Saturday, October 15, 2011

I've said it before!

I am a horrible blogger!

I'll keep it short and sweet - with hopes of posting more eventually.  I'm loving life!  I'm down 95 pounds since my highest weight a short 7.5 months ago!  Went shopping today and purchased size 16 pants and large shirts. 


Hope you're all doing well, too!

Monday, May 30, 2011

If you have a blog: adjust settings to allow comments

Hey all....not sure what's going on but it appears many bloggers cannot leave comments on other's blogs.  In order to do so (and be able to accept them as well), go to your settings on your comments and adjust to "full" - this way, you can receive comments and I can leave them.  :)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

From the depths of hell to LIFE IS GOOD - Part 1

Life is good.  No.  Strike that. Life is GREAT.  Much, much better than what it was 3 or so weeks ago.  Thank goodness for that!  I've certainly been busy - back to work and back to life.  The incision pain from the sutures that weren't dissolving is gone and I'm so thankful for that!  So, other than great, how am I feeling and what's life like now that I'm 6 weeks post VSG?  Here's the scoop:

-Eating:  It's going really well!  I certainly get hungry from time to time.  Not that often and certainly not as much nor AS hungry as I did before surgery but I do get hungry. Prior to surgery I was a bottomless pit.  I could eat an entire meal and be ready for another within an hour.  And, I'm not talking about a piece of fish and a vegetable.  I'm talking steak, potatoes, veggies...a whole meal - fit for a wrestler!  I've never been someone who constantly craves sweets and I still don't.  Sure, I like something sweet from time to time and I still enjoy it.  The difference?  One is enough now and I'm making better choices because I only have room for one!  I knew I needed portion control, I knew I needed to control the amount of food I could consume in a day and that's why I chose VSG - well, in addition to the reasons I didn't want RnY or a Gastric Band. 

I haven't had a problem eating anything since surgery and the only thing I haven't been cleared for yet is raw veggies, salad and bread.  And, can I just say how much I am craving a salad?!  I really can't wait!  I've been thinking of calling my nutritionist and asking if I can try a salad but I only have another 2 weeks before I see her again and I'm pretty sure she'll advance me at that point.  I hope!  In addition to not having a problem with any food, I also haven't experienced anything getting stuck, any foamies, slimes or PBs.  I read all about those things as a preop and they scared the heck out of me.  So far, no problems and I'm very thankful.  I'm not sure if my luck in that department has to due with the fact that I take my eating slow and I'm mindful about how, when and what I eat.  I've eaten anywhere between 600 and 1100 (only once!) calories in a day but I average about 800-850.  In terms of protein, I don't go below 60g per day and I average around 70 or so.  As for carbs, I watch them and find that I do alright if I stay under 100.  I do realize that I could likely lose faster/more if I lowered my carbs.  I've done hardcore Atkin's once in my life and I kept my carbs under 20 per day - do you know how difficult that is?  I didn't want to have to do that again.  I want to be as close to "normal" as possible....I want to be able to enjoy my carbs but not go overboard and I want to not regret enjoying a slice of bread - when I'm able to enjoy bread!

Today's menu:
B - Premier Protein chocolate shake with 1oz Almond Milk, 3 ice cubes, 1 splenda & 1 instant nescafe coffee
S - 1 Dove sugar free raspberry dark chocolate
L - 1oz chicken salad made with Cain's light mayo & celery
S - 4oz red grapefruit
D - 4oz marinated salmon, 1oz mashed potatoes, 1oz green beans
S - 1 Dove sugar free raspberry dark chocolate, 2 no-sugar-added Edy's fruit bars
Total: 830 calories

-Liquids:  While I won't say this is very difficult for me, drinking such large quantities is still a challenge for me.  Up until week 5, I was lucky if I was getting in 12oz per day.  And, while it is a challenge, I am getting better with my liquid intake and now average (at least) 32oz per day.  My goal is to increase this to 64oz within the next week or so (nutritionist appointment).  It's very hard for me to fathom that drinking is a struggle as, preop, I was always a drinker.  I guzzled water upon waking, all day long, before bed and (always!) with my meals.  Not drinking with my meals was hard at first but it's gotten much easier for me.  But, there's no question in my mind, not drinking with my meals is the reason why I'm not taking in as much as I'm accustomed to.  Another interesting point...for the first few weeks after surgery, I was sipping ever so gently.  Now, I find that I'm taking larger, maybe gulps.  And, I'm OK - sure, there are times where I may feel some pressure or a immediate full feeling when taking a large gulp but I've never experienced any pain.  And, to be honest, I like being able to drink liquids as I once did.  As for what I'm drinking...water and sugar free/diet iced teas. I've always been a water girl...loved it.  And, for the first few weeks as a post op, I couldn't tolerate water - I had no interest in it whatsoever.  Thankfully, that's changed and I'm starting to love water as I did preop.
Today's liquid intake: 36oz

-Exercise:  To be honest, I haven't exercised nearly as much as I probably should have over the past month or so.  But, I have to give myself some credit as, for the last week, I've been speed walking and/or jogging a mile a day - five days a week.  Of course, my plan is to continue increasing my time. Right now, I average about a 19 to 20-minute mile.  Certainly not horrible.  But, I need to do more.  I've also been getting outside now that the weather is turning and have been planting and raking and doing all kinds of lawn work.  It feels great to finally be outside and doing things after the winter we had!  So, all in all, not bad...but, I know I need to improve on the exercise front!

