Monday, November 17, 2014

8 months post vertical sleeve

It seems crazy that it's been 8 months since I had surgery.  My "new eating" has become like second nature to me.  It still seems crazy that the whole thing is done and over.n it all happened so fast.  It hasn't even been a year that the mere idea of surgery was even brought up to me.  One year ago I didn't even know what vertical sleeve gastrectomy was.  I had no idea that there was a life changing procedure, an alternate to bypass that seemed less scary to me, that could change my life so much.  I am so glad that things went so fast and that I was approved for this surgery.  I only wish I had done it sooner.   For the first time ever I feel like I have a handle on my eating.  The weight is the side effect of that...just one piece of my complex puzzle.  Here's some before and after stats:

Before:  252 lbs
Today:  169 lbs (83 lbs!)

Before: size 20/22
Today: 12/14 bottoms, M or L tops

before:  everything and anything all day, everyday
Today:  3-5 small meals a day, protein powder in my coffee every morning(yum).  I try to keep the carbs down but I don't ever count calories or carbs or anything anymore!  It feels amazing!

Before:  embarrassed, ashamed, avoided others, discouraged, bitter, focused on my obesity
Today:  myself!  I can be myself!  More confident, happy, love shopping, better mom and wife.

Before:  tired, sore, hard to move around myself, sluggish, LAZY
Today:  more energy, more agile, active, MY WEDDING RINGS FIT AGAIN!!!,  I now do fun things with my kids!, capable of so much more

It's hard to put 8 months in a nutshell like this but it's great for me to be able to look back and see my progress.  If anyone is just reading this feel free to scroll back to March when I had surgery.  Or before that where I have been blogging for years about the ups and downs of my wieght loss(and gain) journey.  It's been a wild ride!  Surgery isn't for everyone. I never dreamed it would be for me.  But it's done and it's now part of my crazy journey.  I am so happy about this!

I hope my blogging buddies have all been doing great.  I haven't been on here in ages and I need to catch up on some of my favorite blogs.  Would love to hear from some of you!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

5 months post op -vertical sleeve gastrectomy

It's been 5 months since my bariatric surgery.  This experience has changed my life!!!  It is hands down the best decision for me, and my only regret is that I didn't look into it sooner.  I never thought I was big enough to be a candidate.  That is called denial at its best.....

Here's some stats:

Before:  252
Today:  178.9
Total loss:  73.1 lbs

Before:  20/22, XXL, 2x
Today: 14 bottoms, M or L top

Before: all day... Each serving enough for several people
Today:  3-5 small meals a day( plan calls for only 3) with very few sugars or carbs.  I do this so my body can feel good!  I cannot believe how much less sluggish I am without them.

Before:  very little.  Too darn tired. And lazy.  Eating was my sport of choice.
Today:  back to running!  I am changing up my speeds, distances, and routes to keep it from getting boring.  Today I did a whole 10 minute mile.  For some that's a piece of cake.  For me, it's a huge accomplishment!

I feel ....normal?  My recovery time was pretty quick actually- just a few weeks I would say.  Learning to eat less has mentally been a challenge even though my belly gets full.  THIS is what made me realize I couldn't have done it without surgery, and why I have failed again and again.  There is a mental aspect along with the physical aspect of overeating and obesity that needs to be dealt with.  Having the small stomach for those moments of weakness is kind of like a backup plan.  I am learning so much about my eating habits and about myself through this.

I am proud of myself!  I have energy and ambition again!  And I feel so much less self conscious and embarrassed.  I am not hiding from people anymore.  I love shopping again.  I am a better mom, wife, daughter.  I feel I need to mention that my family and friends have been so supportive of me, and this has been such a blessing.  Not everyone has that kind of love and support.  I am so fortunate to have a great circle of loved ones.

That's about it!  I signed In here so I could go through some old posts.  It helps put things in perspective for me.  I hope you are all doing well.  I used to get a lot of comments and rarely do anymore.  But I also realize that some may not be able to relate with my choice to have surgery.  And that's fine too!  One year ago I would never have thought surgery was an option for me let alone that it would be all done and over with.  It's amazing the difference a year can make.

Monday, June 30, 2014

15 weeks post vertical sleeve

Today is 15 weeks since I had VSG.  Tomorrow is one of my follow up appointments.  I have pretty well settled into my new ways and it feels good.  Here's the details:

WEIGHT:  I am down 63 lbs.  My weight is 188.8 down from 252.  I am finally a starting to "feel" the weight loss.

SIZE:  I am in a 16 down from a 20/22.  I could wear a 14 but I am comfortably wearing a 16 for now.  Most tops I am buying are a Large.  This is super exciting for me.

