Gastric Sleeve in Mexico - Dr. Ariel Ortiz - I'm on my Way! - Mexico

Hi Everyone! I've booked to have a sleeve done by...

Hi Everyone! I've booked to have a sleeve done by Dr. Ariel Ortiz in Tijuana on 9/10/15 and have much gratitude towards all the lovely people who have shared their stories and experiences here.

I set today, August 1st, as D-Day. I started my high protein diet to take off the 5-10% body weight prior to surgery. I bought a fitbit to keep me motivated and I'm tracking my intake on MyFitnessPal. I did the Couch to 5K program 3 years ago but haven't tried to run in 2 years. I did my first day of the running program and was excited that I could start with the workout that's 3 weeks into the program rather than back at the beginning.

I've been gaining weight since I got pregnant, which was 23 years ago. I refused to be 'Fat and Forty', but 10 years ago I found myself to be definitely fat and definitely forty. Now I'm looking at 'Fat and Fifty' because I've not had any permanent success with weight loss and exercise. There won't be a 'Fat and Fifty-One' in my future now because I'm taking control! :)

I'm 5'9" tall and my highest weight was about 10-15 years ago at 235lbs. I made it down to 180 about three years ago, but have been staying between 205 and 215 for at least the past 2 years now. My official starting weight today is 211, so I need to be at 200lbs or less by surgery day.

I've heard the "you don't need to do that surgery, you're not that fat" feedback, but that's just nonsense. I'm 60 lbs. overweight and have been on average 60-70 overweight for 15 years now. Clearly, I do need to do something and I am.

One challenge in all of this - I'm a HUGE (literally and figuratively) dog lover and can't stand to see animals suffer. I've moved to a vegetarian diet and eat mostly vegan because of this. I've hired a dietitian who is vegan and has experience with sleeve patient's to help with meal planning. I want to be sure I've got things planned out to get all my nutrition within the volume restrictions of the surgery.

I'm looking forward to getting to know more of you!

Additional Photo

Updating as one of my pictures doesn't want to view any way but upside down. Hopefully this will be better

MyFitnessPal Anyone?

I have used MFP in the past with? good success and had some wonderful friends on there. Unfortunately, I deleted my old profile and forgot to write down their usernames. If any of you are on MFP please send me a friend request - I'm GalgoMomAnita on their site - Thanks!

Three Weeks Away....Tick...Tick...Tick

Hi Everyone! Things are getting closer now to where it feels pretty "real" that this will be happening. I'm doing so much better with my eating. I've eaten high protein (most days 80-100 gms) and low carb with the exception of carbs in my protein sources (think beans, brown rice, etc.). I'm down 8.2 lbs. since August 1st and should have no problem making it to 5% of 212 lbs. I'm hoping to be under 200 pounds on the day of surgery, and I imagine that will happen with switching to the liquid diet.

I've been reading reviews from others when I take a break and I'd say 95% of peoples' experiences has been very positive. I love the before/after pictures as it helps to picture the future me. I've found some nice sleeve friends on FB and that also helps.

My only real problem has been getting the exercise in. Work has seriously been getting in the way of life, as I'm self-employed and have to complete medical chart reviews within two days of their being marked as ready. That leaves very little control as far as how much spare time is in a day if the clients get busy. The good news is I'm doing an interview tonight with a woman I hope to bring on as a contractor. It would be wonderful to have her on board and trained before surgery so I'm not jumping on the computer in the recovery room :)

Hope you're all doing fabulous!

The BIG Five - O!!!!

Hello Everyone!

Today is a day I had been dreading for years - my 50th birthday. I was very depressed to be overweight, out of shape, and hitting that milestone. BUT - I'm having a wonderful day and feel fine with everything. Why? Because I feel like my life is moving in such a positive direction. I'm losing weight working out, (need more of that), eating healthy, and know that by the start of 2016 I will be almost to where I thought I never could be. What better birthday present! Thanks again to all of you that have been so supportive. I just read another wonderful review from a woman who had her surgery with Dr. Ortiz this week and had a very positive experience. I'm really ready for this :)

Two Weeks to Go!

I think it's a good thing I'm so busy with work as it keeps my mind away from worrying or getting nervous. I really don't believe there's anything to truly be concerned over, but sometimes the emotional side of my brain doesn't get that message. My weight hasn't changed as I did have one or two food items not on the preop diet in celebration of my birthday. Friends from an old job got together and you know how restaurant food can hit you between calories and salt.

Last night was the first time I've really felt irritable since starting the diet on August 1st. That's a real relief as normally I'd be unbearable to myself by now due to feelings of deprivation. I know I've said it before, but knowing that I'm actually going to succeed this time helps so much in focusing on what I'm eating and turning away from the cravings. That 'old' Anita that couldn't resist head-hunger, let alone if something yummy was in front of me, seems to have packed up and moved on. I also think another HUGE help has been reading all the posts and updates here on realself. There's nothing better to keep you motivated than seeing how successful others are in the same situation.

