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Surgeon TestimonialAlberto Aceves M.D., F.A.C.S.I had an exemplary experience with Dr Aceves and the rest of his team. The program was very efficiently run and everyone who contributed to my care was very professional and competent. My blog here on OH has a complete report on my experience, and feel free to pm me with any questions.
This was the best surgery experience I have had, ever, anywhere!
4 Month Report on June 22, 2010 2:25 pm
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I hit my 4 month surgiversary on my 45th birthday - and also made it halfway to my goal that day - 61 out of 122 pounds lost in total!!
During month 4 my weight loss seemed very, very slow - I lost 6 pounds total - and I was feeling very frustrated. After a few delays, I did get started last week on a serious exercise program with a personal trainer - 2 days of weight machines / free weights (with trainer for now) and 3 - 5 days of cardio: at least one hour of swimming, water aerobics, treadmill, elliptical, bicycle, or walking.
For what it's worth, only one week into the routine, I have dropped two pounds and am seeing a reduction in measurements as well. It will be interesting to see how this effects weight and soze lost during this month. I have been eating a bit more - now that I am being much more active than before, I have been feeling a lot hungrier - but I am still focusing on protein and limiting carbs.
I have pre-purchased a couple of items in size 14 - jeans and a smashingly gorgeous red rainjacket for the fall. I am solidly into an 18W now, from a 26 pre-op, and I am confident that these will fit for the fall and probably into the winter.
Labs came back and look pretty good, although I am meeting with a chiropractor / nutritionist this week to fine tune some things - to me my iron and B12 seem a little low, though within normal limits, and my D3 was high. I didn't have pre-op levels for these, so I don't know until my next set of labs if things are trending low. I have always been slightly anemic, so I am increasing my iron and B12 for now, and then we'll see how the next labs, at 6 months, look.
I was happy to see that liver function tests, kidney function tests, fasting glucose, and lipid profile all look good and have improved since the last time they were checked.
I am going to be in the UK for a week at the beginning of July and am looking forward to surprising friends who have not seen me since before my surgery!
3 Month Report on June 22, 2010 2:24 pm
I lost a total of 9 pounds this month, despite a 16 day stall. Today my weight is 227, from a high of 282 (weight on day of surgery = 269), for a total of 55 pounds lost!
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Measurements: See attached spreadsheet.
Since surgery I have lost a total of:
6 inches from my bust,
9 inches from my waist,
9.5 inches from my hips
11 inches from my ribcage, and
9 inches from my thighs
Plus forearms, calves etc have all lost as well...
BMI has dropped from 42.9 to 34.5.
Average nutrition for this month:
Average daily calories: 722.8
Fat: 32.1g / 38.9% of daily calories
Carbohydrate: 30.5g / 16% of daily calories
Protein: 85.4g / 45.4% of daily calories
Flew to Southern California to see my dad last week and 1) fit easily into airplane seat, with extra room in the seatbelt; 2) spent 10 hours walking all over Disneyland with no fatigue and minimally sore feet - NO arthritis pain!; and 3) lost weight on vacation (three pounds in a week). Pretty cool!
Still walking and swimming. Have decided to buy 5 sessions with a personal trainer as my reward for 50 pounds lost. My arms and thighs are looking REALLY flabby!
2 Month Report on April 18, 2010 3:55 pm
As of Friday it has been 60 days since my surgery and things are continuing to go really well. I weighed in this morning at 235 pounds, so that is a total of 17 pounds
lost this month. I did my measurements yesterday and have lost another 3 inches each from my bust, ribcage, waist and hips, plus small amounts elsewhere (neck, thighs, calves). I am now fitting easily into a size 20, having gone into surgery at size 26 (28 at high weight).
My doctor still has me on a half dose of my water pill for blood pressure, but I suspect we'll just finish out the prescription and then discontinue, as my pressure has decreased significantly (this morning it was 106/68). Prior to surgery it was around 135/75 even with medication.