FOOD:  I am keeping the carbs down but not keeping track or anything.  I am eating 3 times a day and having my protein scoop in my coffee.  This is great because then I don't need sugar or creamer :).   I do enjoy a chip or a snack or a bite of something yummy if I want it.

EXERCISE:  I so need to be getting better at this.  I have done a bit of running but nothing steady.  I know it's good for me and I need to do it more.  I also need to get into some simple weight lifting with dumbbells.  There is no reason not to.  I am just being lazy and procrastinating.

HOW I FEEL:  most days I have a ton more energy than I used to.  Keeping the carbs and sugars down are definitely helping with this.  My confidence is starting to increase and I am enjoying the differences in me.

STRUGGLES:  One of the biggest things that remains an issue for me is knowing when to stop eating.  I know what my portion sizes should be.  I know to eat slow.  Yet it's a struggle for me most days.  I eat fast and too much , which seems like a ridiculous amount compared to how much I used to eat.  And although I am thankful that I get a full feeling in my belly, that is not how it should be.  I should not eat until discomfort.  This is something I am working on.  It's quite eye opening for me that my love of food and how I eat so fast is not really "normal". You would think being full would be a great thing to achieve after eating so little.  But for me, there is usually a bit of sadness that I am full and a desire to eat more even though I am full.  Very eye opening.

For now I take it day by day, meal by meal but I am less focused on eating than I used to be.  I have adjusted into my mew lifestyle and I hope it continues to be smooth down the road.  I have had several people come up and ask me about my experience.  They are obese and considering surgery. What works for one isn't for everyone but I am glad to share my journey.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

12 weeks after Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

It's been 12 weeks since my vertical sleeve gastrectomy.  The weight came off pretty quick in the beginning and has slowed down significantly.  However, I consider myself losing at a healthy rate now.  I have hit few stalls recently which I hear is normal.  One was a week and a half, and the other was two and a half weeks.  Frustrating, yes, but I continued on.  Having had surgery I feel a bit different about my weight in general.  I don't feel like I am on a diet anymore.  I don't feel like there is an end to this like I have always felt in the past regardless of what program I was doing.  This feels permanent.  I feel like I am so much better equipped on my journey.

So, let's get to the changes.
Size:  I am wearing a size 16 right now.  That's down from a 20, which I am positive should have been a 22 had I bought the actual size I needed.  I played the game of only buying the "big 20's" so I wouldn't have to face the fact that I actually needed a bigger size.

Weight:  my weight is currently 195.7 down from 252.  That's over 56 lbs.   I am happy to be in onederland but it sure has been a tough few weeks getting here with these pesky stalls! I looked at my last post from 6 weeks ago and I am down 11 pounds.  Not the fastest loss but the way I see it I am hopeful it's a permanent loss.

Eating:  my plan calls for 3 meals a day and a protein supplement.  I use the obesity help website and usually I find it useful for how others in my boat are faring.  I usually have a cup of coffee in the morning with a protein scoop in it.  This is helpful not just to get my protein in but it takes the place of the cream and Splenda I used to use.  My three meals are usually 2-3 oz(by volume, not weight) and consist of mainly protein and sometimes veggies now.  I try to keep the carbs/sugars way down and protein up.  However, if I am at a birthday party or picnic I will allow myself a tiny bit of cake or something of the sort on occasion.  After all, this is not a diet.  This is my new life and I deserve to live! Some of my favorite meals are an egg with a sausage link, turkey chili, chicken and pork( I do lots of different recipes with these) cheese sticks, almonds, etc.

How I feel:  I am assuming it's keeping the sugars/carbs down thats helps with this, but I do have more energy.  I cannot even explain how groggy I used to feel all day long, even with several cups of coffee. I am not one of the many lucky post-op people who loses their appetite and cravings, but I do feel that keeping the carbs down that I am able to keep them at bay.  My full feeling is now back to normal almost,  if I eat too much or too fast(I am still learning) I get loud hiccups.  It's kind of become a laughing matter at work with my lunch buddies.

Exercise:  I am happy to say that I have started running again.  My longest run is 2.5 miles at this point.  Not my longest or fastest run ever, but the best in a LONG time.  Feels good to be back in the game.  I had forgotten how nice that post run feeling of accomplishment feels :)

My attitude:  I am sure my husband, kids, and family are thrilled that the miserable, self loathing Jen is gone and that spunky Jen is back!

