Monthly Archives: June 2013

Three Weeks Bites the Dust…

Happy three-week anniversary to me! I am surviving and more importantly thriving with my new stomach. I am 20 ½ lbs and 10 inches down! My body is repairing itself and I feel healthy and strong. At the end of the day, I am exhausted. I feel more energized every day so I know that will go away soon.

The hardest part of this three-week journey has been eating, naturally. The first two weeks of only liquids was bland, very bland. The protein shakes I loved, OK liked, before my surgery tasted horrible afterward. All the liquids protein drinks I bought were too sweet. I never thought this would be a problem since I have a sweet tooth. C is for cookie and cake and chocolate for me! I finally found a cookies and cream protein shake that I could tolerate and sugar-free lemon lime jello was tolerable.

I’m an equal opportunity eater so I like salty food as well. Have you ever had broth by itself? Even for this salt connoisseur, it was either too salty or too bland. Strained soups turned out to be a better choice since they had some flavor besides salt. Chicken noodle soup broth became my go-to dish. I actually wished for cheeseburger flavor Crystal light to add some variety and normally in my life!

Two weeks post surgery and pureed food is on the menu! Blended soups are decent, especially my friend’s homemade chicken noodle soup. Gumbo blends nicely and gives me that spicy flavor I crave. Won Ton soup, however, does not purée well at all. The white soapy remains of the soup was unbelievably off-putting. But pureed tuna with salsa is a winner. Yes, it looks like cat food, but I honestly don’t care now. Food with substance and flavor is high on my list.

Since my stomach is handling pureed and soft foods well, I’m on to flakey fish! Over the past few years I’ve come to enjoy mild, white fish. For a girl who went crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay, you would think I was a shellfish lover, but I’m not. Shellfish and any fish that is, well, too fishy, is not for me. My ever supportive and great chef of a husband, is baking Mahi Mahi for me. It is like heaven!

Here is a picture of last night’s dinner, Mahi Mahi with pureed roasted carrots. One and a half ounces of fish with two tablespoons of the carrots. And the next picture is the end of my meal. With my stomach only holding two ounces at a time, I can’t always finish my food.

fishcarrotsbeforeFishCarrotsAfter

It is a strange feeling for me, as a life long overeater. Before, even when I was full, I could still manage to eat another bite or two. And I always could manage to squeeze in dessert. Now having gastric sleeve surgery, I know when I’m full and there is no denying that feeling. I’ve come close to throwing up once or twice, but I realized it was gas and Gas-X saved the day. Fortunately I’ve managed to keep my food intake low and really work with my new stomach size. The sleeve is my first defense in managing my food intake and I feel like I’m getting the hang of it.

In another week I am back to regular food and I am excited, but nervous. It will truly be the start of my new life with food. I need to eat well to lose weight, but also to keep up my energy and be healthy. No going back to fried foods, mindless liquids and junk food. Well, not all the time. I plan on having wine again and a bite of a Reese’s peanut butter egg is in my future next Easter. The difference will be the amount and how often I indulge. As I’ve said before, the gastric sleeve is another tool in my arsenal to battle my weight and keep myself inline after I reach my goal. The war is on and I’m the general! Here’s to the next three weeks of battle at DowntheScale…

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The Zombie Curse is Lifting….

As dramatic as that sounds, it is true. I feel human on day ten of my recovery from gastric sleeve surgery. Ten days can go by slowly, but I survived it and I’m on the path to my new normal.

Since coming home from the hospital, it has been emotional, exhausting and awkward. Thankfully, my family didn’t send me back to the hospital or a mental hospital, which might have been appropriate. Changing my body, which also changed my way of thinking, has been one of the hardest situations I have willingly put myself in.

Learning to live with my small stomach is more challenging than I realized. I did the Optifast diet (only liquids and the random protein bar) for six months so I assumed this would be just as simple. Wrong! With the Optifast diet I supplemented the meager liquid food with Diet Coke. Really, healthy I know. Since my new stomach only holds one to two ounces, I can’t fill up on other food or drink. Physically, I don’t need the food or drink, but for the first few days my head believed it did need it. If the food smelled too good while my family was eating, I hid in my bedroom and moped. But I did try to remind myself that this is the liquid stage and, then pureed food stage is only for a month. I’m not proud to say I let self-doubt creep into my brain and let myself whine that a month was too long.

Fortunately I came to my senses today. A month really isn’t that long. July 3rd is not that far away. I really am starting to believe these statements, but spending the day outside with my kids changed my attitude completely today.

The guilt of putting my kids through one month of their summer vacation with their whiney mother finally got to me. We have amazingly gorgeous weather now. When you live in San Francisco, you know to enjoy every sunny day in the summer. The cold and fog creep in before you realize it and that is your summer. The kids and I have been out a bit this week, but I decided Friday was the day to truly enjoy it.

The kids and I enjoying a beautiful day.  And I'm celebrating my 15 pound weight loss too!

The kids and I enjoying a beautiful day. And I’m celebrating my 15 pound weight loss too!

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It’s a Gas, Gas, Gas..

I am sleeved. This past Tuesday, the weight loss journey truly began with gastric sleeve surgery. It’s wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pretty, but it is done. No turning back now.

Tuesday I felt positive on my decision. Pre-op was smooth. The nurse was able to get the IV in my hand without too much trouble which is a miracle. I have tricky veins and nurses always struggle with me. After an hour, we went to the surgery waiting room to meet with my sleeve gang. The professional and warm nurse soothed me right away. My Doogie Howser anesthesiologist was reassuring even with his baby smooth face. The physician assistant from my surgeon office was her usual friendly, confidant self and my attractive and experienced surgeon all reminded me that the surgery would go well.

