When last I left you, I told you about my decision to have Gastric Sleeve surgery. My insurance company required a certain number of meetings between myself, a nutritionist and a therapist. It took over 3 months from the time I decided to have the surgery and the date the actual surgery took place.
I met my surgeon, Dr. Russ Birdwell. He put me immediately at ease, not too mention he was easy on the eyes and he enjoys Hockey, Football and working on his aquarium. Or so I heard. From a friend. Named Google. It’s not stalking if you can google it. I read that somewhere.
My starting weight was 287.5 pounds. It doesn’t get any easier sharing that number. On surgery day, I weighed 266.2 pounds. I’ll be honest the majority of that weight was lost during the 14 day fast prior to surgery. The weeks preceding the fast, I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t really lose any weight either. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an emotional eater. I eat when I’m bored, sad, happy or angry. So, pretty much all the time unless I’m asleep. I don’t remember the last time I ate because I was actually hungry. It was important to make myself aware of these behaviors, work on my portion control and make better food choices in general. I worked on eating more slowly and chewing my food thoroughly. Practicing these habits now, would help during my recovery period.
I wasn’t worried about the fast once I learned the reason it was necessary. During surgery, they have to move the liver to access the stomach. It lowers complications if your liver is small and malleable. Complications are bad. I didn’t want complications. My liver would have won Best Liver in a Laparoscopic Surgery award. My doctor would have wanted to date me if I was single, that’s how slinky and attractive my liver looked. Things just got weird. Moving on…
During the fast, you can have 3 shakes per day. They give you a list of acceptable protein shakes, and I picked EAS carb control in chocolate. You could also have sugar-free clear liquids and broths. I lived off jello, popsicles and protein shakes. Also water. Lots and lots of water. I hate water. Surprisingly, it didn’t suck, cause you know…liver. Although, I can’t look at jello now without throwing up in my mouth a little.
I didn’t exercise during this time. Honestly, existing on less than 500 calories a day, walking to the fridge felt like marathon training. My iron levels were low, so he had me taking Iron Supplements as well as a daily multi-vitamin. They take vials and vials of blood and run a battery of tests to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible during surgery.
Surgery day has finally arrived! I’ve lost 21.3 pounds and I’m both excited and nervous for this next chapter of my life to begin. Hopefully, a thinner and healthier chapter. I make sure to talk to each of my kids, just in case… I don’t want to have these morbid thoughts, but one of the complications is death. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to have last words, they were “I love you.” Also, that Jerry knew I wanted to be cremated. We don’t agree on this issue, so I was adamant he promise to cremate me, not bury me. If he didn’t, I would haunt him for the rest of his life in a scary Poltergeist kinda way, not in a comedic Ghostbuster kinda way or sweet Casper kinda way. Also, if he wanted, he could turn my ashes into a diamond and wear me. What? That’s a thing.
The surgery was successful, zero complications. Yay me! Yay my sexy liver for being all cooperative!
Then I came out of anesthesia. My first thought was that something went terribly wrong. The pain. I’m having a heart attack. Something isn’t right. All I can do is cry. There is a nurse. She’s mean to me, tells me they just gave me morphine. It’s not working. I’m convinced I’m dying, I start to hyperventilate. I start throwing up. Or dry heaving really. It’s horrible.
I wake up again in my room. There is my husband and a nice nurse. She tells me the pain I’m feeling is gas from all the air they pumped into my stomach and that the best relief would be to walk around.
Walk around?!?! But I’m dying. I know it. No one ever in the history of the world has experienced pain like this. Why is my husband just standing there! He should be yelling at the nurses to DO something!
I’d whine and complain more but I’m too busy throwing up. Again. They keep insisting walking will help. So I walk. Throw up. Walk some more. The pain might be lessening. Less of an elephant sitting on my chest, more of a hippo maybe. Do hippos weigh less than elephants? I think so. Maybe the walking is helping.
I’m feeling slightly better. I might have been a tad dramatic before. Ignore me. I’m not a good patient. I have a very low pain tolerance. Those poor nurses. I’m afraid to look at my stomach, I don’t want to see the incisions. I can’t stop throwing up, which although painful and unpleasant, does help alleviate the gas pains.
I’m kept overnight, to ensure there are no complications. Apparently, pain, gas and vomiting aren’t complications, but side effects… Before I’m allowed to go home, I have to have a scan done to make sure everything looks good. I have to drink this dye, which I can’t keep down. I keep throwing it back up. Somehow, I manage to keep enough down to do the scan. I’ve lost all dignity at this point. I just want to go home. I’m a terrible patient. They probably want me to go home too. The only thing I’ll miss are the leg massager things you get to wear to keep blood clots from forming. Those things were awesome.
I’m finally able to keep down water. I take teensy tiny sips. I pretty much exist on water for the 1st 4 days or so. Every week I’m allowed to add foods to my diet, starting with clear liquids and slowly adding solids. They recommend you do it slowly so you know exactly what foods you tolerate and which ones you don’t. Once I got home, the vomiting finally stopped and hasn’t been an issue since. I’m careful to eat slow and stop when I’m full. Jerry still asks me “is that all you’re going to eat?” Sigh.
Two weeks post-op, I see Dr. Birdwell for my follow up. My incisions are healing nicely. I weigh 254.3. I’ve lost another 11.9 pounds. A total of 33.2 pounds lost.
As soon as I’m released to exercise, I begin walking and I join a boot camp, Camp Gladiator. I hate exercise. I’m never going to love it. It will always be a struggle and I have to make myself go. I’ve accepted this and it’s ok. I like how exercise makes me feel. I love getting stronger. I love the endurance I’m building. I’m much more active with my kids. These are the benefits and what keeps me motivated. It’s enough, for now.
My current weight is 220.2. A total of 67.3 pounds lost since July 21, 2015. The pic on the left is today, the one on the right is my DL photo from 2014 and the closest to my max weight that I could find. Next time I do a gnarly close-up, I’ll have to wear makeup. I apologize. First all the liver and vomit talk and now these pics… I hope you aren’t eating.
Here is a current picture in my workout clothes. I’ll start tracking monthly from this point until I reach my goal weight with photos in addition to my weekly weigh-ins. I wish I had the same photo taken here at my max weight, but as I’ve mentioned, I did everything possible to avoid cameras or mirrors.
My goal is to reach 145 pounds (height is 5 ft 4 in). I’m halfway there. I know it’s going to get harder from here on out, and I’m hoping that posting monthly updates on my blog will help keep my momentum and accountability. I’m still losing anywhere from 1-3 pounds per week. I’ve been slacking in the exercise department with the busy Christmas rush, only walking 1-3 times per week. Camp Gladiator starts back up in January, so I plan to hit the New Year running…or rather huffing and puffing.
I couldn’t post every detail of my surgery or recovery here, or this blog would be like 3,000 words and who has time for that! If you are considering the surgery, or have questions for me, please feel free to ask.
Thank you for the encouraging words, you have no idea how much it helps keep me motivated on this journey ❤
Till next time…