Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starting My Journey

Before I started blogging, I started a journal of my experience so far. Here are all of the posts I made there so you can get to know me...

December 2009:

280 pounds.

That's what the scale said at the doctor's office yesterday That might be ok if I was a football player or perhaps a sumo wrestler. But I'm not. I'm a 5'2" woman. I sit on my ass all day and work with computers.

280 pounds is unacceptable. Disgusting. I feel gross all the time. My thighs sweat and I get chafed. I get winded tying my sneakers. Getting READY to exercise makes me tired.

So, how did I get so fat? I have been to therapists hoping that they would uncover some deep, dark unconscious thing that I didn't even realize was there. Perhaps I had an eating disorder.

I'm not bulimic, but this is my blog so I will admit it right here that the idea is appealing. I mean, eat anything I want and be skinny? But there are those nasty side effects like destroyed teeth, chewed up hands, stinking all the time, not to mention the fact that I'd rather break my arm than throw up. Ick. Oh yeah, and electrolyte imbalance and death. What's the point of being thin if you're, you know, dead.

The idea of eating a whole pie and a gallon of ice cream in one sitting is rather disgusting to me. Don't get me wrong, I can eat A LOT. Like, I could have two bagels with cream cheese for breakfast and still be a little munchy. I can ALWAYS find a speck of room for dessert. But I don't have the classic signs of "binge eater".

I'm certainly not anorexic. Hahahaha.

So, what's left? I'm not necessarily an emotional eater. I guess to a point I am, but not really any more than anyone else.

The only answer I can come up with is that I'm hungry. I'm almost ALWAYS hungry. I'm hypoglycemic, and when my blood sugar feels like it's falling, I grab a snack. On top of that, I really enjoy food. I love good cheese and fancy desserts. I LOVE vegetables and can eat a whole head of cauliflower roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper in one sitting. Starchy carbs are my downfall. I can eat huge bowls of pasta, massive piles of rice and beans, whole loaves of good bread with butter.

So. I made a decision. I don't want to be hungry anymore, so I am getting a lap band, also known as an adjustable gastric band.

I've already been through four months of nutritional counseling, and I have two more months to go until I can schedule my surgery. I am writing this journal to keep a record of what I am going through - emotionally, physically, and financially. I don't think this will be an easy journey, but I feel like it's what I need to do.


THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 2010 - I'm Not Crazy

I had my psychological evaluation today. I am not crazy. Or so I am told.

The psychologist said she didn't think I had an underlying eating disorder. I have PCOS and hypoglycemia, which make it hard to lose weight. She thinks I am an ideal candidate, since I have a support system and I understand what I'm in for as well as I can. She is going to write a recommendation for me for the surgery. So, that's another step done.

I have my next nutritionist appointment next week. I have not been doing at all well about watching my diet. Between the holidays and my birthday, it's been futile. I keep feeling like, "This is the last time I will be able to eat ---," or, "Well, for my NEXT birthday, I won't be able to eat cupcakes, so might as well get them in now." SO WRONG, I know. I'm working on getting my head in the right place.


MONDAY, JANUARY 25, 2010 - Support Group Meeting Tonight

I went to a support group for my surgeon's patients tonight. It was...interesting.

Pros: I really like the doc and his office staff. They are supportive, lovely people. There were some interesting topics discussed, and I think in some ways it made me even more excited about the possibilities.

Cons: When I mentioned that I wanted the lap band, several of the gastric bypass patients jumped on me and said I should have bypass instead. Really? I have made my decision. Bypass is too drastic for me and it scares me. They just reinforced why I don't want to tell too many people about this. It's MINE. I own this decision. I discussed it with my husband and my parents and some close friends, but I don't want anyone at work to know or anything like that.

Also, there was a woman there who has lost about a gazillion pounds to hear her tell it. She was a total attention whore and EVERYthing was about her. She went on and on about how MISERABLE her life was as a fat person and how NO ONE should have to live like that. Totally obnoxious.

I have my next three appointments scheduled (nutritionist on January 28 and February 16, and consultation with the surgeon on February 8) and I am hoping I can schedule my surgery sometime the week of March 8 because I will be on spring break. Fingers crossed that it all works out!


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2010 - I'm Approved!

I got word today that I am approved for surgery by my insurance company and I have the date of my re-birthday.

March 8.

