6 post-op, weeks 7-8 post-op, and week 9 and beyond, forever more). She went over all the supplements needed and doses and protein requirements. She went over ALL the prescriptions the dr is going to prescribe (that I'll have to fill this week) - and there are a LOT. Some need to be taken for 2 days before and 2 days after the surgery. Some need to be taken for 5 days after the surgery. Some as needed. And more. It was information overload for me, and I'm a little overwhelmed right now.

I have my final consultation with my dr on Friday morning, and his MA will be going over all this with me again. Then I'll start the liquid diet again (oh joy) and wait out the next 2 weeks and then it's show time!

Oh, the ARNP said, if you have your sleeve surgery in the morning, then usually, if there are no complications, they send you home later that same day. WTH? I'm concerned with pain management and I think I'd need to be in the hospital for this. Your thoughts?

Stocking up

I decided to slowly start stocking up on foods, meds and medicines, so I'm not stressed out and under pressure to get everything right before my surgery. Today I got a lot of broths and packets of Crystal Light. This coming weekend, I'm going to fill my prescriptions and get some OTC meds (Colace, Prevacid, Gas-X.... I plan on getting generic whenever possible). I may get to Costco to pick up a Magic Bullet (I'm supposed to be on a pureed diet weeks 5-6 post-op) and a heating pad.

If there's anything that helped you guys a lot post-op, please let me know!

Final Consultation with the dr? Check!

So I guess I'm in the home stretch now. Had the final consultation with the dr. I asked him about all these vitamins and minerals and supplements he's prescribed for me, most of which he recommends for all his patients. He said that because we're going to get a fraction of the food that we used to, that we're no longer going to get our basic vits and minerals from our foods. Plus, much digestion is done in the stomach, and he's removing most of it. For these reasons, and because I'm already kinda low in Vitamins D and A, he prescribed for me scripts for D & A, and iron (I was low there, too), in addition to the calcium and multivitamin and antacid and supplemental phosphorus and potassium. That said, I think the dose of calcium he's recommending is way too high (3500 mg per day) and I don't think I'm going to go above 2000-2500 mg per day. Also, I'm going to ask about the Prevacid which he wants us to take twice a day for a month. The packaging says only take one a day. So that gives me pause as well.

The dr said he likes to prescribe all these meds - especially the anti-nausea meds - so we can best be prepared for what may lie ahead. It made sense. Even if I don't use much or any of the meds, I like knowing that they're there.

Other than that, I'm done with all pre-op testing and dr's visits! Just counting down the days until 10/17. I started my liquid diet today. Two weeks to go!

Stuff I forgot to mention

At my finaly consult with the dr last Friday, at weigh-in, I was done 27 lbs. And I still have 2 weeks to go until surgery! That was uplifting. Also, it was determined that, while they're doing the sleeve operation, they're also going to remove my gallbladder. Seems I have a small polyp on it that may or may not have been causing some abdominal discomfort for me. I told the dr, heck, as long as the hood is open, feel free to do a whole tune-up!

Random Thoughts....

-ever wonder why there is such a huge disparity in pre- and post-op requirements for patients, depending on thier doctors and the clinics they go to? Sure, there will always be differences between doctors' preferences, but the requirements vary so drastically, makes me wonder.
-ever wonder why this procedure is included on this site which focuses on cosmetic surgery? (Granted, I LOVE this site! RealSelf is awesome! But to me, this procedure is about restoring or obtaining one's health back, or perhaps even saving lives. To me, it's not at ALL cosmetic, or about aesthetics, but solely about health).
-ever wonder why there are no guys here on this online support group? I realize more women than men would be comfortable opening up about our weight loss struggles and issues, but c'mon, NO guys? Seems odd. Especially since studies show that joining support groups greatly increases our chances for long-term success.

Ok, I'm done for now! Feel free to add your own thoughts!

At this time next week, on 10/17, I'll be "on the other side" of this journey!

Technically less than a week to go, and I wish it were over with. The anticipation is always the worst part, no? And of course my period started today, so that's always a lovely addition to the many issues and stressors I got going on.

