I believe last I left you guys, I was plagued with a big pain from a little kidney stone. Who knew something smaller than a pencil eraser could cause so much trouble? Well, in case you were wondering, the kidney stone did not pass on its own. After my trip to the hospital and the very happy drugs they pumped me with, my pain was gone. I followed up with an urologist anyhow and it was a good thing since he informed me that being pain free did not mean being urolith (big, fancy, medical word for a kidney stone) free. And low and behold, the night after my appointment, I had another bout of excruciating pain. The pain came and went for the rest of the week until my follow-up appointment at which point my doctor and I decided to schedule lithotripsy—a non-invasive surgical procedure used to break up kidney stones using shockwaves that pass through the body wall. Unfortunately the first available appointment for the procedure was not for another 2 1/2 weeks. The pain was sporadic in the mean time, and while I had some hefty pain meds, I was unable to use them at times—ie when at work. So, I used Ibuprofen instead—after all the PA at my docs office said it was okay given my situation as long as I took certain precautions. Well, I don’t think I took enough precautions, or I just took too much Ibuprofen because after a few days my stomach got all funky and I was sick for a good 2-3 days. I stopped the Motrin of course, and got better.
Finally I went for my scheduled procedure and they took an x-ray to locate the stone, then hooked me up to an IV and knocked me out. I woke up shortly after and everything went smoothly. Of course the lithotripsy only broke the stone up to smaller pieces and didn’t get rid of it, so for another week and a half I waited for the stone to pass—with even more pain than before, as well as several bouts of nausea. At last, my stone was gone, and with it, the pain. In addition, I felt energetic and just plain good for the first time since it happened. I turned the stone in for analysis and did some extra urine tests and next week I return to my doc for the results as well as a discussion on nutrition to help prevent further stones. I’m a little worried about how that will go and how his nutrition advice will work with my band. Obviously drinking plenty of water is paramount for both my situations, but I have a feeling he’s going to tell me to cut back on my protein which will not bode will with band eating. He says he’s seen many bandsters getting kidney stones 3-4 months after surgery and on the one hand, that probably means he knows our nutrition restrictions, but on the other hand, it probably means the diet change helped in the formation of the stone. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Despite the passing of my kidney stone, I am—sadly—not yet a paragon of health. I’ve been having some trouble with my shoulder. At first I just suspected a pulled muscle or something, but given my kidney stone-ibuprofen snafu, could not treat it properly with anti-inflammatory meds like Mortrin. I finally sucked it up and got myself to the orthopod who examined me and took an x-ray. He said the x-ray looked pretty good, but he did see a small bone spur which probably caused some bursitis. Normally he would have just had me treat it with NSAIDS (if it was that easy, I wouldn’t have needed him) but instead he gave me a cortisone shot. Sadly, it didn’t work. He also gave me a prescription for physical therapy if it didn’t work. I think I’ll probably have to use it, but I’m going to try my sister’s acupuncturist first (I saw him once before and he actually predicted my kidney stone by feeling my pulse—well not a kidney stone exactly, but he told me the “kidney” part of my pulse was weak—how crazy is that?) Of course, I think I’m starting to sound like an 80 year old, going on and on about my health problems. I’ve been sicker since getting my band than I was before—how did that happen?
In other—non-medical—news, in the end of August, I finally moved into my new place. Having my own refrigerator to stock with all my own food has been helpful. I pretty much live off rotisserie chicken. I’ll have a quarter of a store bought chicken, no skin and I’ll pair it with some fruit, or carrot sticks, or tonight, a small baked potato. Yum, yum. My lunches vary, sometimes I’ll have a lean cuisine, or I’ll have a salad from the salad bar down the street. My usual breakfast is either a protein bar, or if I get up early enough, a 100 calorie whole grain English muffin with 1 egg, 1 egg white, and piece of low fat cheese. I do still have snacks. I believe in eating when I’m hungry. I’ll usually go for either a yogurt, or a high protein snack bar—Slim fast makes a yummy caramel nougat one, and South Beach has a chocolate raspberry one I love. Like a bad girl, I have taken to drinking diet soda again, but only 2-3 times a week instead of 5-6 times a day like I used to and of course, plenty of water is still a must.
I stalled with my weight-loss for a while, not because I didn’t have restriction, but because I was making bad choices and eating a lot of junk food again. So, I started going to Weight Watchers. The band helps me monitor how much I eat, and WW gives me the tools to help me make better choices. Having to figure out how many points everything is makes you stop and think before eating it. I only have so much room in my new little tummy pouch, and I need to make each bite count. That’s not to say I’ve given up all the good stuff—I still eat the foods I love…pizza, bagels, ice-cream, etc, but not on a regular basis. I really feel like I eat like a “normal” person now. I can eat a slice of pizza, without eating 3. I can have a turkey burger and leave half for the next meal. Anytime I order out, my food lasts a good 3 meals instead of finishing the whole thing and wanting more. It’s amazing how normal that is for me now. My loss is picking up again and I still have hopes of making my goal of losing 75# by my sisters wedding which is October 25. I’ve got to lose another 5 lbs and I’ve got 10 days to do it.
Holly, this entry is getting long. I have more to say about how I’m feeling about the changes the last 6 months have made to my mind, body and soul, but I’m working on page three of this thing now, so I’m going to cut it here, and save the rest for another entry. Here’s to not letting another 3 months go by before that happens ;) Tootles.
Regardless of what was causing the pain, it was excrutiating, so much so that I started getting nauseous. I was hoping at this point it was just severe gas pain. I went to the bathroom a couple of times, tried curling up in the fetal position which I find is usually the most comfortable position with gas pain, even took a Vicodin and…nothing. Then I went for a walk around the block (0.7 miles) because moving around is good for getting rid of gas pain. While walking I noticed that that sensation of someone stabbing me repeatedly in the kidney was a tad bit better but my nausea kept getting worse. And then, as soon as I can back, the stabbing feeling returned just as bad—if not worse than—before. Finally I gave in about 2 hours after it started and realized that it probably wasn't gas pain and given the location I was highly suspicious of a kidney stone so it was off to the ER for me.
Turns out I was right. Kidney stone was the Dr.’s first suspicion as well when I got there. They hooked me up to fluids, got some blood and urine, and sent me for a CT. They had me drink some contrast (which tasted exactly like Crystal Light) so that in addition to checking for a stone, they could use the contrast to evaluate my stomach and make sure there was no leak or anything else band related that could be the cause.
Well, no surprise here, the CT showed a big, honking (5mm) kidney stone. They said under 7mm you can usually pass it on your own, but 5 mm is still very large; and let me tell you—very painful. Although thank the lord (and the Dr.) for the morphine and Toradol because it took my pain from a 9-10 on the pain scale down to almost non-existent. Best meds ever! I really hope they don’t wear off too soon.
Finally I was on my way with a couple of prescriptions—Percocet, Motrin and Phenergen. The Phenergen in an anti-emetic (stops vomiting) since I vomited 3 times in the hospital because the pain had gotten so bad. The Percocet and Motrin are for pain. I asked about the Mortin and the Doc said that the bariatric surgeon at their hospital said it was okay, but I decided to call up my Doc’s office to confirm. The PA got on the phone with me and advised me that for a legitimate need like this, it is okay to take Motrin despite the fact that it is an NSAID and NSAIDs increase your chances of developing ulcers, especially in a banded patient when the medicine will be trapped in that small pouch for an extended period of time. She advised that I should follow the medicine with 2 glasses of water to push the pill out of the pouch and into my big stomach. She also said I shouldn’t eat when I take the meds because that would keep the pill trapped longer. Lastly she recommended taking some Mylanta to coat the stomach for protection. I think for today I’ll be sticking with the Percocet, but tomorrow I have to work and sadly I can’t do my job under the influence of narcotics, so the Motrin will have to do.
I was also instructed that I should pee into a jug and run it through a strainer every time I pee (fun :eyeroll:) so that I can catch the stone when it finally passes and bring it to the urologist to have it analyzed since there are many different kinds of stones which develop under different kinds of conditions in the body. My urologist appointment in next Tuesday and hopefully this will be over and done with by then and he will tell me that I am healthy and this was just a fluke.