I am scared, excited, nervous, anxious, and a little bit terrified. I have about a million tests to have done before that. I am going to be a BUSY woman for the next three weeks. (THREE weeks!!!) Among my upcoming appointments are:

Blood tests for things like vitamin levels, cholesterol, etc.
Lung function test
Arterial blood gasses
Chest X-ray
Stress test

And so on.

Holy cow. This is becoming very, very REAL.


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2010 - Epiphany

I have a feeling I am going to be posting a lot more often now that my surgery is upcoming.

I had an epiphany the other night. I was thinking, "Oh, woe is me. I may never be able to eat chewy, crusty bread and gooey pasta dishes and plates full of Panang curry with lots of Jasmine rice ever again." I was feeling a little sad that I have to make such a drastic change to my life in order to obtain what I want (a normal weight).

Then I got to thinking. If I stay on my current path, it is very likely that I will develop diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, and all the other things that go along with morbid obesity. Hell, I already have sleep apnea and Meralgia paresthetica (burning pain and numbness in my left thigh that make walking a little bit difficult sometimes because when it starts to burn, the only way to ease it is to sit down). My feet and back are starting to hurt. I already have knee pain. My life has already changed for the worse because of what I am doing, and as I get older, it's certainly not getting any better.

I texted my lovely friend E earlier to tell her I got my surgery date. She replied, "That's great news! Remember you're in control of this decision and this will improve your health!"

That part struck a chord. I AM in control. I can sit back and wait to be forced to change my behavior by developing diabetes and needing to inject myself to stay alive. Or I can wait for my blood pressure to skyrocket and have a stroke. My life will certainly change then, won't it?

Isn't it SO much better to make this choice and change my life and my eating habits on MY terms? Yeah, I thought so.


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2010 - 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds (Part 1)

I started thinking about WHY I really want to lose weight. I needed some good, concrete answers to refer back to about why I started this journey in the first place. These are the first 50 reasons, and I will add to it as I go along!

1. To be healthy
2. To not have to use CPAP anymore for sleep apnea.
3. To be able to ride any roller coaster I want.
4. To fit comfortably in an airplane seat.
5. To be able to run up a flight of stairs.
6. To not sweat so much.
7. To not worry constantly about getting diabetes.
8. To not worry that I will eventually gain so much weight that the fire department will need to cut a hole in the side of the house to get me out.
9. To be able to go to a show and feel comfortable in the seat.
10. To never have to worry again whether I will fit in a booth at a restaurant.
11. So my feet don’t hurt so much.
12. So my knees don’t hurt so much.
13. So my back doesn’t hurt so much.
14. So I’m not always huffing and puffing when I walk so far.
15. So my meralgia paresthetica (thigh pain and numbness) goes away.
16. So doctors don’t blame EVERY symptom I experience on my weight.
17. So I can buy clothes anywhere.
18. So I don’t feel out of place in a “normal” size clothing store.
19. So I don’t feel disgusted looking at myself in the full-length mirror when I am getting a haircut.
20. So I can do my own pedicures easily.
21. So I don’t feel so out of control about my eating.
22. So I am not constantly hungry.
23. To be satisfied on small amounts of really good food.
24. To enjoy my food more.
25. So I don’t ever have to use a wheelchair just because I’m too fat to walk.
26. So that I have more energy.
27. So that I don’t ever have to deal with discrimination just due to my size.
28. To sit on the floor and not have to do ridiculous maneuvers to get up.
29. To be able to cross my legs properly.
30. So my ankles don’t get swollen when it’s hot out or on an airplane.
31. To go horseback riding.
32. So I can get closer to the table when I’m eating to avoid getting food on the boobshelf.
33. To go to the park and swing on the swings.
34. So I can wear a button down shirt without worrying that I am going to break it open.
35. To ease the symptoms of my PCOS, if not get rid of it altogether.
36. To have a regular hotel bath towel wrap ALL the way around me.
37. To have a regular spa robe wrap ALL the way around me.
38. So that I never have to see the term “morbidly obese” (unless combined with “formerly”) on my medical chart.
39. To be able to run all around any city with my sister, up and down hills and the subway stairs, without feeling like I am going to pass out from leg/knee pain.
40. To not have a couple of miles of city walking feel as daunting as a marathon.
41. To be successful at losing weight for the first time ever.
42. So my husband has a hot wife.
43. So that when my husband tells me that he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I weigh, I don’t think he’s just humoring me.
44. So that if I’m ever stuck in a tall building during an emergency, I’ll know I can get down all the stairs.
45. To learn a sport.
46. To prove to myself that I can meet any goal I set.
47. To be able to wear high heels every now and then.
48. To wear pretty bras and not just huge, functional ones.
49. So I can watch “The Biggest Loser” and not be jealous of all the people on it for having an amazing opportunity to change their lives.
50. So I don’t have to keep starting new diets in hopes that this will be “the one”.