A few more random thoughts:
-I love my new Magic Bullet! For those of you who need help with these dang shakes, and/or who will need to go on a "soft" or pureed food diet post-op for a bit, this is a great tool to have.
-I started seeing a shrink. I realize that my weight is not my main problem. It's a symptom of my main problems, and I need to address them to successfully keep the weight off. (Losing weight is not my issue. KEEPING it off is).
-the shrink has me journaling. Not what foods I'm eating, but my thoughts. Outlining my self-destructive habits. Learning strategies to off-set them. It's interesting and eventually I think it will be helpful.
-I purchased a big 'ol pill organizer, big enough for a whole week, broken down into 4 compartments per day (a.m., noon, p.m, bed-time), so I can organize my post-op meds and supplements prior to the surgery and not have to think so much about messing up. Can't hurt, right?
-I also got a heated throw to help with abdominal pain (I heard it can help).

My questions to you guys who are post-op:
-what did you pack for your overnight hospital visit?
-when you returned home, were you able to, say, walk up a flight of stairs and sleep horizontal in your bed? Or did you need to sleep in a semi-seated/reclined position? (I'm not sure if I should set up my sleep area downstairs in my house).
-is there anything you can think of that I should get now, or arrange, prior to my surgery?

Thanks for any info and tips, as per usual!

Questions for you guys who've already had the surgery:

Sorry to repeat my questions (above), but my surgery is this Friday (!) and I need some advice!
-what did you pack for your overnight hospital visit?
-when you returned home, were you able to, say, walk up a flight of stairs and sleep horizontal in your bed? Or did you need to sleep in a semi-seated/reclined position? (I'm not sure if I should set up my sleep area downstairs in my house).
-is there anything you can think of that I should get now, or arrange, prior to my surgery?
-I am REALLY curious what post-op supplements your dr prescribed for you (not including the protein). How many vitamins and supplements per day? I'm a little low in vitamin D and A and iron, and my dr prescribed a hell of a lot of supplements for me for the 3 months post-op, in addition to a hell of a lot of multivitamins and calcium, and Prilosec. I'm wondering what others were prescribed.

Thanks for info.


Surprisingly, I've been fairly calm all day. Only in the past hour have I become jittery. I made copies of my living will (which didn't exactly calm my nerves. LOL), as the hospital staff requires it. But I know this procedure is quite safe (as far as surgeries go), and I have faith in my doctor, and the hospital and the staff there, and I know I'm an excellent candidate, so I'm confident all will go well.

I wanted to thank all you guys who have taken the time to read my notes along this journey, and who've taken the time to actually respond to my queries and provided your input and support! I truly feel like we're all in this together, and that despite our geographical and personal differences, we all have more commonalities that bond us. Thanks to all. I will update you on the "low down", how it all went, when I return home on Saturday (Sunday the latest).

Recovery is rough

...way rougher than I had anticipated. Let's start from the beginning:
Got to the hospital early Friday morning. At weigh in, pre-op, I was down to 186 (at my initial Aug.28 consult with the bariatric surgeon, I was 220). The nursing staff was incredible. I wasn't nervous at all. The anesthesiologist came in and I loved him, all in his Seahawks finery! I felt we were all on the same team. I don't recall being wheeled to the OR; I must've been given something in my IV en route.

I hear I was put in a post-op recovery room after the operation for 90 minutes. I have absolutely no memory of this.

I semi-woke up in my hospital room. I vaguely remember my husband and one of my daughters there, briefly. I had a really rough night in the hospital. I woke up every 5-10 minutes, either because I just spontaneously woke up, or due to some interruption by a nurse or phlebotomist.

I walked as much as I could in the hospital, and they still gave me a few painful sub-cutaneous shots of blood thinners. They also had me to a barium swallow the following day which I barely was able to manage. I have a really hard time with swallowing liquids. My surgeon was very happy with how it all went.

Since I've been home, I've had a really rough time. I have all these meds that I can't take. I can't keep down liquids (even water. So I can't take pills. And just forget about the liquid pain meds. I throw them up immediately). The few times I've had the dry heaves, I thought my stomach staples were all bursting. Same thing the few times I sneezed, I though I'd die.