And I would just like to mention the bad part about going to the ER (yes besides the long waits, ugly non-closing gowns, bad smell, uncomfortable beds, etc.). The bad part is the 2 liters of fluids they bloused into my veins which made me gain 6.5 pounds between this morning at 6:30 AM and noon when I got home from the hospital. As if I wasn’t already retaining another 2 ½ pounds of water thanks to my monthly visitor. Oh well, I’m sure that weight will be gone in a few days and on the bright side it will be nice to see the scale moving quickly again.
Another interesting note about this whole mess…My sister knows an acupuncturist who does some work on helping people quit smoking, etc, and he said he’d be willing to try some stuff with me to help me with weight management issues. Anyhow, I went to my second appointment with him Tuesday and he explained that evaluation of the tongue and the pulse are the main methods of eastern diagnosis. Well, apparently the kidney portion of my pulse (I didn't know pulses had portions but apparently they do) was weak. He wasn’t able to tell me specifically what was wrong with it but he could tell that it was not right. How strange is that? He totally knew something was up with my kidney just from checking my pulse and now, here I am 3 days later with a kidney stone. If that doesn't make me a believer in this stuff, nothing will. Hopefully he’ll be just as good at helping me on my weight-loss journey.
And now it’s time for me to give in to the Vicodin, morphine, Clonapin (similar to Valium) and Percocet in my body and go take a nap. Till next time, toodles.
I’ve also noted a few other non-size related things lately. One, I think my hair is starting to fall out. It could just be that I know this is the time it usually happen and it’s all in my head (as opposed to all falling off of my head :P) but I think it’s real. Luckily I have a lot of very fine hair so losing some extra strands won’t be that noticeable. Otherwise I guess I’ll just have to wait another 3 months for it to grow back even thicker and more luxurious than before. I’ve also noticed that my teeth seem much whiter, no doubt thanks to my Diet Coke abstinence. I guess I can skip that professional whitening now. I’ll put that extra cash in my “bye-bye double good-bye” fund.
Pictures are here… http://s603.photobucket.com/albums/tt120/skinnywren/3%20Months%20Later/
And here are this months stats…
I can still eat the foods I love—this week alone I’ve indulged in pizza, ice cream and chocolate cake (insert horrified gasp here, for I am a naughty bandster). That’s right people, I’ve eaten all of that…and enjoyed every minute of it. I don’t have time to feel guilty over enjoying the foods I love because let’s face it—food is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Would most of us struggling with our weight have gotten there if it weren’t? The difference is that now I can eat just a few bites of the cake and put the rest away or order the smallest sized ice cream and still be unable to finish it. And when I’m done with my teeny, tiny portions, I do not feel deprived or as though I need to keep eating—I feel satisfied. Can you believe it? Being satisfied with only a few spoonfuls of ice cream? I know a few months ago I never would have thought it possible.
And now that I am firmly on the new path that this amazing tool has led me down, it is time for me to make another big change in my life. This past Thursday I bought my first home. Although if you ask my sister, the lawyer, she will disagree—she will tell you that I am not a home owner, but rather a “stock holder in a cooperative corproration with a proprietary lease to a unit in the corporation's asset.” What the heck does that mean? Well, I didn’t buy a house, but rather a co-op. I think these may be a New York phenomenon, so for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s similar to a condo only instead of buying a specific unit in the condo complex, you buy a share of the entire complex and get to live in one of the units. Either way, to me it’s a home—my first home.
I’ve been living at home with my parents for the last year and a half since I graduated vet school. I appreciate the opportunity to live rent free and enjoy a comfortable roof over my head but I am more than ready to move out and move on. Being at home and having support post operatively has been great but living with my parents has also added some extra hurdles in my way. For example my mother usually seems to be under the impression that kitchens should not be used for cooking food since it’s too messy. I relish the thought of having my own kitchen to stock with my own foods which I can use to experiment with healthy, band-fiendly recipies. In addition, my mother is overly critical of everything I eat. She means well but often makes comments that are hurtful and make me want to eat even more. In one instance I remember talking to her about the plastic surgery I might need after I hit goal to which she replied “all this because you ate too much.” Or a couple of times I’ve snacked on a Weight Watchers’ ice cream bars in the evening and everytime she asked me if I was supposed to be eating that. She constantly asks me if that food I’m eating is “dietetic” no matter how many times I remind her I’m not on a diet. She is not trying to make things harder for me, but despite her best intentions, she often does.
It will be a few more weeks before I am fully moved into my new place but I am thouroughly looking forward to the opportunity to live as an independent adult. It is only one more step, like the lap-band to gaining control over my own life. I can’t wait.
So, I went in for my fill. Originally I was scheduled to go in for a fill a week and a half ago but my boss had to go sail away on his boat and I had to change my schedule around to cover for him. So I had to reschedule my appointment. Grr. I tried to move it to my new day off last week but they were already booked so I had to wait till today.
I have to tell you, it was an eventful visit. I got to the office and checked in. After about 10 minutes my name was called. The person doing my adjustment today was the new PA. I went in and told her how I was feeling and what I was able to eat and we decided on just a small, 1cc fill. I laid back, she prepped the area over my port and then stuck me with the big needle. It didn’t go in right away so she adjusted the needle around a little trying to get it in the port. She was right there, I could feel it—not a bad feeling, I could just tell that she was hitting the port. But the needle just wouldn’t go in. So she went to find the more experienced PA to help her out. I was left lying on the table with the needle and syringe sticking straight out of me for a few minutes before the two PAs came back. The older PA came over to try and maneuver the needle. She quickly realized the reason the needle wouldn’t go into my port. You see, apparently, my post was angled so that the rubber surface that the needle goes into was angled up towards my head. She said that it was common for the ports to be like that sometimes and that often as you lose weight they will change angles so that they may be more or less tilted. Anyhow, the young PA I guess didn’t realize what a steep angle my port was at and she went straight in. She wound up hitting one of these 4 little divots in the plastic part of the port and the needle was STUCK. They couldn’t get it out. I was told that they may need some forceps to get it out so I was left alone in the exam room once again with a big needle and syringe sticking out of my stomach. I put my hands behind my bed, closed my eyes and decided to take a mini-nap. A few minutes later, the two PAs came back with a surgeon (not one I knew) and he started cracking jokes which I responded to in kind. He came right over to me, gripped the needle and syringe and yanked. Out it came, large, bent needle and all.
So, crisis avoided, they re-prepped me and this time the second PA did the adjustment which went smoothly this time around. I got my 1cc and was on my way.
I have to say, though, that I’m glad it happened to me. Well, I mean, not “I’m glad it happened to me,” but “I’m glad it happened to me.” The older PA said that it happened to her a few years ago and the person that the needle was stuck in was having their first adjustment—they didn’t come back for another one for 6 months. For me, as a vet I have absolutely no needle phobia, don’t mind being stuck, and understand that no matter how much experience we have, sometimes you have to stick a person (or animal as the case may be) more than once. Personally, I kind of found it amusing more than anything—a little excitement in an otherwise boring day.
Plus, I’m sure it was a very nerve wracking experience for the poor PA who was just starting out. At least if it wasn’t going to go smoothly, it was with someone who was able to have a sense of humor about it and not freak out. And hopefully she’ll learn from it so that it doesn’t happen to someone else or if it does, she’ll recognize it and be able to deal with it calmly.
And now all I have to do is eat my liquids and mushies for the next 3-4 days and the wait and see if I’ve reached that elusive sweet spot. I can’t wait to see if this fill took. Toodles for now.
PS—Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince rocked my socks—even if I did keep thinking “that’s not how it happened in the book.”
I've also made it back to the gym after my unfortunate back spasm-y deal a couple of weeks ago. I ran 30 minutes today starting at a 4.0 and working my way up to a 5.1, then I worked out with my trainer for an hour. I can do ab workouts again. I don't know if I'm excited about that or not. I have a feeling I will have some very sore ab muscles in the morning. Oh well, it's just the price I have to pay to get skinny.
I also have an updated album posted with some progreess pictures for anyone interested...
...2 months later
Anyhoo, with out any further ado, here are my updated stats...
In hind site, maybe the reason it bugged me so much is because a part of me had similar assumptions. Not so much about how I feel physically, but about how I feel mentally. Losing 40 pounds should feel better. I should feel better--about my weight, about my life…but I don’t. I know I’m not even a third of the way there yet and I know that losing the weight isn’t going to fix my life, but what if I never reach goal? What if I just lose the average 50 something percent of my excess weight? Will I feel any different then? And what if I do reach goal? Will that feel different? Or will I have only gotten rid of the symptom of my unhappiness and not the cause. Will it all be the same only in a different body? That’s a scary thought but a very real possibility.
