Day 4, continued

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7:07 a.m.

These are the 3 different types of bariatric procedures we do at our office.

The adjustable gastric band, or “lap band”, is an adjustable silicon band that is placed around the upper part of the stomach. The band connects to a port on the stomach via a small line, where saline can be injected or removed by physician to make the band tighter or looser.

The roux-en-y gastric bypass utilizes a small part of the existing stomach, and turns it into a small pouch. This procedure essentially takes a football-sized stomach, and turns it into the size of an egg. This egg-sized pouch is then connected to the small intestine, “bypassing” the old stomach and part of the upper small intestine.

The sleeve gastrectomy completely removes about 80% of the stomach, leaving only a tube-like stomach.

All three procedures are effective and valid. Every person is different. Only a surgeon can advise on which procedure is right for each individual patient.

10:19 a.m.

People have asked me many questions. Well here are your answers:
Q: What bariatric procedure did you have done?
A: Laparoscopic roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
Q: Which surgeon did you choose?
A: Since I work for the office where I had this procedure done, out of respect to the surgeons, I am declining to answer this question.
Q: Did you try Weight Watchers, Adipex, gluten-free, etc?
A: Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Q: Why didn’t it work?
A: It all worked, to a point. I’ve never been able to get my weight under 232 pounds.
Q: What was your weight the day of surgery?
A: 358 pounds.
Q: What does Destination: 175 mean?
A: 175 pounds is my goal weight.
Q: Isn’t bariatric surgery the easy way out?
A: The easy way out of what? Ask anyone who has had weight loss surgery. It is hard, painful, and takes commitment. It is a good choice for people who have literally tried every other measure, and have not been able to achieve their goal.
Q: Can you eat whatever you want now, just in smaller portions?
A: Um….no. WLS (weight loss surgery) is merely a tool. I have a window of about 18 months to use that tool to get this weight off. Beyond that time frame, I will have to eat nutritiously and exercise or the weight can be regained.
Q: Won’t you have a lot of loose skin?
A: Likely there will be some loose skin, but exercise and toning can prevent a lot of that.
Q: The bariatric patients I have seen look sickly. Their hair is falling out, their skin looks saggy, pale and under nourished, and their fingernails are brittle. Aren’t you scared of looking like this?
A: Not at all. Those patients you speak of are not getting adequate protein and hydration, and they are not taking their bariatric vitamins. There is a vitamin schedule that must be followed to achieve and maintain optimum health.

Q: What made you decide to have surgery?
A: Many things. Fractured feet, bad knees, failed weight loss attempts, pain, pain, and more pain. I love my life and I want to be able to live it to the fullest. That had become nearly impossible.
Q: How long will you be off work?
A: 10 days to 3 weeks, mostly to learn vitamin schedules, and make sure I am hydrated and nourished. Protein and supplements are literally a full time job.
Q: What do your kids think about all this?
A: They were scared at first, too. But after learning about the procedures, they are fully supportive. I have explained to them the gory details about my lifelong eating disorder, and I feel they are prepared to not make the same mistakes.

Day 4

3:38 a.m.

Home at last.

I’m relatively pain-free, but Hycet will do that. (Narcotic pain med)

I woke up about 20 minutes ago with moderate chest pain, 3/10 pain scale.

Don’t worry.

It is residual gas from the laparoscopic procedure, moving around from belly to chest.

It’s completely typical.

I took a chewable Gas-x and now I am discomfort-free. 0/10.
(Aside: You will see me using the pain scale a lot. If I’m 0/10, that means on a scale of 0 to 10, I have no pain. If I am 10/10, that means someone has ripped off my arms and beat me with the bloody stumps. 10/10 should be reserved for childbirth, cancer patients and kidney stones. And even during labor, mine was only an 8/10. Make a mental note of that.
Oh and while we are at it, there is no such thing as an 11 on a 0-10 pain scale. Stop embarrassing yourselves. Nurses everywhere will worship you.)
Many people ask if I’m hungry. That would be a no. I’m told I may not feel hunger sensation for up to a year.
The hardest part right now is staying hydrated. Even a few too many sips, too fast, can create a too-full feeling which can last for hours.
I don’t have any nausea, and haven’t since the day of surgery, which was July 29.
It may all sound a little drastic, well…that’s because it IS. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone until they have tried everything else to reach that healthy BMI range of 18-24.
This isn’t easy. Not even a little.
I have worked in Bariatrics for 3 years, and I love my patients. Well, now I AM the patient, and I commit to love myself just the same. It is my mission to utilize this experience to eradicate the stereotype that surrounds obesity.
Later today I will be doing an FAQ post. (Frequently asked questions).
Thanks for the unwavering support. Love to all. xoxo

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Day 3

7:57 a.m.