I have continued to weigh and track my food intake and my average nutrition stats for this month are:
Fats: 31.7g (37.1% of total calories)
Carbohydrates (Including fiber): 35.7g (18.3% of total calories)
Protein: 84.1g (45.3% of total calories)
It's been a couple of weeks since I have thrown up, so I am hoping that I have learned how to eat solid food, and how to tell when I am full.
Continuing with my supplements and planning to replace chewables with regular tabs as I run out from now on - this will also help reduce my carb intake by about 14g a day (or at least allow me to have more veg and maintain same carb intake.) I continue to avoid white flour and caloric sweeteners. I have enjoyed 3 or 4 slices a week of a low carb whole sprouted grain bread with 12g protein, 13g carbs, 12g fiber per slice - it does not seem to stimulate cravings or slow down my weight loss, so I will continue with this as I think the fiber is beneficial and it is delicious! (www.julianbakery.com)
I am collecting my new fins, goggles and swim cap from the post office this week and will start swimming right away - my thighs and arms are looking rather flabby and horrible!
I have posted a new set of photos, trying to track the changes month-to-month.
Finally, I started my own blog this month, www.vsggoodlife.com
, with recipes and with an account of my experiences before during and after my vsg.
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1 month out on March 15, 2010 6:47 pm
OK -so I have been stalled for a couple weeks, making my total weight loss so far 22 pounds since I started my pre-op diet, 30 pounds since highest weight. Have kept measurements from before/after and have lost a lot of inches - including 4 from my waist since Feb 22! My daughter has appointed herself the photojournalist for this project and we have pre-op pics plus 1 month pics taken today.
So, I have been clicking back and forth between the photos and it is SO cool to see a difference - since I don't really see from it day-to-day, other than in my face looking a bit less round.
In general I am feeling so much better - my blood pressure has dropped about 30 points, no more snoring - so I am sleeping better, no more stress incontinence / no more pads 'just in case', and arthritis pain in knees is almost completely gone - no more daily painkillers. Yeah for VSG!
Will be adding photos to this post shortly!
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My Experience in Mexicali with Dr Aceves on February 25, 2010 9:48 am
Pre-op prep: I had a BMI >40, so I was on a one-week, protein only, low-carb, low-fat diet to shrink my liver. I did mostly protein drinks, broiled chicken (just bought a roasted bird at the market and picked at it), salmon, sole, cottage cheese and non-fat plain yogurt- mainly just to keep it simple. Fish and other meat is ok too, as long as it is low fat. Boring but very doable after the first day or two - because I wasn't really hungry. I lost about 7 pounds during the week of the pre-op diet.
I also spent some time pre-op pulling together my vitamins and post surgery supplies. I made and froze a batch each of very rich and concentrated low-sodium and defatted beef and chicken stocks and bought some sugar free jello, pudding etc. I already had protein drinks which I have been using for a while, so didn't really need to stock up. I collated a buch of WLS-friendly recipes for when I am able to eat again and made lists of options for full liquid and mushy stages of the post-op diet.
I was actually not feeling nervous or anxious about the surgery, but did make sure my will / living will were updated and accessible just in case. Also made sure my family had the contact info for the hospital and hotel. Your room at the hospital will have a phone, so family and friends can call you there through the hospital's direct line.
I live in Canada but visit the US frequently and have a pay-as-you go US cell phone (Virgin Mobile) so I charged that up and brought it with me. It worked fine from the hospital (with an American provider, so no roaming charges) but not from the hotel.
Finally, I took my weight / measurements and a set of front back and profile pre-op photos so that I can track changes over time.
Arriving in San Diego/Mexicali: This was a smooth process. I was met at the airport by the driver with my name on a sign, we waited for everyone to get gathered up, then took the van to Mexicali, directly to the hospital. It was the weekend so we had the relief driver, Frederico, who was lovely.