I've been trying out different samples of protein powders, and here's my take on what I've had. I do put the smallest dribble of Almond Extract in for additional flavoring, so keep that in mind:

#1-Vega Sport Performance Protein in Chocolate - very good flavor and just the teeny-tineist of a grit. Consistency is better than all but the next powder on my list. This one has 134 calories, but also comes with 25gm of protein. Uses pea, saviseed, brown rice, and alfalfa proteins

#2-Plant Fusion in Chocolate-decent taste and certainly drinkable. Smooth, with a consistency similar to smoother whey proteins. Definitely a second option for alternating protein sources as this has pea, artichoke, amaranth, and quinoa

#3-Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein in Smooth Chocolate-the taste is okay on this one and it's a bit more grainy/gritty than the first two options. Sources include pea, flax, cransberry seed, baobab fruit, moringa leaf, chia, and pumpkin seed - and no, I have no idea what some of those are but I like that there's a variety of types

#4-SAN Raw Fusion in Vanilla Bean: This one is a huge NO. Although the flavor was decent, the smell nearly made me gag. I don't know how something can taste okay yet smell bad, but this one did it. I had it next to me on my desk and couldn't stand it. I had to take it to the kitchen, chug it, rinse out the cup, and then pop a breath mint to get rid of the residual taste that reminded me of the smell.

I have a few more samples to try so I'll share my thoughts in my next post.

I'm supposed to be on just 3 protein shakes per day with unlimited green leafy veggies. I'm going to give that a good effort, but I don't know. We shall see. I will do it for sure no matter what in the last week before surgery, even if I struggle this week.

Hope you're all having a great week and feeling positive :)

Two More Protein Supplement Reviews & Finally, Scale Movement

Yesterday I tried SDC Nutrition's About Time in chocolate flavor. This one is okay, but far too sweet for my taste. This morning I had Vega One All-In-One Nutritional Shake in vanilla chai flavor. I must have forgotten to read the back of the package when I grabbed this with all my other samples. It's actually more of a meal replacement type of formula rather than a protein supplement. There are 20gm of protein, but the calorie count is at 170 because of the addition of 60 calories from fat. It's green and smelled kind of iffy in the package, so I added 1/2 a banana and a tiny bit of almond flavoring - I wasn't in the mood for 'ick' this morning ;) The chai gives it an interesting 'zing' and the taste was pretty good. Unfortunately with extra calories it will not be a great option.

I'm very happy that I finally had some positive movement on the scale. I had gotten down to 203 which is a 9-pound loss since August 1st. I gained about a pound back and have bounced around for the past week (too much birthday indiscretion), but today I'm at 202.4. This means I need to drop 2.6 pounds minimum in the next 12 days to be below 200 prior to surgery. I've got to keep focused. Yesterday I was having cravings. Worse yet, I had that 'wanna stuff myself' feeling something fierce. I've got a lot of work backed up, need to do some yard work, have to sit and pay monthly bills, blah blah blah this weekend and I'm feeling the stress of time crunch. I also have all of the little things that I need to get finished up prior to leaving town that always seem to take longer than expected. I probably need to start a list so I don't forget something. At least I'm not having any nervousness thinking about the surgery - there's all the other stuff to keep my brain occupied. Have a good weekend!

One Week (and this one is weak)

I don't think my brain has fully wrapped itself around the idea of surgery taking place in one week. I've gotten together a list of things I want to take and have put a bunch of stuff in one spot so I don't forget things.
I'm (trying) to drink shakes and do veggies only this week and I feel weak. Not physically - just psychologically. I am SO hungry today and I'm really surprised. I haven't been eating much and still wasn't hungry often, but I think I'm making up for all those 'not hungry' days today.
Monday I'm having family over for a Labor Day get together. I figure if I can get through that, I'll get through anything! I'm planning to have a salad and shake for my dinner. I should tell my sister to bring cheesecake for dessert because I hate cheesecake!
I sent a copy of my final payment cashier's check off to the OCC and picked up some cash for tips and other minor expenses. Today I realized that I can only go in the pool on the day I arrive in Tijuana. I totally hadn't thought about having incisions afterwards. I guess it will be a lounge chair and walking into below the waist for me.
My weight came down a bit more. I'm at 201.8, so a loss of 10.2 pounds from my starting weight of 212 on August 1st. Just 0.3 more lbs. to go and I'll hit the 5% weight loss mark. Today it feels like I'll only weigh about 140 lbs. on the day of surgery because of how hungry I am ;)
Hope you're all doing well on your journey and enjoy the Holiday weekend!

