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Surgeon TestimonialJonathon Spitz, M.D.Dr. Spitz is recently added to Spokane's Rockwood Clinic (a Center of Excellence!) and I met with him on April 13th, 2009. He made me feel right at home, and asked me some questions as to why I wanted WLS, what I expected, and what information I had already researched. He told me that he considered me to be an ideal candidate for WLS as I am relatively young, with only 2 medical problems (recently-diagnosed diabetes and high blood pressure, both most likely caused by my obesity), and that I was well-informed and knowledgeable about the RNY procedure. He said he felt confident that I could lose close to 100% of my excess weight. It was SO nice to feel validated, because I had been feeling the same thing - that I would be a good WLS patient.
- Travel - We're going to NYC for Spring Break 2010. I can't wait to go as a smaller me!
- Cats - I have 2 cats, my old grumpy cat Kiki, and a 1 year-old named Binx.
- Dogs - My first dog in 13 years - Miss Shady Carmelina, a purebred Chihuahua.
- Web Development - I'm back in college, pursuing my BS in IT/Visual Communications.
- Scrapbooks - My friends from work and I meet once a month and scrap all day!
- Camping - I love to go camping with my kids.
- French - I'm learning French - it's such a beautiful language!
I'm baaaaack! :) on April 18, 2011 10:52 pm
It's late, so a short update for now (not that I expect anyone's watching, but it's good to journal this stuff, right?)
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I'm 17 months post-op now, and happy with my weight loss of about 130 pounds, but not happy that I seem to be stuck about 50 pounds short of my goal. I got within 5 pounds of "onederland" and have wavered here for 6 months now. I don't think I'm done, because I've had no bounce-back...just a major plateau that I know is borne of my lack of exercise and complacency with food. I'm not being "bad", I'm just not being careful.
At any rate, I feel awesome. I still have great labs and have no issues that bother me at all. I just need to get back on track with watching what I eat and taking care with carb/proten/calorie counts. My hair all grew back in GREAT, and it's softer and healthier than it has been in years. My skin is also really soft, and the rough dark freckle-things I used to have all over my hands and arms are gone, too. BONUS!
Even though I haven't lost for 6 months, I did drop another size. I am in 14 pants now, and large tops. I dropped 2 shoe sizes, too. How odd. I'm actually quite bony in some places (like my butt and fingers), but still have flub in the tummy and thighs to lose.
That's it for now. Falling asleep...
8 months and counting... on July 1, 2010 9:26 pm
I'm down 116 pounds now! I don't lose nearly as fast as I used to, of course, nor nearly as much as I'd like, but every time I think, "Is this it? Is that all?" I drop a few more pounds, so I think I'm still on track!
I'm down from a size 26/28 pants and 3x shirt, to size 16 jeans and Large shirts (for the most part - there's always those odd clothes that are up or down from everything else you're wearing). It's fun buying cute panties now; remember when all you could find were beige or white?! Like it's too much trouble to cut some big girl panties out of cute material - sheesh!
My 6 month labs were also perfect. I asked for a copy of my labs so I could see if things were falling - they're not. Well, except for my A1C! Mind you, I was a newly-diagnosed diabetic when I had surgery last October 26th, and my A1C never got higher than 6.5, but it's now at 4.8! My blood pressure remains around 100/60, and my cholesterol levels are moving closer to perfect numbers, also.
As far as food goes, I can probably eat a lot more things than I do. I've gotten into a routine of eating a few favorite things, and it seems to be working for me. I still eat a lot of cottage cheese, and can eat soft meats, lunch meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, milk products, beef jerkey, yogurt, etc. I never drink protein shakes or supplements anymore, but the doctor says my diet seems to be giving me what I need for now.
I finally found a vitamin regimen that doesn't drive me crazy - Optisource bariatric vitamins from Walgreen's. A friend of mine is 18 months out and has my same surgeon and nurse practitioner, and she's been taking them all along and has perfect labs as well. They taste great, and the best part - the calcium and iron I need are in them! I was really struggling to get the calcium in, now that I have a harder time taking large pills.
What else? Oh - I'm dating again! :) I've dated a few younger guys (ahem...and by younger, I mean young and HOT!), and a few my own age, too. I'm having a wonderful time, but haven't found anyone yet who feels like a perfect fit for me, so - oh darn...I guess I'll have to keep looking! ;) It's been so long since I've been asked out, and spoiled. Last weekend was perfect - we drove in his BMW to Lake Coeur d' Alene, took his boat out for about 3 hours, and had a lovely dinner on the 7th floor of the resort. Wow, I'm still smiling!