Well, that's it for now.  Right now I am taking it day by day.  Each day feels like an investment of what's to come.  I am starting horse riding lessons this week in preparation for hopefully buying a full size horse for our farm.  We currently have mini horses, goats, and chickens but I told myself that when the weight came off I would follow my dream of owning and riding my own horse!

I hope you are all doing great?!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

6 weeks post op- vertical sleeve

I am happy to report that my tantrums have stopped!  Now that I have moved onto "real food" I am not feeling deprived.  The soft diet was tougher than I thought it would be.  I am just over 6 weeks out from surgery and I am down 45 lbs.with 8 of that being lost pre-op.  My current weight today:  206.9.

One of the reasons I decided to have this surgery was because I do not want to be on a diet the rest of my life.  I have been on the losing end of that battle for over 15 years,and it's been exhausting.   I hear so much about how the first 6 months after surgery is the time to lose the weight and that I should make the best of this time frame.  I know I will never be able to go back to eating fast food allllll the time, and serving sizes meant for 3 people... Others who have had this surgery ( some of them die hards in my opinion) say to keep protein up, carbs down, this trick, that trick. etc.  I am following my portion guidelines (about 2 ounces (by volume,not weight) and trying to make good choices.  To me, it seems some of these people are still dieting.  For me, it's more about what works best for my body....What makes me feel good physically.  I will have a bite or two of cake if I am at a party, but not until after I eat my healthy protein portion of my meal.  It's still a fine line to make the right choices while still enjoying life.  It's something I have always struggled with.

But now... I have a tool.  It makes the things that I have always struggled with easier.  I will always love food, but my new tool makes me soooo much more capable of handling it.

People have started to notice a difference in how I look.  And finally....I am starting to notice a difference too!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1 month post op-Vertical Sleeve(bariatric surgery)

I had my bariatric surgery, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, on March 17, 2014.  Its been 4 weeks and I am down 30 lbs since surgery, and down 39 lbs from when I first stepped foot in the surgeon's office in January.  Weight was coming off pretty quick after surgery but has slowed down since.  Sometimes I don't lose for days.  Some days I don't weigh because whether I weigh or not, I am still doing things as I should per my plan and I don't want the frustration of not losing.

I drink two protein shakes a day.  Usually I have a ready made Pure Protein or Premier Protein at work, and later in the day I have one that I make out of powder and a scoop of PB2 which I have found is quite pleasant. I eat three meals a day, but not within 30 minutes of drinking.  I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around 2 ounces being a meal.  I have been eating moist scrambled eggs, string cheese, chicken salad, egg salad with a drop of olive juice(yum), cottage cheese, yogurt, deli ham and turkey, and fish.  For drinks I have been drinking one vitamin water zero or sobe life water, and then refilling the bottle with water when it's gone.  Between that and my protein shakes I am hitting both my protein needs and water needs each day.  I am tracking my calories using my "Lose it" app that I love.  I usually range between 500-600 calories a day for now.  I will be moving onto stage 3 foods soon so I can enjoy different foods.

Mentally, stepping on the scale each day is fine some days.  I remind myself its a doton my graph.  Right after surgery weight was falling off.  Sometimes, as typical with bariatric surgery it slows or stalls but eventually starts back up.  I know in the big picture I am losing so I am not complaining about that but it is hard to stall with eating so differently!  I also use the weight trend app on my phone that shows on a graph how my weight is headed downward.  I like that a lot.

Something that's odd for me is that even though I am down 38 lbs(30 since surgery) I really struggle to see it and feel it yet.  I feel like with that much weight I should.  I went into surgery at 244 lbs and I am 214 now.  I keep reminding myself that I was much heavier at my start weight than I have ever been.  With medifast i didn't even start until I was 206.  So 214, although its down from 252, is still high for me.  I am still wearing the same clothes.  This is how I tended to gain so easily in the past.  Maybe they were snug before and comfortable now, but still...the same clothes!  No one has really commented on a difference in me either, other than a few people said my face is thinner.  So I anxiously await that moment when I SEE it and FEEL my weight loss. 

Tantrums...  I am not 3 so luckily I have kept them inside :)   There have been a few times when I really wanted to have what others are having.  For the most part, in this stage of the game, I am eating very differently from my family and others I am around.  Sometimes I am fine with it, other times not so much.  We ordered pizza for my daughters Bday party this weekend.  It looked and smelled sooooo good.  I should also mention that I am one of these people who did NOT lose my cravings or appetite after surgery like many do, even with my Prilosec(this helps calm stomach acid which mimics hunger).  I cant decide yet if that's a good or bad thing.  Another thing I have realized is that even though my stomach may get "full" after two ounces(totally different feeling-my new full feeling is more a fullness in my esophagus) my head is not yet satisfied with what I have eaten.  It does usually catch up after a while though.  I take about 20 minutes to eat my 2oz and that's a struggle for me slow it down!  But its been only a month and I am working on it.  Its a learning curve.

