Monday, April 26, 2010

A New Way to LIVE

Some or most of you may already know that I had Lap-Band weight loss surgery on December 15th, 2009. I have been thinking of journaling about my journey here, but never got around to doing so. And sadly enough, the more time that passes, the more things have happened and the less motivated I become to write. I will attempt to cover everything to date.

My starting weight was 362 pounds. I had gained back all that I had lost and more, as is usually the case. I was frustrated with my weight and myself. After spending Thanksgiving week with Richelle, seeing how great she looked, and how "normal" her life was, 9 months out from her surgery, I began to give it a lot of thought. In the past I had been so chicken of the surgery. I am such a wimp. I just couldn't get it out of my mind this time. I was really weighing my options, I could start yet another program, succeed for a while and then most likely quit, or I could do something permanent. This was the appeal for me about the surgery, It would in a way force me to be consistent even when I wanted to quit.

I went in to True Results on December 2nd. I talked with them about the procedure, got my starting weight, 362 lbs., and talked with them about price and possible dates. I decided that I needed to set a date for sooner than later, so I didn't chicken out again. I chose a date two weeks out, December 15th. I immediately started on my pre-op diet of low fat, low carb, high protein. I did very well on this diet, at least up until a few days before my surgery. I started to think about all the things that I would never be able to eat again that I loved, and I chose to cheat and eat those things one last time, things like fried rice, and charley's steakery philly cheese steak sandwich.

I opted to pay cash for the surgery because the insurance company had so many qualifications, I didn't want to go through that all over again and be denied again. That would take at least 6 months, and I knew by that time I would have changed my mind twenty times. I didn't want to chicken out again.

I went for a pre-op visit on December 8th. I met Dr. Wilkenfeld, my surgeon. The also did an ECG and other pre-op things. At this visit, I had already lost 9 pounds. I weighed 353.

The morning of my surgery came and I was not scared, I was more excited to start my new way of life. I had no idea what was in store for me. I had never had surgery before. My husband, Lehi, was more scared than I was, in fact he was down right somber. After we got there they did some last minute blood work, started my I.V., and then we waited, and waited. The Surgeon came in to talk with Lehi and me. I kissed Lehi and then they wheeled me back into the O.R. All I remember about what happened next is that they put the air mask on me, had me climb over onto the O.R. table and scoot down so my feet were at the bottom, stretch out my arms on the t-shaped arm rest pillows, and I took a few deep breaths like they told me to.

I heard a voice calling my name over and over telling me to wake up. I was aware of people hustling around me, but I felt as though I were in a deep fog. Then the pain hit me and I felt like I was going to puke. I was so cold. I kept shivering and tried to relax. I loved the heated blankets and the blowing hot air they put under the blankets. It hurt so bad to breath. I just wanted to take a deep breath but felt like I couldn't. I found out later that they had repaired a hietal hernia while they were in there too (hence the breathing pain). I was very sick to my stomach from being put under. I think I threw up quite a few times while I was still at the surgery center. I just remember thinking and even commenting to Lehi sarcastically that I was glad I had the surgery. What the heck was I thinking wanting to have surgery? I was so sick and in so much pain. I just wanted to turn the clock back and be comfy in my bed again. They had me walking up and down the hallway, I can't remember why, I just thought they were crazy and I kept having to stop to catch my breath. They took me into the X-ray room and had me do a live x-ray barium swallow to make sure the flow to my stomach was correct. Then told me that when ever I was ready I could go home, everything looked good. Hello? Did they not see me in so much pain and puking? How could I go home? I waited for a little while longer and they wheeled me down to the van. Now for the 45 minute ride home. They had given me some anti-nausea medicine that seemed to help a little bit. I made it home and went straight to my recliner, since I would not be able to lay in my bed for a week or so.

At home, Lehi was a great nurse. He gave me my meds and got my drinks and made me do my breathing treatments. I also had the help of my SiL Michelle, friend Stacey, and my mom, while Lehi was at work. They are all so lucky, they got to see me in my lovey uniform of my t-shirt, sweater, and panties. I didn't wear pants yet because every time I puked, I peed my pants and pants also it hurt one of my incisions. I had to get up at least every two hours and walk around. I would take laps around the downstairs. They said it would hep to work out the gas from the surgery. I was bent over like a little old lady, I could not yet stand up tall. I didn't even try to be brave and go without my pain meds, I took that stuff like clockwork.