Umm, not much to report in the "bad" category. I can drink water with no problem now, although it does still sometimes cramp my stomach if I go too fast. My new water - Minute Maid Lemonade Light - 2 grams of sugar per serving, and it's YUMMY! Although it's sweetened the same as Lipton diet tea and Crystal Light, it doesn't give me a headache like they do.
I still get constipated, but I eat so much fruit nowadays that it's a rare thing. I still don't go every morning like I used to, but I'm back to a routine of when I do go, it's usually first thing in the morning, and not a big hassle like before (GOD I hated those days!)
I'm very happy with my weight loss, but hating the saggy skin a lot. My thighs are loose and over-hangy now, and I have serious batwings. As you can see from my old pics, I used to have a VERY fat face/neck, and for awhile I had a pretty bad turkey waddle goin on, but it seems to be snapping back some. It's definitely less pronounced, and it should by all rights be WORSE, since I'm still losing. My breasts were disappearing fast, and are pretty saggy now, but with a great bra (and I have one!), I have an illusion of a nice rack as long as I'm not naked, lol!. I definitely lost weight from the extremities inward, but my belly is starting to flatten out, and I've managed to shrink my butt and not lose it all. YAY!
I still don't exercise like I should. I'm a little disappointed that I don't suddenly LOVE exercising, but in truth, I've never liked it. And I don't like it now. Granted, I can do a LOT more now, like hiking around the forest for my job, and I recently did the light Pack Test (1 mile walk in 16 minutes - I did it in 15). I think it's time to make room in my life for more activity - I think it will help me start losing a little faster again, and I am sure I lost some muscle and should build it back up!
Okay, let's talk about transfer addictions. I'm not addicted to anything, and I haven't done too much of anything bad, but what concerns me is that I seem to WANT to. I will never be much of a drinker, but I've actually gone out a few times and experimented with alcohol. Wow, what a rush how fast it hits me now. Of course, it wears off faster, too, but anyway...I normally drink 3 times a year, if that...and I've done it 3 times in 6 months. I've also felt a little addicted to the rush I get meeting and talking to cute guys! Not that I'm anywhere near being a sex addict or anything like that, but if a year down the road I find myself there, I'll be looking back to NOW and saying, "Yep...that's when it started..." I'm seeing a therapist for the first time in my life, and we both agree that I'm seeking a little adrenaline and fun, making up for lost time so to speak, and exploring ways together to keep me safe and appropriate. I don't want to finally lose all this weight, and find myself with another (possibly more dangerous) problem! Wish me luck!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my update. Hope everyone is having much success and feeling as fantastic as I do. :)
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Where have the last 6 months gone?! on April 18, 2010 10:23 pm
I can't believe I'm creeping up on 6 months post-op! I no longer think of how many "weeks" have elapsed since surgery, but I'm still really surprised to see just how much time has actually passed.
For the most part, I'm still doing really good. To date, the only "issues" I've had are trouble drinking water (getting better still, but a really slow climb back to normal unfortunately), constipation (unending and relentless until I discovered eating a banana a day does it for me!), and horrendous hair loss. My hair's been growing back for the past month or so, but at a half inch per month, it's gonna take a long time to fully recover. I'm hoping my hair comes back to its original thickness. I really lost a LOT, I'd say at least 75% of my hair fell out. I knew I'd suffer hair loss, but had no idea how truly horrible it would get. :(
As for food - I'm doing pretty good. I'm slowly introducing bread back into my diet. The other day I had a whole slice of thin toast with peanut butter on it. I ate it slowly, and it felt good. I rarely eat bread of any kind, but it's nice to know I can maybe do half a sandwich by summer. I have no problem with chicken, hamburger, or roast, and can even eat an egg now and then, but I no longer like the taste of fish at all. This really saddens me, as my family used to eat a lot of salmon, which is SO good for you! Oh well, maybe that will come back, too.