I know that in large part, I use my weight as a defense mechanism. If I go to party or a bar, or any other social situation, and I’m ignored, well then it’s because everyone else is superficial and judgmental, or insert adjective that makes it not my fault here. See, the thing is people can’t reject me if they don’t know me and my fat makes it easy for people to not get to know me. By being overweight, I have an excuse not to get close to people—not to really let anyone in.
I hate to be one of those people who blame all their problems on their mother, but I do think she’s a large part of why I feel this way. You see, she’s manic depressive and throughout my life she has suffered through some major suicidal periods. Even when I was still just a kid she would tell me how she wanted to kill herself and how she had nothing in her life worth living for. It was this huge burden to have on my shoulders and in the long run I wound up resenting her for it. Now I think one of my biggest fears is to be like her. I’m afraid to let people get close to me because I’m afraid that I will be a burden to them. I hate to even ask people for favors like picking me up from the auto shop when I have to drop my car off for an oil change, let alone burdening them with the big stuff. So I don’t. I keep people at a distance so that I can’t hurt them like my mother hurt me. I keep them at a distance so that they never wind up resenting me like I resent her.
And the thing is, losing weight is not going to change that. It’s not going to make me feel better about opening myself up. It’s not going to suddenly make it easy for me to let people in and cure my loneliness. So when people ask me if I feel better, maybe it just bothers me because a part of me knows that the healing I need to do, isn’t coping with diabetes or hypertension, or any other problem that can be solved by simply losing weight. And since everyone who’s ever tried to lose any substantial amount of weight knows how un-simple it is, it’s hard to imagine what it’s going to take for me to “feel better.” And what if I never do?
Strike number 1…I left the house without breakfast as I was running late for an appointment. Luckily I had an Atkin’s protein bar in my bag which is actually a pretty typical breakfast for me. After my appointment I figured it was time that I could start drinking so I stopped off at 7-11 and bought a 1 liter bottle of water—it is now 8’o clock here and ¾ of the bottle still remains. I had some more errands to run in the afternoon and for lunch I stopped off at a bagel place and got a made to order salad with chicken in it. Not a bad choice per se, but I decided “to hell” with the diet dressing and had it loaded up with some creamy Russian goodness. I made no attempt to eat the chicken pieces first and though I only ate less than half the salad I probably ate about 10 forkfulls past “comfortably satisfied.” To top it all off—I ate while driving, stuffing a few huge mouthfuls in at each stoplight and taking well over the recommended 20 minutes to eat. Shortly after I finished lunch I got one of my undeniable cravings for diet coke and had actually convinced myself—“what the hell, let’s try it. One carbonated beverage isn’t going to kill me,” even though carbonation was the one and only forbidden “food” as per my doctor. By the time I got to the next 7-11 I had managed to switch my soda craving for an iced tea craving. Not as bad but still full of sugary empty calories. By the time the evening rolled around I was fighting more sugary cravings and stopped off for another iced-tea and a chocolate bar. On the bright side I managed to only eat half the chocolate. Then for dinner I had this pork and rice thing my mother makes which I’m sure is super fattening and I ate the rice before the pork. Man I’m full now. Sad to say, I kind of like the feeling.
So let’s see—how many guidelines did I ignore today? There was the 8 glass of water, the no “drinking calories, the stopping when comfortably full, eating for 20 minutes only, not doing anything else while I eat and that minor, little eating protein first thing…I think that’s pretty much all of them. I don’t have any idea how many calories I consumed since I have no idea how to log half the stuff I ate into MyFitnessPal, but I’m sure it’s more than the 1000-1200 I usually consume.
Well, what’s done is done. Tomorrow is a new day and I just have to keep on keepin’ on. So I guess the question now becomes, why was today so hard for me. Maybe it’s just that I miss my favorite foods. Or maybe it was my weird schedule—I always find it harder on days when I don’t work. Or maybe it was the session with my shrink this morning ( the psychiatrist I saw for surgical clearance suggested I keep seeing him to help me through this journey). Now logically you’d think that seeing him would help, and I think in the long term it does, but probably less so in the short term. I mean, it’s very disconcerting sitting there having him ask you questions you can’t possibly have answers for like “why are you sad?” (as a general life question, not about anything in particular) and “how do you feel in public?” and “what can I give you to make you happy?” I mean honestly, it’s weird and uncomfortable and it makes you think about things that you’ve never thought about because you’ve always just stuffed them down with food. And so maybe after a session of that, perhaps I just wanted to stuff those feelings back to where they were.
I guess I’m going to have to get used to confronting my emotions. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, but going through this journey to the newer, skinnier me, means giving up the coping mechanism I’ve used to avoid those emotions all my life. They may not be easy to deal with but they’re mine and they’re just the price I’m going to have to pay to be happy. I guess that’s the answer to that last question my shrink asked.
Despite my lack of updating, a lot has been going on. I believe the last time I wrote was just after I got my unfill and the first day I started solid food. Well, for a day or two there I was feeling great. The unfill was a very welcome—I could finally drink water without chest pain. And for a few days there I felt great restriction. But the sweet spot did not last. Eventually my appetite returned full force and as I realized that not only was I hungry, but I could eat anything, I started making some bad choices again. I tried a slice of pizza. It went down great. On the bright side, I only had 1. I was still hungry, but I ate some good healthy chicken afterwards to fill me up. I also tried bagels. I scooped out the insides to help me out. One day at work someone brought in some left over candy from Easter (how on earth anyone could have Easter candy left over a month later is beyond my comprehension, but I digress). I learned a very valuable lesson that day—I can NOT eat just 1 or 2 pieces of candy. No, as soon as I have one bite, I am overcome with the need to stuff my face with it. Now at least I know that I can only have a taste of candy if a taste is all that’s available to me. And then of course there was the donut that the pharmaceutical rep brought in one day. I also started eating faster and faster as the days went by.
Now I know all of this sounds bad—I was definitely straying from the guidelines my nutritionist gave me, but I was still keeping my calories down to around 1200-1300 calories most days. Of course since my body was in starvation mode from over a month of 600 calorie a day liquids and mushies, my weight loss stalled but I did manage to lose almost 3 pounds between the time of my unfill and last Tuesday when I went back to Dr. G’s for my 6 week post-op appointment.
The appointment went well. I called ahead to make sure I didn’t have to fast or go on liquids prior to the appointment and was assured that it wasn’t necessary. I ate a reasonable breakfast (whole wheat English muffin, 1 egg and a slice of American cheese) and got there in the early afternoon. Dr. G asked me how I was doing and I told him that I was doing alright but I was hungry again after the unfill. He asked me how I was doing keeping my meals to 20 minutes and how my food choices were. I admitted that I had had a few indiscretions and that I was afraid I was starting to eat too quickly but that overall I was managing okay. He agreed to give me a fill but made me promise to take my time and chew well. I agreed and he sent the PA in to do the fill. The PA came in and asked me some of the same questions, then prepped my stomach over my port, filled a syringe, and stuck me with a big needle. It was a quick pinch, but hurt less than giving blood and it didn’t bother me at all. She filled me with 2.5ccs (they had previously removed 3.2ccs) so that I know have a total of 3ccs in my 10 cc band. She gave me my post fill instructions—24-48 hours of liquids followed by 24-48 hours of mushies. All of Tuesday and Wednesday I stuck to my liquids and Thursday and half of Friday I was on mushies before reverting back to solids at dinner time Friday.
The fill was good for me, although it’s still too early for me to tell if it worked. I do think I’m feeling less hungry and the post adjustment diet got me back on track. It was long enough to get my mind back to where it needs to be but not so long that I feel the deprivation that I felt from the post-op diet. I’m definitely making better choices, watching my speed and making sure to chew to goo.
The only thing I didn’t have to get back on track after the fill was my exercise regime. I’ve been going to the gym at least 3 times a week for cardio and I’ve started working out with my trainer, J, again. I can now run on the treadmill for an hour starting at a 4.0 mph pace and working my way up to a 5.0 mph. If I can keep that up I definitely think I should be able to meet my goal of running a half marathon by the end of September. Of course this weekend I didn’t get to the gym since I hurt my back at work yesterday. Well, technically it’s not my back so much as my butt—I apparently have a weak gluteus medius muscle. That’s the muscle that’s just below the small of your back. The left one seems to be my bad one. I’ve had trouble with it several times in the past. Usually some pain meds and rest and I’m feeling better in a week but it’s pure agony in the mean time. I think I might give in and go to a chiropractor this time. Hopefully I’ll be back to the gym before long.