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane :)

This is it - tomorrow morning at 5:43 a.m. to head to Tijuana. I'm holding up pretty well on liquids only other than a little bit of a woozy feeling if I bend over and stand up too quickly. Can I get a drumroll, please?........I weighed 199.2 this morning meaning I've passed the 200# mark which was my presurgical weight goal! YAYAYAYAYAY me! I lost 2# in 2 days thanks to the liquids, so I'm sure I'll be down a little more by Thursday. I'll try to update on Wednesday evening to describe how things will have gone. :)

I'm Here.....

My flights were running slightly late, but it worked out okay as another patient arrived about 15minutes after I was able to collect my luggage. We went over to the Obesity Control center and had blood drawn, an EKG, and spoke with Leo the nutritionist. He was especially nice today because he told me I weigh 197 - 15 lbs. down from August 1st! YAY!

The Marriott has been okay so far. Our room wasn't ready and we waited on getting some veggie broth made up. I have to tell you it was the best veggie broth I've ever had in my life!!! The safe wasn't working and the air seemed to not be kicking in, but they sent two men up and both were taken care of. There's supposed to be two bottles of H2O per day in the room but there's only one. We decided to take a taxi to Walmart and loaded up on regular and flavored water so we're good to go. I'm looking forward to getting some sleep as I've been up for 18 hours already and only had 3 hours of sleep last night. It's good to be one step away from having this behind me and moving on to smaller and better things! I hope to update Friday as I'll likely be not in the mood tomorrow after surgery :)

Out of Surgery and Feeling Fabulous!!!

I'm thinking you'll be able to see the giant smile on my face just from reading this update :) :)

Right now I feel better than when I arrived! Lack of sleep and being very hungry had me feeling pretty lousy this morning. Now I feel almost like my usual self. I know I'm getting little bit of IV pain medication, but I am not going to even take the pain med they sell. I have Extra Strength Tylenol back at the hotel, and I have my percocet used for intermittent back pain. If I'm suddenly having an episode of pain that Tylenol doesn't successfully manage I can take one of those.

I was the first surgery and was out of the recovery area and back to my room by 11:15am. My friend was the third patient to be taken back for surgery. I forgot to look what time I went back to surgery, but it was much later than expected. We arrived here at OCC at 6:30 am as instructed. I estimate it was around 9am. This has been the only teeny tiny complaint I have - getting us up so early only to sit here and wait at least another hour before we were taken back for surgery prep.

Here's a bit of a step-by-step description of the day so far:
-I went to my room, changed into a pretty quality gown, and put on my ted hose and the lovely paper boxer shorts.
-The nurse brought in a crushed Xanax pill in a 30cc medicine up and mixed it with water. Once you swallow that down they add water again so you can be sure to get all the remaining medication off of the side of the cup
-The nurse came in and started my IV on her first attempt, hung a bag of Ringer's Lactate IV solution, and gave me IV protonix. The protonix is often given for any surgery patient, but I'm sure it's even more important that we received the medicine with a stomach surgery
-Then Dr. Ortiz's partner, Dr. Martinez came in to explain what would be taking placed and to sign all the remaining paperwork. He was very nice to talk with, did not rush the time he spent with me, and made me feel comfortable. I had one small concern related to the consent forms. You write in the name of Dr. Ortiz, however the next line states you're agreeing for the other physician and his associates to perform the surgery without including Dr. Ortiz's name. I told Dr. Martinez what I wanted to ask him was in no way anything personally directed towards him, but I wanted Dr. Ortiz to do the surgery. He assured me that they're both involved in the surgery so I felt okay with that.
-The nurse came in and gave me an injection of Lovenox, which helps prevent the formation of blood clots. This is given in the stomach, but if the sound of that makes you squeamish please don't worry. This is done with a very fine needle and minimal discomfort. As an FYI it's okay to have a small bruise at the site of the infection so don't be concerned unless it were to start enlarging significantly
-I was taken over the recovery and (adjacent to the OR) then walked into the OR and got onto the operating table. The anesthesiologist helped to get my arms out of the gown so he could have better access to my arm with the IV. Dr. Ortiz was in there at this time and told me I would received fentynal through the IV at that time point. I felt it hit me within seconds, but it didn't completely knock me out. I did feel like I could fall asleep in a matter of one minute if I'd have chosen to do so. He then advised me the propanol was being injected, and within 10 seconds I was down for the count.
-I awoke in the recovery area and Jodi was allowed to come back for a minute or two. I was feeling well enough to have a short phone call with my husband to put his mind to rest. I believe I started with ice chips in this area, and I was so happy to have something I could chew and that would make my mouth feel less dry
-They transfer you onto the bed used in you'll be using for the which makes things easy, and I was rolled back into my room where I'd been prepped
-I'd estimate I was at 75% of normal thinking capacity when I got back to my room. I was back to 90% within an hour, and I'm running at about 95% now (appx. 5 hrs. after surgery). I made phone call to my husband, daughter, and sister within 20 minutes of being in the room so people back home wouldn't be worrying.
-I was half asleep/half awake for about an hour just to get some rest, and then got up to walk to the bathroom. My room is at the opposite end of the hall but it was no problem to walk that far. I did feel a slight bit of difficulty with my balance when walking, but nothing at all where I would be concerned I might fall. I was very happy that I was able to pee as the IV narcotics can sometimes impair the muscles that allow you to urinate. I then walked into a new friend's room and chatted with them and told them how wonderfully the surgery went and how good I felt.
-I did not see Dr. Ortiz before surgery, but he came in my room about two hours later to discuss how the surgery went. Turns out I did not have a hernia to repair, but there was evidence of chronic gastric reflux. He felt tucking the stomach down a bit lower would be sufficient to manage the problem. Dr. Ortiz is just as personable a man as described on the internet. I won't even go into how soothing to the eyes this man is ;) He also has a funny sense of humor too and he was very easy to speak with
-I walked a little more and visited with other patients, and now here I am updating my story! I'm still surprised how positive this whole process has been, and that is a sentiment was echoed by all of the ladies who were heading out the door following yesterday's surgeries (except for one who had a lot of nausea)
-I will take a little nap now and then I think I'm going to do some work. Have I mentioned how great I'm feeling??? LOL! I am finding I make more typing errors right now, so the brain isn't functioning on autopilot with the keyboard so well. I am catching the mistakes so I can make corrections, though - at least I think I am! Maybe I'll read this tomorrow and think "what the heck was I saying"???
-Totally on a side note, but I want to recommend one of the waters that I bought at Walmart yesterday. I don't believe I've ever seen this brand in my area, though. it's called Be Light, and the flavor I'm drinking now is Sabor Jamaica. It doesn't have too strong of a sweet taste, but I'm not getting ANY negative aftertaste similar to what I've always found with sugar-free pop.
-I will update again this evening if there's anything exciting to say, and if not I'll do so tomorrow
-If you're reading this because you're still thinking about the surgery, or you're still working on picking a doctor/clinic, my thought would be to give GREAT consideration to choosing your doctor/facility and certainly take a look at Dr. Ortiz's information and reviews. Speaking as a nurse, I felt they were very thorough in double checking important information re: health issues and medications, the technology in the rooms and the operating room is up to date.