-Vitamins: I continue to take all of my vitamins as I should.  And, unlike many others, I actually like all my vitamins.  Please keep in mind that the vitamins that I take were at the instruction of my nutritionist and bariatric program director.  I should also remind you that I was highly deficient in vitamins b12 and d in addition to iron.  I did have to have b12 injections (as a preop) for awhile as my deficiency was so severe and I believe I may need to do so again in the future.  I'm planning to ask my nutritionist to run my labs when I see her next to see where my levels are.  I believe my b12 will come back as low again...not sure about the others but wouldn't be shocked if my iron was low again as well.  Strangely, such vitamin deficiencies wreak havoc with my body - especially my lips, eyes, hands and feet. 
Current vitamins/minerals: 18mg iron, 1000iu vitamin d, 2 Flintstone's chewables, 1000mg b12, 500mg calcium citrate - again, please keep in mind, these are the things I take as I require them.  Please check with your surgeon/nutritionist/doctor/nurse/program director prior to taking any vitamins/minerals/supplements. :)

Well, that's all for now...stay tuned for my next post when I cover my incisions, nsv's, looking forward, things I love and.........(drumroll please) weight!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The depths of hell...well, maybe not THAT bad.

This is an old update...but, one I didn't get around to posting....yeah, I am SO not good at this blogging thing!  But, I still felt it was important to share as - after all - you wanna know what the depths of hell were like, right???? The following was written on April 5, 2011:

Here goes....

Back from death.  Back from the depths of hell.  Eh, I'm just back to feeling a bit more normal!

I am 3 weeks and 2 days post-op from my VSG.  And, things are starting to turn the corner.  All in all, my recovery has been fairly easy...honestly...there hasn't been much to it for me.  Within the first week, I was out shopping with my family...walking at the local track...feeling really good.  Then, the two and a half week mark hit.  And, that was it.  I *thought* I was doing so well.  I *thought* I was on the road to recovery.  And then, pain.  Not inside.  But, instead, my incisions - well, only a couple of them.

I had my 3-week post op appointment this week with my surgeon, nurse and nutritionist.  Nutrition informed me that I was doing really well...for the most part.  I still need to work on my fluids.  I'm not getting enough fluid in with my 36 or so ounces daily...I should really double that.  Interesting that, prior to surgery, I loved water...I could chug it by the gallon.  Now?  Not so much...water just doesn't do it for me anymore.  I hope it does again...eventually.  Right now, my beverage of choice is Crystal Light Iced Tea...watered down.

My nurse also felt I'm doing well...followed up with me on all my meds and asked about how I was feeling in general.  Mind you, I walked in gripping my stomach and needed to do so when sitting and standing in their office as well.  The incision pain is just so awful for me.  I also had an instance or two (at home) where my ribs felt painful and I was nearly gasping for air.  I was almost afraid to mention this to my nurse but I did - as all good patients should! ;)  Her words "yep, pretty normal!" - Whew!  She had to remind me about the fact that this is major surgery.  Muscles are cut, nerves are damaged, things are going to hurt and not feel right for weeks.  And, she's right!  I just needed to be reminded of all this.

My surgeon took a look at my chart and said, "Wow! Almost 30 pounds!" Me: "Yeah, not exactly, I started the program, over a year ago, at xxxx, lost 13 on my preop, that means only 13 since surgery."  "But, I'm not complaining...I can't remember the last time I lost 13 pounds in 3 weeks."  Needless to say, my surgeon seemed a bit puzzled after that.  Almost like he was wondering why I hadn't lost more.  I'm not upset about it though.  He checked my incisions and informed me that they pain-from-hell was being caused by incisions that weren't healing.  As he described it to me..."imagine wire slicing through raw beef" - he's right on with that one because it really does hurt that bad.  He went on to tell me to give it a few more weeks and I should have some relief...if not sooner.  Please let it be sooner!

So...what you are dying to know - what did I lose in those first three weeks?  Well, let me preface this with the fact that I believe I am one of the slower losers.  I have over  100 pounds to lose and, while it's not coming off as fast as I'd like, it IS coming off.  And, that's what I wanted.

I started the program in the fall of 2009 at 309 lbs.  You may, or may not know, I was hung up due to insurance issues.  I was required to lose 10 lbs in order to have surgery and got down to 299 by the spring of 2010.  When I started my preop diet, on March 1, 2011, I weighed in at 306.  I lost 13 lbs on my preop diet, bringing me to 293.  At three weeks post-op, I weighed in at 280.  So, let's make it easy for everyone and say, between March 1 and  April 5, I've lost 26 lbs.  Not bad. Not bad at all.

Until we meet again, dear blog world...look for an update within the next few days.  And, my giveaway...I need to get that done!  Hope all of you are well!  xxoo

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How's Life?

Things are good

Other than a few minor aches and pains, I'm feeling really good!  I've been out and about the last two days - shopping with family and Santa.  Leaving the house forces me to do a couple of things:  shower, get dressed, put on my face and hairdo and get out and WALK!  It's been really cold here, walking outdoors is out of the question.  And, I have to admit, treadmill walking (while great!) was starting to get old.  My hope is to pick it up again this coming week.

The minor pains I've been experiencing have something to do with muscle pain; under my left breast.  Well, that's what my nurse said when I called to she put it "you just had major surgery, things are going to hurt, things aren't going to feel great even after two weeks..." - so, I guess I just need to give it a bit more time.  Back to the's not there all the time.  It's brought on my the oddest thing...wearing a bra.  An underwire bra.  The only kind of bra I wear in public.  It appears that the wire pushes against that muscle just the right way.  So, getting into the car, driving, hitting the few (not!) pot holes and such really do me in when wearing a bra. But, a teaspoon and a half of Roxicet while wearing a bra means that the pain doesn't last as long as it could.  So, I've been bringing my Roxicet with me...just in case.  Other than the odd, muscle/bra pain, I am pretty much pain free.  My incisions are healing nicely but sometime itch and burn slightly.  Both normal for me. Here are my incisions 11 days post-op:

So, the BIG question...what am I eating and what's eating like?  Eating is working pretty well.  I highly doubt I am making the protein goals of my program.  I realize that and I completely understand it as well.  However, my focus has been to stay hydrated and take in as many fluids as possible.  In addition, increase my protein daily.  So, while I'm not there yet...I will be there eventually.  And, keep in mind, I am still on full liquids and will be until at least April 7.  That seems much too is what it is. 