Anyhow, after the fill Tuesday, I’ve lost another 6.5 pounds for a total of 40.5 pounds since I started the pre-op diet 8 weeks ago. Also, this past week at work one of my clients noticed that I’d lost weight and told me how good I looked. This was the first person who didn’t know about my surgery to mention that they noticed a difference in me.
Things definitely aren’t as simple as they were when I was on liquids and mushies. Back then it all seemed so easy and I started getting complacent. I was starting to think that this was going to be cake but the truth is, this is something that I’m going to be working at every day for the rest of my life. This isn’t news, I’ve always known that the lap-band was just a tool to help me get where I need to go—that the real work was up to me. And since I’m only human, there are going to be slip ups along the way. There will be days when I’m less dedicated than I should be. There will be days when I look at a donut or an ice cream sundae or some pizza and I don’t even have the will to try and fight the desire to eat it. Those days will happen and it’s not going to be a straight shot to victory here. All I can do is remember what I’ve gone through to get here, remember what I’m trying to achieve and take it one bite at a time. If I do that then hopefully the good days will be more frequent and the bad days won’t really be so bad—after all, we all need a little indulgence sometimes and accepting that doesn’t automatically equal failure.
My weight was actually down to 279.5 a few days ago but it seems to have gone back up a tad. I was really happy being out of the 280’s. It meant less than 10# until my BMI was below 40. Oh well; before I had my unfill I could barely even drink water so I was dehydrated. I know this has to be it because now I’m drinking more but still haven’t been peeing much the last couple of days. A 32# loss is still pretty damn good for 5 weeks.
In other news, I get to start real food today—woohoo! I’m excited to get off munchies. So far I haven’t been having trouble tolerating my food, but I definitely still feel restricted. I had 3 oz of Tyson steak strips and half a baked potato for lunch and was stuffed. Also, I’ve been looking for alternatives to Diet Coke since I’ve really been missing it lately and water is getting boring. The Crystal Light and Diet Snapples are just too aspartame-y for me now. Well, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve discovered a new Snapple—Noni Berry Juice—10 calories per 8 oz serving and super yummy. I’m loving it. I also tried a Tropical Punch Fuze yesterday, also 10 calories per 8oz serving. Not bad either. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get over the Diet Coke but these might ease my pain a little. The only think I have to do is make sure I don’t start drinking just that. I still need my H20 goodness, even if I don’t like it.
So Tuesday night was the monthly support group meeting for patients of Dr. G. and associates. I made my way down to the hospital and met with several other patients as well as one of the PAs and the psychiatrist that works with the program. I sat through several recently banded patient’s descriptions of bandster hell before finally getting to express my (opposite) concerns.
The PA, Deirdre agreed that I was too tight and told me to make an appointment to come in to the office. It was nice to have someone agree with my worries. It seemed that everyone else I told was like—“GREAT! You should be happy. Isn’t this what you wanted?” Well no, not exactly. I didn’t really go into this aiming to become practically anorexic, experience chest pain constantly, suffer from dehydration, send my body into starvation mode and totally screw up my metabolism. That’s not really what I wanted. But alas, while everyone I know has been very supportive, it doesn’t mean they understand what I’m going through. Deirdre however was much more appreciative of my predicament. She shared the same concerns about my lack of nutrition, and while I stated that I was afraid of going into starvation mode and seeing my wonderful weight-loss stall, she added the concern of losing weight too quickly. I can’t really say that I was too worried about that one, but still…at least she acknowledged that there was a problem.
So Wednesday I called the office and set up an appointment for first thing Thursday morning. I went in as scheduled and met with the same PA. She explained that Dr. G. fills each band to capacity to ensure there are no leaks and then takes out enough fluid to get rid of all the air/air bubbles and equalize the pressure. This leaves a slightly different amount of fluid in each person’s band post-op. Sometimes there is as little as 0.5ccs, in one patient she saw recently, there was 5ccs left in their 14cc band. Anyhow, I lay back on the table and she stuck and big needle into my port. No local anesthesia or anything, but I prefer it that way. I hardly felt the needle at all whereas lidocaine burns like a mother effer. She attached a syringe and aspirated the fluid from my 10cc band. For some reason Dr. G. puts a dye called methylene blue into the saline so the fluid that came out was bright blue. She aspirated until no more fluid came out. Deirdre told me there was still about a half a cc left. In the end she wound up removing 3.2ccs. She had me take a few sips of water and it seemed to go down smoothly this time. We said our good-byes and I left.
I subsequently spent the next 15 minutes looking for the valet ticket I got when I pulled up to the hospital. I never did find it but it turns out it didn’t matter anyway; the valet was happy to take my word for it. Apparently I have an honest face or something. I got in my car and drove to work while sipping happily, pain-free, on a Medifast protein shake as I was instructed to stick to fluids and really soft foods for a couple of days.
It’s definitely a relief to have all that restriction gone. I know I’ll probably be in bandster hell soon, but to me that’s better than chest pain every time I swallow. I’ve definitely been hungrier the last 2 days but it has hardly been unbearable. I still do seem to have some restriction and am mostly satisfied after a meal. If it stays this way I think I should do alright moving on to solids on Monday. And if worse comes to worst, I go back for what was supposed to be my first fill (and may technically still be, I suppose) in just over 2 weeks. I can suffer through some hunger pains until then.
On a completely unrelated note I would just like to quickly tell you about the extreme shopping high I am currently riding. You see, a few years ago I received a Coach purse as a Christmas gift. Sadly, earlier this year the leather strap began to tear. Well, for those of you who don’t know, Coach has a life-time guarantee. I sent the bag back and received a voucher for the full retail price of the bag—over $320. I took my voucher to the outlets today where they had sales galore. I bought a large purse, a wristlet purse, sunglasses, a key chain and an umbrella. Actual retail value—over $1000. Actual price I charged to my credit card--$51. If I could get deals like this all the time, I would have been a shopping addict over a food addict long ago. Hmm, maybe outlet shopping will be my new vice after all.
Personally, I wanted Tara to win. I think because I related the most to her. Sure, she’s a little younger than me, but only by 4 years. We’re still both in our twenties—the prime of our lives. She’s my height and was close to my weight when she started out—her just under 300lbs and me just over. She never fell below the dreaded yellow line and she won challenge after challenge. She was truly a force to be reckoned with. I hope that I can be half as successful as she has been.
And speaking of the challenges, I come to the real point of this blog. By week 11, the remaining contestants were all confronted with a true test of how far they’d come in less than 3 months—they ran a half-marathon. Then, 2 months later they were faced with a doubly difficult challenge—a full marathon. Every remaining player completed a full 26.2 miles, even Ron—the 54 year old father with a multitude of health problems.
If they can accomplish such a feat, in such a short time, I certainly can as well. And so I will. I have set a goal for myself. Those of us looking to lose weight and get in shape often look to NSVs—non-scale goals—to keep us motivated. Well today I am setting myself a NSG—non scale goal. I am going to run a half marathon. A little bit of research on my part has informed me that there is one in Queens on September 20th and another in the Hamptons on September 26th. I will be at one of those two races and I will make it to the finish line.
I had my first follow up with Dr. G on Tuesday, 1 day after I started mushies, so I was able to discuss how my body is reacting to the beginning of this new stage in my diet. I do sometimes feel that pressure in my chest but it’s been less often as the week has gone by. He said that’s fine, but that I should try and slow down my eating. Of course I feel like I’m eating really slowly already—I usually take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to eat my designated portions. Since my post op instructions said to aim for 5 minutes per ounce of protein/carb, 15 minutes is the right time frame. But I guess my body just needs even more time right now. I also explained that even when I felt “full” up in my chest area, I still could feel my tummy rumbling—like I could tell the difference between my pouch and the rest of my stomach which was still empty. He said that the mushies shouldn’t necessarily fill me up at this stage and that it was fine that I was feeling that way. I think it might have just been psychological though. I’m not really having problems with that anymore.
