May 21, 2014 was a day to change my life and my health for ever. After many months of preparing for surgery I had gastric sleeve. It was a long journey to get to that day. I first had to make the decision to have the surgery. I did so after being in the hospital not once but twice for my heart in a 3 month period. Then I had to see what coverage if any my insurance offered. That was a major pain. I had to go to a facility that was an approved by my insurance carried and held special accreditation to perform the surgery. It wasn’t easy to find a facility near me. After much internet research I decided on a facility in my home state that was 200 miles away. Then I had to go through the steps of the bariatric program. There was the meet and greet with the doctor and staff on an evening in February. I along with other hopeful obese people sat in a conference room and listened to the physician, dietician, patient advocate and exercise physiologist give their spill on what to expect with getting approved for the surgery. What I found out was the requirements for the program at the hospital was more involved than what the insurance required. Man these people art hardcore. I was determined to change my health so on ward I went.
My appointment was scheduled to meet the doctor. I went and because I wasn’t technically morbidly obese I had to rely on my comorbidities (other health conditions) caused by obesity to get me approved. I had GERD (gastric esophageal reflux disease), a heart arrhythmia which obesity aggravated, history of high blood pressure and osteoarthritis in my hips and knees. What a mouth full to say! I was only 42 at the time and I felt 62 years old at least. My physician was great. He had a quirky sense of humor and was quite frank with me on what he expected from my surgery. My expectations were also discussed. I’m 5’8″ and weighed 262 lbs at this appointment. Before my weight spiraled out of control I weighed 150-160 pounds for years. I really didn’t think I would ever see these weights again but I hoped to weigh 170-180 pounds and be healthy. Not an unrealistic expectation I was told. Next I visited with my patient advocate. She sat down with me and we went over the financial side of the program and what my insurance would cover and my out-of-pocket expenses. Multiple appointments were made to get approved including seeing the dietitian, seeing the psychologist, attending a support group meeting, visiting with the exercise physiologist and pre-surgery teaching appointment. Because I live 200 miles away most of my appointments were scheduled with this in mind. I so appreciated that. Every time I had an appointment I had to take of a vacation day from work and spend the entire day attending it.
The psychology appointment consisted of talking with a psychologist about why I wanted surgery and what to expect with the recover and the needed changes in my behaviors to be successful in losing weight and keeping it off. Once this was done I next had to take a very, very long written test to determine if I was of sound mind to do these needed things. I in total spent 4 hours at her office that day. Luckily I was allowed to use a local doctor and I didn’t have to drive the 200 miles for this appointment.
I saw the dietitian and the exercise physiologist on the same day. Then the evening of the same day I attended a support group meeting. This was quite the marathon day but very informative and so worth it. The dietitian reviewed with me using my notebook (oh yes, I forgot to tell you I was issued a notebook at my first appointment which was full of information and I had to bring it to each subsequent appointment) the proper eating for the prep, the first two weeks of drinking nourishment and how to advance my diet there after. It was so much to absorb. I was grateful for the notebook. After this appointment I went to the gym and visited with an exercise guru. Basically I had been active in my youth and up until I had kids. After giving birth to my daughter I never lost all the baby weight and pretty much hated doing anything physical. I couldn’t move like I use to and my joints hurt when I tried. I shared all this and we developed a plan for post op exercising. I knew if I did the surgery and had a huge portion of my gut removed and went through all of the recovery but neglected the exercise I would be a failure. I made the commitment to exercise. The support group was last on this day of appointments and I wasn’t disappointed. The meeting was heavily attended. I think there was at least 40 people there. I listened to people such as myself talk about fears of surgery and ask questions about recovery to those in attendance who had already done it. I noticed that almost all those who were post op carried a bottle of water and were sipping on it during the meeting. They were practicing some of the teaching I had learned earlier this day.
I received insurance approval. Next I was scheduled for surgery and my pre-op class.
Pre-op teaching ended up being mostly a review of everything I had already been to. There four of us in the class scheduled for surgery on the same day. We all were given check in instructions and given the instructions to prepare for the day of surgery. For 10 days leading up to surgery you were on a strict diet which was designed to help you shrink the liver and get it out-of-the-way. No one wants a nicked liver in surgery.
On Mother’s Day I started my prep. I was so excited about the surgery and what it would mean for my health that I don’t remember it being difficult to adhere to it. I know I must have experienced cravings but I had my eye on the prize so I did it. Finally the day before surgery we went to the big city and stayed over night. I checked in the next morning for the scheduled surgery and never looked back.
I’ll tell you more about recovery in another post.
Now it is one year later. This morning I weighed 190 lbs. I am 10 to 20 lbs short of my goal which sucks. I did really well until my personal life became a mess late last year. The holidays were not easy either. I actually made myself sick more than once eating fudge which is a gross thing to do to yourself. I’m reflecting today on the changes that didn’t take, the ones I have dropped. For instance, I know I eat to quickly and my bites are to big. I quit tracking my food on my app on my phone. I don’t drink enough water either. Lastly I eat to many sweets and I am addicted to ice cream. You could say it’s my drug of choice. I turn to it when I’m down. 😦
I am still exercising. That has stuck. I do zumba 3 times most weeks. Two sessions are for 90 minutes and then on the weekend I attend a 45 min class most weeks. Right now my Saturday instructor is out with a back injury and I should replace this exercise session with something else but I’ve just been sleeping in and having coffee with my parents. I love zumba. My body has been tricked into exercise. I love to dance and I truly enjoy my class. If I don’t go to it I am so gripey I can’t stand myself.
I still focus on eating my protein. It’s hard to get in the required amount of protein daily. I usually start my day off with a protein shake which is preceded by a latte with non-fat milk. 49 grams of protein to start the day is really good. Lunch consists of a salad with chicken or some grilled chicken nuggets with fruit. The afternoon is when things start to go down hill. This is when the cravings hit. I
just have to deal better with them. I need to be prepared with nutrient rich snacks and avoid Sonic and Braum’s. They are like opium dens for my addiction and I wouldn’t be caught in an opium den so I think I will start thinking of these places the same way. They are there to sabotage me. ARG!!!!!!!
So to sum it up I’ve lost 72 lbs on this journey. Not bad but not my goal either. I need to continue to do the things I have done right and concentrate on fixing the things I have done wrong. I can reach my goal. I know I can.
Before and in March 2015. Getting there.