Dennis C. Smith, Jr., MD, FACS I feel so very lucky to have had the opportunity to have my DS surgery with Dr. Smith. He truly is one of the best in the world. My first impression was a sigh of relief. My husband was very uncomfortable with the whole idea of surgery. Although he trusted that I had done my research, he still had serious doubts about the process. After our first appointment with Dr. Smith, my husband's fears were eased and he was just as enthusiastic as I was. Dr. Smith just inspires confidence.
He is extremely thorough and meticulous, and his surgical team works like a well-oiled machine. During our stay in the Atlanta area, each time we mentioned his name to anyone in the health care field, we heard some version of "Dr. Smith??!! Oh, he is wonderful. You are in great hands. His patients always do well."
During my appointments, he took plenty of time to explain everything in great detail, and was very patient in answering all of my questions and encouraging me to ask more. I never felt rushed, or patronized.
His staff was wonderful to work with. They were very patient and encouraging with me as I fought for insurance coverage for over a year. Their recommendation of an insurance specialist is the key that unlocked the whole insurance issue for me and got me covered for DS!
The thing I like least about Dr. Smith? That his practice is 5 hours away and not next door to me as I would like. But I know that he is just a phone call or email away.
Dr. Smith has stringent requirements regarding pre-surgery testing, so pre-ops should be prepared for a fairly long and involved process of testing. All of it has a purpose, and it's all to safeguard your health.
Dr. Smith is very diligent about aftercare. He has a structured program with plenty of support available to post-ops.
His surgical competence is beyond reproach, and his bedside manner is calm and reassuring. He isn't likely to crack jokes or talk about the latest episode of your favorite TV show, but that's hardly the quality I'm looking for in a surgeon.
I would recommend Dr. Smith to anyone interested in bariatric surgery of any kind.
I'm a music lover from the wilds of Alabama. I had Duodenal Switch surgery on September 17, 2008 and am forever grateful to the DS post-ops on this site who paid it forward and introduced me to the DS. My insurance would have paid for RNY or LAP-Band with no trouble, but once I saw the light of the DS, I wouldn't settle for less. So after a year of jumping hoops and appealing, I was approved for my DS. Life is good!!
It’s been three years since I went down the rabbit hole and ended up in Onederland. I’m sure there are plenty of you who have no idea who I am, and I apologize for that. I swore to myself that I would never leave OH, and I never have but most days I only read. Usually all that needs to be said has already been said by the time I get there, so I just lurk. But one promise I will always keep is an update for my Surgiversary because I know how inspiring those posts were to me as a pre-op.
Maybe I’m also a cautionary tale because I never quite made it to goal and I’m sure my carb addiction is to blame. I do wish I had taken the advice of the vets who told me to keep away from the carbs until I was at goal, and then add them back carefully. I went from 305 to 155, and then gained 15, ending up exactly where Dr. Smith said I would, at 170. And let me tell you, I’ll take it! I have to admit to certain wistful gazes at those of you who ended up in a size 6, but I’m awfully happy in my 14’s.
Pre-op, I was handicapped. I couldn’t stand for more than 5 minutes at a time because of searing pain in my back, and couldn’t walk much because of horrid foot pain. Now, I have my life back. I’m on stage again, singing, acting and dancing to my heart’s content, and I never thought that would happen again. I hadn’t been on stage for more than a decade because I literally could not stand long enough to do a show.
Pre-op, I wore a mask every night for sleep apnea and I’m free from that thing forever.
I have so much fun every morning just getting dressed.
I am forever grateful to the DS vets who waged the surgery wars on the main board and got my attention.
I’ve been complication free, and my labs have been a dream. I was always a bit of a supplement junkie, so the transition to post-DS life has been pretty seamless for me in that regard. If you’d like to see my supplement list, it’s here. It’s a spreadsheet listing dosages, when I take them, and prices. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApYtkht_37xDdGtleklMTDVuVXhpMVN3LUdpWU53N0E&hl=en_US
On to the pics!
First, a couple of “before” shots:
And now, screw the haters! I’m rocking my size 14 bikini at the beach this week!
DH loves taking my picture.
And I love him.