Even more exciting than the fact that I am not hungry physically, is how little head hunger I’ve been suffering from. I can only think of 1 day, the first week after surgery when I had really bad head hunger. Otherwise I’ve been OK. Sure, I’ll see commercial with some yummy looking food, or see what someone else is eating and I’ll want it, but it’s not the same as it was before. Just yesterday the people at my office went on a Friendly’s run for ice cream sundaes. I was able to sit with them while they were eating it and not have any problems. Sure, they looked nice and tasty, but that was it. It’s almost how I’ve always imagined it must feel to be a “normal” person without an eating disorder—to see food and to want it a little, but not to be consumed with that desire. To be able to say no and move on without this obsessive nagging in my head reminding me of how good it will taste and how much I want it. Okay, I’m seriously tearing up right now because I’m so happy about this. Anyhow, Dr. G explained that because the band presses on the Vagus nerve—a nerve which runs directly to your brain and has effects on hunger and satiety—that there is actually a neurological component to the band as well that will often make patients want to eat less. I’m thinking this is my favorite part of the band so far.
And last but not least, I got clearance to go back to the gym. When I had my appointment Tuesday, I had my gym bag packed and in the car with me so I could go straight there after I got the okay. Dr. G said I was allowed to do very light lifting and cardio, but warned me not to do the cardio machines on an incline or with too much resistance. He doesn’t want me grunting and groaning and getting my intra-abdominal pressure up yet because he said that it can make the band go from being arranged in a 2 o’clock to7 o’clock direction to a 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock direction which will screw me up. So I headed to the gym and got on the elliptical—no incline or resistance. I tried to go slow which was the hardest part since I very carefully selected my gym music to be songs that motivate me to work out hard. Since I had to hold back I tried to make up for it in length and did a full hour. I skipped Wed, and Thurs as I work 12 hour days and spend most of that on my feet, but I headed back today and repeated my work out from Tues. It felt great. Plus I think it stimulated my weight loss again. I slowed down last week on the last week of fluids but the weight seems to be melting off again now that I’m on mushies and exercising. I think my metabolism just needed a boost.
I’m so happy with how everything is going so far. I'm feeling good and I'm down 26.4 pounds. This band kicks ass. Dr. G was pleased with my progress as well. I also met with my psychiatrist today—the one who cleared me for surgery—and he also says it seems like I’m doing great. So basically everything is great. I truly and completely believe that I made the right decision getting my band and that I’m going to be so successful with this. It’s a great feeling to have. Alright, I’m tearing up again it’s time for me to get my ass up and go get a tissue. Hasta la vista, amigos.
But what else has been happening in the week since my last blog? Well, for starters I went back to work. My first day back was Wednesday. Now normally I work a 4 day work week which means I work 12 hour days during the week. That meant 12 hours Wednesday and 12 hours Thursday. Luckily Friday is my day off, though I did have to work a 6 hour shift yesterday. It actually wasn’t too bad. We were pretty dead on Wednesday so I got to do nothing most of the day, and Thursday wasn’t particularly hectic either. Of course I’m told it was a zoo all last week, but of course that’s what happens every time one of the doctors is off. My biggest concern has been evenings. For night hours there’s only me, one assistant and one receptionist so it’s harder for me to go without lifting. I definitely feel bad when a big dog comes in and I have to just stand there and watch while my assistant and the client do all the hard work (well, physically hard anyway). But, I’ve been managing. One day soon I’ll get to stop feeling like an invalid and start lifting things again. Saturday was more hectic but I have lots of help and the assistant who was assigned to me was a big, manly man who works out everyday. It made me feel less bad about not participating in the physical labor part of the job. Tomorrow starts my first full week, but I’m pretty much feeling back to my normal self, so I’m not too worried about it.
Other news pertaining to my work—right before I left someone managed to abandon their dog in our waiting room. We’re not sure how they got the pup in there without anyone seeing, but low and behold, there she was. She’s a cute little schnoodle (poodle/schnauzer.) The poor thing was completely matted with fur, covered in fleas and emaciated. She also had some mammary masses. Well despite the sorry state she was in (or perhaps partly because of it—I am a vet after all) I decided to keep her. While I was off, the other doctors took care of her for me. They cleaned her teeth and biopsied the masses (we almost had surgery on the same day :P). Luckily the masses were benign—no breast cancer for my little pooch. She still needs to be spayed and she’s still very weak and has a bad hip, but she could be a lot worse off right now. I’ve decided to name her Maddie (which kind of sounds like “matt-y” which is what she was when she came to us.) I brought her home on Thursday night and she’s been attached to my hip ever since, although today she spent a little time with my parents. My other dog is tolerating her well, but you can tell she’s jealous. Oh well, she’ll get used to her eventually.
So how’s the post op diet going, you ask? Well tomorrow I’m scheduled to start mushies—yay! Though I must admit that I’ve been a bad girl and taken a couple of liberties this week with the liquid diet. I had scrambled eggs twice, though they were really runny and it took me about 45 minutes to finish them. I also ate a few tiny bites of matzo ball out of the soup I got for lunch one day. I didn’t have any problems with that or the eggs. Tonight however, I took my mother out for Mother’s Day and decided to move on to mushies—for real—one meal early. Bad me, I know. I had ~1 tablespoonful of chicken salad and ~2 tablespoonfuls of my father’s chopped steak. I also had some chicken broth with a couple of bites of matzo ball. It took me a long time to get it down as I was taking exceptionally small bites and chewing like crazy. I was still feeling a little hungry in my stomach but I started to feel a little bit of pressure in my esophagus so I stopped before I had the last little bit of chopped steak (my nutritionist through my surgeon recommends 2 oz (~4 tbsp) of protein and 1 oz of carbs per mushie meal for a total of 6 meals a day so I was just about on target.) I don’t think it was stuck, though I haven’t experienced that yet so I don’t know for sure. But I didn’t feel like regurgitating and didn’t start sliming up or anything. It’s pretty much settled now.
Anyhoo—Tuesday is my first post-op check up. I’m excited. I hope I get clearance to go back to the gym, at least for cardio, plus I’d like to get permission to swim/bathe—then I can follow up my work-out with a soak in the hot tub. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Or maybe I just need to get a life.
I’ve also been a lot more tired all week, probably as a result of the general anesthetic they put me under. I’d wake up at a normal hour and feel bright eyed and bushy-tailed (like a squirrel on crack :P) but I’d be wiped out by mid afternoon and have to take a nap even though I hadn’t done much except take a couple of short walks. The last two days have been the only two where I haven’t needed a nap and by the end of the night I’d felt like I’d been working all day. Hopefully by the time I actually go back to work on Wednesday, that will have passed as well—especially since I work 12 hour days. It’s going to be hard for me at work knowing that I can’t help lift and restrain animals. I mean, that’s what the techs and assistants are hired for, but they’re all so much littler than me I always wind up jumping in and helping. It’s going to be especially tough at night when there’s only 1 tech. If we get a really big dog she won’t be able to lift it by herself. I guess either the owners will have to help or I’ll have to get down on the floor to examine them. As long as I stick to actually doing my job—examining, diagnosing and prescribing—I should be OK at work. Although if there are any surgeries I should probably let the other doctors take them for the first week back.
The good news is that so far this really seems to be working. I’ve lost 20# since I started the pre-op diet not even 2 weeks ago. It’s amazing how easy it is to lose weight when you can’t fit anything into your stomach. I’m still on the liquid diet and will be for another week. Right now I’m supposed to be eating (or more accurately, drinking) 4 of my Medifast protein shakes and 2 other liquid meals (soup without chunks, yogurt without chunks, pudding, jello, ices, etc) a day along with 6-8 glasses of water. Right now I can’t even eat that. I think yesterday I came the closest. I had 4 Medifasts and 1 6oz light, fat-free key lime pie yogurt and 7 glasses of water. By the end of the night I felt completely bloated. I could feel the liquid splashing around in my new, bite-sized belly. The total was 460 calories. I’m actually worried about my body going into starvation mode. I know that next week when I start mushy foods I’ll be able to get more calories and nutrients in and I’m sure that will help me feel better. Plus mentally it will be a lot easier as well. Friday was really tough for me to get through the mental need for real food even though the physical need wasn’t there. Also, as the swelling goes down from the surgery I’ll be able to fit more volume in. I’ve actually read some other bandsters say that they wind up feeling no restriction at all for a while before they are able to go in and get their band filled with saline for the first time (usually 6 weeks post-op). I’m told that’s bandster hell. Hopefully the swelling doesn’t go down that much. I have to keep on track if I want to get to 225# by my sister’s wedding in October. I just have to keep on plugging away and before I know it I’ll be back to my normal self—only skinnier and less hungry all the time.