All in all, I am very glad that I had the procedure.  I realize it sounds like a lot of negativity in my post, but I am just expressing the things that I personally struggle with.  Soon, I will start feeling and seeing the benefits of my weight loss and having lost before I know that will change my tune dramatically.  So stay tuned!

Anyone who would like to chime in with a comment, something that has helped you or someone you know, or your experience, I greatly welcome it! I have not been blogging much so anyone who is looking to catch up on my experience with bariatric surgery it can be done in a total of 3-4 posts :)

I hope everyone out there is doing well!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Bariatric Surgery Experience-Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy(long post)

My VSG Experience- March 17, 2014

After only two months from the time that I went to my Bariatric info session, I was sitting in the pre-op room waiting for my VSG surgery.  Although it was not the typical 3-6 months that I was told it would take, I had done ample research on the procedure and knew this was what I needed.  I had all sorts of emotions.  I was excited.  Scared.  Happy.  Nervous. I even felt a little guilty and embarrassed  for feeling that I “had to” go this route.  But obviously my way wasn’t working and hadn’t been for the 20 years I have been overweight.   I was afraid people would judge me.  I decided not to tell many people because I didn’t want anyone’s opinion to change my mind.  I prayed about it from the beginning and I put it in God’s hands that if this was the route I was supposed to take then I would.  So, when everything went through so quickly and smoothly(the appointments, insurance approval within 24 hours of submittal, etc) I really felt like it was meant to be.  My highest weight was 252 lbs.

I will start by saying I have an amazing support system.  I have a husband, mother, best friend, and several other great friends who I am close with.  They know me well and were totally on board with my choice.  My husband went to appointments with me, and my best friend came to the initial meeting  and support group with me.  I feel so blessed in that aspect.  I know lots of people do not have a support system, and I have been so lucky to have someone hold my hand throughout this whole process.

My Dr did not require any liquid diet before surgery.  I was free to eat what I wanted up until midnight on the day before surgery.  I had lost 9 lbs which was close enough to the 5% they requested before surgery.  I think 5% would have been about 13 lbs.  But because I was steadily losing and all my tests were completed I was scheduled for surgery.

So, there I was on St. Patrick’s Day, waiting for my surgery.  My arrival time at the hospital was 10:45.  They took me back and got me ready while sending my hubby to the waiting room.  I had my IV put in, was hooked up to fluids, put in a gown(without underwear-not sure why this was so surprising to me), given a blood thinner shot(heparin) and then my husband and best friend were able to come back and stay with me until it was time for surgery.  I knew it would be a while because the patient in the room next to me was before me, and based on what I overheard, his situation seemed pretty complex.  So when he was rolled back, the nerves started to hit. My surgeon popped in to talk briefly with me, the anesthesiologist came in, as well my OR nurse and pre-op nurse.  It was 2:00 before it was actually my turn.

I hugged my best friend, kissed my husband, and even asked for a picture of me with my surgical hat on so I could document my journey.  And off I went.  They put something in my IV to calm me(they said that is standard).  I got into the OR and it was very bright.  I think there were windows which was different than my c-section OR rooms.  They put the mask on my face and told me to take some deep breaths.  I did.  I remember just before I went out that my eyes were open but I didn’t feel like I could breathe in my chest.  I kind of fought the anesthesia for some reason, not sure why. 

The next thing I remember I was awake in recovery.  I was sweating profusely.  I don’t remember being nauseous but I later learned that must have been what it was.   I think I was moaning or making some sort of noise.  The nurses were talking to me and about me.  They were talking about my pulse being 130, and giving more meds, etc.  They took the legs cuffs(to prevent blood clots) off which  were making me sweat even more, and gave me new ones.  I don’t remember much else other than being rolled up into my room.  I was groggy but was able to clear up the confusion about what room I was supposed to be in.  They had told my husband and I a different room than they were told.  The room they were told was already occupied. 

The nurses rolled me in, and my husband and best friend were there waiting.  They asked how I felt and I jokingly(and druggedly) told them I was okay and to get me a Whopper!  The nurse explained that she was not cheap on the drugs and that I should be feeling pretty good.  I was.  I looked up at the clock and it was 5:00.  Three hours had passed and I had been through surgery and recovery.  My husband said the surgery only took about an hour and 15 minutes.  He said it was quick and that the Dr. came out and said it went well. 