A few of my staples throughout the course of normal day:
Loose Cream of Wheat, pureed corned beef hash, Chobani Greek Yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, sugar free popsicles and Italian ice, some RTD protein beverages, pureed Dinty Moore Beef Stew, herbal tea, sugar free jello and pudding and....drumroll please.....Campbell's Tomato Soup.

I love, love, love this stuff!!!  Loved it prior to surgery but rarely enjoyed seemed like I saved it for those freezing, snowy days.  But now, Mmm, Mmm, Good!  I am eating nearly a can a day made with 2% lactose-free milk. And, it's easy to add to as well.  I purchased a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and pureed about 2 ounces of them with my awesome immersion blender.  Then, I simply add to my tomato soup and...Delish!  Tonight, I added my regular fire roasted tomatoes and a Laughing Cow Cheese Wedge - even more Delish!  I can honestly say, the immersion blender has been, by far, my best purchase in preparing for WLS.  I use it several times a day...and, everything about using it (and cleaning it!) is simple!

My gas/explosive/toilet issue has seemed to resolve itself as of a couple of days far, so good.  I did take some time away from my meds but started introducing them back into my daily routine yesterday. No problems as of yet - good thing!

As for my weight...I had always thought I'd be a slow loser - or, what I would consider a slow loser.  And, I'm thinking I was right.  I'm down 8 lbs since surgery.  Not horrible. And, I know I'm losing inches as my jeans are really loose in the rear.  Even Santa asked me if my pants were unbuttoned earlier today as they "seem so loose" - but, nope...that's just my shrinking beeeeehind. ;)

So, all is good for now...hope all is good with you too!  Stay tuned to early this coming week....I'm looking forward to doing a small giveaway with several samples!  I'm not using them and figure someone else must have a use for them!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Post Op Week 1

I can't even believe it!  Surgery was a week, time does fly!  So, what has my week looked like now that I'm a newbie Sleever?  It's full of new experiences, changes and adjustments.  I thought long and hard about how to list these things and decided that the following way would work best:

Incisions:  They are healing nicely.  I have been to known to have minor reactions to Steri-Strips but, with this surgery, my reaction has been minor. I've noticed if I take it easy with lifting myself, getting out of bed the right way, and easing myself off the recliner (or have Santa help me), my incisions are not as irritated.  The day I got home from the hospital, my wounds were surrounded by raised, blotchy, red skin.  So happy this has cleared up.  Bruising is still significant but is getting much better.  I've included a recent belly photo below...please know that incision #5 was not a surgical incision but, instead, my drain site. #4 is my largest incision and the one where the removed stomach came out.

Pain:  I have to be honest here, my pain is minimal. I have pain from the incisions themselves and the Steri-Strips pinching the skin.  I also have some odd paid under my left breast (near to incision #2) but it feels more like a muscle and/or rib pain than anything else. For this pain (and that of my incisions), I am taking liquid Roxicet.  I average about 3-4 times per day; 1 1/2 teaspoons each time.  Eating and/or drinking sometimes cause a very, very mild pain.  I'm not even sure I'd refer to it as a "pain" but, rather, a discomfort.  Put it this way, I know when I am full, when I eat/drink something to fast, take too large of a sip/bite and eat/drink something too hot/cold.  Again, not a real "pain" when these things occur...but, my Sleeve sure let's me know that all isn't cozy in Sleeveland.

Eating/Drinking: I am managing my full liquids with little issue.  As previously mentioned, very cold (or hot) items tend to cause a bit of an issue with my sleeve.  My program goal is to get in at least 64 ounces of liquid, 60 grams of protein and between 600 to 800 calories daily.  Yeah, I'm not exactly there yet.  But, working on it!  I've been in the neighborhood of 55 ounces of liquid, 48-55 grams of protein and 400-600 calories daily.  But, I'm certain this will increase with time.  So, what AM I's a short list for you: sugar free pudding and jello, cream/no chunks added soups, broths, blended cottage cheese, yogurt, ricotta cheese, plain/smooth tomato sauce, protein drinks/shakes, sugar free popsicles, water, light juices, Nectar unflavored medical protein powder, sugar free applesauce, fat free and 2 % Lactaid.

What Goes In Must Come Out & Meds: I was started on a liquid stool softener upon returning home.  Umm...I've stopped taking it.  OHers are right when they say "Liquid In, Liquid Out" and even more correct when they tell newbies to "never trust a fart" - I didn't "get" that one until a couple of days ago.  The strange change in your bowels is really odd.  TMI ALERT:  My stomach muscles aren't working like they should be and, as a result, it's difficult to "push" things out - if you know what I mean.  The interesting thing is, I don't even have to just kind of comes out - yep - on it's own.  So, when you get the feeling like something magical is about to happen, you better sit on the pot.  And, even if it's a tablespoon or two - I found myself celebrating.  Well, not anymore.  Now, it's just old news and is getting tiring. I plan to call my nurse and ask her about taking something for this if it doesn't improve in a few days.  Other than the Roxicet for pain and the stool softener, I was also prescribed Ursodiol to help prevent gallstones (I will stay on this for 6 months) and liquid Zantac to prevent any reflux (I'll stay on this for the next 6 months as well). I am also *beginning* to think one of these meds (maybe the Ursodiol) is contributing to my stomach/gas/big d issue.