Just 1 more week until I can eat that egg I’ve been dreaming about. Yippie!
She handed me a gown, a garment bag and some wipes and directed me to the bathroom to change. I was instructed to take off all my clothing, jewelry, hair pins, etc., wipe my abdomen thoroughly with the wipes, and the put the gown on, open to the back. After I finished changing I went into the prep room where the nurse took my weight. According to that scale I was 297.7. That scale is a little off from my scale at home which told me I was 303 that morning, but I definitely like the Dr.’s scale better. If that’s compatible with the scale at the gym, it means I lost 15.7# on the pre-op diet alone. Although I have a feeling that my bathroom scale is more compatible to the gym scale, that would still mean I lost 10.4# in a week. Pretty nice, huh? Anyhow, the nurse proceeded to ask me a ton of health history questions that I’d already answered twelve hundred times in the last week. Next she hooked me up to an IV in my left hand with lactated ringers solution and an IV antibiotic drip of Cefazolin. I was given an injection of Lovenox in my stomach to prevent clot formation. Around this time Dr. G popped his head in to say hi. Once I was done getting prepped, my parents were brought in to sit with me while I waited for my surgery. The anesthesiologist popped by as well and asked me a bunch of the same questions about my history again.
Finally just before 3PM, it was time. I was given an injection of some “happy juice” to relax me. I forget the exact name of the medication, but it’s in the valium family. I was told that after the injection I might not remember anything, but this didn’t turn out to be the case. I remember being rolled into the OR. Some good song was playing, though I can’t remember which one and I started singing along as I sometimes have a tendency to do. I remember the nurse joking with me asking how I knew it was karaoke day at the hospital. I was moved from the gurney to the operating table and strapped on. It was, of course, as soon as my arms were strapped down that I got an itch on my nose. The nurse kindly scratched it for me before placing the mask over my face and telling me to take deep breaths.
I could hear stuff around me and I was crying. I heard someone jokingly tell me I was making them sad, but I couldn’t stop. I could feel myself being wheeled out of the room towards recovery and I tried to open my eyes and focus on what was going on around me. I knew where I was and what was happening and I wasn’t sad or frightened and while it hurt, the pain was hardly unbearable, but still I wouldn’t stop crying. After a little while my eyes were able to focus better and my tears calmed down. I could see the clock across from me and it was 4:30 pm. My mouth was completely parched and the pain was definitely there. The guy who was with me in the recovery room asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10. I told him I was a 6, and he gave me a nice shot of some happy, happy pain meds into my catheter. This brought me down to a 4 so he gave me one more shot and got me down to about a 2, which was nice. He also gave me some ice chips which were just about the best thing in the world by that time.
At this point I was awake enough and they brought my parents in to see me. We talked for a little while and I realized I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t until I voiced this concern out loud that I found out I had a Foley catheter in, so apparently I didn’t have to go after all. After a little time spent with my parents, my sister and grandparents showed up. My sister brought me a nice care package with a couple of magazines and some beauty products—and best of all a pin wheel. I haven’t had a pin wheel since I was like, 11. It was purple and silver and not only was it fun to blow on, but it helped me take deep breaths which was good for me.
At around 6:30 the pulmonologist showed up to check me out (Dr. G had been by sometime earlier, though I can’t remember when so it must have been shortly after surgery when I was still all doozey-bots) My family left and the pulmonologist checked me out. He told me that someone would be by later in the evening to set up my CPAP for me, but I didn’t have to use it if I didn’t want to. Instead they could give me a nasal cannula with oxygen as long as I didn’t have any problems over night. He also showed me how to use a device called an incentive spirometer to help me take good deep breaths. I was actually feeling pretty good although the pain was starting to come back so I got a shot of Demerol in my arm.
Once the doctor was gone I got up and walked a few laps around the unit. I passed by the rooms of some of the other patients and I have to say, I was definitely recovering much better than any of the others. One of the other patients was a girl a little younger than me and she asked me what my trick was for recovering so well. I’m not sure I had one but I think maybe the fact that I worked out regularly before this helped me have more energy, plus the extra muscle mass I had because of it probably helped me metabolize the anesthesia better. After about 5 laps around the wing I sat down in a chair in my room for a little while and tried to read the Self magazine my sister gave me. Just before 8PM I took a couple more laps around the ward then settled into bed to watch House and One Tree Hill. After that I dozed for a while and at around midnight they came to take out my Foley catheter and I was able to put on some real pajamas. They had me walk some more and then I got to go to sleep.
In the morning they came down and took us one by one to radiology for our post-op video esophagrams. I had to drink a couple of sips of barium which shows up bright white on an x-ray. They used fluoroscopy (a real time video x-ray) to watch the barium go down my esophagus into my new stomach pouch and then through the band into the rest of my stomach. The point of this was to check the placement of the band and to make sure it wasn’t too tight. As it turns out Dr. G. does put a little bit of saline in the bands to begin with, but if the esophagram showed it was too tight they would have had to take some out.
Everything must have been good with my esophagram because I got a few more meds and a platter of water and fruit ice once I got back to my room. The dietician came by and gave me a brief review of the post-op diet plan I’m going to have to follow and instructed me on how slow I was supposed to eat and drink. The fruit ice went down without a problem and I was discharged around 11AM.
And now I’m back home and sharing the experience with you guys. I feel alright so far. My belly definitely hurts, especially in the area where the port is. Dr. G placed my port on the left just below my rib cage. I have a few pictures up of my battle scars, and I labeled one of them so you could see where all the incisions were and where the port lies.
And that’s about it. It’s done now. There’s no turning back, only moving forward. Today’s the first day of the rest of my life and I plan on making the most out of it.
And what’s worse is that after midnight I can’t have anything at all—not even water. This wouldn’t be so bad if I had to be at the hospital at 7am, but noooooooo. Of course since I’m young and relatively healthy, I get the last surgery of the day which means I don’t even have to be at the hospital until 2pm. On the bright side, that means less time overall in the hospital. I’ll be drowsy for the rest of the day after I wake up and then go to sleep, and before I know it, it will hopefully be morning and I can do my post surgical tests and go home. And even better is that I will likely be in the hospital for less than 24 hours which saves me $225 in copay. But that also means that I won’t stop starving anytime soon.
I suppose I shouldn’t focus on that. I have to focus on the positive—remember what I’m doing this for. I’m doing it to take control of my life. And until today it hasn’t been too bad. The worst part of the liquid diet leading up to today was the lack of variety. Everything tasted sweet except the soups. I have a major sweet tooth and all, but this was a bit much, even for me. As the days went by I actually wound up eating less and less. I think day 4 was the hardest; I was still hungry, but didn’t want to eat any more of the foods I was allowed, which meant I didn’t eat as much as I needed and felt crappy. By days 5 and 6 I really didn’t feel much hunger and wasn’t even consuming a full 6 meals anymore, but I still felt good. Of course I was still consuming some meals, which is more than I can say for my broth sipping, ice-pop sucking day today. Man, I’m really starving. Where was I again? Oh yeah, it’s not so bad…
Anyhow, it’s almost over. Or perhaps I should say it’s almost starting. That’s what the lap-band really is—a start. But what I meant was the nerve racking, surgery part is almost over. I’ve kept my nerves pretty well in check, actually. I mean, this is a small hospital with a big bariatric department. They do this all the time so I’m fairly confident that I’ll wake up from anesthesia plus one lap band and not minus one leg or with a bald head and my cranium held together by circlage wire or something. And the anesthesia’s not too scary to me either. I don’t know if that’s because in my job we do anesthesia and surgery every day with 1/10th the resources and the patients do just fine so I’m not that nervous, or because I just don’t let myself experience the nerves because I don’t like to deal with my feelings.
I would however love to deal with the feelings of hunger I’m currently experiencing. Gah, I need to stop thinking about food. What wouldn’t I do for some of that pot roast my mother made for her and my Dad last night? Especially with a nice buttered piece of challah. God, that sounds good. But I won’t be eating that anytime soon. Hopefully one day I will once again be able to enjoy such a treat—in my new lap-band aided policy of moderation, of course. That’s about it for tonight. I’ll be back on Tuesday with the skinny from the big day. Toodles.