-Time the nap now as I'm dozing while I type! Talk to you all later :)

Anita

First Full Day of My New Life!

Well, today has been a little tougher, but still nothing to complain about. I awoke around 4 and was having some nausea. Just a touch of the dry heaves after walking back and forth to the bathroom. I sat for about 15 minutes and it passed by. My IV quit working in the middle of the night while trying to run my antibiotic through the main infusion. I had a new line started without a problem, and it turned out to be a good thing. Because I was having some burning while the medication infused they hung and additional liter of fluids, so I didn't have to worry quite as much about if I'd get enough in drinking. Around 6am the dry heaves really hit. I was given Zofran and one other medication for nausea/vomiting (can't think of the name right now) . That cleared things up pretty quickly. I was able to eat 3 of the freezer pops that come in a plastic tube where you push them up and melting juice is caught in the bottom. That was exceptionally good, so be sure to put in your request. The chamomile tea is also very good.

We arrived back at the hotel around 10-10:30. We were the last two to arrive back because my friend stayed with me until we were sure the nausea would be taken care of. Back here, we got some more of the vegetable broth but I stopped at 5 tablespoons as my stomach started to feel as if it were tightening up. "Tired" has been the word of the day. After the soup, I set my computer up with the intent of working, but before I'd been able to get through my email I was ready to sleep. I think I was out for about 2 hours and the bed here at the hotel felt SO good!

We called down and the restaurant sent us up watermelon popsicles. They're not like the ones I'm used to where there are two 'half' ones stuck together. It was one of the wider types and didn't have a lot of syrup which I think helped make it go down well, too. It's now about 7pm and I'm just taking small sips of broth - a tip on the broth - because you can't drink it all at once it gets cold. Run water only through the coffee pot and you can mix 2/3 broth with 1/3 hot water to bring it back up to temp.

I feel like my brain is finally feeling functional now after all the sleep during the day. We are leaving at 8:40am to head back in for our barium leak test which should be interesting to watch. Hope you have a good evening, and I'll update again tomorrow. If I'm feeling bold I'll add a picture of my abdomen and all the holes they put in so the fat will just drain right outta me! ;) I also intend to get my photos with the staff tomorrow as I'm sure I'll be looking better tomorrow than I did this morning!

Woe is me......

Well, the happy, smiley, I feel so good times have gone to the wayside. I feel like crap. I did okay until about 3pm-ish yesterday. I tried to take one of the meds provided by the clinic (pemix). I swallowed, said, "gee, that went okay", and then was puking my guts out in less than 1 minute. I feel like swallowed a meteorite and then someone kicked me in the stomach with a steel-toed work boot. On top of that, and arm-wrestling champion has reached inside and is putting the death grip on the tiny remains of my stomach. Doesn't that sound fun? I was up during the night with nausea, dry heaves and vomiting and didn't get anything to stay down after 3pm.