Struggles/Other Changes/Thing I find helpful: For me, it was the things I didn't think of that are causing me some issues.  Getting out of the recliner is tough and, if I haven't taken my pain meds, I require Santa to pull me into an upright position.  I thought I was going to end up sleeping in the recliner instead of the bed as I though it would be easier to get out of - I was wrong!  Sleeping isn't that bad although I'm using a wedge in my bed.  Be sure to learn how to get in and out of bed.  Sit on the side, go down onto one shoulder and then bring one leg at a time into the bed and turn.  MUCH less painful. Wiping after going to the bathroom can be done but it can be a bit uncomfortable.  Pushing - yes, stool.  Forget have no idea how much you use those stomach muscles.  Or, take it really slow with deep breaths in between pushes.  Sneezing, coughing, riding/getting in and out of a car - use a pillow!  Showering hasn't been bad but washing and conditioning hair requires your arms above your head for awhile (if you have a good amount of hair) and this can be awkward. Bending down to pick something up....forgeddaboudit - or, invest in a gripper.  Other things I like having near me:  a variety of chairs to sit in, tray tables to put near said chairs, tissues, remote, phone and laptop!  And, other things that I have found to be extremely helpful on my journey thus far: small (baby size) spoons, 4oz containers with lids, measuring cups/glassware, digital kitchen scale and, by far, my best purchase: immersion blender!  I purchased the Cuisinart SmartStick from Amazon for under $30 - ummm...hellllllo....BEST kitchen invention ever!  Find it listed in My Suggestions

Well, that pretty much sums up my first week post op - looking forward to the weeks to come!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My surgery play-by-play ~ Part 2

I have to be honest here, I don't remember much about waking up in recovery.  I do remember the postop staff saying my name, telling me that my surgery was all done and responding to them.  I don't remember being in any pain. I was in-and-out of sleep my entire time in recovery - about 2 hours.

I remember feeling happy about being moved to my room but I don't remember much of anything else.  My family came to my room shortly after I was moved there and now report that I was "out of it" and stated that I had pain and was tired.  I don't remember any of that.  I came out of surgery with a NG Tube, JP Drain and Foley Catheter. What bothered me most was my dry mouth.  Keep in mind, I had not had anything to drink since midnight the night before...this was 13+ hours later. I do remember my second shift nurse getting me out of bed to walk me around the halls.  And, I did it.

Day 1 Post Op: My dry mouth bothered me more than anything.  Making things worse was the damn NG Tube.  Now, I know many surgeons do not use this after surgery but my surgeon, for some reason which I will not complain about, loves to take all precautions possible.  His feeling is that the tube helps to keep pressure off of the new staple line.  So, I knew it was for the best. Still, I didn't like it at all and it was very uncomfortable.  To combat the dry mouth, the nurses bring you cups of ice with sponge lollipops.  While it felt great, it got old rather quickly.  I will admit, a few times, I took one or two of the very small ice chips and just let them disolve in my mouth. I also kept a cold face cloth around all the time and continued using it to wipe my face.  I was also asked to walk again and I did...not very long walks but I was, at least, moving.  One very unpleasant thing that started on this day was some sort of odd nausea - I've never experieinced anything like this before.  What would happen is that my mouth would fill up with very hot spit/saliva and I would have to spit it out into tissues.  When I mentioned this to my surgery fellow and nurse, they both mentioned the possibility that the NG tube may be contributing to this issue as it seemed to have something to do with my gag reflex as well.  Whatever it was, I didn't like it.  They were very kind, though, and started ne on a nausea med.  Not sure if it helped or not but the nausea came and went over that 1st day. This nausea issue made for a rough visit for my family.  I wasn't happy with the new problem, still had my tube, drain and catheter and was just pretty miserable all day. My surgery fellow informed me that I'd be having my swallow test the following morning.  And, he gave me hope that my NG Tube would be coming out as well! For some reason, it was about 5:00 and I (out of the blue!) felt like someone had "flipped a switch" on my general feeling.  Not sure if it was the anesthesia wearing off or what but, after 5:00, I felt so much better!

Day 2 Post Op: At 8:30, my surgery fellow entered the room to take out the NG tube.  I was so nervous and asked him if it would hurt. He said no.  There was also another surgical staff member with him to offered to hold my hand while the fellow took the tube out.  I was all for that!  The tube came out rather quicky.  It was a bit gross in that you can feel it come up all the way from your stomach to your nose.  A tad painful, mostly awkward and uncomfortable and it certainly makes you want to gag quite a bit. Regardless of all that, we got it out!  I was thrilled!!  I did, sadly, end up with a bloody nose...I think it was a combination of the tube and the dryness in the room.  It didn't last long and if that was the price I had to pay for getting that tube problem!  One down...two to go.  But first, my swallow (aka "leak") test. 

I was taken to my test at around 10:00 on Day 2 Post Op.  It wasn't that bad.  First, I had an xray of my stomach taken.  Then, I was asked to drink a "big gulp" of the first contrast.  It was a thin, but bitter, liquid.  And, yeah...sorry xray tech, I haven't had anything by mouth in nearly 40 hours....there is no way in hell I was going to take a "big gulp" of anything.  So, I took what I thought I could handle, swallowed and then they took a few images.  The second contrast was a much thicker barium.  It tasted like chalk (aka not good) and was very thick.  Again, I took what I could and swallowed and, again, they got the pictures they needed.  Immediately afterwards, the tech showed me the images and I actually got to watch the contrast move through my (TINY!!!) sleeve and into my small intestine.  Talk about pretty cool. Everything looked good.  The only problem after this....two (rather large) sips of these contrasts and I was stuffed!

After I returned to my room, I was given methylene blue.  Another dye to check for any sort of leakage.  If there was a leak, the contents of my drain would be blue.  This stuff was HORRIBLE.  Bitter, tasted like old ass and just plain wrong.  I'll also confess...I didn't drink all they asked me to.  I drank 2 small medicine cups of it mixed with water...well, mostly water.  And, the rest...well, I chucked it.  That's how bad it was.  Imagine drinking pure food coloring. My lips were blue, my tongue was blue. Ugh. On the good side, shortly after this, I started on the Stage 1 Diet....water only...small sips and my goal was 1 to 2 oz per hour.  No problem!  It felt great to drink water! Within a couple of hours, I was advanced to Stage 2...clear liquids and 2-4 oz per 15-20 minutes.  My choices were Raspberry or Lemonade Crystal Light.  I chose Raspberry and it was YUMMY.  Unfortunately, I started to find out then and continue to find out that my sleeve isn't really crazy about Crystal Light.  I'm not sure why this is yet.  I love the stuff, it tastes great but it makes my sleeve gargle and gurgle and gives me some sort of tight feeling in my sleeve - strange.