Weight- 308.4# (I was actually 313.4# on Mon night so I’ve already lost 5#. Yay me!)
So, there it is, ladies and gentlemen. The numbers don’t lie, but they will change. My next official weight will be on surgery day, then I figure I’ll generally weigh in weekly and take my measurements once a month. Till then, wish me yummy sugar-free jello.
For this week the composition of the food is the most important thing and after surgery the consistency is the most important characteristic. The main component of both diets is the liquid meal replacement drinks. The nutritionist who works with Dr. G recommended the Medifast drinks you order online although she did give me a few alternatives such as Muscle Milk Light and Designer Whey Protein drinks. The drinks are kind of ridiculously expensive but I figured since I wasn’t eating anything else and these three weeks surrounding surgery are the most important, I went with the nutritionist’s first recommendation and ordered the Medifast. It’s interesting that chocolate protein shakes don’t taste like any other form of chocolate known to man. Not that my Medifast drinks are completely awful but they’re certainly not chocolatey goodness either. The ready to drink versions are the best tasting. They come in chocolate and vanilla but I only ordered the chocolate. They also make powdered forms that come in other flavors—strawberry crème, orange crème, and swiss mocha. I’d have to say the swiss mocha was the best of the powdered drinks but the ready to drink ones are the best overall.
I’m also allowed to have soup. Right now I can eat soups without removing the chunks, although they must be less than 3 grams of fat per serving. After surgery the fat content doesn’t matter so much, but I can’t have any chunks. This is because there will be swelling around the band and solid food will not be able to pass from the stomach pouch they create into the rest of the digestive track. I can still have chicken noodle soup if I want, but only if I puree it, which sounds honestly disgusting. Otherwise I can drink smooth soups like cream of tomato.
The other food items I’m allowed to eat are fat free, no sugar added yogurt (though it can have natural sugar from the dairy and from fruit), fat free, no sugar added pudding, skim milk, sugar free Jello, and no sugar added ice-pops. During the first three days of the pre-op diet the nutritionist said I could have saltines, plain vegetables or 1 piece of fresh fruit, but recommended keeping those items to a minimum.
Sounds appetizing, right ;) But so far it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve been told the first three days are the hardest and I’m halfway through day 3 now. If this is the hardest, I’m sure I’ll be able to make it through. Am I hungry? Of course. Was I craving a piece of the cheese cake or the homemade perogies the people in my office brought in on liquid diet day # 1 (wasn’t that so nice of them?)? Hell yeah! But I haven’t had any head aches or dizziness and I’m not ravenous or anything. I’ve been going to the gym everyday and I don’t have as much energy to push myself hard, but I’m still making it through. And honestly, knowing I can’t have something makes it easier for me. Usually I have an internal debate with myself about whether or not I should eat something. But now when I want it, I know I can’t have it and that’s all there is too it. There’s no debating about it and that means I don’t focus on it as much.
Of course I’m still worried about how well I’ll do after the surgery when I’m allowed to eat regular food again. Will I still have so much self control once I have my options back? I hope so, but I guess only time will tell.
Five days to Band-land.
Tomorrow I start my pre-op diet. I did try to be good this past week, at least in the beginning. But then I seemed honestly, legitimately more hungry than usual and my junk food cravings were unbearable. I would be good all day then come home and give in to the ice cream in the refrigerator or feel the intense need to stop at 7-11 on the way home and pick up a candy bar (or two). This definitely didn’t help my nerves. If I can’t even go two days without chocolate, how the heck am I supposed to go two months without solid food? What if I really can’t do this? What if I fail?
Sure, I’d considered the possibility of failure going into this. I know the statistics. I know it doesn’t work for everyone. I know a lot of people find ways to eat around the band and manage to eventually gain back any weight they lost in the beginning stages. I knew that I might never reach my goal or that I might, in the long run, not lose any significant amount of weight at all. I knew these things from the beginning, but all those images of skinny me at my sister’s wedding this fall, or my ten year high school reunion next year, or me in a sexy outfit in a bar in the city getting hit on by cute boys sometime in the foreseeable future, were the possibilities my head focused in on. I figured once the changes had been made to my body from this surgery I wouldn’t be allowed to pig out. I wouldn’t be able to binge on junk food. And I’m a good girl; when there’s a rule I follow it. So long as I had a hard and fast reason to eat better, I would stop being able to rationalize the bad things I ate, and I would succeed. Or at least that’s what I believed—or what I wanted to believe.
But I know it’s not going to be that easy. I’m going to be fighting those cravings all the time, especially in the beginning and If I couldn’t say ‘no’ this week, how will I do it next week, and the week after that, and for the rest of my life? Will I find a way? Or will this just be another failed attempt of mine to lose weight?
And that’s not all that scares me. Because let’s be honest here—I didn’t get to be 315 lbs by not liking food. In fact, I love food. And I don’t just love food. I love sitting down and stuffing my face with mass quantities of disgusting, bad for me food.
Right now I’m living at my parents house, since I had no money when I graduated vet school, and decided to stay at home for a year or so and save up money to buy my own place (which I will be moving into in a couple of months, but that’s a blog for another day.) Anyhow, the point is that even though I’m living at home, I’m 27, an adult and a doctor who is responsible for many lives on a daily basis. I should be adult enough to be responsible for my own life. My choices should be my own and I shouldn’t have to hide things from my parents just because I’m living under their roof at the moment. And yet, I do. I don’t hide boys, or pot, or alcohol--I hide food. When they go away and I know I’m going to have the house to myself, I think—“oh yay! I can stay in and watch a movie and order an entire pizza and eat it by myself.” I know this is not a healthy view to have on food, or on life in general, but it’s the way my mind thinks. I actually look forward to the opportunity to binge.
And now I won’t be able to do that again—ever. Which is good. I shouldn’t ever do that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to. And knowing that I can’t use large quantities of food to comfort myself is scary. Now I might actually have to deal with my emotions and to be perfectly honest, I don’t even think I know what my emotions are any more, I’ve been eating them down for so long.
And then there are the minor scary things. I’ve never had anesthesia before or even spent a night in the hospital (except the sleep studies I had to do) both of which I will have to do next week for the surgery. How will the recovery go? Will I be in much pain? How will I survive a week at home with my mother without the possibility of escaping to work? (that last one is definitely the scariest.)
So well, the freak-out isn’t exactly over, but I guess I’m done ranting about it for now. I’ll probably be back a few more times this week as D-day approaches. Tomorrow I think I’m getting weighed and measured by my PT at the gym so I’ll have some accurate starting stats to share with you. Until then, I’m going to try and convince myself that a week of Medi-Fast and fat-free, no sugar added yogurt sounds delicious.
So I know I kind of disappeared off the face of the blog-o-sphere, and so shortly after I appeared, but fear not, I have returned. (Was that a run on sentence? I think it was but I have always sucked at grammar. Please forgive me my faults. :P) Anyhoo, I apologize for my prolonged absence. I tried to sit down and write a couple of times, but I was sick, first with the cold from hell and then with a stomach flu and I was busy with all my pre-surgical testing during all of it. By the time things settled down this blog had kind of fallen by the wayside. But now I’ve finished all of my pre-op requirements, been approved by my insurance company and set a date for surgery and my excitement towards telling my story has been renewed, so here I am.
In three weeks, on April 27th, 2009, I will enter bandland. I can’t even begin to imagine the ways my life will change during the course of this journey—oh who the hell am I kidding? Of course I can imagine it. I’ve been imagining it for months. I’m sure the truth will be nothing like the fantasies—good and bad ones alike—but yet I continue to imagine. Will I reach my goals? Will I surpass them? Will I fall short? Will I lose a ton of weight only to gain it all back like every other time I’ve tried to lose weight? Will I need more surgery after I’ve lost the weight to remove excess skin? How will I look when I weight 200lbs? 175? 150? How will I feel? Damn, there are so many questions. I guess I’ll get the answers eventually.
The next three weeks will be spent preparing physically and mentally for the major step I’m about to take. I think the first two weeks will be mostly mental. I haven’t really made any changes to my eating habits yet. I want to start developing some habits—eating slow, chewing thoroughly, figuring out what “comfortably full” feels like, and what might very well be the hardest change of all—weaning myself off of diet coke. There are no dietary rules yet but I certainly hope to be able to make changes even in the absence of rules. This is my life and my body and I need to start taking charge.