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2010 - 15 Days and Counting

15 days to go. I did some good preparation yesterday:

Joined a gym. I found one that is 3 miles from home and well within my budget. The pay in advance was a better option because it worked out to under $14/month for a year and a half ($250 total). That was a much better deal than the $20/month (but only if you sign up for 3 years and pay in advance) that LA Fitness was offering as their "special holiday deal" for $720 paid in full (um, no thanks). This place isn't fancy, but they do have good classes (kickboxing, pilates, Zumba, belly dancing, yoga, etc.), the cardio equipment has individual televisions (a requirement since I get bored easily), and they're open 24 hours a day during the week (8 AM to 8 PM on weekends), so that works for my schedule!

I bought some little bowls - they're 1 cup each - and they'll be good for portion control rather than trying to put 1/2 cup of soup in a big bowl and have it look like no food. I also bought a tiny red silicone strainer for while I am on the liquid phase to strain my soups.

This is a big week coming up. I have:

Blood work and stress test tomorrow.
Upper GI (ugh!!!) on Tuesday
Pre-op class on Thursday

I'm having a touch of "last supper syndrome". I want to eat all the things I know I won't be able to have for awhile, if at all. My cravings have included pizza, biscuits and gravy, Thai food, pasta, and movie theater popcorn. I am trying hard to not go crazy and eat everything in sight. I had a biscuit with a little gravy and a poached egg for breakfast yesterday. I got pizza for dinner last night and ate 3/4 of the individual pizza and think I'll have the rest for lunch today. It was good, but not as good as I was envisioning, which is probably a good thing because I'm not craving those things anymore.

I'm doing a lot of work on the mental side of things. I picked up a couple of books that came highly recommended: The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person by Judith S. Beck and The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David Kessler. I'm going to start reading them this week.


MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2010 - Rescheduled

The doctor called me today. There was a mixup with the scheduling and now instead of March 8, I am going to get my band on...March 1. As in, the March 1 that is exactly ONE week from today. Wow. I can't believe that this time next week, surgery will be behind me. Hopefully I will not be in too much pain and will have good drugs! I need to make a list of things to get done this weekend, such as grocery shopping for all the things I need for the liquid phase - sugar free popsicles, soups, etc. I already ordered a couple of canisters of my favorite protein powder and it should get here on Thursday or Friday...I hope. I have a (long) list of questions to ask the nurse when I see her Thursday.

Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly!


WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2010 - Five Days and Counting

The pre-op diet, quite frankly, sucks. I had 4 of the 5 protein shakes I was supposed to have today and I will attempt to choke down the last one before bed. My dinner of chicken breast and salad with low calorie dressing was absolutely delicious though - never thought plain roasted chicken would taste so good! But after all those protein shakes, it was delectable.

I have a big day tomorrow:

8:30 AM - lung doctor clearance

10:45 AM - primary care doc final clearance

11:30-ish - pre-op education class

Anytime before 4:00 - final blood work at hospital

I have to check in to the hospital at 5:30 Monday morning. Surgery will be at 7:30. I am trying desperately not to think too much about it, but I'm definitely getting nervous.


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2010 - Things I am thinking about with 15 hours to go...

Fifteen hours from now I should be under anesthesia and my surgery should be starting.

I am nervous, but ready. I woke up this morning absolutely sure of my decision. That is very freeing. I am no longer particularly worried about being hungry. I still think the pre-op diet sucks, but it was a good thing to get me on the right path. The phrase "hunger is not an emergency" is true. I'm not going to pass out if I miss a meal. I've been very careful to get enough protein (even though I could go the rest of my life without drinking a protein shake and that would be fine by me).

My husband has a cold. I am terrified that I'm going to catch it and I will have to reschedule surgery. I'm staying far away from him, washing my hands even more than usual (bordering on OCD at this point), and taking vitamins and herbs.