As I write this, it's late on Monday. I got home from the hospital late on Saturday. The weekend was pretty brutal and I had zero liquids in. I was worried I'd get dehydrated. Today, Monday, I was able to have 2 half-mugs of tea and 1/3 of a sugarfree popsicle, and my family says I'm looking a lot better. So perhaps I'm improving. I have been able to keep down the antacids (Prevacid, twice a day), but no way am I able to take my multivitamins or calciums or pain or nausea meds.

I'm hoping to take a shower tomorrow, and walking a bit more. Plus, today I took a lot of naps - like, every 2-3 hours. I think that helped me. Sleeping at night is still dicey. I can't seem to sleep more than 2 hours at a time.

I want to thank all of you for all your well wishes and words of support. I took them all with me. Somm, I can't find it now, but your pre-op prayer was very helpful to me, and I thank you for that. I derived a lot of comfort from all of your kind words. Thanks to all! I'm hoping tomorrow is better than today, and I promise to keep you all posted.

Today makes it exactly one week post-op!

And, thankfully, yes, I am on the mend. My pain is getting a little less intense each day, and today was the first day I walked outside. I walked for 20 minutes and, I admit, I went slowly, but the fresh air felt good. I didn't need a nap today, too, and I was able to have more liquids (the equivalent of 5-6 glasses, I think), plus my antacids, bariatric vitamins and calcium. I still haven't been able to take my other prescribed vitamins (D, A and iron), but I think I'll try taking them all tomorrow.

I've been on a clear liquid diet for 3 weeks now. Starting tomorrow, I am going to start incorporating my protein shakes. I think I can keep them down. After a week of that, I can start pureed foods. The slow introduction to foods kinda makes sense to me.

I thought, going into this adventure, that I was prepared. I had read and researched a great deal about VSG and stocked up on everything I thought I'd need. I was repeatedly told by my doctor and hospital staff that I was a fabulous candidate for surgery as I am relatively fit and healthy, have no underlying chronic problems, am on no meds, etc. Because of my overall good health and all my preparation, I thought my recovery would be a breeze. I had an arsenal of meds to help me out and a great support system in place. I was totally unprepared for how rough the first few days post-op would be. Here are some of the things I wish I had known in advance: (keep in mind that everyone's different and some people DO recovery quickly!):
-the hospital overnight stay was rough. Didn't/couldn't sleep, painful unexpected injections, a barium swallow. Personally, I'd still opt to stay overnight at the hospital, but it sure wasn't a walk in the park. I thought it would be WAY more relaxing than being home, and yes, I needed the reassurance of being monitored. But it wasn't fun.
-the first 48 hours post-op at home was difficult. I was like a different person. My kids were worried about me. I sat like a lump on the sofa and could barely answer them when they spoke. I was very quiet. I walked when I could but it was minimal. I couldn't take any meds. I couldn't drink water or any liquid. I was in a zombie state. I didn't have pain per se but I had a LOT of nausea/abdominal and chest pressure from gas and excessive saliva. I spit up constantly.
-thank god for Gas X strips (they helped me a lot after day 3 post-op. Initially they tasted horrid to me and I spit them out. By day 3, they were tolerable - and they worked!). I wish I had known about the sublingual B12 for the saliva issue (thanks to SommGirl!).
-I had arranged to have a week off from work. If I knew how my recovery would be, I'd have asked for a week and a half to two weeks off. My abdomen is still sore and I'm lethargic. I think my body could use more rest. (I'm amazed of folks who can return to work after 3-4 days. Wow. Amazing. That sure ain't me!).
-little did I know that the smell of food cooking or even food commercials on tv would make me feel really sick. Only in the past few days has this been more tolerable. A little bit, anyhow.
-little did I know I'd be really constipated after surgery. Like, REALLY bad. And that added to my overall "discomfort". (Sorry if TMI here. Still, it's best people know that this is a distinct possibility). Then, on day 4 post-op, I took a few Colace and, as a result, for the past 3 days, I've had the opposite problem. I will spare you all the gory details. It ain't pretty.
-my stomach sounds like a monumental battle involving multiple, vast armies is continually ongoing in my abdomen.
-it's a week post-op and I'm still burping.
-warmer liquids (tea, broth) is way easier to keep down than cold liquids.
-the first week post-op, I wish I'd known not to expect much in the way of compliance with...anything.

