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Surgeon TestimonialLawrence DennenMy first encounter with Dr. Dennen was at the information meeting all bariatric patients must attend. Dr. Dennen impressed me as a straight forward, no BS, but caring and compassionate surgeon. He knew what he needed from his patients and was very direct about it. I liked that and requested that he be my surgeon. I am so glad I did.
At my first appointment with Dr. Dennen asked me many questions about my health and weight history and then answered all my questions. Once my questions were answered he made sure I understood all the risk involved with surgery. At the end of our appointment he concluded that I would be a good candidate for either RNY or VSG and that the decision was really up to me. I chose the VSG. At my next appointment Dr. Dennen explained in detail how he would construct my new sleeved stomach and the reasoning behind his techniques. He also gave me a thorough physical exam and referred me for various tests that needed to be completed prior to surgery.
My surgery went very well. I woke with excellent pain management - in other words no pain at all! The nursing staff was generally excellent. There was one nurse I didn't particularly like and her care was only adequate, but the rest of the entire nursing staff was absolutely fantastic. I was really pleased by the complete care I got in the hospital. I was surprised, too, that I got a private room. The room was very nice and I was very well cared for while I stayed in the hospital.
I did have a bit of a scare just prior to surgery. I had gained a pound and a half over Thanksgiving and had not lost it. I came very close to having my surgery cancelled by Dr. Dennen. He is absolutely to the point about the weight loss he requires prior to surgery and I came within 8 ounces of his upper limit. Whew, by the skin of my teeth. If you are lucky enough to have Dr. Dennen, be sure and keep your weight off once you lose it!
I'm just over a month out from surgery and have had absolutely no complications. I have been very pleased with my progress and my after care. I think the pre-op and after care program at Kaiser Fremont is great. Patients have access by phone or email to a psychologist and a NUT and the surgeon. Follow up appointments are scheduled well in advance, too. Also, the program coordinator, Nancy, is fantastic. She is always friendly, accommodating and direct. She is very easy to work with.
I don't think you could have a finer WLS surgeon. Yes, Dr. Dennen is direct and to the letter clear with his patients, but he is also kind and understand a patient's concerns and spends time with his patients. He also will go to bat for his patients when needed. I know he went to bat for me when it came to scheduling my surgery and I will always appreciate that! Does Dr. Dennen sound to good to be true? Perhaps. Yet, this is my honest, albeit biased, review. I would recommend Dr. Dennen to anyone considering WLS.
Emotional Eating on August 24, 2012 10:53 pm
Yup, I'm struggling with emotional eating. Started back to school this week. Lots of stress and free access to CHOCOLATE.
Now, mind you what I consider problem eating now is probably very close to what I used to consider a fantastic food day pre VSG. I've had about 1600 calories today, exercised about 600 away, so I'm probably even in a caloried deficit for today. What's bad are the choices I've made.
I could have made far better and FAR HEALTHIER choices than I did. Did a little cupboard cleaning here and then on Sunday I will sit down and strategize a game plan for the week. I need a mantra/reminder/strategy when faced with the "free" food at school.
Admitting for me has always been at least, if not more, than half the battle. I am not above admitting this maintenance thing is hard and everyday seems to be an experiment. I just keep on doing it knowi ng that one of these days I'm gonna get it right!
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8 months out on August 9, 2012 8:58 am
Well, I post on the forums everyday but have ignored the blog for the last 8 months! Not so good!!!!
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Anyhow....here I am, celebrating 8 months out from VSG surgery. I've lost all my excess weight - though I did up my goal weight by 4 pounds as I got close to goal. As of July 18th I began the long term maintenance phase of my journey.
Maintenance is cool because it means I've made goal. Yet, it's very tricky because on some level I am battling the old, pre VSG thoughts of, "The diet is done! YAY!!! You can eat now!" It is tempting on occasion to have a bit of this and a nibble of that. I have to be hyper aware of what I'm doing food wise. I have felt some old habits wanting to come back into my life and while it's not an outright struggle to keep those habits at bay, I have felt myself having to stand guard against them from time to time. I'd say that 99% of the time I am succussful and make good, healthy choices.
Being at goal is great in ways I didn't really imagine. I am comfortable being me again. I can't really explain it any other way, but I'm okay with me. I walk with more confidence. I'm not afraid to walk into a room of folks I don't really know. I'm not afraid of what people think about me when they look at me. I don't feel underserving. I am no longer afraid of mirrors.
I am really enjoying eating, but in a different way from before. Prior to VSG my main goal was to eat tasty food and feel FULL when I was done. If I didn't feel that fullness I often felt cheated. Now, I'm all about flavor and savoring each bite. I HATE feeling full. I like feeling satisfied and ready to move on to the next thing after eating. I don't miss my daily food comas one bit! Honestly, I am able to postpone eating now until I can eat something healthy and exquisitely tasty rather than eat crappy food that's at hand. I love having that control.