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This is my reaction to having to give myself 7 days of Lovenox shots.
I am going home today, is that wild? I am still on a clear liquid diet, and will still be on some pain meds when I leave. I will need to inject Lovenox in my belly for a week to thin my blood and reduce chances of DVT.
A few rough patches, but all in all an amazing experience.

Big props to Community North PCU and Surgery units.

Love ya shugas.

8:53 a.m.

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This is what bariatric patients eat the first week after surgery. 1 ounce of SF Jello and/or 1 ounce of broth. Then after the “meal,” wait 30 minutes and then start drinking 1 ounce of crystal light or Isopure every 15 minutes.

It’s harder than it sounds.

My stomach has gone from the size of a football to about the size of an egg, so there isn’t much room for any food.

I will be on clear liquids until I see the surgeon at my post-op appointment on Tuesday.

Then I will be advanced to full liquids for a couple of weeks. Full liquids are sugar-free puddings, low-fat cream based soups, and low-fat/no sugar Greek yogurt.

Being a bariatric patient is much like being a newborn. I have to eat liquids and soft foods, and slowly advance back to regular foods.

10:41 a.m.

My surgeon just stopped by and said all my labs are normal, and everything looks great. So I will be going home around lunchtime today.

48 hours, not too shabby.

Many of our patients at the office stay in the hospital for at least 3 days, some even up to a week. So I feel extremely fortunate.

1:17 p.m.

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Leaving the hospital and heading home with my sis! (I’m the one on the left.)

Now the real work begins…

Day 2

4:34 a.m.

Up early this morning, and feeling pretty great! No nausea at all, incisions look great, BP is down at last taking to 114/56.

What??😀
The surgeon had some labs drawn, pretty painless. Once I washed my face, and took a nice walk, I felt pretty great. My nurse, Taryn and assistant Nena have been amazing answering all of my questions. I am so happy with my care.

Taryn needs to be a nurse educator. That chick is the berries.

9:58 a.m.

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Bariatric breakfast of champions!
Yesterday I was only allowed ice chips. Today I advance to clear liquids. I will get 1 ounce each of SF jello and broth for all 3 meals, and then Crystal Light and Isopure to sip on.
This is just during the healing stage. I’ll advance to full liquids on Tuesday.

11:06 a.m.

Um yeah, ain’t no way I’m eating 2 ounces of anything.

Such a strange and foreign feeling.

I thought I would be doing jello and broth shots in fits of rabid hunger. Yet now that the moment is actually here, I don’t even want it.

4:31 p.m.

Having a bit of a rough afternoon. The belly pain has increased, so I am back on the good stuff meds. I tried to go off of the strong meds too soon, because I typically don’t like taking them. But it just wasn’t time yet. Thanks to a sensitive nurse named Jonathan, and a caring provider, I was able to receive pain relief for some pretty intense belly pain. (7/10)

There have been people in and out of here all day. I lost count at 35 visitors.

Possibly due to the high numbers of people.

Or possibly just due to the high.

Yuk yuk.

Thanks to everyone for your visits today and for your encouragement.

6:23 p.m.

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Just finished a lap with exercise physiologist, Kelly Drew. She loves her job a little too much, can you tell?

Kelly and I have been friends and colleagues for years.

Her heart for bariatric patients is something else.

11:04 p.m.

I have had the most incredible nurses. They are so patient, and answer every single one of my questions. I love that.

 

Day 1

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4:42 p.m.

This photo was taken about 3 hours after my procedure. Yes you read that right. I was up doing laps 3 hours after my surgery.

The little guy in the photo with me is my son.

My kids, my friends, my family all came to support me and encourage me to get up and get moving.

No slothing allowed here.

We’ve done the surgical business, now on with the hard work.

Surgery went as planned this morning. I was taken in right before noon, and the surgeon was done by 1:20. I had a roux-en-y gastric bypass, and an umbilical hernia repair.

An hour and 20 minutes?

Not too shabby.

Coming out of recovery and into PCU, I had some unbelievable pain and pressure in my chest and belly. Within a very short time, my nurse Heather, gave me Dilaudid and Toradol by IV.

From there it was smooth sailing.

You can just hear Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd playing softly in the background, cantcha?

Good gawd those are some good pain meds.

7:43 p.m.

I just finished my 7th lap around the hospital unit. My pain is well controlled, and I’m smiling!

Just sucking on some ice chips now and watching some HIMYM reruns on Netflix.

This has been the most amazing experience.

It has not been easy, but honestly I guess I expected it to be a lot harder.

Everyone keeps calling me a rock star.

I’ll take it.

The Cage

For many years I have battled what seems like the entire world. My son’s autism has turned me into a Tasmanian-devil, cornered-raccoon-esque, mom machine.

