Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Week Checkup

I had my one week checkup with my surgeon yesterday and everything is going great!  At the appointment, I was 11 pounds down post-surgery (include the 28 lbs pre-op and that's 39 pounds.)  When I stepped on the scale this morning, another pound was gone, which makes it an even 40.  That's the same weight as one of my children.  Amazing!  He was very happy with my progress and gave me a clean bill of health (his own words.) 

I'm still having some incision pain, but it gets better every day.  I went off the Roxicet several days ago and have only been taking liquid Tylenol.  I had two doses yesterday - though one was for a headache.  I haven't had any today and I'm hoping I can go all day without any.  Speaking of headaches, I've been waking up with mild ones.  I can only assume it's because I haven't been sleeping that great, waking up at 4am every morning and not being able to get back to sleep.  I can only assume that the reason I'm having trouble sleeping is because it's hard to get comfortable.  I'm a belly sleeper, and obviously, that isn't happening yet.  However, I did find a sweet spot on my side that is pretty comfortable, with my belly slightly touching the bed, yet causing no pain.  That helps a lot.  I'm sure I'll be feeling back to normal next week.  It really does get better every day! 

I'm starting to lose inches big time.  Here are my current stats:




The picture above was taken of me yesterday.  Compare it with the the picture to the side and the picture below.  I'm wearing the same shirt, but I think there's definitely a difference!  Unfortunately, the main difference is body shape.  My measurements have went from 58-53-60 to 50-50-57.  I've went from an hourglass to a pear.  Ack!  Please tell me that everything will redistribute and I'll get my old figure (minus the obesity) back.  I've always hated my chest size, but I'd rather it be a little big than the same size as my waist.

I get to start purees this weekend!  I'm so excited, and so ready.  I think I'm hungry, but I can't really tell.  I know that sounds odd.  I feel a little twinge in my stomach, and it feels like hunger, but it's not screaming like it used to.  Maybe that's the sleeve doing it's job, eliminating the hunger hormone, grehlin.  So what's the first thing I'm going to eat?  I'm kind of craving rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes.  So I think I'll try to puree that chicken and see how it goes.  I've been dying for some mashed potatoes, too!

Monday, January 24, 2011

One Week Post-op

Here I am, one week post-op and feeling pretty good.  Well, I was feeling good the past couple of days.  I didn't get much sleep last night because it's still very uncomfortable, so I've been dragging all day.  I've also stopped taking the liquid Roxicet and moved on to Liquid Tylenol.  For the most part it's worked well and I've only taken half a dose.  Today, though, I took a full dose, plopped my butt down on the couch and stayed there most of the day (well, I had to leave the house twice, make lunch for my daughter and dinner for all the kids, but other than that, lazy bones.)  The tv dinner stand I use to set my laptop on is becoming crowded with several items that I use frequently.  One would be the liquid Tylenol.  Also, lotion because my hands are so dry, chapstick because my lips are also dry, my Blackberry, a thermometer to check my temperature (trying to catch any early indication of a leak), my medicine cup full of clear fluids and an ink pen used to chart my fluid intake.

I'm having a little pain still.  Most of it is incision pain.  It's getting better each day, but now the pain seems to be moving from deep to surface.  My back hurts a bit, maybe because I've been sitting on my butt so much.  Maybe because I've been doing laundry without too much bending and no lifting.  I guess no laundry tomorrow.  I also drove for the first time today, I had to pick my daughter up from pre-k. 

I have my one week followup with my surgeon on Wednesday.  I'm looking forward to it because I have a lot of questions.  Mostly about my surgery, I wasn't expecting a hiatal hernia repair or fixing the scarring on my pancreas.  I'm curious about them and wondering if he has pictures.  I also need to talk to him about pain that I'm having when I take a really deep breath.  I assume that it's from the hiatal hernia repair.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, it said 250!  That's 8 pounds lost since surgery, 36 all together.  Wow!  I'm really looking forward to seeing 244 because that's what I weighed when I was married and my husband has never seen me below that. 