When I got to the clinic I let Maria at the desk know that I was in bad shape with the nausea. I went back first and had the barium leak test done. What a trip that is to see! The barium has a slight cotton candy flavor and was very tolerable. It's unreal how quickly it moves from mouth to itty bitty stomach into the duodenum. I'd have thought that the film was being shown in fast-forward. Surprisingly I didn't have the barium come back up.

They gave me another 1/2 liter of IV fluids along with an IV injection of Zofran to help with the nausea. It didn't work as well as yesterday, although I did get in two of the freeze ice pops to go down and stay put after the Zofran was in for a bit.

I was feeling pretty exhausted and slept for several hours when we returned to the hotel. I got down about 1 ounce of 1/2 apple juice and 1/2 water in the past few hours. I'm still feeling that 'close to vomiting' feeling all of the time. I tried another watermelon popsicle about an hour again since that went well yesterday. I took the smallest bite you could imagine, and within 10 seconds I was rushing to the bathroom again. I'm going to just try to sip very small amounts of the 1/2 strength apple juice and let it go for now.

The physician at the clinic today told me not to worry that I'd dehydrate, as I got enough in with the IV fluids yesterday and the bonus of today's fluids and would be fine. He felt by day 3-4 I'd be feeling 100% better in regards to nausea. I sure hope so, as the thought of flying while I feel like this is so unpleasant.

On another topic, the fluid shift in my body (and my friend experienced this, too) has been strange. All the IV fluid really stayed in my tissues. I woke up with such swelling under my eyes today, but it cleared to a more normal level within a few hours. The paper ID wrist band from the clinic was loose on my arm when I went to bed, but was very tight by the morning. Again, this resolved within a few hours. I'm glad there isn't a scale to step on as I'd probably be bummed to see a big weight gain. The excellent news is my visible difference of weight loss I saw. I can clearly see a difference in the area from the base of my ribs going down to where my waistband sits. I am coming in there more so than when I left home. Once the fluid weight is lost I think I'll be ecstatic at the number I see on the scale. That does help to balance out the misery of the nausea.

So.....in case you're wondering.....yes, I still am very happy I made the decision to have the surgery despite this miserable period I'm going through. I know it's temporary, and worst case scenario I'll head to the urgent care when I get home and get more nausea medication until things turn around.

Another uplifting thought to share - everyone at the clinic was so very nice once again today! Very, very good people at this place, especially since I kept them there longer than they intended on a Saturday - my thanks to them! Hopefully tomorrow or Monday I can post another happy update :)

Home Sweet Home~

I'm so glad to be back home! I got back to the house around 1am Monday after a long day of traveling and am feeling much better now. The nausea finally cleared up - but unfortunately heartburn is a bit of an issue on and off. I am able to keep omeprazole down now so I'm sure that'll fix my heartburn right up. It always worked well for me prior to surgery. I've been doing well with broth and can get in the yogurt intended to counteract the antibiotic. My stomach's capacity seems to be pretty good as I've not had trouble getting in fluids or feeling overly full. Maybe that'll work against me in the long run ;) If you happen to be passing through terminal 2 of the San Diego airport, there's a restaurant called Saffron. I asked the man at the counter if their noodle soups were spicy and explained I needed something with a mild broth because I'd just had surgery. He offered all on his own to just make me a cup of broth and it was very good.

Time for great news - I lost 5 lbs from my last home weigh-in on Tuesday, Sept 8th! I'm now down from a starting weight of 212, pre-op weight of 197, to 194.2 lbs. this morning :)

Crossing at the border was not a pleasant experience. The driver took us to a different crossing point. We showed our surgery letter to the Mexican man at the gated entrance to the customs area and he sent us to an expedited line. Once we hit the front of the line we were severely chewed out by the US Border Patrol people for being in the wrong line. They were concerned we were about to blow up the country with our large volumes of protein powder deftly hidden within incentive spirometers. Clearly a group of terrorists if there ever was one. The whole process of walking in/through the station and back to where we met the van took about 1/2 an hour and was about a 3 block walk. Combined with the walks in three airports, I felt I had a few day's worth of exercise done.
I'm going to walk my three dogs in a bit for my first round of exercise today and my mom will be coming along in case we're assaulted by squirrels and I need reinforcements.
Now to get a bunch of regular work done. Fortunately, I'm not too terribly backlogged, but I will feel much better when things are caught up.
Thanks to all of you for the support! I need to get my lovely black and blue belly in front of the camera lens for my next post!

Six Days Post-Op

Hi Everyone! I thought I'd wait until I hit the one week post-op mark to post, but I'm needing a break from work so this seems like the perfect time. First, let's have a drum roll for the best part of the whole post............