And now some performance shots from the last couple of years:
I've never taken the time to actually figure out what I spend per month on supplements, until today. Since it took me a long, painstaking time, I'm going to try to paste the spreadsheet here for posterity. I forgot until I was over halfway done, to include the discount Iherb.com gives me for ordering so much, so it's actually a little less. Pre-ops, don't panic. I am a supplement junkie and always have been. Not all of this is DS-related stuff, like the glucosamine, etc.
Wow!! I just accidentally clicked onto my profile and realized just how long it's been since I've updated! Well, life is great. I'm 4 pounds from goal. I'm busy as hell. Right now, I'm rehearsing every single night, playing a lead role in "Noises Off" at the local theatre. Still drumming with the African dance troupe. Participating in the Cemetery Tour as an actor portraying a local historical character. On my feet all the time. Pre-op, 5 minutes on my feet meant horrible pain. It's almost hard to remember what that was like. Wow. Life is good. I haven't had any pics taken very recently, but I have had several taken since the last ones I posted here, so here are a few.
First, just because I love this pic of me after a rock show where I sang with a couple of buddies from high school:
Just copying my latest AW posts from the DS board:
Today was my 10-month surgiversary. I didn't lose all my weight in 6 months like some, but I'm still losing slowly (3 pounds this month) and if I never lost another pound I would still be thrilled with this brand new life. I ran into an old friend on the street tonight and the poor man could barely string a sentence together. It was something like, "Anna...you're so... slender...and so... blonde!" ROFL I love those WOW moments.
I had a bit of a meltdown in the dressing room at Cato's last night though. When I walked into the store, I automatically went to the right, to the plus sizes. But I quickly realized I wasn't going to find a damn thing that fit. Holy Crap! Was I going to have to walk to the other side of the store? How embarrassing will that be?? Surely there's nothing over there to fit me!! I had to force myself to go over there. So I was trying on several shirts, mostly XL (yes, not 4x! not even 1x! XL!) and as god is my witness, every one of them swallowed me alive. I lost it. I just started bawling like a baby girl right there in the dressing room. I came home with 2 brand new shirts, size Large. Plain old "L". And do you know that when they put those regular sized clothes on sale, those bad boys are cheap as hell??
Then, this morning, as I have done every "casual Friday" morning for the last 4 months, I tried on my dream jeans. You know the ones. The ones you saved from your skinny days hoping someday to get back into them? Well, this was the morning. I actually wore them to work:
But I digress. I promised ass pics.
First, my pre-op ass in all it's glory, playing in the fountain downtown at the last NADS meeting before my surgery:
And now, that self-same ass today, getting into the truck on the way to work:
Viva la difference!!
AND THIS POST:
Sorry. Don't mean to be attention whoring so soon after my last session, but I promised Shani I'd post a pic of my new outfit. I'm a drummer for an African dance troupe, Poza, here in north Alabama. We performed yesterday for the W.C. Handy Music Festival.
Well, on the one hand I can't believe it's already been 9 months. And on the other hand I can't believe it's only been 9 months since I got my life back. I guess it's time for a real update. Let's see:
WEIGHT: I still have about 50 pounds to go, to get to my dream weight but realistically I'll be thrilled to lose about 30 more. From my all time high of 305 pounds, I've lost 116 pounds; from my first appointment with Dr. Smith 112 pounds; from surgery 106 pounds. I'm now at 189, firmly in One-derland. I love that even on doctors' scales I'm registering in the ones. I have no desire to be skinny and honestly I would be thrilled if I never lost (or gained! ) another pound.
ENERGY: Finally I've got it back! I was very, very tired til about the six month mark, but now I feel like I could conquer the world. We took a week's vacation to the Gulf of Mexico last week, and the difference was amazing. It used to be such a chore, just to walk from the condo to the beach. Now, it's just no big deal to go back and forth, take long walks on the beach, follow my bliss!
FOOD: Love it! My food aversions to meat are pretty much gone. I tolerate just about anything, but do avoid white flour and pasta completely because I don't want to take a chance on gas. I keep things fairly low-carb; between 50-100 grams a day. I make sure to get plenty of water, which is all I drink except for a big mug of coffee and a protein drink every morning. I love the DS lifestyle!
CLOTHES: I've gone from a 28/32 to a 16W in pants and a 14W in tops. I haven't made the switch to Misses sizes because the Womens sizes tend to accommodate my hips better. I've always been a definite pear-shape, and that hasn't changed. As you all may have noticed. I kinda like to perform and play dress-up, and that sure is a lot more fun these days!! You should have seen the face of my African drum instructor last week when he saw me in full African garb at performance. He hadn't seen me since I was his student 2 years ago and I thought his eyes would pop out of his head.