My clothes are almost too big to wear.  The shirts are getting very big on me.  Most of the pants are still wearable, but I think it's only because I'm bloated and my belly feels slightly swollen.  I'm looking forward to getting some new clothes in the near future (though I won't buy much because I know I won't be in them long!)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting Enough Fluids

I came home from the hospital on a Wednesday afternoon.  I was able to get in 50 oz. of fluid each easily.  I knew that the next day would be no problem to get 64 oz. in, and I did just that.

So, what's the secret?  First, I have a 32 oz. bottle sitting beside me at all times... in fact, sometimes 2 (different flavors each.)  I also have a 1 oz (2 TBSP)  medicine cup.  Every 15 minutes, I fill the cup up and sip it until it's gone.  I have to make a conscious effort to do this, otherwise I'll forget.  I also keep a chart next to me on a clipboard that allows me to put a checkmark next to the time of day for as many cups as I'm able to drink.  I've actually been able to get in one every 10 minutes now, or 3 per half hour.

I know a lot of people have issues getting their fluid in after surgery, so I just wanted to offer this advice.  You really have to think about doing it, because if you miss your mark a few times in a row, there's almost no way you can catch back up.  So what goes down the easiest?
  • Peppermint tea - it's yummy.  I haven't had any nausea, but I'm sure it would help with that. 
  • Great Value Sugar Free Drink Mix - Cherry Limeade
  • Sugar Free Hawaiian Punch - Blue Typhoon
  • Diluted Welch's 100% Grape Juice
Water just doesn't taste that great.  I'm sure it's our city water, so I'm going to get some bottled water to see if it goes down easier.  I also have a few other flavors of sugar free drink mixes and hawaiian punch to try.  I wish I could drink the grape juice all day, it's so yummy!  I'm also anxious to have some milk, but I have to wait until Phase II, which starts January 31.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Surgery Story

Weight loss surgery is like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.
As I started this post, it reminded me of the birth stories I posted after my children were born.  There were details on their births, the whole experience, people involved.  I realized that's just what this is, it's a re-birth story.  How fitting is it that my room at the hospital had a picture of a butterfly. 

This whole experience was like living my life in a body that wasn't really mine, waiting to go into a cocoon and be reborn into a butterfly. 

I got to the hospital at 6:30 in the morning Monday.  My surgery wasn't scheduled until 8:30 am.  By 7:15, I was prepped and ready to go when my surgeon walked into the room and announced he was ready - an hour early!  I think this was actually a blessing, it left me little time to panic.  I said goodbye to Mike and they whipped me into a holding area.  There, they put me in some compression socks, loaded me up with good drugs and away I went.  I barely remember being wheeled into the OR, in fact, I can't be sure that's what happened because it felt like a dream.  The next thing I remember, I'm being wheeled into PACU, stating very loudly (which is highly unusual for me, I'm soft spoken)  "Oooooooh!  I'm going to throw up!!!"  I said this over and over.  They kept reassuring me that I wouldn't and brought me a wet cloth to place on my forehead.  I don't remember anything else about the recovery room.  I do remember being wheeled to my regular room was painful, every bump we hit, I said, "ooow!"  When we got in there I looked up and said, "Julie!"  then looked over and saw another friend, Sandra.  That's all I remember, I don't remember anything about their visit.  Julie told me they tried to get my dark secrets out of me and I told them I didn't have any.  LOL 

It took forever for my husband to get in to see me.  I don't know what was going on there, I guess there was a mix up in communication, but I was glad when I finally saw him.  I don't remember much about the rest of the day.  Tuesday morning, I was in a lot of pain.  I thought, "OMG, what have I done to myself?"  I was having some very serious regrets, thinking that I would be in so much pain for the rest of my life.  I really wasn't thinking clearly, and I got over those thoughts soon.  It was probably buyer's remorse, this was a major life change. 

They took me for my upper GI with gastrograffin at about 8am.  My nurse told me she should have the results by the time I got back.  I stood in front of a machine while I drank a chalky mixture.  I was afraid I was going to throw up before I even tasted it, but it was fine.  I got to watch it go down my esophagus and into my stomach, it was pretty neat to watch.  They wheeled me upstairs and an hour passed before any results came.  I was getting really nervous that they found a leak, but they didn't.  They just looked at it closer because I had some swelling in my esophagus that caused the drink to go down slowly. 