I kind of miss the scale moving down with consistency. I am struggling emotionally with being in a goal range and being near the top of my goal range this past week. Logically I know this is okay, but it is still bothering me today. This is something I need to work on and I will. I believe dealing with this emotion will be key in my long term success.
Lucky me? on December 10, 2011 9:32 am
I know everyone has a different experience with WLS. Today I'm feeling pretty lucky. It's only 3 days after my VSG surgery and I'm feeling well. I'm sore from the incisions and still swollen and still have a little bit of trapped gas from the surgery, but other than that, I'm feeling fine. I'm able to walk and do things for myself. Heck, I even fed the dogs this morning with no problems.
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So far I haven't had any nausea and nothing I've tried to drink has really made me gag. I didn't like chicken broth much, which is a change, and the beef broth I had last night was a bit off tasting, but okay. Yesterday was my first day at home post op and I was able to get in all my fluids, too. That was a big relief for me. I had been a bit worried about being able to stay hydrated and now that worry is off my plate.
My plan right now is just to enjoy my recovery - especially now that it seems to be an easy one. I plan on getting lots of liquids, meeting my protein goals, getting plenty of rest and to keep moving. If I stick to that plan I know I can't go wrong.
Things change on November 22, 2011 7:58 pm
Things do change. Fluctuate. Moods and attitudes come to mind. I had made a whiny post to OH and got a response from another OH member that was the catalyst for changing my attitude about my surgery (or not getting it when I wanted it). I decided that what was going to be was going to be and I'd deal with it and be okay. I emailed my surgeon and let him know I had met all his goals, but knew it wasn't likely that a December surgery was in the cards and that was okay. I called the RN surgical coordinator and told her that I'd love to be put on a cancellation list and could be pretty darn flexible. If I got a day's notice, I could be there. After that I let it go. Nothing more I could do.
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That was November 7th. On the 8th I got an email back from my doc telling me he had reviewed my file and had openings on his December schedule. I got a little hopeful. On the 9th the surgical coordinator called to thank me for my message and make sure she had my best contact number. A little more hopeful. Then on the 14th the coordinator called again. This time she offered me a choice of two dates in December to be scheduled for surgery. I jumped at December 7th. My head was spinning and I was beyond happy - I was on "Cloud 9". I couldn't believe my good fortune.
I'm not an overly spiritual person, but I was reminded that day that when I choose to let go and relinquish control and "let God", as they say, how life usually goes more positively. I must remember this along my WLS journey.
And as Thanksgiving approaches I am reminded that I have to remember, too, to always be thankful for what I have to take with me along my journey - supportive friends and family, great doctors and medical staff, and the kind and generous support of the members of OH. Thank you.
NSV's on November 6, 2011 4:45 pm
Well, November promised to start off great, but by the afternoon of the 1st it clearly was a promise unkept. I was pretty excited when I got up on the first. My final pysch eval was scheduled for that afternoon. I had made my pre op goal weight and was ready to have the evaluation and be scheduled for surgery. Anyway, that's what I thought. I learned later that day, surgeons have very little say about their schedules. It's the nurse coordinators who do that for the surgeon. My surgeon had told me that he didn't see an issue with getting me sleeved in December as long as I met his pre op goals by November 1st. So, I'd been planning all along to get my VSG in December. So, after passing my psych eval and a written test on WLS, post-bariatric surgery lifestyle, and weight loss I was mighty bummed out to hear the coordinator telling me it was highly unlikely that I would get surgery in December. She predicted it would be more likely January or February. Damn, damn, damn was all I could really think. I had already started making plans for work and arranging time off. This is not at all what I had been working towards. I had a mind set for December. Damn!
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I was super depressed over the news. So much so that all I really wanted was comfort food. I sat with this feeling on the way home. Tacos, curly fries, chicken tenders? What would make me feel better, hmmmmm? I passed so many fast food places on the way home but I didn't stop the car. About half way home I realized that I was so proud of myself for meeting my goals that I wasn't about to let this crappy news interfere with all my hard work losing the weight. I was not going to sabotage myself again by eating crap because I was depressed and angry. I went home and ate as planned for the day. I had to sit with my disappointment for a few hours and deal with my feelings - YUCK. In the end I made an OH post about the news, bitched at my support group that night and got a lot of sympathy, but I never ate over it. That was a HUGE NSV for me.
Next NSV is one of a different nature altogether. It has to do with clothes. Even though I haven't lost a whole lot of weight yet and it's been slow going, my body shape is changing. I have worn nothing but relaxed fit or loose fit jeans for years. I have always had big thighs and a big butt. Even when I was thin in my twenties (the one decade in my life in which I was thin more than fat) I had to buy pants larger in the waist to ensure my seat and thighs fit properly and then I'd have the waist taken in. Since I've been losing weight I've lost a size in jeans - no biggie really. I went from a size 40 to a 38. This week I realized my 38s weren't fitting right at all. I kept having to pull them up all day long. At one point I noticed that I had a severe case of trouser seat cleavage going on (aka plumber's butt) and the crotch was hanging halfway down to my knees. Not a look I'm fond of! So yesterday I went to get some new jeans. Well, I tried on about 14 different pair of jeans some 36 inch waists, some 38s. Nothing fit really well except a pair of 38 501s. Hmmmm I haven't worn 501s since I was in college in the 1980s. Last time I tried them on I couldn't even get my legs into a pair. This is odd, I'm thinking. But 501s ain't cheap and I don't think I'm going to be wearing these jeans all that long - God willing! Well, I left the store without buying any jeans.