I had to be on clear liquids, including jell-o for the first 3 days. I didn't even feel like eating though. After that I got to go to full liquids, basically anything pureed, yogurt, pudding, soups with no chunks etc. By this time I was starting to want to eat again. I could only eat 1/4 cup at a time.

My post-op visit was on December 23rd. I weighed 341 pounds. I had already lost 21 pounds since I started my pre-op diet on December 2nd. At this visit, they did a short education class on the band, things we could not eat and why, and they said I could move to mushy foods. Basically I could eat anything that could easily be mushed with a fork. I was ready for this change in diet, though I felt lucky. I had heard of some people being on liquids for up to 3 weeks after surgery. For some reason, my doctor doesn't do it this way.

Each week after that, I got to keep adding more foods, and at 4 weeks out, I could eat all foods again, except for those that I would never eat again. Those foods include bread, rice, oatmeal, basically anything that could dough up and block the band. Now, I am a total carboholic, so that part was a bit hard for me, but I decided that I just needed to make that sacrifice, so I could live and not die at an early age. Besides, the consequences of getting the band blocked by these things could mean another surgery to get it out. I under no circumstances wanted another surgery. So I followed the rules!

I went for my first fill on January 17th. I didn't know what to expect. I weighed 334 pounds at this visit. That made a total loss of 36 pounds. So how the band works is that it is placed around the upper part of your stomach making a small pouch, the idea is that you feel full longer and eat less. They fill the band with saline through a port stiched to your six pack muscles under the skin. I was shocked by the size of the needle. It is seriously 5 or 6 inches long. That totally grossed me out. They access the port by sticking this long needle in it while you are laying on your back on the table. Now, at my doctors office they do live x-ray fills, so I had to get up off the table with the needle still stuck in my stomach, just hanging there, and stand in front of the x-ray machine. Then they have me drink the barium and he injects the saline into the the port, how ever much he feels is needed. When ever you get a fill you have to be on the 3 day diet of clear liquids the first day, full liquids the second day and muchy foods the third day. You can be back on regular foods by day 4. This is pretty much the routine with a "fill". ALL GROSS!!! I thought I might pass out the first time.

My second fill was on february 15th. I weighed 326, making the total loss 36 lbs. It wasn't as bad as the first time, maybe because I knew what to expect, and I did not look at the size of the needle.

I had another fill on March 3rd. At this fill I had gained a pound, I weighed 327. I wasn't too discouraged because it was only a pound and I knew I needed to be eating more healthy.

On March 23rd I weighed 324 pounds. This was my 4th fill and by now it was all good. I knew the routine. My total loss was now 38 pounds. I was glad I had lost even just a little bit. Richelle told me that it would be like this, sometimes a lot and other times not so much weight loss. At this time, I couldn't really say that I was glad that I had the surgery. I was really feeling the diet restrictions and not seeing as rapid weight loss as I had before. I was afraid that I was messing things up, and I wouldn't be losing much weight anymore.

On April 13th, things started to change. I weighed 319 pounds. That was a 43 pound total loss. Oh ya, so I am not weighing myself at home really, my scale is unreliable so I am basically going by what the Dr.'s office scale says. I had my fill and went on my way. With this fill was the first time that I was really feeling restricion. It was about 4 days later and things started to feel like they were getting stuck. I needed to slow down my eating and chew longer. This is something I have really had to learn to do with this surgery.

My last Dr. appointment was on April 26th. I weighed 312 pounds. I had lost 7 more pounds making my total exactly 50 pounds lost. This is very exciting for me. This is the lowest weight I have been in years, maybe 4 years. I didn't end up getting a fill at this visit. I had been having problems for about a week before with throwing up about once a day. This is what happens when food gets stuck or you eat too fast. Gross! So they had me do a barium swalow and decided that my band was just right, and didn't need further tightening.

So this is where I am today, 50 pounds lost. I was able to fit back into the clothes that I had out grown, and was recently able to buy some smaller clothes, and clean 2 trash bags of clothes out of my closet to give away. I am now a size 26. I started at about a 30. All my 28's were too tight, and I wore stretch pants a lot. It's a good feeling, I can't wait for more progression. I will keep you updated. Sorry about the monster post, but there was so much to cover to bring you up to date.