A short time later, my nurse came into my room and said she was going to remove my catheter...yeeehaaa! Now, I won't lie...I was petrified.  The thought of something being pulled out of my bladder didn't leave me with the best feeling in the world.  I had a cystoscopy a few years ago and remember it hurting like hell.  So, thus the reason for my nerves.  Truth is, it wasn't bad at all and it came out within a matter of seconds.  I will say that my bladder felt puffy for the entire day afterwards...something to do with the balloon they use, I guess.

I spent the rest of the day sipping, visiting with my family, going for short walks around the floor and just resting

Day 3 Post Op: Got a great night sleep and I was ready to go home!  At around 7:00, my fellow came in, checked my incisions and commented he'd be back in awhile to remove my drain.  He did note that my incisions were quite red but wasn't all that concerned as it wasn't just one of them, it was all of them.  I did tell him that I had a similar experience with Steri-Strips in the past so he assumed it might be a specific reaction.  I thought that as well...and, continue to think that.  Thus the reason I mentioned my past experience to the preop nurse.  Oh well.

When it was time to remove my drain, of course, I was scared as heck all over again!  I asked the fellow if it would hurt and, again, he said "no" and that it was more likely just "uncomfortable" - well...he was only partially right as it was a bit painful.  I very odd sensation, that's for sure.  He cut the stitch that was holding the drain to me...this thing was such a pain...I felt it pulling all the time even though it was pinned to my gown.  Anyway, after cutting the stitch, he told me to take in a few deep breaths and he began to pull it out.  I had no idea how long it was and you can really feel it pass through your entire abdomen.  Odd.  All in all, it went by rather quickly and then it was out.  He placed some gauze where the drain was, taped it and told me it should close within a few days.  I hope he's right!

Right after my drain was taken out, my family arrived to take me home!  Thankfully, my wonderful Santa had brought a pillow for me to use on my belly on the ride home.  If you are preop - it helps!!!  I then had my IV ports removed, got my discharge information, filled one of my scripts and was on my way.  All in all, my hospital stay wasn't bad at all.  A few of the staff were actually WONDERFUL!  And, everyone at BIDMC was extremely friendly.

So, that's it - my entire surgical experience.  Hope it helps someone like other stories have helped me.  Questions?  Please don't hesitate to ask!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My surgery play-by-play ~ Part 1

We left for the hospital at 6:20 in the morning on Tuesday, 3/15.  I needed to be there for 8:30 but traffic at that time in the morning is usually awful and seems to always put us an hour behind.  So, I wanted to be sure we had plenty of time.  By the time we hit the valet, checked in at registration and so was already 8:00. I was presented with one of those restaurant wait buzzers and it went off at 8:50. We got our things together and followed the concierge up to the preop area.  Everything seemed to move pretty quickly after that.  The only thing that didn't move quickly was the fact that I had mild pain from a tad of constipation and the fact that I wasn't able to eat anything since 7:00 on Monday night and drink anything since midnight.  Oh, my last meal on Monday was the best ever.  A whole wheat english muffin with a tad of olive oil, sliced tomato, a tad more olive oil and then a 1 ounce slice of part skim mozzarella - toasted.  Delish.

I was called into the back while my family waited for me.  In the back, I got into my surgery attire (aka gown-slit in the back, hat and socks) and answered a bunch of questions.  I packed all my belongings into the patient belonging bag, got onto my nice comfy bed (NOT) and my family was brought back to wait in the holding area with me.  There were several of us having all different kinds of surgeries in the holding area - we were all separated by curtains.

My preop nurse was great - she talked to us about normal, everyday things, answered a few questions and kept us at ease. A few minutes later, my surgeon and one of the surgery fellows came in to speak with us.  He answered a few more questions that I had, wished me luck, told me everything would be fine, confirmed Santa's cell phone number so that he could reach him as soon as surgery was over.  After that, my surgical nurse came into the room.  LOVED her.  She was this very tiny woman with a wonderful South African accent...she proceeded to tell me that I was going to lose her (all 97 pounds of her!) plus more!  She was so positive and encouraging...thank goodness! At that moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear.  And, finally, my anesthesiologist came in and introduced herself.  I was also joined by a wonderful anesthesiology student who was visiting from Oxford in London.  Again, both of these women were excellent as well.  They truly put me and my family at ease. And then, more medical students, residents and fellows!  I couldn't help but wonder where all these people were going to be in the operating room!  Nearly all of them went over my choice of surgery....really good thing as (thanks to a vet OHer), I really wanted to be sure I wouldn't wake up with a penis on my forehead!

Anesthesia placed my IV and, nearly right away, I was given meds to help me relax.  And, I did just that.  For a few minutes anyway.  I said goodbye to my wonderful family, shed a tear or two (normal for me) and was wheeled away to the operating room at 10:45.

Once in the operating room, it was "here you go, Mrs. Claus, take a few deep breaths from this oxygen mask and then we'll put you to sleep."  And, that's exactly what they did.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Surgery Eve...

Well, the last two weeks have gone by incredibly fast.  I am ready.  I guess.  As ready as I'll ever be.  I have researched and studied, adjusted my diet, incorporated exercise into my life, done all I can to prepare myself for tomorrow and the days, weeks and months to come.

Surgery is tomorrow morning and I'm hoping to post all about it as soon as I'm able.

I'm ready and I need to do this.  For me.  For my life.

See you on the Loser's Bench.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Time is flying...