That's what I've learned so far. Plus, you all are a tremendous source of information and support and I don't know what I'd have done without you guys! Tomorrow I'm going out walking a bit more and I'm going to do a few errand. Slowing getting re-integrated back into society. Translation: no more going braless and wearing my sleepsack. "Real" clothes begin tomorrow. (I have been SUCH a sloth!). Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

2 Weeks Post-Op Status Check

So it's been a long week. As mentioned previously, I wish I had taken off two weeks from work instead of one. I've not been in pain, but I've fatigued SO easily. Just haven't had the stamina I used to.

Despite being tired mid-day, though, I've felt great. Then something scary happened this past Tuesday around midnight. I had a sudden, spontaneous episode of the most intense pain I've even experienced (worse than natural childbirth, which I've experienced twice. I kid you not). It was a sharp intra-abdominal pain that radiated up to my chest and shoulder. I got up from bed, hoping to walk it off and I nearly passed out. I couldn't get in any position that eased the pain. I was moaning, crying and panting out the pain. My husband had his hand on the phone to call 911, but I told him to hold off. After about an hour, the pain subsided a bit, then went away for half an hour, then returned in full force. I was so scared. It eased up again after 4am, and then went away for good. It was the scariest and most painful thing ever. And thankfully, it never came back.

This past Friday I had my mandatory 2-week post-op doctor's visit. I'm down to 180 lbs (I've lost only 6 lbs in the last 2 weeks, since my surgery, but 40 lbs since Aug.28 when I first visited the doctor and embarked upon this journey). My dr was super happy with my progress. I asked him about this scary pain I had and he thought I had wrenched my abdomen where the deepest incision was made (to remove my stomach), and pulled on all the internal stiches and muscles. Who knows.

Anyhow, I haven't had any protein shakes at all for weeks. I can't tolerate them. They taste vile to me. My taste buds have changed. I told my dr and he said I had to start from square zero and find shakes that work for me. I had heard some good things about the Pure Protein chocolate shakes at Costco, so I went today (Saturday) and got a case. It was gross and vile, but I managed to keep down half the container. This was the first protein I've had in about 3 weeks. I know protein is critical, so I was wondering, what do you guys recommend? Granted, I now have to finish theses 18 cans of Costco shakes I bought today, but I'm open to suggestions, what to try after. I'm in a bad way here!

I have been pretty compliant with my vitamins and calcium. And I'm drinking as much fluids as I can without gagging it back up (average 5-8 glasses a day). So I think I'm improving. But I still have a ways to go.

My stamina is coming back and I feel good again. I can sleep horizontal again, and on my side again (a huge and welcome step!). I can walk longer and faster. I am doing well. (I was kinda surprised I only lost 6 lbs this past two weeks, but oh well, I'm trying not to fixate on numbers). I'm looking forward to each new day, to see what progress I have.

Thanks for sharing my story and any input on protein shakes!!!

Good news and Bad news, 2.5 weeks post-op

So today I had my annual gyn appointment (oh joy) and got weighed there. I was 180 at my bariatric dr's appointment this past Friday, but today I was down to 175. That makes 45 lbs since August 28, when I first met my bariatric dr. So I was rather pleased at that! I don't see or feel any difference in my body, I do see that my face is thinner, the angles, sharper.

That said, I acknowledge that I'm not losing in the healthiest manner. I'm still having a hell of a time ingesting the protein shakes (I think when I get to the food phase of my diet, it'll be easier for me, as I could mix the protein in with the food). I'm barely eating at all. I can't work out as I don't have the energy. Most of the time, I feel pretty good, but I have moments of light-headedness and dizziness. This morning was such a moment. It was taxing just lifting my arm to brush my teeth. I was dizzy in the shower. Then, soon after, I felt much stronger and sturdier on my feet, thank goodness.

So I'm doing well but still struggling. Bought some Unjury samples to try, and will try the Lean Muscle Milk next.

Some good news!

I tried Lite/Lean Muscle Milk today (I've been trying a ton of different protein shakes. Spending a lot on money in the process. And I've choked on all of them). And it was the best of the bunch for me! I was able to keep it down, and I drank an entire serving! This is the first real shake I've had in about a month, so I'm so relieved I found something I can actually ingest. (It's not a kind my dr recommends, granted, as he doesn't want us drinking ready-made protein shakes. And he wants us to have 30 grams or protein per shake, and this Muscle Milk only has 20). But I say, to hell with it. This is better than not having any protein at all.