235 Highest Weight
212 August 1st-Day One of Preop Diet
197 Day Before Surgery (last preop weight)
191.2 September 16th - Six Days Post Op

Down 20.8 lbs since 8/1 (47 days)
Down 5.8 lbs since surgery weight

Interestingly, I signed on to the MyChart record my physician office/hospital record today out of curiosity to double check my weight history. My lowest weight at a visit was almost exactly 3 years ago on 9/18/12 when I weighed in at 183lbs. I recall clearly that I hit 180 just after that on my home scale, but then things went back the other direction. I'm so excited that I'll hit a weight below 180 in the next month. My very, very, very biggest celebration will be when I hit 174 lbs. I weighed 175 lbs. at the hospital the day after I delivered my daughter on March 1, 1992. Being below that weight will be so significant for me I can't even explain.

I feel today is the first day I'm really doing great since surgery. I've been feeling weak and very tired, but today hasn't been anywhere near as bad. I went 8 days without a bowel movement, but today that problem is solved. I haven't had any nausea or heartburn, and today I've been able to return to taking all of my routine medications - even my one pill that's gianormous for a pre-op stomach.

I think I'm a bit outside the usual range for postop sleeve patients. I'm finding I can drink 8 ounce of liquid over an hour without a problem. My kids yogurt 3.7 ounce pouch goes down over 15 minutes without any trouble. I've even been having small sips when I eat here and there without any trouble. I know I'm not 'supposed' to be trying to do that, but it happened inadvertently and I noticed there doesn't seem to be any issue. I certainly don't intend to be chugging fluids, but I'm very happy to have a sip here and there if I feel thirsty while I am eating something. Honestly, that was the very last reason that kept me from deciding to have the surgery for a while. I did not like the idea of not being able to have a swallow of liquid if my mouth felt a little dry from something I was eating.

I'm feeling very lucky to being having such great results both on the scale and with my intake, as I know things are usually more difficult in the first few weeks. I'm working hard not to 'push' too much as I can see where that would be tempting. My goal is to get in enough liquids and calories to stay healthy, not feel weak, and to maintain a reasonable pace for weight loss.

Next, I want to work on bumping up my activity level. Endurance is definitely going to be the stumbling block, but hopefully that will build quickly. My favorite form of exercise is cutting my grass, and we finally have had the weather to allow it to turn green and grow again. It's killing me to not run outside and work in the yard yet! My abdomen/incisions do feel well enough to tackle something like mowing as there isn't bending or lifting involved, but I'll hold off at least another day ;)

I want to take a minute to say how wonderful it was to have had the chance to take this journey with my dear friend Christy. Being able to have surgery at the same time (particularly since we were out of the country) was so much better than doing this alone, and I never would have had the courage to make the choice if it weren't for her inspiration. Her sister came with us to be the medical support person, and she was wonderful. If you aren't fortunate enough to have support in the way of family and friends, please do reach out to people on realself (and I also recommend the VSG group on MyFitnessPal). There are so many caring people who are happy to help each other out. I'm blessed to have all of the above in my life!

?I PROMISE pictures with the next post. I really think it will be helpful to do weekly photos for my own benefit to help see the changes. I'm already getting those weird situations where I see a part of myself in the mirror and don't recognize it.

I hope you're all staying healthy and treating yourselves well!

The Two Week (no longer weak) Update

Hi Everyone! First, my apologies to those who have sent private messages where I haven't returned them quickly. Between life and work things have been a bit hectic. As promised, I've uploaded comparison shots that show changes from 8/1 to 9/24 including a picture with the 5 small incisions. There's also a picture of me in my regular clothes so everyone doesn't think I live in my running outfit. I told my husband I feel like I should go out and run now that I've gone to the trouble of getting into the clothes!

I am pretty happy with the pictures in general. I can see a big difference in my face and my stomach is much flatter, which can't really be seen from these pictures. I also can see my forearms are shrinking and my chest has gotten smaller. That's not a bad thing for me as I have enough to work with there.

Weight Update...As I reminder I'm 5'9" - I always like to know this when I see others' statistics:

235 Highest Weight
212 August 1st-Day One of Preop Diet
197 Day Before Surgery (last preop weight)
191.2 September 16th - 6 Days Post Op
187.8 September 24th - 14 Days Post Op

Down 24.2 lbs since 8/1 (47 days)
Down 9.2 lbs since surgery weight

I would be thrilled to say I've lost more than this, as the weight loss has slowed dramatically. I'm kind of surprised given the low level of calories. I'm averaging around 700-800 calories per day and I walk about 1 hour per day. I'm fine with it though since I can see visible results and I know I'm doing the right things to make a difference.