Geesh!  Who would've thought that life would get in the way of blogging?!  How dare it!

I am 11 days into my preop lifestyle and 14 days into my daily exercise plan (with a one day exercise break).  So, how are things going?  Pretty damn good!

I've consumed between 800-1000 calories each day for the past 11 days.  And, I've walked (between 2.5 - 3 mpg) for 30 minutes for each day as well - with the exception of last Saturday. I'm really feeling great and I'm down nearly 10 pounds as well.

In comparing my program's preop plan to a typical day, I'm (for the most part) right on track.  I am not taking in as much as I should and, every so often, not hitting my third protein source but I think I'm still doing alright.

A typical day looks something like this:

Breakfast:  20oz Protein Blitz (love, love, love - especially the Fruit Punch and Orange Mango!)
Lunch:  Pure Protein or Supreme Protein Bar
Snack: 1/2 cup Sugar Free Jello or 1 cup baby carrots
Dinner:  4oz lean protein, 1 cup veggies, 1/2 cup carb
Snack: 1/2 cup dairy, carb if not used for the day, protein bar/shake
As I mentioned in a previous post, I do have a list of select "free" items to choose from and it seems to be working out really well. 

Not sure if any of you are into tracking your intake and fitness, but I LOVE tracking via the Daily Plate!  It's such a helpful website and really helps to put things into perspective for you. 

Also, my program offers a great booklet to see us through the entire process from the moment you enter their bariatric program.  This booklet has been so helpful to me and I know it'll be likely more helpful in the days and weeks to come.  There is a section all about exercise and one thing that I read that really sticks out to me is this "Exercise for 30 minutes at least 5 days per week.  Remember: it only takes 2 weeks to make something a habit!"  I am really loving my daily treadmill sessions.  I'm finding them to be a great stress relief and I've found that getting on after work feels great.  Sadly, I've had a long week at work and that means getting on the treadmill after dinner and pretty late.  But, at least I made it a point to just do it!  And, as crazy as it may seem, I think I'm sleeping better because of my walking sessions as well. Yeeeehaaaa!

Back to the food.  To get a better idea as to what I'm stuffing my face with, here it is...


Food Item
Designer Whey Protein Blitz1.001200g3mg45mg1g1g0g30g
Sugar Free Strawberry Jello1.00100g0mg45mg0g0g0g1g
Supreme Protein Supreme Protein (snack Size) Peanut Butter Pretzel Twist1.002109g5mg100mg17g3g0g15g
Chi-Chi's Whole Wheat Tortilla1.001704g0mg500mg28g1g3g5g
Perdue Chicken Tenders1.671671g125mg551mg0g0g0g40g
Green Bell Pepper0.2580g0mg1mg2g1g1g0g
Fresh Express Green And Crisp1.00150g0mg10mg3g2g1g1g
Wish-Bone Light Balsamic & Basil Vinaigrette1.00605g0mg290mg3g2g0g0g

Two days ago:

Food ItemServingsCalsFatCholestSodiumCarbsSugarsFiberProtein
Designer Whey Protein Blitz1.001200g3mg45mg1g1g0g30g
Sugar Free Strawberry Jello1.00100g0mg45mg0g0g0g1g
Atkins Atkins Adventage Chocolate Chip Granola Bar1.002009g0mg110mg19g1g1g17g
Perdue Ground Chicken Burger (cooked)1.0016010g105mg45mg1g0g0g17g
Price Chopper Canned Mushrooms0.1330g0mg52mg0g0g0g0g
Thomas' 100% Whole Wheat1.001301g0mg240mg25g2g3g6g
Heinz Ketchup1.00150g0mg190mg4g4g0g0g
Altoids Cinnamon Flavored1.00100g0mg0mg2g2g0g0g
Mott's Applesauce (unsweetened)1.00500g0mg0mg12g11g1g0g
Small Supreme Protein Bar1.002008g0mg0mg17g0g0g15g

Finally, the one big stressor for me this week - and for the last couple of years in general - is........TMI, TMI ALERT, ALERT - I am about to break some rules here.........I warned bowel movements.  Or, lack thereof.  I have never been a "regular" person.  Santa has a cup of coffee each morning and shits 3 times a day.  Like clockwork.  I have to wish, take fiber, strain, pray, wish some more and BEG to get an inch of turd to come out.  I don't get it.  Now, mind you, this isn't ALL the time.  Sometime, I get the world's worst stomach cramps and end up crying on the bowl with horrible diarrhea.  Yep, you guessed it - IBS.  My GP diagnosed me about a year and a half ago.  She told me to start trying Citrucel.  What a shame that it took me this long to try the stuff.  Taste wise, it's not horrible.  I mix a tablespoon with water and add a tad of Crystal Lite Fruit Punch and it goes right down.  The problem?  Ugh...the stuff fills me up!  I mean, so much that I can't even fit in an evening snack.  Anyway, Day 2 of Citrucel and still nothing.  I'm pretty sure I haven't had a normal crap in 12 days.  Again, a few little bitty turds but nothing to write to the North Pole about.

The countdown is is in 4 days.  I'm scared shitless one second and feeling great about it the next.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"I'm not going to love you any more..." & Preop Progress

That's what my 70+ year old mother said to me a few days ago. Hang on...let me back up.  We were discussing my upcoming surgery and Mom is beyond nervous.  I'll admit...I'm not exactly Mrs Relaxed right now either. 

Back to Mom...
We were discussing surgery on the way home from a WLS information session that I took her to at the hospital I'm planning to have surgery at.  I had thought her learning more about WLS and the reasons behind it, the risks of not having it and so on would help to calm her nerves.  I also knew my surgeon would be speaking and I thought it would be nice for her to meet him - again, thinking it may help her. And, I really think her attending the session did help - if only a little.