I have six incisions in my belly, but only one of them really bothered me.  It still does. I would later find out it was the one that my stomach was removed out of.  And after watching a VSG on YouTube(after the surgery) I now can totally see why!  These incisions had  steri-strips.  For anyone interested, watching the procedure was not nearly has gross as I thought it would be.  Actually, I was quite fascinated by it!

I had a private room which I was pretty excited about.  As the hours went on I realized that my biggest discomfort was actually laying in bed.  My back hurt and it was just an overall uncomfortable feeling regardless of what position I was in.  It was the gas that they had pumped into me. I wanted to be up and walking all the time.  The first night they made sure that I had someone with me while walking.  I was hooked up to the monitors and IV so it was kind of a pain because I knew I couldn’t get up every time I wanted to.  I knew the nurses had other patients.  The first night seemed to be a busy night for the nurses on the floor.  But even so, I was given great care.  In hindsight, I should have used the pain button I had more often.  I didn’t realize I could use it whenever I wanted and I was only using it every hour or few hours.  It wasn’t until the next day shortly before they took it away that I realized that I could use it every few minutes if needed.  And it did help.

On day 2, I did not have any kind of a swallow test that I hear so much about.  And from what I saw on the videos I watched on YouTube it can actually be done during surgery.  So all I had to do was sip one ounce of water in an hour’s time.  If that went okay, I could sip 2 ounces of water in an hour, and then finally three.  On that second day I was able to walk myself if I wanted to.  My kids came to visit, and some friends.  I was switched from the pain button to crushed Percocet pills as I have had an issue with Lortab in the past.  Lots of people stopped in from the hospital.  The surgeon, Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, case worker, nutritionist, etc.

I didn’t sleep much while in the hospital.  I woke up a lot. They were always giving me medicine or taking my BP/temp.   I walked a lot.  The gas pains were less but still there.  On the 3rd day I got to go home.  They told me that I would be out by 11:00 and to my surprise I was. My hospital experience was actually pretty great.  I had my own room, great nurses (with the exception of one nurse assistant I didn’t care for), and a fancy bathroom with Corian counters and beautifully decorated walls.  The only issue I had at this point was that my blood pressure would not go down. It was pretty high at 164/100.  They didn’t like that, but said it was most likely due to pain and the fluids they were giving me.  So they gave me some pills and sent me on my way.  I was pretty still and quiet the whole hour drive home. 

When I got home my mom and grandmother had arrived in town to help take care of me.  I rested and made a chart for when I need to take the medicines. The first night home I woke up and didn’t feel good.  I took my pain meds and Zofran,  and I got up to walk around.  All of a sudden I started getting hot, sweating and felt nauseous.  I did not throw up and it only lasted a few minutes before the Zofran kicked in.   After that night, I took it right before bed for the next few nights so that wouldn’t happen again.  I called the office the next day and they advised me not to have my protein drink so close to bedtime.  Between those two things I was okay.

After a few nights I found myself waking up on my side which is how I normally sleep.  I would tire out during the day and take a little nap.  I was keeping track of my fluids and protein to make sure I did not get dehydrated.  Having my mom, gram, and husband here was a huge help. 

I made the choice to go back to work at 11 days out.  I should have taken longer but it will be okay.  My first day back was a lot of sitting which I don’t typically do.  It seemed that sitting aggravated my incisions more than standing and walking around.  And my bra was hitting/rubbing on two of my incisions.    At two weeks out I am down about 20 lbs from surgery date.  I am following my eating plan to a T.  I have been in touch with the nutritionist who has been fabulous with answering my questions.  I don’t see or feel the weight loss yet, but I know I will soon.  It usually takes about 30 lbs for me to feel/see  a weight loss or gain. 

My feeling of full at this point is much different than before surgery.  I eat very slowly.  A bite every 2-3 minutes as instructed.  When I start to feel full  it is kind of like a burpy feeling at the bottom of my esophagus.  Nothing like the full I used to feel.  It’s a learning curve and I am paying close attention to my body.  I eat 3 meals a day and sip protein drinks and water throughout the day, as long as it isn’t within 30 minutes of a meal.  I do hope that with time I can eat more than what I am eating now.  I truly do enjoy food and cannot enjoy much right now!

This is just my story.  I am sure other people have different experiences, but I thought maybe this would help some of the newbies like me who are looking for what to expect.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New surgery Date and Insurance Approval!