I took a long walk today - the longest yet, since my surgery (I'd been afraid to exercise much, due to my sporadic light-headedness and dizziness and overall lack of energy). I walked on the trail by my house for nearly an hour, and it really felt good. The crisp autumn air and the winding river beside it, with the herons regally perched on rocks on the shoreline - it was lovely. After the walk, my hips felt fatigued, so I know the exercise worked some areas. I hope to do this walk again tomorrow morning.

So....tomorrow I'm going to my hubby's mom's house in Olympia for an early Thanksgiving with the entire extended family there. There will be turkey and all the fixings. I've not told anyone there of my surgery (not sure how supportive they'll be, and I don't know all these relatives that well, so I'm just not comfortable talking about this with them). But I won't be eating tomorrow (I'm not yet at the eating phase). I'll bring a shake with me and some broth. But what do I tell everyone there, why I'm not eating or drinking wine or anything? I'm open to suggestions. Thanks.

Still Struggling...

Sorry it's been so long since I've updated my story here. I'm still struggling with protein intake. I'm barely taking any. Then, this past week, I was sick. Like, really sick. I won't go into details but suffice it to say, I haven't been able to "go" since my surgery. Actually, even a bit before. I tried everything. Then it hit me this week. The worst pain and impaction I've even had in my life.

Anyhow, after an aggressive procedure,. I'm finally better. I'm on Colace prophylactically. I'm going back on a liquid diet for a while, voluntarily. I'm scared to go back on foods. I can never go there again, I can never have this recur. I seriously nearly had to go to the ER, it was that bad.

The good news? I lost 7 lbs this past week alone. (Granted, NOT the easy way - if there is such a thing!). I'm down to 166 lbs. Even I can't believe it. But I am the first to admit, I'm not losing in a healthy way.

I did have enough energy today to go on a long walk, and to bike 5.5 miles at the gym, so at least I'm not light-headed lately....

I have been SO negligent in my posts. I'm so sorry. It's been a struggle.

I was contacted today by one of you wonderful RS folks, asking how I am, concerned about me. Thanks so much for all your good thoughts and wishes. I've spent the last few hours, catching up on all your progress, how your holidays went, all your trials and tribulations and successes and milestones along this journey. I can't believe how good some of you are looking! WOW. I am so happy for you guys!

For my part, I'm still happy I had this procedure back on October 17th. I had lost 34 lbs prior to my surgery and now, 3 months post-op, I've lost a total of 72 lbs. I'm in the home stretch, having only 15-20 lbs to go to goal. Of course, I'm losing weight a lot slower now, but I know if I can ratchet up my exercising, the weight will come off faster. (I've been kind of a slug when it comes to working out. It's been extremely hard to find the time since November and the holidays and our family's trip to Vegas and the kids' birthdays and the various ailments that have plagued me. But more on this later).

I've been extremely committed to eating healthfully, and I've been 100% compliant with the food regimen the bariatric surgeon recommended. Plus, I am regularly seeing the psychotherapist I conferred with pre-op (it was a pre-op requirement), and he is fantastic, specializing in bariatric and weight issues. I plan on seeing him forever. Plus, I recently found a bariatric support group which meets twice a month and I love it! It is a fabulous group, comprised of folks in all stages of the journey, and moderated by a seasoned social worker, a bariatric dietician and a bariatric nurse.

Truth is, I haven't posted for a long time because I know how many people on these boards are so excited about their upcoming surgeries, and apprehensive too, and I honestly did not want to scare people away or add to their anxiety. I think it's really important to know that every person is an individual and no two people will heal the same way. And most people - the vast, vast majority, - have moderate to mild post-op problems and symptoms. For me, though, that was not the case. Granted, some people have post-op issues far graver than mine. But the RNs at my doctor's office have admitted that my issues have been more problematic than most of their other patients'. Luckily, none are life-threatening (or even close). But they are ongoing, problematic, and have often interfered with my living my life in a normal way. And despite all my pre-op research and preparation, I really didn't think I'd have many - or ANY - problems at all! It totally threw me for a loop. After all, I was so healthy with no underlying conditions. I had done all my homework. I was 100% compliant with all my doctors' advice and planned to be, from then on in. WTH happened? Who knows?