On the drive home, she said it...."You know, I'm not going to love you any more...."  WHAT?  Me: "Huh??"  Mom:  "I mean, if you're smaller, I'm not going to love you any more than I already do."  Ahh...that helps!  And, as I told her, I'm not having surgery to have her love me any more (or anyone else for that matter).  But, I do want to love myself more.  It's about time for me to love me.  All of me.  I don't love myself as much as I should.  And, I deserve to love all of me.

As for the Preop Progress....
Things are actually good as of Day 2.  Today, I've consumed:  1 ProteinBlitz Drink, 1 G2 Drink, 1 EAS Protein Bar, 2 4oz sugar-free cherry jellos, 1 cup salad, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar dressing, 4oz chicken breast with 1 cup cooked veggies (onion, green pepper, zucchini) and 1/2 cup brown rice.  Still thinking about my evening snack.     Add to that a 100-calorie Blueberry Cottage Cheese Double..mmmm.

Today's intake:  1091 calories

I've also completed Day 5 on the treadmill.  I did 30 minutes on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Sadly, only got 20 minutes in on Tuesday as I was running late for work.  But, today...I managed to make my 30 for the day AND added on the 10 I missed yesterday.  Total calories burned = 367

Not too shabby.  Let's just hope I can keep it up for the next 13 days.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preop Diet Fears

We all know the drill....the dreaded preop "DIET" - that's  THE four letter word.  The worst of the worst.  But, this time it's different.  Or, it's supposed to be!

My program requires that I follow a 1000 calorie diet for 2 weeks prior to surgery.  The 1000 calories are to come from 3 meal replacements (aka shakes, bars etc) and one real meal.  In addition, there are also a host of "free items" that I can choose from daily.  The free items are split into two categories...those that are limited to 3 times per day and those that may be eaten in any amout.

Examples of items that I can eat 3x per day: 1/4 cup salsa, 1 tbsp fat free mayo, ketchup, fat free or low fat salad dressing

Examples of items that may be eaten in any amount: broth, certain veggies, sugar free gelatin, mustard, tabasco and horseradish.  I don't know about you but I just can't wait to sit down with a big bowl of horseradish and pretend it's Ben & Jerry's!  Kidding.

My categories for my real meal include: protein, carbs/snacks, veggies, dairy and fat.  Some examples of real food items are:
  • Protein: 4oz of baked chicken or turkey, 4oz lean deli meat, 1 cup egg beaters, 4oz low fat cheese, 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • Carbs/snacks: 3 cups no butter added or light popcorn, 1 small dinner roll, 1/3 cup hummus, 3/4 cup dry, unsweetened cereal
  • Veggies: 1 cup cooked veggies or veggie juice, 2 cups raw veggies
  • Fat: 2 tbsp low fat salad dressing, 1 tsp margarine or oil (canola or olive)
You know what - this doesn't seem that bad...I think I can make this work.  Santa and I went shopping today and I loaded up on a bunch of preop diet items.  I purchased several different food items in addition to some new slippers to take with me to the hospital and a sippy cup and baby utensils to use postop.  My nutritionist was the one who suggested those to me.  In addition to never feeling full, one of my biggest problems has always been that I take HUGE bites...and, I don't chew nearly enough.  So, over the next two weeks, the plan is to follow my preop diet, practice taking small bites and to chew my food thoroughly!

In addition to the food changes, I am also required to exercise...30 minutes per day for at least 4-5 days per week.  I'm going to shoot for 7.  Got 30 minutes on the treadmill this afternoon - I felt great!  I saw my surgeon a few days ago and he really stressed that the better shape I'm in prior to my surgery date, the better I will feel after surgery.  I know I'll be miserable but I'm determined to be the best damn miserable I can be!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Life as a VSG Preop

Since late fall, 2009, at the time I decided to go forward with the VSG, I've tried a few different products that I hope to still use after surgery.  I've read time and time again that tastes and preferences change after surgery so I'm not planning to "stock up" on all that much...but, at least trying these items have helped in my preop lifestyle.  I also plan to use several of these for my 2-week preop diet (more about that it a later post).  Here are a few of the things I've tried and/or things I've incorporated into my preop lifestyle and my reviews...

Syntrax Nectar Protein Powder:  Chocolate Truffle & Cappuccino 

Rating:  A
This stuff is good.  Well, at least these two flavors.  There are a few other flavors like I like as well but these two would be my favorites.  I am very particular in how I prepare them though.  I always start with 1 cup of milk (I use 2% Real Goodness Lactose Free OR Almond Milk) that I'd add one or more of the following: to the chocolate....1 packet NesCafe instant coffee, a few ice cubes, Hershey's Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup, sugar free caramel flavoring, 1 teaspoon of all natural peanut butter, 1/2 a banana, 3-4 frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, 1 packet splenda ~ to the cappuccino...1 packet NesCafe instant coffee, a few ice cubes, Hershey's Sugar Free Chocolate Syrup, 1 teaspoon cocoa, 1 packet splenda.  Sometimes, if I wanted to mix it up a bit, I'd use 1/2 scoop of each powder!  Yum! The tubs are 2lbs each and sell for anywhere between $24-$40.  I almost always order my Syntrax Nectar from Nashua Nutrition - they are quick, reasonably priced and you can usually find a coupon code online!

Premier Protein Read-to-Drink (RTD) Protein Shakes
Rating:  B
I never imagined I'd be able to tolerate an RTD shake.  But, when I read review after review about how people loved these shakes from Costco, I figured I'd better give them a try.  The nearest Costco is a good hour+ from us.  So, Santa and I loaded ourselves into the sleigh and headed out.  Of course, you need to be a member of Costco SO we had to purchase a membership first.  After that, I purchased a case (18 drinks) of chocolate Premier Protein RTD shakes for around $32.  My first experience with them wasn't so hot.  There is a drink "opening" for lack of a better term covered with foil.  There is no straw to punch through this foil as it was designed for you to remove the foil and drink from the opening.  So, deciding that I'd enjoy my shake on the way to work...I went to open it in my vehicle.  Yeah, mistake #1.  Darn thing splashed all over me.  Regardless, they're not that bad.  My Syntrax drinks are much more tasty but I liked the idea of the convenience of these things.  And, for an RTD, they're not horrible.  I have yet to try the vanilla but hope to in the near future.  I also hear that they can be "doctored up" as well....haven't tried this though!