SKIN: Getting droopier all the time! Especially inner thighs and arms. But I look great in clothes. And I have recently made the decision that I just don't give a rat's ass what anybody thinks of my bat wings and I am wearing short sleeves if I feel like it. I'm 45 years old and I have earned the right to be comfortable in my own skin, regardless of how well it fits. It's unlikely that I'll ever be able to afford plastics, so I'm going to enjoy the body I have.
CO-MORBS: Sleep apnea is gone!! No more Darth Vader mask every night. I'm off all of the COPD meds too; I was using two different inhalers, two nasal sprays and an antihistamine pill every day. Now the only prescriptions I take are Nexium and Prometrium (to regulate my cycle). I'm still getting used to being able to be on my feet for hours without searing pain in my back, legs, and feet. It's truly unbelievable and I do have to remind myself that I am not limited in the ways that I was!
GRATITUDE: I'm swimming in it. Deep thanks to LeaAnn who showed me the DS Light, to all the Renegades and Karlene Dittrich without whom I would probably still be fighting to get my DS. To my OB/GYN who actually kept good records of my weight and weight-loss attempts for the last 10 years, to my amazing surgeon and his fabulous staff, to my husband who has been nothing but supportive every step of the way, to my former employer the New York Times for overriding the evil BCBS of AL and approving my surgery, and to every single one of you on the DS board without whom I would probably go insane.
Well, here I am. I'm 43 years old, and I've been dieting all my life. I've yo-yo dieted my way to 300 pounds. All the statistics, not to mention my personal experience, say that it's a losing battle. I'm feeling defeated. I didn't want to do this. The likelihood of all that saggy skin is horrifying to me. I don't want to lose my already thinning hair. But something has to give. I'm walking around in pain, all the time. My feet, my knees, my back, all screaming under all this weight. My husband is terrified of losing me. He has always been very much against the idea of WLS. But last night he brought it up. So now, I know I'll have his support and I knew I couldn't do it without that.
I call this blog "Getting Over Myself" because whenever I've considered WLS in the past, I always end up looking at saggy skin pics and deciding that I just don't want to look like that. But at this point I have to get past my vanity and do what's right for my health. It isn't as if I look all that great naked right now anyway!
It's funny; I feel like such a failure for not being able to do it "the right way". My husband blames breast cancer. It's almost sweet. I was losing weight; I had lost 70 pounds with healthy food and exercise when I was diagnosed. After all those surgeries, and all that comfort food which he blames himself for constantly offering me during that battle, I gained most of the weight back.
I know I shouldn't feel this way. Obese people just don't maintain weight loss. We can lose it all right, no question about that. But keep it off? It's like there's a bungee cord attached to us and we just have to swing the other way. I do blame myself for becoming obese in the first place, and for allowing myself to get on that yo-yo dieting rollercoaster. OK, OK, I'm mixing metaphors. Bungee jump, rollercoaster, whatever you call it, it's a hell of a ride, full of excitement, danger, tragedy and terror.
Looking at all the statistics, all the science I can get my hands on, I know that my absolute best chance to go canoing again, to dance barefoot, to get my life back, is weight loss surgery. That's the only thing that can break that bungee cord. I have to break my body to save my spirit.
I've only just made this decision. I haven't even talked to my family physician yet, much less decided on a surgeon, or even what type of surgery I want. I keep going back and forth. I like gastric bypass because of the dramatic weight loss (who can resist that siren call?) and the fact that the malabsorption allows you to eat more food. I like Lap-Band because you still get nutrients, and strangely enough, because the weight loss is slower. I figure, maybe less saggy skin? That's something I need to learn from you guys. I have a lot to learn.
Edit several months later: Boy did I have a lot to learn! Finding out about the Duodenal Switch made all the difference. Now there's no way I would settle for anything less. With the DS, the chance of regain is much, much less than with RNY gastric bypass or lap-band. And that means everything. I do not want to go through a procedure like this only to gain all the weight back, as I've done so many times with diet and exercise.
Pre-ops, please feel free to message me if you have any questions about the DS! Or go to http://www.duodenalswitch.com to learn more and find a list of qualified DS surgeons.