Better late than never, right? on October 8, 2011 6:03 pm
Well, I signed up for this site a while ago with all intentions to start blogging about my journey to surgery. What an epic FAIL that was. Busy with work and life and consequently blogging (and Internet use in general) fell to the wayside.
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So, I guess I should do some back log, (or 'back blog') to tell you all a little about how I got to where I am today. For those wondering, as of today I am 12 days post-op. YAY! :)
I would never have been considered skinny or even 'normal' sized for as long as I can remember. In grade school I was always the tallest kid in my grade, then I went to being the tallest and biggest kid in my grade, then to just the biggest. I don't have many memories from my childhood where I ever really felt good about the way I looked. It could be partly a girl thing, never satisfied with the way we look, but at that age, I don't think I was aware of those kinds of things.
I started dieting and trying to lose weight when I was in grade 8. I was going on a school trip to Europe and I wanted to be able to buy cute new clothing to wear while I was there. After all, you never know who you might meet. I was going to be visiting Buckingham Palace, and I could have bumped into Prince William. Every girls' dream, right? To marry a prince.
I didn't lose any significant weight at that attempt, but I was okay with it, I didn't think my weight was too much of an issue at that point.
Then came grade 9, and my school only went to grade 9 so.... grade 9 graduation. Oh joy. I felt like a cow compared to the other girls in my grade. So, I tried again to lose weight. I did lose some weight and felt pretty good about myself that night in my new lilac dress (despite the hair crisis earlier in the day, but that's another story).
On to High School I went.
What a fun, but stressful summer. I was going out with my friends every day, having fun, enjoying myself, but the whole time, stressing about going to high school and wanting to look pretty and comparing myself to all my girl friends. It also needs to be said that at this point, many of them were dating or had boyfriends, neither of which I had. I was trying to lose weight that summer so that when I went back to school in September, maybe, possibly, but some grace of God I would have some boy be interested in me. But nope. No dates. Grade 10 was a bust.
So I was feeling pretty down on myself about not looking as good as the other girls and food seemed to be the only comfort. It was always there for me when I was feeling down, and would always make me feel a little better after I was done.
Grade 11. Pretty much the same deal. Trying to lose weight, not really getting anywhere with it. Yo-Yo'ing and slowly but surely gaining more and more weight.
And then came Grade 12. I was so excited for prom. I knew exactly what kind of dress I wanted, how I wanted my hair to look, what shoes I was going to buy, even what jewelery would complete the look. The only thing in my way from having prom be the best night of high school was myself. My weight, that is. My weight was the root of all my unhappiness, and the only source of happiness was food which would only contribute more to my overall unhappiness. What an evil vicious circle. But I was determined to lose the weight and look amazing at prom.
In grade 12 I joined the wrestling team, which doesn't really seem like like something you would expect girlie-girl me to do, but I did and I fell in love with it. It was the one sport that I had taken part in that I actually felt comfortable. I never felt like the biggest girl and like I stood out from the crowd. This is because in wrestling, you're in weight classes, so everyone is around your same size. That being said, there was only one girl for me to wrestle besides a girl from the university team, but I didn't mind, I got to wrestle with the boys. They soon learned that just because I was a girl, they need not take it easy on me. I'd give them a run for their money to prove I was worth paying attention to, regardless of my size.
Wrestling really helped me with losing some weight, but mostly with just getting in shape, and with my confidence. By the end of the season, I was running 4-5k daily without problem. I was working out every day and felt really good. I wasn't the size 5 that I always wanted to be, but I was feeling good about myself.
Even thought I had lost some weight, I still wasn't getting any dates. One of my best friend's asked me to prom which I was really happy about, because I didn't want to look back at pictures and say 'My lord, what was I thinking going to prom with this guy'.
Prom was June 26, 2003. The last day of high school. Boy, did we go out with a bang. It was such a fun night and the parties kept going all weekend.
The summer went by quickly, I was working and hanging out with friends as much as possible. Dieting was the last thing on my mind. I was getting ready to move to St. John's to start University. Mind you, St. John's is only 45 min away, but it might as well have been 45 hours because I was packing and preparing to move in July. I was so excited to move out of my parents house and be on my own for once. Not that I had many rules or limitations living at home, but hey, at 18, you wanna get out and do your own thing.
I moved in to the residences at MUN and lived with my best friend from high school. We had so much fun living together. I met some really great girls who lived on our floor and the 8 of us were pretty much inseparable for the most part.
But those damn freshman 15.... the sure did creep up despite my efforts to ward them off. I had joined the university wrestling team and was working out and kept running as much as I could. Trying to juggle school, workouts, and most importantly, socializing was proving to be a little more than I could handle. My workouts began to lessen, my grades were not where I wanted them, and I wasn't able to go out and do everything with my friends that I wanted to.