I've started experiencing the reactive hypoglycemia I've read about, whenever I eat starchy carbs. I was doing really good with a little bit of cereal most mornings, but nowadays, even a half cup of Cheerios will make me feel shaky and weird (I think it's my version of dumping - never hardcore like I read about, but more like a half hour of slight nausea, a feeling of slight shakiness, and extreme fatigue and yawning.) About 2 hours later, I'll have a really bad low blood sugar, so I've stopped eating cereal for the most part. It's really hard for me to eat ANY breakfast, since everything kinda hurts my stomach first thing in the morning. I almost never drink protein shakes anymore, because they make me nauseous now, and they never used to! My safest bet is about 1/3 cup of cottage cheese, and a snack-pak of mandarin oranges or diced peaches...or a low-sugar yogurt and a small banana.
I still drink milk every day, but I'm not as addicted to it as I was the first few months. Still no lactose intolerance, for which I'm very grateful! Coffee has become my new bad habit, but I only drink a cup a day, and sometimes not even a full cup.
Before surgery, I was getting about 3-4 periods a year, and since surgery I only had one really light period about a week after surgery. Well, recently, I started craving chocolate, and was eating a few little Dove chocolates a day, and was getting worried about wanting it so often. I got my period the other day, and it suddenly made sense to me. I've ALWAYS craved chocolate right before my period, and this one was a doozy. Lasted 9 days, and gave me cramps so bad I couldn't sleep one whole night! Sheesh...hope those aren't back for good.
I weighed about 335 a little over a year ago, and today I'm down to 231. So, I've lost 104 pounds total, and 82 since surgery. I plateaued at 240 for a full month recently, and was starting to think my weight loss was over. Then we went to New York City for vacation, and did a LOT of walking, and I've been losing pretty steady since coming home 2 weeks ago. Also, before we left on vacation, I kinda felt like I was snacking a lot. Was thinking about food a lot more, and planning what to eat, and looking forward to eating, etc. Since New York, I'm back to having to remember to eat, and struggling to get enough protein again. Not sure if that's why I'm losing, or if I ramped my metabolism up again. Either way, I'm happy to see I'm not done losing. I still have 81 pounds to go before I hit my goal of 150!
Emotionally, I'm having a really rough month. New York was WONDERFUL! We totally had a good time, and I really needed that vacation, but almost the minute I got home, it's been downhill ever since. The airline lost my luggage on the way home (I eventually got it back, but that was stressful!), my precious puppy was stolen out of my yard while I was on my way home, and I found out my oldest (24) is addicted to painkillers and stole a bunch of my stuff to pawn it. I got most of it back, but I'm really stressed out about him, and trying to help him get into rehab. It's painful to watch a loved one go through this, and I struggle with wanting to help him and still protect myself from him at the same time.
Luckily I have a month off from my college classes. I would have a hard time concentrating on them right now, for sure. But they start back up May 3rd, so I hope things are a little less chaotic by then. I am happy to report that with all this stress, I haven't been eating a lot, or even wanting to. I do have a new obsession with shoes, but since every pair of shoes I had is now too big for me, I did need to buy new ones. I think I just enjoyed it a little too much, lol.
On my 3-month appointment, my nurse practitioner said all my labs were fantastic, my A1C was 5.5, my blood pressure was 102/64, and I was "ahead of the curve" for my weight loss. I'm very happy with those results, and with my decision to have WLS. I've never regretted it for a second, and I hope I continue to do well. I started a WLS support group in my town, but haven't had many respondents. Last week, no one showed up. Oh well, I'll keep trying!
I hope you are all doing well, also! Have a wonderful week and enjoy your Spring! <3
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Long-overdue update on January 12, 2010 5:44 pm
It's been so long since I updated, and people are sending me messages wanting to know how I'm doing, so here it is in a nutshell:
I'm 11 weeks post-op as of yesterday. I've lost 75 pounds total now, and 53 pounds since surgery! My starting BMI was over 56, but is now a 43.3. I started out as a size 26/28 pants and 3x shirts, and today is my first day wearing a new pair of size 18 jeans! To be fair, I still have 1 pair of 22's that fit me really good, but I think it's a fluke, as all my other 22's are falling off me now. I guess I'll skip size 20 altogether? As for shirts, I'm in a 1x now.
I'm still doing remarkably well! I have no issues right now other than the inevitable hair loss, which to me seems really bad, but others say they don't notice yet. It's scaring me, cuz it's everywhere! In the tub, in my brush, all over my pillowcase...I can tug gently on my hair and get 10 or more at a time! I've been taking biotin for about a month now, so I'm hoping it's going to help with the new growth.