I work at a school and have a day off the week before my surgery.  My surgery was scheduled for a Monday.  I called the scheduled and politely asked if it was an option to have the surgery the week before at some point.  That way I would have to use less sick time.  To my surprise, she said that since my insurance has now approved the surgery I can have the surgery a week earlier.  My new surgery date is March 17th!!!  Wow, I was just hoping for a few days but hey, lets do this!  Three weeks from today I will hopefully be out of surgery and on the road to recovery. 

Lets talk about insurance for a second.  I am like astonished that my surgeons office sent the paperwork on a Friday and that I have an approval on Monday.  Amazing.  Having said that, I am sure it was helpful knowing that there was a checklist of stuff that the insurance company wanted and a checklist of stuff that my surgeon wanted before they would even send for approval.  But still, I thought 10-30 days.  Not 24 hours!

I had about two days of panic after I was given the date.  But now I am back to being ready to get this over with and work on my new lifestyle.  I have high hopes and I sure do hope that I succeed the way I want to.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

A surgery date...

Much to my surprise, just a few hours after my last post, I received a call from the surgeon's office.  She was calling to give me a surgery date.  What?!  Already!?  The date is March 24th.  She then said she was submitting my file to the insurance company to get me approved.  I am hoping there are no holdups there.  But I am thinking they probably wouldn't have scheduled me if they thought there could be an issue.  At least that is what I am telling myself.  The insurance company did tell me that they have up to 30 days to make a determination but that it is almost always within 10 days.  One of my primary doctors said that my BMI alone would get me approved no problem.  My BMI is about 43.  Anything about 40 is considered class III obesity-MORBID OBESITY.  And apparently if you have co-morbidities you can be approved with a BMI of 35.  When I started this process I did not think that I had any co-morbidities, but I have since learned that I do after going though the testing process for approval.  I have sleep apnea and high blood pressure.  Right there that is 2 of the 4 big ones.  Cholesterol and diabetes are the other two big ones.  My cholesterol was not checked but I am 99.99999% sure that would not be pretty.  So, I am thinking that I am in good shape (haha) for approval.

So for now I am going to wait...and prepare.  I have pulled out my meal planning sheets they gave me.  Some are pre-op, some are post-op separated by week.  Its time to buckle down on how and what I am eating.  I am looking them over and planning.  I need to give myself the best shot possible.  Although I did lose 6 pounds between my first and second appointments, I did not make the effort that I should have and that I know that I can.  They wanted 5% loss from me.  That was about 12 lbs.  I gave them 2.5%, but I could have done so much better.  I have a little bit of shame about that.

I have received so much support and I am so happy(and surprised) about this.  My family, friends, and fellow bloggers have been wonderful.  Now that I have a surgery date, its time to ask for the time off from work.  I am hoping that goes smoothly.  This is where I stress a bit about whether this is elective surgery or not.  I feel a future post coming on about this :)


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bariatric surgery-Tests complete

I met with the nurse practitioner at the Bariatric surgeon's office Monday.   I was only down 6 of my 12 lbs required (5%) in order to schedule surgery.  Obviously I have never been through this process before so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Before she came in I heard the nurse giving her a quick "recap" about me.  I almost fell over when I heard her say that my required tests were all done and that "she isn't that big so 6 lbs should be good enough weight loss to schedule her".  I have to say that I do hide my weight well but I was still surprised to hear that.  On me, 250 lbs is a size 20 and I carry most of it in the front of me, instead of being wide.  But nonetheless, my 250 lbs puts me at a BMI of 43.  Anything over 40 is considered class III obesity, also known as MORBID OBESITY.  So when she came in she reviewed my chart and told me I was ready to be scheduled for surgery. 

All of a sudden it felt real.  All of the hoops have been jumped through.  The EKG, the Psych clearance, 2 sleep studies, letter of med necessity, blood work, etc. I felt a bit nervous.  And excited.  So now I wait.  My first visit with the surgeon was January 21(the info session was January 7).  My second was Feb 17. Things had moved much more quickly than I anticipated.  This might be the part that takes the longest.  Apparently what happens is my chart goes to the scheduler/insurance approval department.  So I am guessing she will write up my letter to the insurance and if/when it comes back with approval I will get a surgery date scheduled.  From what I got from my insurance it can take 30 days but is almost always approved within 10 days.  But who knows how long the surgeons office will take to send out for approval and then call me with a date.

I was under the impression my recovery time out of work would be about a week.  I think that's what the Dr said at the info session. The NP yesterday told me to plan for at least 2 weeks but that I could take up to 6 if I needed it.  I am so very glad that I was told about the statistic for morbidly obese people.  I keep reminding myself of it.  "Once a person reaches morbid obesity, there is a 5% chance of losing the weight and keeping it off".  The stats are 80% for those who have bariatric surgery.  My weight is something I will always have to battle.  But it will be nice to have a much better chance because of the surgery.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Steps to approval for Bariatric surgery

I mentioned in yesterday's post some of the steps that I have had to go through to try to get approved for the surgery.  In case you didn't see them I will repost them here.