When my surgeon was operating, he also did a hiatal hernia repair and fixed some scarring on my pancreas (which I only assume was there because I had a life threatening case of pancreatitis about five years ago.)  I think the pain from that is worse than the gastrectomy. 

I know this is an awful picture, but look, I'm smiling!
Once we got the all clear on the leak test, the first thing we did was take out the foley.  I was so happy to have that gone!  The PCA was taken away and I was started on liquid roxicet.  That stuff sat in my stomach like lead!  It is only 5ml but felt like a gallon.  I also started on clear fluids.  Ice chips were first because of the swelling.  Then, water, followed by diluted apple juice.  Tuesday evening I even tried some chicken broth, which sat heavy so I didn't drink much.  I went back to water and decaf tea the next day.  Did I mention that I peed like crazy because I was still on iv fluids?  I walked a bit the first night, probably 4 or 5 total.  I started doing more laps, and was able to do 2 laps at once.  I think the nurse said that each lap was about 180 feet, but I could be wrong.  I did 7 or 8 laps that day.  I also got a shower in and began to feel human again.

Wednesday morning, the sequential compression device came off, though I kept the compression socks on.  I continued to do well with the incentive spirometer.  I only used the CPAP for about an hour the whole time I was there because they decided that it wasn't necessary (not to mention the pressure is way too high.) 

My surgeon came in that morning, saw that I was doing great and released me!  I went home at about 1 pm that afternoon and I was so happy about that.  I stopped at Walgreens on the way home to pick up some nausea patches, which I haven't needed at all.  I haven't had any nausea since I woke up from surgery screaming that I was going to throw up.  The nurses on the station were also very impressed with my progress.  They called me their star patient and said I even passed up Melissa (who was previously the gold standard.)

Yesterday, I was able to get in about 50 oz. of fluid on my own.  I say that's not bad for the first day!  I'll easily make 64 oz. today.  I'm alternating water, peppermint tea, sugar free cherry limeade drink mix and diluted grape juice.  I'm drinking 1 oz every 15 minutes.  When I saw the nutritionist yesterday, she said I could progress to 2 oz every 15 minutes when I'm ready.  But, I'd like to take it slow since I'm getting my fluids in just fine right now.

My husband made chicken alfredo for dinner tonight and it smelled *so* good!  It didn't make me hungry, though, I just wanted to smell it.  It was satisfying.  I haven't tried any jello yet, but I may tomorrow.  I've been able to keep down pill form medications just fine (I'm taking Axid and Propranolol.)  Last night, I skipped a dose of Roxicet and just took liquid tylenol instead and realized that was a mistake.  I really needed the extra pain meds.  Today has been a good day pain wise, but I haven't pushed myself either.  I did manage to make it 7 hours between pain meds so that's a huge plus.

I guess that's it for now.  I'm really doing great and hope I feel much better tomorrow!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Last Minute Shopping Trip

Here I am, less than 24 hours from surgery.  I'm so excited, nervous and impatient.  I wish I could fast forward to a week from today so it would all be over with and I would be at home recovering nicely.  But I can't, so I decided to make a last shopping trip to pick up a few extra things.  I had been feeling like I was forgetting something.  So, I scoured the boards last night at and and found just what I was looking for. 

At my trip, I picked up some Gas-X strips as I've heard they are effective with gas after surgery.  I picked up papaya enzymes because they help break down food and prevent foamies.  Peppermint tea was something I knew I wanted but somehow forgot.  It will help soothe the stomach after surgery.  Dehydration was also a concern of mine, so I picked up a bottle of generic pedialyte.  My husband went to the store yesterday and I asked him to pick me up some sugar free jello, but he forgot the sugar free part and came home with six boxes of regular jello.  Never fear, my kids will eat it all up, so I also picked up some sugar free while I was out.  Another skein of yarn was also a necessity.  I figured I'd get a little knitting done while I'm laid up in the hospital. 