I'm eating a little bit more food at each sitting now. I can eat a 4oz apple sauce and almost 4 oz of cottage cheese at one sitting. I see my nutritionist on Feb. 10th and I'll ask her if I'm on track for portion sizes. I'm tolerating all kinds of foods really well, but I stick mostly to cottage cheese, soups, beans and cheese, soft vegetables, soft fruits, yogurt, hamburger, chicken, turkey, almonds and other nuts, milk, low-sugar cereals like Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Crispix, etc. I'm still not intrigued by breads, and eggs still make me queasy. I am not trying fish again for a few months, since all 3 times I've tried it, it hurt my stomach.
I've only thrown up those 2 times early on, from eating too fast, and I still haven't dumped on anything. I'm grateful for that. I can eat a small cookie now and then, or a nibble of chocolate, and at least for now, that's all I want. I don't crave candy, sweets, chips, or anything greasy/fried. I'm starting to enjoy raw vegetables such as baby carrots, soft tomatoes, a bit of lettuce, and destringed celery. I'm going to try a small salad some time this week...wish me luck!
I'm doing better about getting in all my vitamins, mostly because I finally stopped chewing those god-awful calcium tablets and just bought some calcium citrate. Here's what my regimen looks like:
2 315-mg calciums, 1 chewable multivitamin, 1 vitamin D capsule with breakfast.
2 315-mg calciums, 1 5000-mcg biotin, 1 sublingual B12 around 10:30 am.
1 315-mg calcium, 1 chewable multivitamin, 1 sublingual B12 around 2 pm or so.
1 30mg Iron + C, 2 Colace (stool softener) at bedtime with 8 oz of 1% milk.
It seems to be working well for me. I'm still not drinking 64 oz of water each day, but I'm still trying.
Anyway, that's a snapshot of how things are with me now. I'm still exceedingly happy with my surgery choice, my results so far, and how I'm feeling and doing. Hope you are all on a similar journey! :)
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One week post-op on November 3, 2009 6:38 pm
Wow, what a ride! It's finally sunk in that I actually had weight loss surgery! I'm so happy and excited. And, very grateful not to be feeling remorseful and unsure of my decision.
The past week has flown by pretty fast! I had what my surgeon called a "textbook perfect" RNY gastric bypass on Monday, October 26. I woke up in the recovery room moaning not in pain, but in extreme nausea. I was SO afraid I'd throw up, and I was begging the doctors, "please please don't let me throw up!" They reassured me that there should be nothing TO throw up, but I was like, "But, my little tummy wants to try!" They gave me really good anti-nausea meds and thankfully it went away. That's been my only bout of nausea to date. (thankyougod)
I was feeling so good after surgery, that apparently I snapped a pic of me doing a thumbs-up and sent it to a ton of people from my cell phone. The next day, as replies came throughout the day, I had no idea what they were referring to. How can you forget something like that, lol?
My second night, I had a really rough night. I chose to go off the patient-controlled IV pain medicine, and have my first dose of liquid hydrocodone. Three hours later I woke up and couldn't move. Unfortunately, they had taken my IV out because it had started to occlude (common for me), and suddenly there were nurses all around me, giving me a pain shot in my arm, getting a new IV going, calling my surgeon (who told them to give me Toradol for the muscle spasms I was having all through my abdomen), and getting me a warm blanket for my tummy. The rest of the night was a fitful, fearful series of small naps, but I did feel good enough to go home the next morning.
I had a really bad headache by the time I got home, and it wouldn't go away for days. God, that was a miserable headache! I finally figured out it was from the liquid hydrocodone, but as it started to wear off, so did the headache, and within minutes of taking it, the headache would be back full force. So, on day 4 after surgery, I went cold turkey off the pain meds completely. I spent the next few days feeling VERY sore in all my incisions (I have 5), but it was still better than that darn headache.
I haven't taken a daytime nap for 3 days now, and today, I felt good enough to go into work for a few hours in the afternoon. I had thank-you cards to deliver, because the ladies I work with have been taking turns bringing dinner for my kids each night, and let me tell you what a blessing that has been! All of it's been delicious, easy to make meals, and the kids have enjoyed it so much. I'm so grateful to work for such a great agency.
Well, that's my first update. I'll talk more about what I am (and am not) eating and drinking, and how that's going. Til then...
Ciao for niao!
