My Weight Loss Surgery Experience
Long time, no see and I’m happy to be getting back on the writing train. I wanted to give you a New Year’s update and let you know how my weight loss surgery experience went. Sorry I’ve been MIA, but I’m on the mend and ready to talk about it now.
[Surgery Day 12/30/15]
The past two weeks have been a very different experience than any other experience I’ve ever had. Having weight loss surgery was halfway a breeze and halfway the most challenging thing I’ve done since becoming a parent. Let me explain, but I want to start from the beginning so those of you who are coming here for the first time know my story.
For most of my life, I have been slightly overweight. I was a chubby baby and always a “thick” kid. I gained weight easily and I ate like crazy. I’ve always dealt with depression, even long before it was diagnosed, so eating was my way of dealing with my emotions. When I was in elementary and middle school, my mom put my sister and me on a diet and we lost quite a bit of weight and felt healthier. But, that was just the beginning of the yo-yo diets that would continue for the rest of my childhood and into adulthood.
I can remember my 7th grade year, during Christmas break, I must have gained some weight because when I returned to school, my band director made a comment about my weight gain. I was devastated.
When I was a senior in high school, I barely ate and had two jobs so I lost a ton of weight and I was probably the thinnest I had ever been. I think I was 180 lbs at 5’6″ and I looked pretty good. Of course, then I started college far away from home and on a limited budget so things got out of hand again. I would eat junk all the time and was consistently having to buy new clothes in bigger sizes. I tried Weight Watchers once and lost 60 lbs, but then I found a boyfriend and we would just eat junk again so I gained it all back and lost the boyfriend.
Then, it was like I just gave up. I started working for CPS in Texas and my eating habits went crazy. I just ate all the time and junk that was so bad for me. When I met Howard and we got pregnant, I was 330 lbs. We got married and had a baby and our eating habits got perpetually worse. We would lay in bed, watching The Biggest Loser, with a bowl of ice cream. We ate out all the time. I drank diet soda at every meal and sometimes all day long. We were a disaster.
In 2010, we decided to make a change and went to a medically managed weight loss center and we were rock stars. Howard lost 160 lbs and I lost 90 lbs. We were in the best shape and we would workout together and as a family with Benjamin. We looked and felt great, but then the old eating habits crept back in and we gained all the weight and then some.
My highest weight to this date was 369.8 lbs.
I restarted the medically managed weight loss program in 2014 and lost almost 30 lbs in a year, but this was just not good enough and I began to yo-yo again. Howard just continued to gain and eventually started having heart problems again.
In 2015, we decided it was time to make a drastic change in the way we live and we started checking into weight loss surgery.
On August 17, 2015, Howard had the gastric sleeve surgery and to date, he has lost almost 150 lbs. I waited until Benjamin was on Christmas break and had my gastric sleeve surgery on December 30, 2015 and as of January 7, 2016, I have lost 7 lbs.
Going into the surgery, I had never had anything close to surgery before. I had a colonoscopy and I have given birth vaginally, but nothing quite like this. I was a little nervous, but my excitement outweighed my nervousness for the most part. About a week before my surgery, I had to go in for an endoscopy (EGD) to be sure everything was ready for the surgery and I made it through that with no problems, so surgery day was fairly easy. In fact, the hardest part about surgery day was that I was scheduled at 3pm and the doctor didn’t even arrive until after 4pm. I hadn’t eaten or drank all day, but the hunger wasn’t even there. I was a little thirsty, but overall I was fine.
I barely remember them wheeling me into the operating room and I had to move to the table, but then I fell asleep and woke up in recovery. I was having a little trouble breathing so they gave me a breathing treatment and then things just moved so smoothly after that. I got to go to a room and see Howard. They gave me small cups to begin practicing sipping. They gave me a liquid Vicodin just in case things started hurting and then we were left to just relax and me to sip every 15 minutes and practice my breathing with the Incentive Spirometer every hour. I was in the room until about 11pm when they released me to go to a nearby hotel where Howard and I felt more comfortable staying rather than making the 3 hour drive home.
The first night was strange because I didn’t really have pain, but I did feel uncomfortable with the gasses they put inside me. It was a few hours or maybe even the next day before I started passing the gas one way or the other and getting rid of the surgery gas. My incisions didn’t hurt at all, but the gas pain was unreal. In fact, even today (January 13) I still have one gas bubble still trapped in my left rib cage. My doctor keeps telling me to walk, walk, walk and use the Incentive Spirometer and each day it gets a little better.
Today is a big day for me because I finally get to start eating food, mushy and soft, pureed food, but actual food instead of liquids. I’ve been on a liquid diet since 3 weeks before the surgery and 2 weeks after. I’m definitely looking forward to my tuna salad today at lunch time, even though I don’t expect to be able to eat the whole thing as I’ve only been able to take in about 3-5 ounces in one sitting.
Speaking of intake, I’ve been drinking about two protein smoothies or shakes per day and as much water as I can take in. I’m supposed to be getting 60g of protein and 64 oz of fluids in each day. I am not sure I’ve quite made it to that. I either get the protein or I get the fluids, but I rarely get both. I’ve been focusing mainly on the protein because I don’t want to lose my hair, but I’m doing the best I can on the water/fluids.
My energy is still a little down, but that may be due to me not sleeping well since the surgery. I can no longer sleep on my left side because of the gas bubble stuck there and I am just now able to sleep on my stomach. I find myself waking up more often and tossing and turning because my left side is achy.
Even though my energy is down, I have still found time to walk either at lunchtime at work (twice around the parking lot) or at home (once around the block) and I’m getting in at least 2000 steps or more per day. This is good for me, believe me. I work in a sedentary position and I’m not active at home. I’ve always lived a sedentary life so any sort of movement is a positive for me.
Overall, I would say that I’m having a very positive experience with my weight loss surgery. I wish the weight was coming off a little faster, but my surgeon said that it might not happen as fast because of my depression medications and my birth control. I’m sure it will all start melting off as I get more of my energy back, but for now, I’m slow and steady and I’m going to beat this obesity once and for all!