Focusing my time and energy on his needs has sucked the life out of me, to a fault.

But now it is time for me to take back my life a bit and focus on the thing that matters most to me and to my kids.

My health.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for bariatric surgery. Am I excited?

Not exactly.

But am I ready?

You betcha.

I have done so much damage to my body by losing and regaining the same 50+ pounds over and over again. I know this. I am not saying it is right, and I certainly would not wish it on anyone else. But at some point I have to stop this cycle, and accept the help that is available to me.

And that point is now.

I suppose there are those who think I am taking the easy way out.

That’s not the case.

But so what if it were?

Let’s say you had unintentionally locked yourself in a cage. You were stuck there for years. Many the passersby offered you help. But you couldn’t get yourself out. No one could get you out. Then one day you notice this completely obvious escape route, but you think to yourself, “It’s too good to be true.” But you really can leave that cage forever. Would you choose to leave? Or would you sit in that cage just to be a martyr, because you don’t want people to think you “took the easy way out?”

Insane.

Of course you wouldn’t.

You would get your crap together and hightail it out of there.

Well that’s exactly what I’m doing.

It’s 2015, people. The surgical community has made astounding advancement with all kinds of procedures, bariatrics being at the top of that list. Did you know these procedures are laparoscopic now? That means I don’t even have to be cut open. In the matter of just a couple of hours, my surgeon is going to make a few small incisions, and robotically change my stomach from the size of a football to about the size of an egg.

Amazing stuff.

This will drastically reduce the amount of food I need to feel satiated.

It will also drastically reduce my blood pressure.

I will likely leave the hospital off of my blood pressure medications.

And I am so ready for this chance to undo the damage I have done.

I am prepared.

I have had two years of behavioral therapy.

I have worked in bariatrics for almost three years. I am surrounded by successful patients and dietitians and RN’s and clinical staff who know all there is to know about bariatrics, and what I need to be successful.

And I am stronger than I know.

I am supported and surrounded and loved.

I am loved.

I am so very loved.

I have already accomplished so much. I have overcome an eating disorder. I have admitted my need for help.

And I no longer fear my own judgment.

Or yours.

I am leaving this cage once and for all.

 

 

Plus-sized nausea

Plus-sized specialty stores, take heed.

Those of us over the size of 16 are coming together, angry villager style, wielding our torches as our outcry against your skinny leg/muffin top enhancing pants, flowered tops, and otherwise garbage bag looking jackets, sarapes and mumus.

I mean seriously people, who designs this stuff? Everyone once in a great while, you can come across something superdy duper hot. But most of the time? Large, flowery pieces of crap that just scream “Hello! Look at me! I’m attending float tryouts for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!”

I mean come on now. Want examples? As if you need them.

ass

Thank you. I’ve always wanted sunflowers decoupaged onto the material from my grandmother’s davenport, and whipped into a shirt. Hot.

 

 

ass1

 

This sweater wouldn’t even look good on a Kardashian. With all of it’s pink stretchy yarnness, this is really just a great way to make me look like a giant overstuffed bag of cotton candy. Next.

 

 

ass3-1

Note to self: Attend more garage sales. Purchase old mumus and afghans, and turn them into sleeveless and utterly hideous clothing. After which time, you can sell them to no one for $40.

 

 

ass4

A black tee with one large flower in the center would have been acceptable. But instead you took this directly to black/brown/ecru hell. Let’s leave it there to burn for eternity.

 

 

ass5

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

 

 

ass6

Dude. Searsucker is for toddlers. The only thing worse than searsucker, is searsucker on fat. In hot pink and coral, with poo-brown accents. Come on now.

 

 

ass7

Mmmm hmmmmmmmmmm. Poor shirt. Looks like a pool of tortured souls lost in an abyss of horrible color placement. If you look closely, they are screaming to get out. And no one blames them.

 

 

ass8

What is this? The earth on crack, immortalized on a scrub top?

 

 

ass10

Um, really? This looks like a 1980’s brochure for a tropical peasant resort.

 

 

ass11

I’ve named this one: Bloody Jungle Papaya Lovin’.

 

 

ass12

This is the previous photo’s bastard cousin, Oceanic Parrot Vomitosis.

After this fantastic display, is it any wonder why so many women choose to wear black?

Whoever said big girls don’t cry certainly never had this crap to choose from.

Never say never

I often cry when I write. And by cry, I mean ugly, troll-faced sobbing. But that’s okay. Writing is cathartic for me. Being honest with myself and those around me, this is what brings me freedom from the ghosts of my past.

Today will be no exception.

I am going to share things with you today that scare me to my core. But as my dear friend Andrea said to me just last week, “It is okay to have fear, but it is not okay to let that fear keep you from doing something.”