The thousands of dollars and many, many hours of testing that I went through revealed exactly one thing wrong with me: low vitamin D levels. That's great news as far as my lungs, heart, stomach, etc. being healthy, but that was a lot of unnecessary testing! I'm on a prescription vitamin D pill for the next 3 months.

So...this will probably be my last post until after surgery. I hope everything goes well and I will be back in a few days!


TUESDAY, MARCH 2, 2010 - I'm Banded

It's done. I'm banded. I'm feeling pretty good, considering I had major surgery yesterday.

I have bad gas pains from being pumped full of air and walking helps, so my husband and I went for several slow walks today. Other than that, just been resting and watching TV. I "ate" my chicken broth for dinner and a sugar free popsicle for dessert and was stuffed. I'm liking feeling full on so little. I know it won't last and tomorrow I start full liquids (and can have a cup of coffee with milk - yay!) but until the swelling goes down, it's interesting to feel so full on just a cup of clear liquid.

I'm just up to take some more liquid Vicodin and it's just about time for bed. I'm hoping I sleep through most of the night and don't have to get up for more meds too soon.


THURSDAY, MARCH 4, 2010 - My Banding Experience

On surgery day I woke up at 4:15 AM. Took a shower and scrubbed myself down with antibacterial soap. After I dried off, S (my husband) helped me wipe myself down with the germicidal wipes that they had given me at the hospital, and then I got dressed. I took my Protonix pill to turn off my stomach acid as directed. We headed to the hospital and walked in at 5:30, exactly on time.

I was brought back to the prep area. I dressed in a stunning gown/bootie/hat ensemble. Two IV's were put into my arms, and I was asked about a bazillion questions by the nurses and anesthesiologists. They brought S back to sit with me until surgery time. The surgeon arrived and I asked if he had gotten a good night's sleep and had a good breakfast. He said he had so I said I was ready to go. :-)

I was starting to get really scared and my teeth started chattering. The anesthesiologist came over and gave me a shot of Versed (a.k.a. Happy Medicine) in my IV and suddenly everything was hysterically funny.

I couldn't stop laughing and I told S I loved him so much and the nurses asked how long we had been together. When I said we'd been together over 11 years, S said some of them got a little weepy and said it was so sweet that we're still that way together.

I was wheeled into the operating room and I was still laughing. They strapped me down to the table which I thought was hilarious. At that point, a mask went over my face and I don't remember anything after that.

I woke up in the recovery room in quite a lot of pain. I kept saying that it hurt and the nurse gave me some medicine that helped after a few doses. I had to stay in there for a couple of hours because they were waiting for my room to be ready. I started getting mad because I wanted to see my husband, but visitors aren't allowed in the recovery room. I tried to sleep but there was a patient on either side of me. The guy to my left was having a hard time waking up so people kept yelling at him and it was a lot of commotion. The woman on my right was crying and vomiting. She had just had gastric bypass, and it didn't really sound like much fun. At that point I remember thinking how glad I was to have chosen the band. I remember thinking that I had no regrets and was feeling very positive about the possibilities, but I wished I could sleep.

Finally, my room was ready. I was wheeled up and met my wonderful nurse, Kevin. The first thing I said to him was that I really had to pee, so he helped me get out of bed and onto the toilet. That HURT but it was such a relief to finally be able to go to the bathroom. I had asked in the recovery room but they said if I could wait it would be so much easier to go in my private room.

Yes, I lucked out and ended up in a private room, which was awesome.

When I came out of the bathroom, my parents and husband were there and it was so wonderful to see them! I was so much calmer when I saw everyone was there. S had a bad cold and I didn't want to catch it, so I told him he needed to leave after not very long, but my parents stayed all day.

I was in love with my pain medication button. The morphine was wonderful! My throat was SO dry and the ice chips tasted and felt great too.

After a few hours I was ready to get out of bed and go for a walk. My parents helped me and I couldn't believe how good getting out of bed was. It actually hurt less when I was up and moving than when I was laying flat on my back. I walked as much as I could.

Lunch and dinner consisted of chicken broth, sugar free Jello, and Crystal Light with protein powder in it. I wasn't really hungry at that point but the few sips of broth tasted really good and I loved the Crystal Light. I drank as much of that as I could.