Isopure Zero Carb RTD Beverages
Rating: C-
I had really high hopes for these drinks!  I purchased the variety pack (shown above x 2 - 12 drinks per pack) through GNC for around $47.  The drinks are huge at 20 fl oz and pack a whopping 40g of protein per bottle!  I found that they are best when you drink them VERY cold - some people even drink them over ice...I never did but I'm not sure it would change my issues with them.  Out of all the flavors, I liked the Blue Raspberry and Grape the most.  What I hated about them...the protein within the beverages tends to coagulate after so, I found myself having to constantly mix them up.  What's worse...they tend to leave the metallic feeling in your mouth along with some sort of nasty film inside your mouth and on your tongue.  Enough of a film that you can (TMI) scrape it off with your teeth.  Yes, I found it to be that bad.  All that being said, the amount of protein is really incredible and I plan to have a few around for post op...just in case.  And, who knows, maybe my tastes will change enough that they metal taste and film won't bother me as much.

ProteinBlitz Drinks

Rating: A
Love these things...SO far.  I first ordered these a couple of weeks ago from GNC. At $37 for 12 bottles, the price is about average for a RTD protein drink.  My hopes for them weren't so high as I hadn't had much luck with the other clear protein drinks (Isopure).  I was pleasantly surprised after my first sip!  Thus far, I've only tried the Punch flavor but I hear the others are just as good.  Back to that first was sweet.  Almost like an extra sweet Gatorade.  But, it was GOOD!  And, the best part about metallic taste to me nor any weird kind of film left in my mouth!  Like the Isopure, the bottles are big at 20 fl oz!  But, these are much better, IMHO.  The best thing about them??  GNC is currently offering Buy One Get One Half Off ($36.99 for the first) and $4.99 flat rate shipping for all RTDs! So, that's about $2.50/bottle plus tax if applicable.  You can find the deal here: GNC Protein Blitz.  Update:  Just ordered my OrangeMango and Grape via the Vitamin Shoppe as their deal was the better of the two.  A case at the VS is on sale for $28.99 - I ordered 2 cases and got 20% off and $4.99 addition to 6% cash back at Ebates!
Various Protein Samples
Rating: A+
Another reason why I love Nashua Nutrition is because you can order TONS of protein powder samples from them for only $1.95 each....that's not bad!  There are so many options to try from all different brands!  While it can be a bit pricey, it's sometimes easier to do this than get stuck with an entire 2lb tub of something you hate!  Love their samples and don't even mind the price!  I fully intend to order more just prior to surgery.

Vitamins & such...

Note: I am not a doctor, a nurse or a medical professional of any sort.  The vitamins/minerals that I take are at the advice of my bariatric team after several tests which determined that I am deficient in several areas. As with anything, check with your program/surgeon/doctor/nurse prior to taking any vitamins/minerals/supplements.  Here are my reviews on the things I take...

Target Up & Up Childrens Chewable Multi Vitamins
Rating: A
One of the first things my nutritionist and program director had me do was to find a multivitamin.  They suggested Flintstone children's chewables.  Being someone who is very price conscious (aka cheap!), I checked them out while at Target one it turned out, they were exactly the same as the Target brand, that's what I purchased.  They're not bad at all and come in fun zoo shapes!  Now, one may say that Flintstones and/or a generic is not sufficient for those of us undergoing bariatric surgery and will, instead, suggest an adult Centrum and/or a different bariatric vitamin.  That said, I would tell each person to compare your vitamins...if you have any questions at your research!  I certainly have and have found that these do (for me) what I need them to do.  I'm certain my program director, surgeon, MD, bariatric nurse & nutritionist wouldn't have started me on them if they thought they were inferior.  Anyway, I love them - the red is my favorite!  I will say I tried other multivitamins and wasn't so fond of them.  I love Puritan's Pride as they often have Buy 1 Get 2 deals...sadly, their children's chewable multis are horrid!  I suffered through 3 bottles.

Puritan's Pride Sublingual B-12 500mcg
Rating: A
I take B-12 because I was found to be deficient in B12.  Prior to take 500mcg per day, I had to go for injections.  My levels seem to be stabilized now although who knows what will happen after surgery...I may need a bit of an adjustment to the amount I'm taking.  Anyway, these are good...very small and only take a minute or so to dissolve under the tongue.  Check out Puritan's Pride for other items as well!

Bariatric Advantage Strawberry Flavored Chewable Iron-18mg
Rating: B+
Again, my labs showed that I needed to take an iron supplement and these were suggested by my bariatric team.  They're good...the only reason I rated them a B+ instead of an A is because I find them to be quite hard.  I purchase them right from Bariatric Advantage and have always received great service!

VitaFusion Vitamin D3 Gummy Vitamins
Rating: A+
Like the rest of the world, I am Vitamin D deficient as well!  These were also suggested by my bariatric team after my labs were reviewed.  I love, love these Gummy Ds!  Fruity, gummy, perfect!  Beware though...if you have a gummy addiction, these could be dangerous!  I usually order mine through or Amazon.

* * * * * * * * * * *
That's about it for now!  Oh, another thing...while I didn't link to above, I use them for several different things.  They, along with several online stores I shop at, are listed on Ebates.  If you're not familiar with Ebates, check it out!  What it boils down earn cash back on your online purchases.  That's it!  And, remember, when you're as frugal (aka cheap!) as I am, every little bit I can save helps! 

Have a product that you think I may enjoy??  Please, let me know! And, if you try any of the items I have, I would love to hear your reviews as well!  :)