Finally, I went ahead and picked up some baby food for the pureed stage.  I was going to make my own purees and freeze them ahead of time (this is what I did for baby food when my kids were starting to eat) but I never got around to doing it.  I bought these in case I didn't feel up to it.  One box of Gerber Rice cereal, one box of Beechnut Oatmeal, some beef in broth, chicken in broth, ham, turkey in broth, green beans, peas, carrots and squash.  Oh and some no sugar added applesauce... that's if I can keep the kids out of it for the next two weeks (which is a challenge.)  Don't mind the soda in the cart, that's for my husband. 

I haven't had anything to eat since Friday night.  Surprisingly, it not really bothering me that much.  It could be because I'm staying well hydrated with decaf tea, sugar free drink mixes, broth and sugar free jello.  I think I'm prepared for the next three weeks.  If you look at the picture on the right, you'll see that I've pretty much taken over the large cabinet in our kitchen with all of my pre-op and post-op goodies.  I did leave a little room for the spice racks!  In this cabinet, I have:

  • Body Fortress Super Advance Whey Protein:
    • Chocolate
    • Vanilla
    • Cookies & Cream
    • Strawberry
  • Unjury Protein Powder
    • Unflavored
    • Chicken Soup Flavored
  • Decaffeinated Tea Bags
  • Instant Decaf Tea
  • Sugar Free Syrups
    • Irish Cream
    • Caramel
    • Chocolate
    • Pumpkin Pie
    • Raspberry
    • Hazelnut
  • International Delights Instant Coffee
    • French Vanilla Cafe
    • Mocha Cafe
  •  Sugar Free Hawaiian Punch
    • Juicy Fruity Red
    • Blue Typhoon
    • Polar Blast
  • Great Value Sugar Free Drink Mix
    • Cherry Limeade (my favorite)
    • Apple
    • Orange Early Rise
  • Celestial Seasonings Apple Spice Tea
  • Peppermint Carrington Tea
  • Splenda Packets
  • Sugar Free Spiced Cider
  • Sugar Free Jello
    • Orange, Lime, Cherry & Strawberry
  • Powerade Zero
    • Mixed Berry & Strawberry
  • Instant Chicken & Beef Broths
  • Baby Food
    • Meats: Chicken, Beef, Ham & Turkey
    • Veggies: Green Beans, Peas, Carrots & Squash
    • Cereals: Rice & Oatmeal
  • Parent's Choice Pediatric Electrolyte Solution 
  • Whey Protein Shot
  • Gas-X Strips
  • Papaya Enzymes
  • Liquid Tylenol
  • Tums
  • Prescriptions
    • Liquid Roxicet
    • Axid
  • Fiber Choice Chewables
  • Benefiber Unflavored Powder
  • Measuring Cups
  • Things not in the cabinet:
    • Sugar Free Popsicles
    • Glad Plastic 4oz Mini Bowls (to make jello in, they have lids!)
    • No Sugar Added Applesauce

I should note that I did not buy all this at once!  I bought it little by little, I picked up something every time I went to the store.  That way I wasn't overwhelmed and spending a fortune on one shopping trip.  I'm going to do a little laundry when I'm done with this post, then I'm going to start packing.  I am going to pack light because I know I won't be able to use much.  So here's what I'm packing:

  • Incentive Spirometer
  • Gastric Sleeve Folder (given to me by the weight loss center)
  • Slippers
  • Socks & Undergarments
  • One pair of lounge pants and t-shirt
  • PJ pants
  • Robe
  • Yarn & Knitting Supplies
  • Laptop
  • Textbooks (classes start Tuesday!)
  • Toiletries
    • Shampoo
    • Body Wash
    • Toothpaste & Toothbrush
    • Lotion
    • Chapstick
    • Deoderant
    • Contacts, case & solution
    • Listerine Strips
  • Small pillow
  • Splenda packets (I hate sweet & low)
When I went for my endoscopy, they gave me a bag kind of like a reusable shopping back, but twice as big.  I'm hoping to fit everything I need in it.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

VSG Pre-op Survival Kit

Only four days until surgery!  We are getting down to the wire now.  For real.  Tomorrow will be my last day to eat real food.  That's not really accurate because I have not been eating a "normal" diet since October 29, 2010.  I've been on the liquid protein diet since then.  Two protein shakes a day, plus a lean protein and one cup of veggies for dinner.  Have I always stuck to that?  No.  The fact is, I still have all of my stomach so it's been hard.  But, regardless of my little flub ups, I've still managed to lose 28 lbs since starting the diet.  As I mentioned previously, my goal was 30 lbs before surgery and I'm still hoping to hit that mark.