I am able to get fluids in without a problem. Food is not an issue either, although I have definitely now figured out what the "new" full feels like. I totally didn't get this at first. Feeling full is nothing like the stretched out, bloated feeling I was used to before surgery. It's much more of a "something's stuck" feeling. It seems as if I swallowed too large a bite of food and it stopped just short of my stomach. I feel as if I take two good swallows it will go down, but that obviously would not be a good plan. Interestingly, I go from 'not full' to 'full' in the matter of one bite. In the old days, I'd go from feeling like things are getting full, to full, and then to stuffed if I hadn't stopped shoveling. Now I'm perfectly fine, but then overfull at the next bite. That's a little frustrating as I have to remember to set out an exact portion of food and stop then even if I think I should have a little more. Otherwise, it's back to being uncomfortable for 10 minutes or so.

My incisions are healing nicely and 90% of the surgical glue has flaked off or been picked off. I don't think I'll have much scarring when all is said and done which is nice. The main incision just to the side of the belly button feels slightly tender or a pulling sort of feeling on occasion if I twist and move in a certain direction, like when rolling over and repositioning in bed. If I do heavy work it gets sore after a while.

Speaking of heavy work, I am the typical nurse who doesn't listen well to instructions. I absolutely love, love, love to cut my grass and do yardwork. We finally had rain and the grass is growing again - so of course at 8 days post-op I went out and cut grass for an hour, weed whacked, edged the driveway and sidewalk, and swept up all the clippings. The next day I went and raked the dead grass out of my mom's lawn and started putting down some topsoil to replant. I'll be repeating the above this weekend.

It was definitely taxing to do all of this, but it felt SO good to be active like a regular person. I was tired of feeling weak. I really enjoyed it and I made sure to drink regularly throughout everything.

So everything is great except for one thing (and here's the TMI section) - constipation :( Not much in somehow = nothing out. I'm not sure how that equation works, but I can tell you that going 8 days between trips to the bathroom two times in a row is not a happy thing. I'm now mixing Miralax in prune juice and hoping this will be the ticket. We'll see. Now people can have no doubt that I'm full of it!!!

I have to take measurements this evening still, so I'll post measurement changes next week. I have to find my "before" measurements as they're hiding somewhere in my office. Your job as readers next week is to yell at me if my post doesn't talk about how I've been exercising a lot more :)

Five Weeks Already!

I have to say it feels as if surgery was about 5 months ago rather than 5 weeks ago. The change in weather here in Ohio puts me in a whole new season versus when I had the sleeve done.

Let’s start with the numbers….

Weight Update...As I reminder I'm 5'9" - I always like to know this when I see others' statistics:

235 Highest Weight
212 August 1st-Day One of Preop Diet
197 Day Before Surgery (last preop weight)
191.2 September 16th - 6 Days Post Op
187.8 September 24th - 14 Days Post Op
181.0 October 15th – 5 Weeks Post Op

Down 31 lbs since 8/1 (47 days)
Down 16 lbs since surgery weight
% of Body Fat - From 45.2 to 39.1

I also took measurements, which was very validating. Here are my current inches lost:
- 1 Neck
-2 1/4 Bust
-1 3/4 Rib Cage Right Under the Bra
-4 Belly Button Line
-2 3/4 Hips
-3 Thigh
-1/4 Ankle

Here’s the very coolest, most exciting, made me actually cry number – FOURTEEN!!!!! Yes, that’s the number on the tag of the jeans I can wear now. I’m thinking 14 sounds much better than the 18 on all the tags I was wearing. I had borrowed one pair of 16s from my mom since my 18s were falling off. Fortunately, my mom has about 6-10 pairs of jeans in size 16 and in size 14 that I could borrow. They’re all new, as she bought them on clearance and put them away for a rainy day. My daughter was wearing a size 12 for a while, so she has some of them for me to move into next. Then I can borrow my daughters. She told me the other day, “You’re going to look so hot if you get down to this size!” I’m not sure about “hot”, but definitely thinner!

There’s only one big downer on the report today, and for that we return to the TMI department. The big “C” – constipation – ugh! When I quit eating meat a while back it solved that life-long problem for me. Since surgery, it’s not been good. I’m taking Amitiza now, which is a medication that causes fluid to shift into your intestines so things can move along. It’s working about 1/2 to 3/4 of the time, but waiting a week is not uncommon. My advice to others after surgery is to not mess around with this. Start using something like Colace and Miralax as soon as possible. If that doesn’t work, talk to your doctor. I happened to have Amatiza on hand from when I was taking it a few years ago, but I would have been heading to the doctor’s office if it wasn’t there.

Now for some “meh” stuff. First, a disclaimer for anyone reading this that hasn’t yet had surgery. None of what I’m about to say in any way means that I regret having had surgery. I would still choose that path, and I’ve not had one moment where I thought “maybe I shouldn’t have done this.”