 I kissed my ever supportive and very handsome husband goodbye and walked into the operating room. Or should I say alien ship? Stark white walls and blinking machines were not calming nor comforting. Doogie Howser’s gently whispering of “It’s going to go well” and my warm nurse gently rubbing my arm steadily did calm me down and suddenly I was asleep.

My two-hour nap was brutally awakened by the aliens of the mothership. After a minute I realized I wasn’t in a large experiment room on an alien vessel. Contrary to my first thought, aliens had not pumped my body full of so much air that I was going to explode. I was in the recovery room of my hospital and I hurt like hell. 

I pride myself on being a tough cookie when it comes to pain, but at this time I was not that tough cookie. I wasn’t even a cookie crumb of strength. Meet Jen, the moaning, whiney hot mess. The head nurse finally brought over medicine and I calmed down and mellowed a bit before I planned my escape from the alien ship.

Somehow I made it to my room and I recall my still handsome but now annoyingly perky doctor telling me about the hiatal hernia that he fixed and that I have an abdominal hernia that needs repairing in the future. He smiled and said everything went great. My hubby was comforting and not too perky when he arrived. Later, my friend who has been to my recovery of two of the four surgeries I’ve had, arrived with some trashy magazines and support.

I can’t say if I talked much to my hubby and friend that afternoon. The day passed in a nauseous haze. Finally, when I kept complaining about my nausea, one of the nurses checked my morphine pump. Turns out I enjoyed pushing my pain clicker a bit too much. I switched from food comfort to morphine comfort that quickly. A new painkiller was introduced and it made a world of difference, but not enough to go home that day. I stayed another night to keep my fluids up and to heal.

In theory, another day at the stay-at-home mom spa seemed fun. The never-ending gas and constant vital checks ruined the relaxation vibe. No one came to do a mani/pedi or rub my feet. And then my pity party began. “What the hell have I done?”, “How pathetic am I that I must have surgery to be normal?” and the more concise “F— me!” statements filled my head all day and night.

Two days after surgery, I took a welcome but nauseating ride home with these self doubting statements. Encouraged by my friends, and resting at home with my own Dr. Hubby and sweet and loving children have helped my outlook tremendously. There is guilt on my part that I am putting my family through this uncomfortable and awkward time. Even through all the pain, nausea and doubt, I still believe in my decision. A month of drastic physical and emotional changes will be worth it. I had gastric sleeve surgery to become a better me and to truly live my live the way I want to live it. Determination, humor, pain and change will get me Down the Scale to where I need and want to be.

Here I go…

Here I am ready to go back out until the world with my water bottle in hand!  Where did I go first?  Target, of course!

Here I am ready to go back out into  the world with my water bottle in hand! Where did I go first? Target, of course!

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow….

Tomorrow is the day. The next chapter in my weight loss journey begins. It isn’t the last chapter since my journey will continue forever. I will always need to think about my weight, my eating habits and exercise. I have no doubt about that. Tomorrow is the start of my new way of eating, thinking and living.

At about 11:30 AM, part of my stomach will be removed. Adios! Au Revoir! Buh Bye! It isn’t magic, but gastric sleeve surgery. For a more scientific explanation, visit http://www.sutterpacific.org/bariatrics/weightloss/vertical-gastrectomy.html. In a nutshell, my stomach becomes a sleeve that can hold about 1 to 2 ounces. My surgeon will stitch me back up and I will stay overnight at the hospital. Assuming my new stomach isn’t leaking the next day, I’ll be right back home and start losing weight.

I am not fond of full body photos, but I am happy to have a few before I begin my transformation.  Always important to remember where you came from!

I am not fond of full body photos, but I am happy to have a few before I begin my transformation. Always important to remember where you came from!

Sounds easy, right? It won’t be that way and I know that. The gastric sleeve is just a tool to help me lose weight. The new stomach forces me to be mindful of my portions and types of food I eat. It may seem like a quick fix, but in fact this is a lifestyle change. It gives me the eating boundaries I need.

While I love spontaneity and surprises, I actually thrive on structure. I’m a planner, sometimes to a fault. In the case of my eating habits, this is what I need. The gastric sleeve will make me think, make me plan and actually physically keep me from overeating. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I need this kind of physical boundary to keep me in check.

Oh, I’m good with boundaries like diets. I am a successful dieter for about four months. After that I’m bored or frustrated with the diet. Or I’m full of confidence that I can continue or maintain the weight loss on my own. The key problem with this is that I said the word, diet, not lifestyle change. Diets are temporary and don’t work for me. I needed to think of my weight loss journey as a lifestyle change, a permanent one. I am finally committing to a lifestyle change with my surgery.

It is this commitment that makes this time different. There is no going back. My stomach will not grow. Yes, it can stretch a bit, but eating large amounts of food will not work or vomiting will ensue. I have a slightly irrational fear of vomiting. That fear alone will help keep me in line, physically. Mentally, it will actually be harder for me. Eating mindlessly, eating when happy, eating when sad, they are all part of me. I have to remove this part of me on my own.

In theory, eating right and exercising will take and keep the weight off. I honestly wish I was that person who could succeed on her own. I am not. I need help and I am finally admitting it and taking charge of my health and my life. To many, this must seem like such a drastic step and I agree it is a huge undertaking. I haven’t made this decision lightly or without considering the risks involved.

After more than six months of waiting (required by my health insurance), researching, thinking, talking with friends and family, and a bit of good old-fashioned praying, I decided that the gastric sleeve surgery is the best path for me to follow. Fortunately, loving and supportive family and friends surround me. This journey is about me and what I need and want, but I can’t walk it alone. And I don’t want to be alone. I’ve been alone too long in this obese hell and I am thankful I won’t be going Down the Scale alone…