Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One Year Post Follow Up

I realize that last post was a little discouraging regarding the band. However, I feel like it is important to document my journey. My story goes to show you that it's not all rainbows & flowers. This is not a smooth road for every patient.

I went to my first support group last night. There weren't any in Atlanta and since I've been in NJ, I've been out of town for each meeting. Well, I made it last night. The actual group was a little pathetic. There were three of us there: a 60 year old man one month out, a bypass patient 6 months out, me, a dietician, and the guy who runs the floro. I told my story and mentioned the pain I experience when eating. The obvious follow up question is why don't I get it checked out? Well, in order to get it checked out up here in NJ (remember, I'm self pay), I have to pay the surgeon $400 and go across the hall to the adjustment center and pay them $200 for the floro and the surgeon tell me what he thinks. I don't have $600 lying around just asking to be spent.

So, the floro guy came to me and offered to do a free floro that night just to get an idea of what was going on. How cool is that? Obviously it was very hush hush. I couldn't tell anyone we did it. So, after the meeting, we went down and he did it. It wasn't good. Now, I understand he's not a bariatric surgeon, but he does run the floro several times a day and knows what the images should look like. I was tight. Super tight. You know how you can see your underwire from your bra when you get a floro? Well, the barium stream going through my band was about 1/3 of the width of my underwire. He was also concerned about the placement and thought there might be a possibility of slippage. He pretty much said I needed to get an emergency unfill asap and that an unfill could not wait until I went home to ATL for Christmas.

It concerned me. I didn't lose sleep over it because I knew I couldn't do anything about it until this morning, but I was def. worried. I don't really have the money to get this done. So, this morning the floro guy called me and said he spoke to one of the surgeons and he'd see me at 12:30 if I wanted. The floro guy also said he would work with me on the money situation and we could set up a payment plan. How awesome is that?!?!

So, I went in and this is probably the top bariatric surgeon in NJ. We did the floro and he said I def. was over restricted but that the band had perfect placement. In terms of restriction, I just get so frustrated because I feel like I'm either over or under restricted. I have no idea what a sweet spot is!! He said I may never get to a sweet spot, but should strive for a spot I can live with. This made me feel better. Anyway, fluid came out and I'm feeling better.

I'm also going to start tracking my weight via spreadsheet. I think this might be a useful tool. I'm treating today as a new start. I should be at optimum restriction and will strive to stop eating my slider foods and eat those that will satisfy me and will continue to help me drop the weight...but at a healthy pace :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Year Bandiversary

I'm two days late. I have a good excuse...I have come down with the plague. I've been absolutely miserable, but I'm starting to come out of it.

So! Onto the show!

Saturday was my one year bandiversary.

Looking back, this process has not been what I had expected. It's been MUCH more difficult. If I could go back knowing what I know now would I still have the surgery? YES, but with a few tweeks.

My story in a nutshell:
In summary: Girl is self-pay, girl gets banded, girl gets fill, girl gets another fill, girl finds out job is transferring her 1000 miles away, girl gets another fill, girl moves, girl is stressed and sad, girl can't eat, girl pays $1200 for an unfill, girl can eat, girl STUPIDLY decides to get a $600 fill, girl can't even drink water, girl gets $400 unfill, girl flies back to surgeon to get EVERYTHING taken out, girl gains almost 30 lb, girl gets small fill, girl gets another fill, girl starts slowly losing again.

A Year Ago I...
I would have thought that on my one year bandiversary I would be at or very close to goal. I would have thought I would have had no problems with my band. And I would have thought I'd still be in Atlanta.

Oh how different reality is. Before my pre-op I was at 264. On Saturday I weighed in at 215. That's a loss of 49 lb in one year. I'm happy because that's 49 lb. that I probably could not have lost on my own OR if I did lose the weight, it's 49 lb for me to regain. The disappointing part in all of this is that on July 1 of this year I was down 69 lb. To tell you the truth, I'd be much happier writing this year-in-review post if I were down 69 lb. However, I'm not. I've lost 49 lb and I pretty much have 49 lb to go. So, I'm halfway there.

Things I wish I would have known before getting surgery:
-not everyone is the same. Someone with the same number of cc's in their band might be much tighter or much looser than you. Someone's green zone (sweet spot) might be different than yours. Some people may be able to eat things you can't.
-Blogs are great reference tools, but are not the bible. Similar to above, this is YOUR personal journey, you will not have the same experiences as a fellow blogger / bandster. A bandster might be able to eat eggs, rice, and toast, but you may not (I certainly can't).
-it's expensive. I'll be paying for this sucker for another 4 years, not to mention my one year of free aftercare is up so now I have to pay for fills & unfills.
-it's mentally challenging. I have to look up menus online before I go out to eat to see if there are foods I can have. I get a little sad when people tell me what they are eating for a meal and I know I can't.
-everyone says it and it's true: the band is not a solution. you can still eat around it, you can even gain weight.