So what am I going to do on my official last day of eating real food?  Well, first of all, I'm going to St. Louis.  I may have mentioned before that my husband had a traumatic accident last year and had very serious injuries.  He's still not completely healed and will have some degree of being disabled for the rest of his life.  I'm taking him to St. Louis tomorrow for a followup with his surgeon.  This poses a little challenge being on the liquid protein diet.  So, I'm going prepared. 

I have made a VSG pre-op survival pack for this little trip (it's a two hour drive one way.)  I am going to take two or three very large bottles of water.  Also, one scoop of Unjury Chicken Soup flavor protein powder, two individual baggies filled with enough instant decaf tea and splenda to mix with 24oz. of water, one Great Value sugar free cherry limeade drink mix, one muscle milk light protein bar, one package of Extra sugar free gum chocolate mint flavor and one package of sugar free lifesavers.  The olive oil isn't part of my survival pack... it's just on the counter because I like to cook with it.  A lot.  Hopefully we can just hit a drive through and my husband can get him a fast lunch and I'll get some water to mix my Unjury with (or have the protein bar.) 

When we get home tomorrow, my family is coming over for a large dinner.  I'm cooking a big pan of mostaccioli for everyone.  And, yes, I'm going to eat some.  I have not had pasta in forever!  So, I'm really going to enjoy it.  I'm also looking forward to it because my sister will be up from Tennessee.  I miss seeing her since she moved, and while I just saw her at Thanksgiving, it's just too long! 

When I get up Saturday morning, that will be it, no more food.  I'll be on clear liquids from then on out.  I also will have to do a bowel prep using Magnesium Citrate.  Not really looking forward to it, was hoping I wouldn't have to, but it is what it is.  I will not be able to have anything after midnight Sunday.  The hospital is supposed to call me tomorrow to tell me when to be at the hospital on Monday.  The day after surgery, I will have an Upper GI to check for leaks.  If no leaks are detected, I'll be able to start clear fluids once more.  If I do well, I may get to come home Wednesday evening. 

I had a mini freak out the other night after talking with another patient of my surgeon's.  She had a leak and it progressed into sepsis.  He was out of town for six weeks and was not there for her followup.  It went undiagnosed and was told it was probably gas.  She ended up in a bad situation and that really scared me.  I called my surgeon's office with my concerns.  The assured me that if I presented with pain and a fever, they would do an upper GI and CT scan to rule out a leak.  I feel a little better about my decision to go ahead with surgery.  I know what signs to look for with a leak and can be pretty persistent.  She said she felt if he was there for her followup, it could have been caught, along with having a drain placed after surgery. 

Up until that point, I wasn't nervous at all.  I've had several surgeries in the past few years and it just seems like no big deal.  Now, I'm a bit concerned about complications.  I'll do a lot of praying between now and then and am confident that all will be fine. 

I also did my pre-op registration at the hospital the other day.  It was very simple, just a bunch of questions.  They did a MRSA swab in my nostrils.  That was something new to me, I've never had that before.  They said if it came back positive, the surgeon will treat me for it.  I've never shown signs of MRSA so it's a little confusing.  I guess it's a new thing they are doing.  

Well, I guess that's it for now.  I'll hope to post at least one more update before surgery.  I plan on taking my laptop to the hospital so hopefully I can update there as well.

Monday, January 10, 2011

One Week Left!