I've had a lot of GI problems. Severe constipation (which I described in my last posting). Then long bouts of diarrhea. Severe sub-sternal chest pain. Severe nausea. Throwing up after eating. Heartburn like I never had before. All these lovely symptoms came and went in an unpredictable manner, so I never knew when they'd strike. Inevitably, it was always at the worst time. Driving in the car. At work. At a restaurant. While travelling. Food-wise, the same foods might be okay for me 10 times in a row and then, on the 11th time, they might cause me to be sick like a dog. I just never know....and that inconsistency makes life challenging.

The good news is, surprisingly, my blood work results have consistently been good. Real good. And I've never fainted or gotten terribly light-headed, despite the many "bad days" when I've barely taken in any nutrients. And I've been strong enough to do a lot of walking when my family went to Vegas for 5 days, and I bike and swim when I do go to the gym, and I take my dog on long brisk walks on the weekends. So I'm feeling okay, or even good, often. But the nausea/vomiting issues are a real downer and they still persist. (At least I think they're happening less frequently, though. I hope so! It still occurs a few times a week on average).

So that's my story. Yes, I'm happy I had the surgery. I just wish this "rocky phase" would pass so I could live my life more fully. Oh, I'll try to post a photo here; I'm in the upper 140s now and my face is a lot thinner. My body still needs to catch up, though! Thanks for reading my story.

I'm feeling brazen tonight...

So here's another photo of me! Taken just this past week. Funny, prior to this month, my last photos were taken about 8 years ago, or longer. It's nice not to run for this hills whenever a camera appears. I admit, it's refreshing to be happier with my appearance.

Hi there, my RS friends! Long time, no write....I am SO bad...

Again, I've been negligent in updating my reviews. Please forgive me. Life somehow gets in the way of...stuff, and I find I blink and a month's gone by. I take a nap and 6 months have passed. WTH is happening? It's daunting how quickly the time has flown by this past year.

I'm doing relatively well. I still have sporadic excruciating upper abdominal pains but one of my doctors thinks I might have IBS and she prescribed meds for me that may be helping somewhat. It's hard to say, since I get the attacks so infrequently. My bariatric RN thinks I should have a "full GI work-up". but that'd cost a ton and it may not even result in an diagnosis. So I'm weighing the pros and cons of going through with that.

It's hard to believe I'm 10 months post-op.

I never weigh myself, relying instead on getting weighed monthly at my post-op bariatric follow- up appointments. At the last appointment, I weighed 128. 128. I don't think I weighed in the 120's since elementary school, literally. I was shocked. I'm no longer trying to lose weight and I'm eating my new "regular" diet (with a few set-backs at times. Hey, I'm not perfect!), but I suspect I may still be losing. (I will find out this next Friday, when I have a dr's appointment and get weighed there). This past week I've noticed bones sticking out at my clavicles and my ribs were getting prominent. It freaked me out a little, as I just got back from a 3-week vacation and I ate a lot of "contraband". If anything, it would make sense if I gained a pound or two. If I lost weight, that would be very odd and a bit disturbing. I will see on Friday.

Otherwise, I am well. I didn't have a GI attack while on vacation (something I was nervous about), and I have started playing racquetball (the only sport I've ever really liked. I used to play in my later teens - over 30 years ago), and going to the gym more. I walk every day at my lunch break.

I got a super short hair cut, which I adore.

I'll try to upload/download a recent photo (I'm still tech-challenged. Sorry!). I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the journey!

10 months post-op

So... at my last monthly post-op dr's appointment last week, I weighed in at 123 lbs. OMG I don't think I've been that weight since elementary school! Funny thing is, I'm not actively trying to lose weight any longer, and I had thought that I had gained a few pounds, for sure, after my 3-week vacation. But no, I had lost another 6 lbs last month. I was super surprised. If I keep losing by next month's visit, then I may start getting a bit concerned.... We shall see.

I hope everyone is doing well on their own personal journeys. I look forward to reading all your stories!
Federal Way Bariatric Surgeon

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