Happy things:
-blood sugar is normal (I was pre-diabetic prior to surgery).
-triglycerides are now normal. Prior to surgery, they were so high that they couldn't even be measured.
-I have energy. Prior to surgery I was so sleepy all the time, took naps any chance I got, and was really unmotivated to do anything. Now, I can't take a nap even if I wanted to. My body will not let me.
-I look better. Not as good as I looked in July, but that's beside the point.
-I can wear normal clothes. Prior to surgery I was a 18/20 in pants and an XL (maybe bigger, but I wouldn't buy anything larger than XL). Now I'm a 14/16 in pants and a solid L.

Sad things:
-my mental state is not where it needs to be. No, I'm not saying I'm going off the rails of the crazy train or anything. I'm saying I still think like I'm fat. I still think about my next meal before I'm done with my current one. I still think about how much I would LOVE to scarf down a mushroom pizza with extra cheese.
-my eating habits are not wonderful. I still avoid vegetables at all costs. It's almost the same case with fruits.
-Eating is not a pleasurable experience for me. Generally speaking, it hurts to eat anything solid. It feels like a brick is on my chest until the food passes through my band. Yes, I'm chewing well. Yes, I'm taking small bites. No, I don't PB. This is what eating is for me and because it hurts to do it, I try to avoid foods that cause this feeling. Hence, I eat slider foods.
-I don't like that I have this part of me hidden. Aside from 3 friends and a handful of family members, no one knows that I've had this surgery. So, when I sit down for a meal with friends or co-workers, my eating looks kind of suspicious. I've told everyone how much I hate sandwiches when really, all I want to do is scarf down a 6" po' boy! However, I have to suck it up and get over it b/c I'll never be able to do that again.
-Beer = OUT. No more beer. Ever. It hurts to drink it. Therefore, my bar tabs are significantly higher than my friends b/c I drink liquor.

Over all, I'm happy (although this post makes it sound like I'm not) and I'd go through all this again, I'd just think longer and harder about it next time. You have to be completely committed to this band for it to work. You must become one with the band and don't fight it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

i wasn't joking...

...when I named this blog "it's not a sprint, it's a marathon."

I heard that phrase at a lap-band seminar. You know, the one you have to go to for just about every surgeon? Well, I ended up not using that surgeon, but only because I was self-pay and really didn't want to shell out thousands more for someone who is a really great public speaker.

However! His words still ring true and follow me.

I'm a few days away from my one-year bandiversary so I'll save the long post for then, but I just wanted to say that I'm finally happy with where I'm at and how I'm progressing. Who knew it would take this long? I'm just glad I'm not falling into the "failure" category. It's a scary thought.

I'm down to 214, so I've pretty much lost 8 lb in 2.5 weeks. I attribute it to eating less (and staying satisfied after meals) and exercise! Who would have thought...that's the proper recipe for losing weight?!?! HA!

Like I said, I'll do the year-in-review in 9 days, but for now, just know that it's going well...finally.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Weekend Lessons...

This past weekend was an say the least.

I went to a pub crawl in Hoboken on Saturday. It was my first time in Hoboken and really wanted to go since I've been considering a move to there (I just want to be closer to NYC).

Had a wonderful time, drank drinks, raised money for boobies, and met some fun people. All in all I'd say I drank (liquor only) for about 7 hours...not good.

The next day, Sunday, I was supposed to meet my friends in the city for brunch then go to a Broadway show. Well, I woke up with a hangover from hell. I needed to puke, and bad. The only thing is, my band wouldn't let me! I would heave and lurch and nothing would come out. Has this happened to anyone else?

What happens to bandsters when we drink too much or get a stomach virus and need to throw up? If Sunday morning is any indication for me, if it passes through the band, it ain't coming back up no matter what.

Am I right?

And in case you were wondering, no, I didn't make brunch (seriously, food was the last thing I wanted), but I DID make the show and it was AMAZINGGGGGGGG!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is this what progress is??

Sorry I haven't posted since going to ATL, but I really hate blogging from work and lately, that's all I've been doing!

I went to my surgeon back home to get a second since having almost everything removed. A new NP was in and once I told her the whole history of my band, she decided to see how much was actually in there. If every fill / unfill was done correctly in the past, she would have pulled out 4.9cc. She pulled out around 6! I ended up leaving the office with 6.25...I think.

I'm curious how I ended up with an extra cc! I think it was in there prior to my big unfill and that's one of the reasons I was so tight back in May / June and had to suck on ice chips just to stay hydrated!

Anyway, I'm liking this fill. I'm eating less and eating less often. Here's an example of my lunch yesterday:

Before I started eating (2 grapes are missing, I ate those before taking the picture):

And here is the after picture taken after I was full:

I ended up eating the raspberries about 3 hours later as a snack and drank 1/4 of a protein drink on my 2 hour drive home.

Exercise is still an issue. I did walk / run over 3 miles Monday night. It took me 45 minutes. I think that's pretty good for never running! I plan to do it again tonight. I motivate myself to do it because my poor dog is crated for 11 hours a day so I know she needs to get out and run or speed-walk in her case. I don't run fast enough to keep up with her so she trots while I try and run :)

I'm going to update my ticker this afternoon and show how much I've gained. It's not pretty. When I weighed in at my surgeon's I was up 31lb from end of June. Luckily, I've dropped about 4 of those in a week and a half.

Keep moving forward!