It was a fun but stressful year, and in April, I realized that residence life was hindering everything else. The food was making me gain weigh, the social aspect was overly appealing, and working out just wasn't happening.
My second year I moved into an apartment and everything was much less stressful. I got a job to substitute my very active social life from the year before, and tried to focus more on school and losing weight. School was good, but with the job I was usually too lazy to go to the gym. And being 19, my culinary skills were lacking greatly. Eating Kraft dinner was the norm.
But that second year of university was a big one for me. I hadn't mentioned it before because it wouldn't make much sense, but I am adopted. And in my second year of university, my biological mom started searching for me (she couldn't before then because of adoption laws), and they found me. She was living in Ontario, and had another daughter (my half-sister who I whole-love). She decided to come visit me in March 2005 and brought my little sister with her. It was a very emotional meeting at the airport but it turned out that I am a lot like her in many ways. She also struggled with her weight, but mostly in her later years, after high school. I never would have known this from looking at her because a few years before our meeting, she had gastric bypass surgery and had lost a ton of weight. I had never heard about gastric bypass before meeting her and was intrigued that maybe something like this could help me too. That summer, I went to live with her in Ontario to get to know each other. That summer I worked at the Ford assembly plant with her and from working in the hot sweaty factory and spending my off days working out, I actually lost about 40lbs that summer. I was so excited. Maybe I could lose this weight on my own after all.
Back to reality and crappy university life and my even crappier cooking. (The worst things for you are always the easiest to cook, and i needed easy cooking). I slowly gained the weight back plus more. That year I worked at the gym and the last thing I wanted to do was spend MORE time there to work out or heaven forbid, go there on one of my days off.
For the next few years I kept gaining weight and kept not going to the gym. I thought that I should focus on school and work and worry about my weight when it was all over. Side note regarding the dating life: I did have a date here and there throughout university, but nothing ever materializes with the 'big girl'... I'm still single.
In 2008 when I graduated, I decided that I had had enough with St. John's and moved to Ontario again. I thought that Ontario was the secret ingredient in my recipe to weigh loss and happiness. I was trying to find a job during the day and in the evenings I would work out. The job hunt was failing, but that was the economy's fault; not mine. But the workouts were going good. I was very slowly losing weight, but still losing. There was a family emergency and I had to move back home unexpectedly and much earlier than I had hoped.
With having tried the 'eating right and working out' thing so many times and not succeeding, and also having tried every fad diet and a few diet pills along the way, I was beginning to get desperate to lose weight and find happiness. I went to my family doctor and told him about my biological mother and how she had gastric bypass a few years back and it worked wonders for her. I asked him if there was anything like this that he knew of that could help me. He told me he knew a doctor in the city that was seeing patients about bariatric surgery and referred me to Dr. Pace.
In the summer of 2009, I had my first appointment with Dr. Pace about bariatric surgery. At that time, he told me that there was nothing in place then, but hopefully in the next year or so that he would be starting a procedure called the LapBand. I had researched all sorts of different bariatric surgeries and was familiar with the lapband, but wasn't overly excited about possibly getting it done, but I was willing to take anything I could get at that point. Dr. Pace felt that this procedure would be good for me and put me on 'the waiting list'.
So. I was on the infamous list. But what happens when you're on this list? A whole lot of nothing. I didn't hear from anyone about anything for over a year. I took it upon myself to start calling Dr. Pace's office and asking about the status of the waiting list and if and when surgeries were going to start soon. I was told repeatedly that nothing was happening, and that O.R. times were getting shuffled around in order to make room for Dr. Pace to start bariatric surgeries in this province.
* In September 2010, I went back to Ontario but this time for my second degree. Luckily it was a fast-track program and only took one year. I'm now officially a teacher! (God help those children...) But it was the same story as my first university experience only more intense. There was more pressure on me for school because of the program being so intense, and I was cooking for myself again, which eventually turned into me not wanting to cook and having take-out a LOT of the time. Workout out was basically non-existent because I had so many papers and assignments due in such a short amount of time.
Finally, in March 2011 when the surgeries were in the foreseeable future, I had called in again to the office and spoke with the secretary. (I'm sure this had to of been my dozenth or so call, she must have recognized my voice I'm sure). She now said that she couldn't find my referral letter and that I would need a new one because it had been so long since I had seen Dr. Pace that I was now considered a 'new patient'. My heart was racing because now that I'm a new patient again, did that mean that I was in fact NOT on a wait list? and that I was just fed some rubbish to shut me up?
I called my family doctor immediately and got a new referral letter sent to Dr. Pace's office and eventually the situation got cleared up.