A few hours later I was at Kmart picking up some things and went over to the guy's section. I thought I'd try on a couple pair of jeans and see if any of the Wranglers, Rustlers or Lees would fit right. I found the jeans (Rustlers) that actually fit my shape at Kmart!!! And this is the best part: they are regular straight fit jeans! Not loose fit. Not relaxed fit! REGULAR FIT! Hot damn - I feel like a regular person wearing regular fit jeans. So flipped out about that I bought two pair - how could I not? They were on sale for 13 bucks a pair. I got two pair for half of what one pair of the 501s cost. Happy Dancin' am I!
Odd, perhaps to get so worked up over a pair of 13 dollar jeans. But not really to me. As a kid, being dragged to the husky boys section in JC Penny's was just awful. I hated having to wear Husky Jeans when all my best friends were skinny kids. Yesterday, for the first time in a VERY long time, I bought a regular fit, regular size pair of jeans. Huge. Simply huge.
So, I've been heavy almost as far back as I can remember. As a kid I was what kind people referred to as husky. I remember my mom would take me to Penny's for jeans and we'd have to go to the husky section. I HATED that. Husky jeans with reinforced knees. It was the 70s and skinny was in. I wasn't skinny and was already at 6 or 7 very aware of my weight. Sad.
I was about 7 years old the first time my folks put me on a diet. It was hard being deprived of twinkies, ho-hos, suzy q's, etc... like all my friends had in their lunch boxes. Funny thing is, I didn't really like that stuff, but it was off limits, so I wanted it. Get the picture? By the time I was in my early teens I had learned to eat what I wanted or craved away from home or I made sure there was no evidence left behind my mom or dad could find.
Fast forward to 18: Did the Cambridge Diet. Lost about 30 pounds and was skinny and loved it. I was down below 160 pounds. Kept the weight off for several years.
By 26 I had long since graduated college, joined the working world, settled into a relationship and started to put the weight on. I reached 196 pounds, joined WW and took it off in 10 weeks. Kept the weight off for about a year, then put a bit on, but didn't really start serously gaining until I was 30.
In 1993 I officially became a teacher. I love teaching and couldn't be happier than I am working with children. Shoot I've done it for about 20 years. Anyhow, the new life with less time for the gym and walks with the dog and the new found teacher's room filled with snacks helped me put on the pounds. I got up to 230 pounds without really realizing how heavy I was getting. Joined Jenny Craig and took about 15 pounds off and then got bad news: my mom was sick with cancer. I ate (and drank) my way through that stress. I kept it all together for my mom and dad and brother, though, and took on the caretaker role for my family. My mom died about a year later and I was 245 pounds.
After that I just must have eaten like crazy. I was huge. I'm 5 foot 7 inches and was wearing anywhere from a size 42 to 46 pant depending on the cut and over a 19 inch neck on my shirts. My top weight got up to almost 280. That completely freaked me out and I went on the South Beach Diet. It worked for a while and I got down to about 240 again. The weight crept back up to about 260 and in 2005 I got serious about losing the weight. At 41 I knew it was time to stop fooling around. I had some fairly earnest starts, but nothing lasted. Then in the autumn of 2005 something clicked and I seemed to be able to put the exercise and my own food plan to work for me and I lost an amazing 60 pounds. I got down to 199 pounds for one whole day! Never saw it again, but it felt good that one day. I ran a 12K during this period and felt exceptionally healthy. I hung around 200 to 205 for about six months and then slowly but surely it all crept back on. I topped out at 268 this past spring when I started WW again. This summer during my annual physical my doctor suggested I consider WLS.
So here I am. I was sad to admit that WLS was an option for me, but with a BMI hovering between 39 and 40, and some significant co-morbitities just waiting in the wings for their entrance cue, it was time to face my reality. A good friend of mine reminded me that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well, I want different results. I want long term, sustainable weight loss. I want good health. When I learned the odds of me sustaining weight loss long term were only around 4% on my own I wanted to crumple up in a heap and cry. But I didn't. I know my reality. I am a man who was close to 100 pounds overweight and I needed help. The help I have chosen is WLS.
I have no fantasy based dreams that WLS is going to be the easy way out. (Though wouldn't that be nice.) I know several people who have had the RNY and last week I met in person someone who has been "sleeved". (That was exciting for me since I have chosen the VSG as the WLS that is right for me.) Their experience tells me WLS will be work and there will be days I may question my choice. I know that WLS a life changing event. I am excited, somewhat nervous and scared of the unknown road I will be travelling, but I am ready to change my life.