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I should have surgery in about 8 weeks! on July 22, 2009 8:52 am
I called the Doctor's office yesterday, and they've scheduled all my required tests and labs on the same day, August 20th. I need a chest x-ray, EKG, pulmonary evaluation, and some blood work. The nurse practitioner says she should have all the results by the following day, and will call me to schedule the pre-op with the surgeon, herself, and dietitian, and my surgery date for 3 weeks later at the same time.
I'm so excited! This whole process has been a little frustrating, for the sole reason of the time involved. I applied for case management on January 2nd (would have been January 1st if it wasn't a holiday, lol!) and didn't get an intake until the 15th. Got the go ahead to start the process by losing 5% of my body weight (17 lbs) and lost it in only 39 days.
Had to wait 2 months for a mandatory "Info Session", and every step since then has taken at least a month on their part. They let me know what I need, and I immediately provide it, then wait another month. Can't stand the waiting! I realize they deal with a LOT of patients, but I'm only having ONE surgery, ya know? This is a huge deal to me, and will change my life forever. I just wish they felt even a fraction of how important this was to me. Oh well, the end of Phase 1 is in sight, and soon I'll be moving through Phase 2 (post-op). I can't wait. :)
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So here I go... on July 20, 2009 9:50 pm
After years of researching and dreaming about WLS, my insurance finally offers it, and I've been working since January 2nd of this year to realize this dream of mine. I finally got authorization from my insurance on June 24th (after losing 5%, attending an info session, meeting with a prospective surgeon and getting his okay to proceed, and having a psych eval, all that's left for me is a day of testing and labs (EKG, pulmonary eval, chest x-ray, and some bloodwork), a meeting with the dietitian and I can schedule surgery. Summertime is a notoriously busy time for me, as I am a member of an Incident Management Team that responds to wildland fires, but I'm hoping to get the labs and testing out of the way and schedule surgery for early fall, probably in September.
I'm SO excited! I know I'm going to have a positive, successful journey!
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Growing up, I was always very petite. My nickname all through grade school was Peanut. I was raised a vegetarian, and did a lot of gardening and other outdoor activity, such as hiking, bike riding, horseback riding, backpacking, and swimming.
Around age 15, I started to very slowly gain weight. I honestly didn't see the gain, but I was definitely aware of it by age 17. My sister made a few comments, but I led a fairly sheltered life, and didn't get a lot of feedback or critisism from anyone else. My weight gain remained slow and steady, until by age 18 I weighed about 180 pounds.
I sometimes think I began to subconsiously "shield" my body with fat as a way of avoiding the whole dating and relationship arena of life. I had few healthy male role models as a child, and instead suffered mental, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of several stepfathers and family 'friends'. My real father never lifted a hand to harm me, but unfortunately I was not able to see him very often, at best a few times a year. With him, I always felt treasured, loved, and special. He was a professional racecar driver, and would take me with him when he raced. I'd hang out in the pits all day with his crew, and I loved it! My father died when I was 15, which coincides with the time I started to slowly gain weight. Not sure if these things factor into my weight gain, but it seems feasible to me. (I've never had any counseling or therapy, so these are my own musings.)
I had my first child at 19, and never really lost the 30 pounds I gained while pregnant and after. The same thing happened with all 4 of my kids, and I ended up around 330 pounds, where I've lingered for the past decade. I honestly don't think I'd ever be someone who just keeps gaining and gaining until they end up 600 pounds or more, because I don't consiously diet or watch what I eat, and I've hovered at this weight for a long time. Basically, I eat the right amount of calories to 'maintain' weight, because I don't gain anymore. But, it takes such a herculean effort to drop weight (which makes no sense to me), that no matter if I lose 10, 20, or 30 pounds, I ALWAYS slowly bounce right back up to around 330.
I honestly feel weight loss surgery is the only thing that is going to help me lose a significant amount of my excess weight, and help me keep it off. Since I don't have an eating disorder, and don't eat as a means of self-medicating or avoiding reality, I think it will be a useful tool in helping me return to the size my body is meant to be, more on the petite side than being stocky. I'm looking forward to being healthier, with more energy and ability to do the things I miss. I can't wait to go skiing again, or ride a horse, or go for a long bike ride and not be uncomfortable.
I'm still kind of numb with disbelief that this is happening for me, and I think it will only truly sink in the day I wake up in the recovery room and realize that's it not a dream, it's a reality. The beginning of a whole new life for me!