Here’s my sad words…..eating, particularly going out to eat, just isn’t much fun anymore. Please realize I am just being whiny here and I fully appreciate that I’ve been able to have this surgery and will forever be grateful that I could. I feel guilty complaining, but I really miss enjoying good food. I’ve been able to eat anything I’ve tried without any complaints from my stomach which is a beautiful thing. Here’s what I mean……You know how there are times when you have something that you really enjoy, it’s cooked/made perfectly, and you really enjoy savoring it? I feel like I enjoy the first few bites, really think it’s amazing, and then am sad because that’s it – I’m full. Here I sit at the table with a dish of _________ (fill in the blank), it’s SO good, and I can’t eat anymore of this. On top of that, everyone else will continue to eat and enjoy for the next 15 minutes while I watch. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a big deal, but as food has been my passion and also my coping mechanism it feels figuratively empty to not eat more. I don’t want to gorge, just enjoy a ‘normal’ portion.

I have found one thing to be helpful with this. I went out to dinner this weekend to a really great vegan restaurant where the portions tend to be very large. I asked for a container with each thing when it came out. I had mushroom soup, and I put all but about 4 spoonful’s into the container, popped on the lid, and then emptied the bowl. I ordered a side salad as my main course, and it was bigger than a full salad at most places. The lettuce was crisp, fresh leaf lettuce, and it was topped with an incredible dressing, a little sliced avocado, tomato, black beans, corn, cilantro – just YUM! I had one of those large square leftover Styrofoam containers and I put all but about 5 forkful’s into the box, closed the lid, and finished of my plate. Mentally it felt so much better to be able to eat everything in front of me rather than sitting and staring at a full plate or bowl. Hopefully this is an idea that might be helpful to others.

Okay, put the cheese, crackers, and glasses away because I’m done whining.

Let’s talk exercise! I’m feeling very proud of the fact that I’ve gotten back to the gym. I also have gone walking in a nearby park with my daughter on two occasions in addition to my daily dog walks. I have to say I am really shocked by how weak I feel. The course we walk goes around a lake and there are two big hills over the 3-mile path. I was getting short of breath to the point of having difficulty conversing with my daughter! At the gym I had to face the fact that I’m no longer the strong woman. Normally, I can spend a day hauling wheelbarrows full of rocks, moving 40 lbs. bags of topsoil, etc. without much effort. I sat down at some of the machines, put the pin in the stack of weights, did one rep, and moved the pin up to near the top of the stack. I have got to build those muscles back up. I plan to use sessions I’d previously purchased with a personal trainer, but she’s a body builder and works me like crazy. If I go to her in this condition you’ll have to scrape me off the gym floor and load me into my car!

I’d read from several people that it was a smart plan to start lifting a month or two ahead of surgery to build up a little reserve. I let work, life, and the lazy’s get in the way of doing that and I shouldn’t have. But we all know woulda, coulda, shoulda doesn’t help. I do hope that if you are heading into surgery in the future you’ll take heed and do some work. You don’t have to go to the gym – just use cans of food in the home and google body weight exercises. I think it would be very worth it to go that direction.

I also wanted to share that I had my first experience of overeating with the sleeve on Friday. I ate a reasonable amount of food, but then had a lapse in memory and took two big swallows of liquid. That was a very miserable 10 minutes waiting for everything to move down into the stomach :( I won’t be making that mistake again any time soon.

Lastly, I wanted to talk about family and their fears about surgery and also about going to Mexico if you’re heading that direction because of lack of insurance. A big shout out to the parents of smoogott3 as they heard a little about me and my experience. I just want to reiterate that having surgery will always carry some level of risk, but it is outweighed by the risk of staying overweight for most people. I can also say that I’ve read many stories on here and elsewhere of people who’ve had less than optimal outcomes with many types of surgeries here in the USA – more than I’ve read for Mexico and Costa Rica (the two places I’ve researched). Research is the key – reading everything you can find until you’re sick of looking at it and then making an informed, sensible decision. My husband has been all about me losing weight for the past several years because he’s one of those very health-focused people. If I had a dollar for every time I heard about how I need to take better care of myself I’d be retiring tomorrow. Yet he was of course worried about surgery in general, and surgery in Mexico too. I showed him all of the information I’d found including posts from other nurses and doctors who chose to have the same surgery at the same facility and had only positive comments. He said it came down to trusting that I’d made a decision based on facts and taken the time to be sure this was the right decision for me. So to all the family out there, ask questions and do some reading yourself. When your loved one choses this path, be supportive – it makes a world of difference!

That’s enough words for the next month! I’ll be back with more pics and updates in 2-3 weeks unless something interesting comes up before then. Thanks for reading and taking an interest in my story and my opinion, and best of luck to all of you in whatever paths you choose :) - Anita
Mexico Bariatric Surgeon

My experience was very positive and I felt safe and comfortable having surgery at this clinic. Although Dr. Ortiz is the 'main guy', my interactions before/after surgery were almost all with Dr. Martinez. I really liked him. He sat down and had a long conversation with me and never made me feel rushed. All of the staff were very nice, and also very responsive when I was having a lot of nausea the day after surgery. If you're looking to have a sleeve done at an affordable price, this is definitely the place to consider.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
3 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
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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