Lose 5% of starting weight
Meet with nutritionist regularly
Psychological clearance
Sleep Study and clearance
Blood work
Several appts with surgeon before and after surgery
Support group meetings before and after surgery
Letter of medical necessity from primary dr.

To be totally honest, I just started to lose the 5%.  I figured I would have several months to get 12 lbs off right?  "I can do that in a few weeks" was my mode of thinking.  But, when I started scheduling my appointments I was able to get in with most of them much quicker than I thought.  So I have been trying to eat well and make good choices in the hopes that this may all happen sooner than I thought.

I figured my psych clearance would consist of an appointment and that I would have to wait for his report.  Nope.  He typed it up right there after our hour long talk and sent me on my way.  He also told me his wife had bariatric surgery which made me feel like I was in the right hands :)

I had my annual appt with my OBGYN last month.  I have kind of been using him as a primary dr for a few years now.  I called him a week before my appt and asked him if he would order the bloodwork that the surgeon wanted me to have and we could discuss it at my upcoming visit.  I figured it was a long shot but I got a call back and he said he would be glad to.  We discussed my results at my appt.  I asked him if he would write my letter of medical necessity and he said yes.  I figured I would have to wait for it.  Nope.  He typed it up, printed it and sent me on my way with the words "I will see you in a hundred pounds from now!".  He said he has seen me lose the weight and that he knows this will be a great option for me.  Huh.  Another person on board.

Because the questionnaire that I filled out at the surgeons office labeled me at risk for possible sleep apnea, the surgeon said I needed a sleep study before moving forward.  So I went and had one within a week.  Again, this was quicker than I expected.  I was hooked up to about 30 wires and wondered how I would possibly sleep.  Yet I did!  The results from this test took longer, about a week and a half.   And when they called they said I do in fact have mild sleep apnea.  I had 13 respiratory events per hour but the cause for concern was that my oxygen dipped down to 84%.  I also apparently had 50 periodic limb movements and was awaked 7 times per hour from those. Sooooo.  Now I go back and have a second sleep study with a CPAP machine to see if that helps.  Then after that I again have to wait for the results to be read.  If things are better then hopefully he will sign off on me having the surgery and I am sure order me a CPAP machine :(

Support Group...I was pretty iffy about this.  I wasn't sure how I would like it.  My awesome friend Laura again accompanied me and we made a fun day of it.  The meeting was actually pretty good!  The leader was nice, and there were people who were pre-op as well as some post-op.  It was a small, friendly setting with only 8 of us I think.  I liked it so much that I was disappointed when I realized I can not make the next one because we will be out of town. 

I have a nutrition class scheduled for March 3.  I did meet with the nutritionist on the day of the consultation with the surgeon.  She made me realize that I eat fast.  I never realized I did, but she said meal should be lasting 20-30 minutes.  WHAT?  More like 5 for me!.  And also to my surprise, my husband spoke up in the meeting and said he is realizing that his eating habits are not helping me.  Huh.  We are all growing here I guess.

And last, an EKG.  I have a meeting with a new primary dr close to home.  I cant use my OBGYN forever now that my babies aren't babies anymore! She was recommended to me from a nurse who works there.  Hopefully she will be able to do my EKG and send that along to the Bariatric office.

So, those are the basic steps that I am going though.  I figured I would do a post on it in case anyone else is tossing this option around in their head.  Before December I knew nothing(accurate) about bariatric surgery.  I have done lots of research and have lots of statistics .  Before December I never thought this was an option for me.  But, the further I get into the process, I am feeling pretty sure it is just the tool I need to succeed once and for all.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some major changes...Bariatric surgery?

I have been missing for a while.  A looooong while.  And when I pulled up my blog tonight I was a bit saddened when I saw that my last post was labeled" How Jennifer got her groove back".  The truth is, like most disappearing weight loss bloggers, I was NOT able to get my groove back.  In fact, I hit my highest weight ever at over 250 lbs.  I am 5'4.
I have been miserable. 
Uncomfortable in my own skin. 
Feeling defeated. 
My eyebrows look atrocious because why bother?

Having had a taste of thin(ish) in the past I truly feel like I am missing out on my own life.  I miss my confidence.  I miss wearing clothes that I like and that fit.  I miss having energy.  I miss putting on a bathing suit and not shrieking.

And then it happened....