Then one day I am in my car, just pulled into the grocery store parking lot and my phone rings. Its the secretary from Dr. Pace's office. She asks me if I'm still interested in the surgery and that if I am she has an appointment for me to see him in June. That was only a few weeks away. As soon as I hung up the phone, I started crying because I was so happy.
When I went to the appointment in June, there was a lot of other people there to see Dr. Pace as well. After speaking with Dr. Pace and the rest of the team (nurse and dietitian, and research lady), I was very anxious to have this new surgery that he was going to do, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. That day in June he told me that it would be some time before Christmas before I would get my surgery. That was was 6 months away! Dr. Pace also told me that because this is such a new program in the province that right now, everything is based on BMI. Yeah, I was screwed. I was prepared to not have surgery until Christmas eve. My BMI was ridiculous. I was determined to lose some weight so that I could get my BMI down so that surgery would be maybe sometime sooner.
I started going to the gym again and eating better, and I lost a few pounds, but nothing significant.
I had to do my sleep study before my next visit and that was a treat to sleep with on my face that night. The worst sleep of my life I think. And not to mention the bloody thing fell out of my nose and other thing off my finger at one point during the night. But it all came back normal and I only snore a little. No surprises there.
After my next visit with the nurse and dietitian, I went on the liquid diet trial. That sucked so bad for the first few days. Man oh man was I ever dying for some real food. I never really craved salty snacks before that, but I would have hurt someone for a bag of chips that second week. It wasn't the fact that I was hungry, it was just that I really wanted to chew something, and wanted something salty, something that wasn't vanilla or chocolate or sweetened.
After the trial diet, I saw the team again and everything was good. They now narrowed my surgery down to sometime in October. This was AWESOME news.
So I went home happy as a clam and ate food again. That first meal was the best meal I had ever tasted. But it was a killer. I ate less than I used to before the liquid diet and I got so stomach sick. I was almost two days getting over the pain. I didn't realize how much my stomach had shrunk during the trial. I tried to stay on a 'mostly' liquid diet because I knew it wasn't going to be too terribly long before my surgery, but that eventually ended. After another week or so of one meal a day, I started to snack on things when I was supposed to be all liquid so I gave in and started eating full food again.
Friday morning, September 16, 2011. I was at home watching TV when the phone rang. Caller ID told me it was from the hospital. My heart began to race. I was told that there is a possibility that I might get my surgery on September 26th, because someones tests hadn't come back in time and they couldn't proceed without them. I was going to get a call back the end of the day to find out for sure.
Approx 4:15pm Friday the phone rings again. I nearly have a heart attack. But.... still unsure if I'm going to have my surgery on the 26th. But I'm told that if I don't have it the 26th, it will be Oct 17th which is still really soon so I'm not too bummed. I have to wait until MONDAY MORNING to find out about surgery being on the 26th.
LONGEST WEEKEND OF LIFE! I swear. Every minute felt like an hour.
Monday Morning, September 19, 2011. The phone rings just before 9am. This was the call that would possibly change my life sooner than later.
Ladies and gentleman, it was official. My surgery was booked for September 26th, 2011, 7:45am. When I hung up the phone I screamed and woke up everyone in my house. My dog (who sleeps on my bed) fell off the bed in fear when I yelled. I had never felt such happiness in all of my life.
But now it was time for that God awful liquid diet to start again, but this time with a purpose. It was not nearly as hard the second time around because this time I knew that in a few days, everything was going to change for the better.
Pre-admission was Friday morning before surgery and I was running around getting blood work, x-rays, ekg's and all sorts of fun things done. I was happy that it didn't last nearly as long as I had thought it would. (I put 7 hours of time in the parking meter, you never know how long you could be waiting for things at the Health Sciences) I went in for 8am, and was out in my car again before 11am. Not too bad.
The night before surgery my mom and I stayed at a hotel instead of driving in at 5am. I had to be at the hospital for 6:30am at day surgery. It was weird, I never have had any kind of surgery before (not even stitches or a broken bone) and yet I never got that nervous feeling. I was expecting to wake up Monday morning and have that big nervous knot in my stomach but I had nothing. I'm not sure if it had anything to do with the pills I had to take pre-op but whatever it was, there was nothing. Even when I was brought into the O.R. and lying on the surgical bed, I wasn't nervous. I was totally calm. Not nervous, not afraid or scared, not anxious, just calm.
The anesthesiologist put an I.V. in and said take 5 deep breaths and I got to 3 and don't remember anything until I woke up in recovery.
Post-op stories are for the next blog post though.
Hope you enjoyed, and stay tuned for pics pre and post-op. I may even post some gruesome incision pics. :)