I was given Heparin (blood thinner) shots every 8 hours to prevent blood clots. I also had to wear these massaging booties that felt really good.

My night was pretty uneventful and I slept well after the nurse brought my Ambien. I was up at 5:00 in the morning, pressed the morphine button and slept until 6:30. Hit it again and slept until my mom called to see how I was doing at 7:30.

Every time I tried to nap, someone would come in for more blood, a vital sign check, etc. The wonderful nurse coordinator from my surgeon's office, and the nutritionist I've been seeing for 6 months came to visit and it was very good to see some familiar faces. Finally my IV was disconnected and I started the oral pain meds (liquid Vicodin). After lunch (more broth and Crystal Light), I was told I could go home so I got my stuff together, got dressed, and S picked me up.

I got home about 2:00 in the afternoon and fell asleep for an hour and a half. I had bad gas pains in my stomach, but was lucky enough to not have any shoulder pain, which is pretty common with this surgery. Walking helps with the gas pain, so S and I went for several slow walks. Other than that, I just rested and watched TV. I "ate" my chicken broth for dinner and a sugar free popsicle for dessert and was stuffed. I'm liking feeling full on so little.

I feel pretty darn good. I'm still on the liquid Vicodin but probably won't need it for long. I'm drinking my protein shakes and tolerating them well. I'm drinking one cup of coffee per day, and as much water, tea, and sugar free popsicles that I can.

All in all, it was a good experience.


SATURDAY, MARCH 6, 2010 - Five Days Out and Feeling Good

I'm am feeling 1000 times better than I thought I would five days after my surgery. So far I have had basically no problems. The gas pains are still happening, but MUCH less frequently, thank goodness. When they happen, I can just stop and breathe for a moment, and they pass pretty quickly. I only took Tylenol twice yesterday (just got involved doing other things and didn't need it) and Vicodin once, at bedtime. There's really nothing going on that I would consider true pain. I feel a pulling sensation in my abdomen, and I assume that is where the port is stitched. I have some soreness, like I did too many crunches. And of course, the gas pain, which is pretty infrequent and passes within a few seconds.

S and I went to Publix last night, and getting out of the house was wonderful! When we got back, I walked nearly a mile. It was chilly and gorgeous out and the sun was setting and it just felt so good to move! I was thinking, as I walked, that every step I took was one step closer to my goal. Cheesy, right?

I am quite hungry. I know I'm only eating maybe 800-900 calories a day, and I can really feel it. Protein shakes keep me satisfied for an hour or two, but the most satisfying thing I've had so far was my dinner last night. I got some southwest chicken soup, strained it, heated it, and mixed in a few drops of Tabasco and a big dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt. It was sooo good! I had a cup of that and felt satisfied for hours.

I am tired of sweets. Pretty much everything I'm allowed to eat (except soup) is sweet. Protein shakes, sugar free popsicles, jello, hot cocoa, Crystal Light, etc.

I go back to see the nurse on Tuesday, and hopefully I'll get my stitches out. To my completely non-medically-educated eyes, it looks like everything is healing well, but we shall see! I can't wait to hop on that scale and see how I am doing. I know weight loss tends to be quick at the beginning because I'm not really eating anything, but I'm going to savor the jumpstart just the same.


THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 2010 - No News is Good News

I don't have anything new to report. I'm feeling good. I've lost about 14-15 pounds. The scale isn't moving much now - I seem to be in a pattern of staying exactly the same for a few days and then a 1-2 pound drop. With how few calories I'm eating, I kinda thought it would be a little faster at first, but that's how it goes and I'm not too frustrated. I know if I keep doing what I'm supposed to, that's all I can do. I can't make the scale move any faster!

My hunger levels are fine and eating mushy food is 1000000 times easier than liquids! I could live on refried beans, guacamole, turkey chili, and tuna for awhile. (Remind me of that when I am totally sick of those things by next week.)

That's really it! My band isn't all that interesting right now.


Lap Band Gal said...

Hello! I just found your blog! :) I am "following" your blog now. I have a blog too:

--Hey said...

Hi there! I was just banded yesterday...and feeling about the same as you did during your post op days. It's so good to hear what others are going through. I have a blog too: it will be good to keep tabs on your journey. Thanks for sharing your story.

Steph said...

Nice to meet you ladies! I'll definitely come check out your blogs and follow you too.