I also need to start using a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. I had to undergo a sleep study for pulmonary clearance and I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea; a condition where I stop breathing in my sleep. This causes me to wake up—although I don’t realize it—and prevents me from getting a good nights sleep. The CPAP machine is worn when I sleep to keep me breathing. I was told that I was required to have the machine and bring it with me to the hospital on the day of my operation. At first I had no intention of wearing it; it’s uncomfortable, and claustrophobic, and well, honestly, pretty embarrassing even though I have no one to see me in it. But, after reading some stories of others lap-banders with sleep apnea, I decided to give it a try. We’ll see how well that goes.
Then, the week immediately prior to surgery I have a special diet to follow. It’s a modified liquid diet to prepare my body for surgery. One of the main purposes of this diet it to shrink my liver so that Dr. G. will be better able to visualize my stomach laproscopically during the procedure. The week before surgery I will also need to head to the hospital to undergo some pre-op tests and meet with the nurse. Then I will have to go to my PCP for a physical and final medical clearance for surgery.
Three weeks seems so far away and yet so frighteningly close. This is going to change my whole life. I know I’m ready for the change, but it doesn’t make it any less scary. Still, I’m not second guessing myself. It took me a long time to make the decision to do this and I’m positive I’ve made the right one. Twenty-one days and counting down.
(Originally posted 1/4/09)
I have always been overweight. In elementary school there used to be a day every year where they weighed you in gym; I think it was at the same time that they did the scoliosis test. I don’t ever remember a year where I wasn’t afraid and embarrassed to step on that scale. My parents tried to get me involved in sports to help control my weight and I played little league soft-ball and soccer, but it didn’t keep the pounds off.
By the time I was 12 and heading off to junior high, my parents were even more concerned about my weight and the implications it would have on my social life. That summer they shipped me off to fat-camp. I lost about 25lbs that summer and gained about 50 the following year. During junior high I joined the cross country and track teams and ran for miles (albeit very slowly). But no matter how many pounds I ran off, I ate more on. I tried plenty of diets: Weight Watchers, Atkins, I met with nutritionists, I even gave bulimia a stab. I went to a psychiatrist to help me deal with my issues with food and managed to get my binging and purging habits under control, but the obsessive over-eating continued to plague me.
When I went away to college my daily exercise decreased and my eating—with all you can eat cafeterias, and no parents on my case—increased. I gained even more. The first time I remember weight-loss surgery coming up was my senior year. My parents wanted me to do it but I wasn’t ready—It scared the bejesus out of me. One night, after discussing it with my parents on the phone, I decided I needed something drastic. I headed off to Walmart to buy some of those stupid, dangerous, Ephedra, over the counter weight-loss pills. I was depressed and desperate for something to help me. I needed these to work. I never even really got to give them a chance. Just buying them gave me a panic attack. It was probably the scariest experience of my life. It was about as close to an out-of-body experience as I can imagine getting. I felt very far away from all of my surroundings. My heart was pounding and my breathing was sharp and shallow. My head was racing, but it was the same thought over and over again—I had to move. I paced the store, my hands shaking. Stupidly enough I got behind the wheel of my car, but managed to make it home safely. The panic attack was still going strong. By that point it was about 11PM on a Friday night. I felt like I had to do something, I had to keep moving. I rolled up my pants, filled the bathtub with water and bleach, and got in and started scrubbing madly. When I was finished with the bathroom I went into my room, pulled out the top drawer of my desk and began frantically throwing the papers around in what was supposed to be an attempt to organize. Half-way through I suddenly stopped, lay down on the floor where I was and cried. I had a few more miny-attacks as I tried to deal with my depression, but slowly with time, some happy pills from my doctor, and the help of my family and friends, I pulled myself out of that big, black hole. And, of course, I got rid of the Trim-Spa, or whatever it was I had bought that night.
Still, I had no control over my weight. The little exercise I got in college slowed even more in vet school. For a short-while I would walk this huge hill a couple of times a week—about two-miles round trip, but that didn’t last long, especially as my work-load increased and my free-time decreased. I was working 70-80 hour weeks and studying any other time that wasn’t spent sleeping. I certainly wasn’t taking the time out to cook healthy, gourmet, meals—I was stuffing myself full of crap. By the time I graduated I had hit the mark I had always promised myself I would never hit—The big 3-0-0.
It was around this time that I started seriously considering weight-loss surgery. I had always been invested in my education. I put the rest of my life on hold. Now there was no more school and I was ready for my life to begin. But what kind of life could I have trapped in the body of a morbidly obese person? I moved back to Long Island where I grew up, but I didn’t really know anyone in the area anymore except for my family. I didn’t have the built in social circle of fellow class mates that I’d always had in the past and I was (and still am) too insecure to really put myself out there and meet new people. So for the past year my social life has been even more stagnant than before. I’ve got my job of course, which—though I’m still getting comfortable with the new responsibility—I thoroughly enjoy. But when I see an obese cat or dog, I feel like a hypocrite. When people ask me about making their pet lose weight, I usually tell them the same thing…”If I had someone with my best interests at heart controlling everything that went into my mouth, I’d be a lot better off for it.” And it’s true—but why shouldn’t I be that person with my best interests at heart? Despite all of my medical, health, and nutritional knowledge, I’m still slowly eating myself to death.
So, the time has finally come. I know that even surgery isn’t some “magic bullet.” I will have to work hard and make some serious changes in my life. There is a possibility that I might fail, even at this. But I’m ready to take that chance. I’m ready to make those changes. After all, I spent the last 26 years in school learning, preparing, waiting for my life to begin and now that school is over, I feel like I’m still waiting. If I wait much longer for my life to start, I just might be waiting until my life is over.
Well, here goes nothing. I’m about to embark on a life changing journey and I’m here to give you the skinny on getting skinny. Not that “skinny” is really what it’s all about; it’s far too superficial of a word to encompass everything that I’m trying to achieve by undergoing weight-loss surgery. In fact, I don’t even really expect to get skinny at all. Mostly I’m shooting for a healthy, comfortable weight—basically, not fat.
Of course, I’m not going to deny the superficial aspects of my decision. I’m nearly 27 years old and I tip the scales at over 300 lbs. I have no clue what it’s like to feel beautiful, sexy…skinny. I can look in a mirror and like what I see when I’m having a good hair day and my makeup is freshly applied, but that’s only above the neck—actually that’s only above the extra chins. I never leave the house feeling like I’m going to turn heads—at least not for a good reason. I remember being out at a bar a few months ago and some guy offered to buy me a drink. I was confused and politely declined. It was only after a few minutes that I realized that he might be hitting on me. Sure, it’s nice to have other people find me attractive, but what difference does it really make if I don’t find me attractive? If I’m not happy with who I am how will I ever be happy? But I digress from the philosophical, self-help, mumbo-jumbo.
The point is, my motivations go beyond what I look like. My weight problem affects every aspect of my life, in ways most people don’t even think about. Take clothing for example—sure, I can find regular clothes in plus-sized clothing stores, but what about more specific clothing needs? I love to ski but I can’t find appropriate ski clothing in my size. I have to scour racks at the uniform store to find lab coats and scrubs big enough for me to wear to work. I can’t even wear most boots because they won’t zipper up over my calves. There are other things too. Like the last time I flew I needed a seat belt extension. Or the last time I went to an amusement park and I had to sit in a special seat on the roller coaster for people with “large chest dimensions.” There are more common examples like sitting in seats with arms that dig into my sides or trying to maneuver my way through a crowded room and having trouble finding openings big enough for me to squeeze through.
And of course there’s my health which—knock on wood—has actually been quite good so far. I have irregular periods and sometimes I have some lower back pain but otherwise I’ve been lucky up until now. But I don’t feel like waiting for diabetes or hypertension or heart disease to hit before deciding something needs to be done. Yes, an ounce of prevention really is better than a pound of cure.
So basically, if I lose the weight and become a knock-out I’ll be ecstatic. But if I don’t suddenly become a heart breaker, at least I’ll know that my heart is still functioning properly. If I don’t have guys falling at my feet, at least I won’t have lost either of said feet to diabetes. And if my life doesn’t turn out like some of the fantasies in my head, at least I’ll still have a life—and it’ll be one I can live to the fullest.