Make sure not to eat after 6am that morning so that they can do your pre-op testing. The pre-op tests were overseen by Yolanda, who is kind of a sergeant at arms there - very efficient and organized, and fluent in English, if you have any questions. (Most folks were English-fluent, other than some of the nurses - even then it was not difficult to communicate.) I do speak a little Spanish, which helped, but the translation guide provided pre-op will give you most of the info you need for a hospital stay. After the tests, Dr Aceves met with us to discuss the surgery and the lifestyle changes we would need to make to be successful. Yolanda gave us an antibiotic and a sleeping pill to take that evening and we paid our surgery fee. Ask for a reciept so you can claim the expense as a medical deduction on your taxes (Airfare and hotel also, I think). We were given a packet of paperwork to fill out at the hotel that night and to bring back in the morning. Then we were taken to the hotel, where check in was arranged by our driver. A bellhop brought us to our rooms and we were free until our 7am pick up at the hotel the next morning. The rooms were very nice. Although the chair in the hospital room unfolds into a bed, I arranged for my dad to stay all through our visit at the hotel. It cost about $60 / night and my patient coordinator made the reservations for us. We just stopped at the desk on our way back from dinner and provided credit card info and that was it. We ate at the restaurant just off the lobby serving Mexican and continental gourmet style food and I thought it was very good - and with the exchange very reasonable also - we spent maybe $70 and I had an appetizer, main and a beer and my dad had a 3-course prix fix which was very good. (Also, you've been fasting all day - so when you get to the hotel you are HUNGRY!) There are a couple other places at the hotel too - an upscale Italian and a cafe style with casual Mexican (Which I might actually have preferred, in retrospect).
Day of surgery: When we got to the hotel, we were moved fairly quickly into our rooms - they are very comfortable with a sofa, a big soft chair, a private bath with shower and the hospital bed. Some English language channels on the TV - they gave me a list of which were English. I think the order of surgery that Dr Aceves uses is Lap Bands first, then sleeves in order of distance of home from the hospital. I live in Vancouver and was the first sleeve that day and went in about 11:00. Before the surgery, Dr Aceves will be in to check in, the anaesthesiologist will come in to explain the anaesthesia procedure, and the hospital internist will pop in also. You'll have an IV placed and be given a mild sedative a bit before the surgery. My surgery lasted almost an hour and a half. I was done at 12:25 and remember waking up in recovery room about 12:30 - I kind of faded in and out a lot - not in any pain, just sleepy, and was returned to my room about 2:30.
I felt pretty good the first day - the morphine from the epidural that they give in addition to the general anasthesia sticks around in your system for about 24 hours. So, I was up and walking, dragging the IV with me as soon as the epidural wore off. One person who came with me had a lot of nausea and some vomiting that day, but I was fine. Nothing by mouth day one, but I felt hydrated with the IV and didn't have any dry mouth or other problems. I slept pretty well the first night. Dr Aceves and Dr Campos were in a few times to check on me - and this was true every day of my stay - lots of Dr visits - very different from my experiences in the states.
Day 2: Again, a fair bit of walking around - by the afternoon I was feeling pretty lousy - achy and sore and a little nauseated - the morphine had worn off; however, as soon as I asked for pain medication and medication for some nausea I got it and was able to sleep and rest fairly comfortably. Got a sleeping pill that night and appreciated it! This was also the day they do the methylene blue dye test. They'll bring you 4 tiny cups of apple juice with dye in it - you drink it and they'll watch your drain bag to see if any dye leaks out - if you are clear, they'll start you on some liquids: apple juice, tang, chamomile tea. I haven't really had any trouble drinkiing more or less normally, but for many, tiny sips are necessary. I did urp a bit with one of my first overly generous sips of tea - but that's been it so far. I found that the team in Mexicali is fairly agressive about pain management, and while I never felt particularly "doped up" all I had to do was ask and appropriate medication was provided. Another sleeping pill that night - also IV was disconnected, although a port was left in my hand for injectable pain/nausea meds.