I’ve always been relatively transparent about my battles. And I’ve had my fair share. If there is a way to triumph, I will find it.

By nature I am stubborn as an ox, and I will not be bested. Ever.

Never ever.

Yet 2 years ago, I had to admit I couldn’t handle the burden of Zion’s autism expenses alone anymore. Once I admitted that need, it made me vulnerable. There I sat, naked and ashamed, quivering behind that little leaf, just waiting for that first person to step up and say they would join my village and help us.

Then the most amazing thing happened. People started lining up in droves to help shoulder that burden. It was very humbling.

So I learned there is power in weakness. That lesson taught me how life-changing it can be to take a knee, and allow the support around me to lighten my load for a while.

Even so, as much as it pains me to admit it, there is one lifelong task I have not been able to champion. I could probably sit here all day and wax poetic about the joys of being “thick,” or “big and beautiful,” …or I can just call a spade a spade.

I suffer from eating disorder-induced obesity.

There I said it.

I am not going to lie and say I have eaten tofu and bean sprouts for 42 years. I started this mess with my own two hands when I was 8 years old. Somehow the pain of my childhood and losing my grandfather turned into sneak-eating junk food in the closet.

In the blink of an eye, I learned that just for a moment, I could stuff my feelings down by pouring cheese sauce over them and eating them. And even better, I could do it in secret.

But a pudgy tummy is a brilliant tattle tale.

Within a year someone from my family grabbed my burgeoning belly and said, “Angela, this is starting to hang down. You need to go on a diet.”

And thus began over 30 years of disordered eating.

When I was happy, I ate very little, if at all. When I was sad, I would binge-eat.

I would eat next to nothing until I felt like I was starving, and after driving myself into a voracious and frenzied hunger, I found ways to secretly gorge on the forbidden fruits. Chocolates, chips, candies, ice cream. I would go to spend the night with my great-aunt with the intention of binge eating, and once she was asleep for the night, I would eat ice cream and cheese puffs until I was sick.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

This cycle went on for years.

Until one day I got busted, big time. After babysitting for a family, the children’s mom called my mom to tell her I had eaten an enormous amount of snack food the night before. And there was no denying it, so I got in trouble.

I was so ashamed. So I had to find less obvious ways to feed my sickness. I got creative. I would save my babysitting money, and then walk to the drug store to buy my contraband. I hid my treasures. And I hid them well.

But the pounds were not so cooperative.

This went on into high school. Friends and family were constantly making comments about my weight. The binge/starve pattern would go on for longer periods of time. I would reign in the beast for a few months and lose 30 pounds, and then lose control and binge for a few months and regain that 30 pounds.

And then 30 became 40. And 40 became 50.

Up.

Down.

Up.

Down.

In 2009, I discovered vegetarianism.

Cardio.

Discipline.

And hot trainers.

I worked my arse off and got my weight down to the lowest it had ever been as an adult. I stayed at that weight for a while. But I never dealt with the real problem.

My mind.

The last 6 years, my weight has been all over the place. I have also fractured my feet, not one…oh no, not two…but three times. Hence, I have spent a great deal of time sitting. I have tried so many things to lose the weight…I have done Weight Watchers. I have juiced. I have paleo’d. I have walked. And walked. And walked some more. I have tried almost everything.

But there is one thing I said I would never, ever do.

Weight-loss surgery.

My doctor has been after me for 15 years to have this procedure . But I have always said this wasn’t for me. In my shame, I felt I should be able to champion this burden on my own. After all, I did it to myself. And accepting surgical intervention would be admitting defeat.

And God forbid I ever do that.

So two years ago, I joined a program through work called Bridges to Weight Management. This is a program that utilizes a team of dietitians and therapists to help achieve weight loss and wellness.

This program has changed my life.

I have learned that all this time, I was trying to fix my body…when it was my mind that was broken.

And now I have learned how to control an eating disorder I’ve had since I was 8. Yet after two years of therapy and mostly balanced eating, I am at an impasse. My head is right, but the weight will not come off.

So here, today…I am waving my white flag.

I am ready to accept surgical intervention to achieve a healthier me. That’s hard for me to say. It’s even harder for me to say out loud and publicly. Because I do fear being perceived as weak.

But fear is not a valid reason to keep myself from doing something. Neither is judgment. But I would be lying if I said I don’t care how you perceive me. Because deep down I want to be seen as the bad-a$$ who can master any and everything. So perhaps this is a lesson to me on many levels. It is good to humble myself and accept help.

And that help is scheduled for July 29.

All my life, through sheer stubbornness and determination, I have taken down giants…David and Goliath style.

Now it is time to use that little slingshot to take down the biggest giant of all.

My pride.