258 lbs - 28 lbs lost!
This past week has been a whirlwind of appointments and I expect this coming week to go fast.  I had my final pre-op appointment with the weight loss center last Friday and got the all clear.  I went to see my PCP (primary care physician) today to get clearance for surgery and she gave me the green light as well.  In fact, she was so impressed with my blood pressure and cholesterol levels that she said I would probably be going off them for good very soon.  Yay!  The only reason she didn't take me off of the blood pressure medicine today is because I also take it as a migraine preventative.  But, since my blood pressure was way down, she'll probably adjust the dosage on it.  Amazing!  I've only lost 28 pounds so far, but I'm already seeing the positive effects on my health.

Age 10
On Wednesday, I'm going to the hospital to finish my pre-op and registration for surgery next Monday.  On Thursday, I will be seeing a counselor at my doctor's office for an intake appointment.  When I had seen the psychologist, he recommended that I see a counselor once or twice after surgery.  My PCP said she's really hard to get an appointment with, so she is having me do the intake this week, before surgery, so I can see her soon after.  So, I mentioned that I have now lost 28 pounds.  This is only 2 pounds away from my personal pre-surgery goal!  My surgeon never set one for me, but I wanted to do this.  After the first month, I didn't think it was going to be possible.  But, I'm almost there! 

1997 - 2 Years after graduating high school.  About 180lb
It really is a sense of accomplishment.  I know I'm not yet thin, by any means, but 258 is a lot different from 286.   I was a normal weight when I was a little girl.  I didn't really start putting on weight until junior high.  When I graduated high school, I weighed about 175 and wore a size 16.  

2000 - About 220 lbs
2002 - 244 lbs
I really packed on the pounds after high school while working in a few different bakeries.  I learned how to decorate cakes in high school, and it turned into a career for the first part of my adult life.  I made birthday cakes and wedding cakes, and was just around sweets all day long.  It was so easy to grab a cookie for a snack. 

2003 - 172 lbs
When my husband and I were married, I weighed 244.  Shortly before our wedding is when I started getting serious about weight loss.  I joined Curves and started watching what I ate.  I wore a size 20 wedding dress.  I hated being a fat bride. 

After my first daughter was born, I weighed about 172.  I achieved the weight loss with the help of a nutritionist, who put me on a low carb diet.  It worked, but it was hard.  I got pregnant again shortly after losing all the weight, and I gained back 114 lbs.

2008 - 276 lbs
I'm a little teapot, short and stout.  But, not for long! 
I started looking into weight loss surgery in 2006.  I was at my wit's end and knew something had to be done.  I kept losing and then regaining.  But, every time I regained, I put even more on.  It was so frustrating!  At that time, the closest place I could have the surgery would have been in Chicago, so that really put me off.  Chicago is about a 5-6 hour drive from here, and I did not want to leave my kids and go that far away.  Plus, at the time, the sleeve was not an option and I kept reading a lot of horror stories about RNY Gastric Bypass.  It really scared me.  Fast forward to 2009, a local hospital opened a bariatric center.  I attended the seminar and started my 6 month doctor supervised diet.  While I was doing the supervised diet, the surgeon was let go due to inappropriate relationship with a patient as well as prescription abuse.  I gave up at that time.  Then, I learned last summer that there was a new surgeon, and everyone was singing his praises.  I attended yet another info session in August 2010.  I got my first appointment on October 29, 2010 and here I am, five years later and finally just a week away from my surgery!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

25 Pounds Gone Forever!

I finally did it!  25 pounds are now gone forever.  It feels amazing.  I weighed in yesterday morning at 261 lbs.  I also went ahead and measured myself, looks like I've lost a few inches, too!




I'm very proud of myself.  I've bounced back from falling off the Christmas wagon.  My original goal was to lose 30 pounds before surgery, and it looks like I may reach that goal.  At the beginning of last November, I didn't think it was going to be possible because I was always so hungry and wanted to eat all the time.  My appetite has already changed.  When it comes to dinner time, I even take smaller portions now.  I believe that I am prepared for this surgery, only 13 more days!  Unbelievable.  I go tomorrow for the pre-op group.  I'm really not sure what to expect, but it'll probably be about realistic expectations and how to take care of myself after surgery.