I went to Dr after I tried to break up a dog scuffle.  My finger was infected.  Of course the first step was the scale.  I got on and she put it at 150.  Then 200.  Then she looked at me with a strange look and put it on 250.  Ding ding ding.  We have a winner.  The words that she said next I believe will change my life. 

"Wow.  You really hide your weight well....I want you to know that I was your weight a year ago and had bariatric surgery.  Best thing I ever did."

I thought she was crazy.  Who was she to say that?  I had never met her.  I acted like I was interested as she was telling me about her bariatric surgeon and how great he is, about how it was the best thing she ever did, and how happy she is. But really I was just shocked by her reaction to my weight.

So on the way home I called my mom to tell her, still in disbelief.  At work the next day I told my co-worker.  Her response was that her daughter in law had the surgery and is quite happy with it.  Huh.  So at this point, the wheels started spinning.  I was sure it was a long shot but could this be an option for me?  She put me in contact with her daughter in law and we chatted a bit about the procedure, the pre-op requirements, her dr, etc.  All of her experiences were great, and get this... the SAME SURGEON as that nurse I had met.  I looked him up online figuring I would find something, anything, to steer me away.  Nope.  Amazing reviews.  That says a lot for a dr these days.   I talked with my husband, then my mom, my grandma, and a very few close friends who I knew would be honest with me.  After all, this was a crazy idea right?

To my surprise...they were ALL FOR IT.  Wait...what? I am not big enough for this surgery right?  I thought for sure those very closest to me would be against surgery.  After all, it is "elective" right? I figured the insurance would never pay for this.  My mom's response hit home for me.  She said, "it's worth looking into Jen.  You have never settled for being overweight.  Some people accept it as part of who they are, but you never have.  I watch you struggle everyday".  She is right.

With my army of unexpected support, my research began...and continued for a while.   Then one day I ran into that nurse while at the vet's office.  Seriously?  We chatted for a bit and all of a sudden it just felt like it was time to call the Bariatric clinic to see how this whole process works.  They were very nice.  The first step was a mandatory info session that they offer once a month.  So I went with my amazing friend Laura.  The surgeon who I had heard so much about was the dr who gave the presentation. He then answered any questions anyone had. And I had questions :)  I am a research geek and I like to be prepared.

I filled out the paperwork they gave me and mailed it in a few days later.  They then review it and decide if they feel you are a candidate for bariatric surgery of any kind. If they think you are a candidate they call you with an appt.  Much to my surprise I am a candidate.  And not only am I a candidate, I have a BMI of 43 which means the insurance most likely wont put up much of a fight.  I am morbidly obese...the highest category of obesity.

HUH.   Was this really happening?

I went to my first appointment with the surgeon and nutritionist on January 21.  I didn't really know what to expect. I also met with the nutritionist that day as well.  My husband came with me and even asked questions.  The dr said something that stuck with me when answering one of my husbands questions.
Hubs: "Can she gain the weight back"
Doc: "There is an 80% chance she will not, but if she doesn't change her eating habits she can become one of the 20%.  However, once a person reaches morbid obesity, their chances of getting the weight off and keeping it off are less than 5%...and that's what makes it a disease."

BAM....And that was it.  That was the turning point when I knew this was for me.  I have been yoyo dieting for years.  More than half my life actually.  I have been fighting an uphill battle for sure but I never knew the statistics were that strongly evidenced.

I would like to also say that I have done lots of research on the different procedures out there.  And this office is, in my opinion, VERY thorough to make sure that you succeed and that this is not a decision made on a whim.  You cant just make an appointment and go have surgery.  No.  There is a whole process, and a bariatric agreement you have to sign. There is a 3-6 month time frame or more before you can have the surgery.
Here are a few examples of requirements for both pre and post op patients:
Lose 5% of starting weight
Meet with nutritionist regularly
Psychological clearance
Sleep Study and clearance
Blood work
Several appts with surgeon before and after surgery
Support group meetings before and after surgery
Letter of medical necessity from primary dr.

I have most of these things completed but I am hung up on the sleep study.  I have been tired.  I chalked it up to my weight.  But now I find out I apparently I have sleep apnea and restless sleep. My oxygen levels drop into a concerning %.   It was concerning enough that I have to go back again for another test this week with a CPAP to see if it helps.  Hopefully it does and I can get the clearance.  This is just one more thing that reminds me that I need to get this weight off for good. 

So there you have it.  This brings me up to where I am now.  Tomorrow I will write about some of the tests I have had done and some of the reactions from friends(the few I have told anyway).  I hope this finds you all well.  I will be spending some time catching up on favorite blogs!