Day 3: I took a shower this morning once the IV was outand it felt great - just ask the nurse for some towels. This is the day they do the x-ray of your stomach. Dr Campos will bring you to radiology and you'll be asked to drink three sips of contrast fluid. A lot of people can't stand this, I just found it mildly bitter - unpleasant, but not horrifying, and it's over pretty quick! You'll see it all on the screen and its pretty interesting. Kind of a boring day really - you'll be feeling more ready to go home. Later you'll receive an envelope with your chest x-ray and the shots of your stomach, a copy of your pre-op labs, and a surgical report to bring home. Also a two week supply of Nexium and 8 of the sublingual pain tablets. I already have Nexium prescribed by my PCP at home and paid for by insurance, so I didn't go to the pharmacy for more. I do wish I had gone to get some of the Supradol (pain med) as it works well and is not as available in Canada and the US. This is a good day to go to the pharamacy or have the person accompanying you, if any, do so. It's right across the street from the hospital, so you'll have a short walk - but will need to get dressed in something other than pajamas! They take credit cards - just make sure your bank knows you'll be using the cards in Mexico ahead of time. Once you've had your leak test you'll get chicken broth along with your other drinks - and it tastes really good!
Day 4: Time to go home - you'll need to be up and packed and ready about 7am. Then a longish wait at the border and then the drive to San Diego. We had come from Los Angeles area, so had parked in long-term parking and Ernesto dropped us off right at our car - no need to wait for the airport shuttle.
What to bring "just in case": I brought some Gas-X which I used a couple times and seemed to help. I also brought some chewable immodium - some folks experience some diarreah - not a problem for me though (keeping in mind that liquids in = liquids out, so be careful!).
Nurses: All very nice, very competent, with varying degrees of English fluency. There is usually somebody on the ward who is fluent - Lucy was he charge nurse during my stay and was fantastic.
Post-op education: You'll get some printed info on incision care and post-op diet prior to discharge. Also, Dr Aceves wants you to check in every 10 days for three months and monthly for a year. You can also contact your patient coordinator with questions. I have found OH to be a good resource and also have trolled around the web for as much info as I can find. A lot of WLS info is RNY specific - but there is a lot of overlap in post op diet etc - so much of the info is useful anyway. I'm a believer in supplements, so did a lot of research whilst coming up with my list of vitamins etc.
It's ideal to arrange for follow-up care with your own doctor prior to leaving for surgery. Mine will be checking incisions and then running labs / doing an Upper GI at three months. I'll see him this week and discuss a prescription for Actigall also - one study showed that it reduced the chance of Gall Bladder disease in post WLS patients from 30% to 3%. I'll probably have labs run again at 9 months post-op and then annually - to be sure that none of my levels are trending downward and to catch deficiencies in time to fix them. Dr Aceves welcomes inquiries from your doctor if any questions arise.
Post-Op diet: I have to say the first 10 days of clear liquids kind of sucks - I was very very bored, though not hungry. I was lucky and it was fairly easy for me to get in the recommended 70g of protein / 48-64 oz of water. Some find this difficult in the immediate post op period. Today I start clear liquids and this should make tolerating it all a lot easier. Mushies wil be heaven! I have NOT been able to get in the recommended 600-800 calories at this stage - but think it will get easier now that I can have a wider variety of foods. For clears I found the following the most tolerable: Isopure ready mixed with some crystal light powder added, Unjury chicken. Also ate SF jello and my homemade beef and chicken stocks. At day six I added Nectar Crystal Sky and New Whey Cran-Raspberry cooler. I also sometimes mix Vanilla protein with a tablespoon of sugar free chocolate pudding mix and a pinch of cinammon and blend it all with water and a handful of ice - pretty tasty actually....though at the moment I am sick of all of it.
I'll see how it goes with full liquids starting today and mushies next week.
I am back on all of my chewable and sublingual supplements sinc e a week post-op- will add the capsules back at the end of the first 30 days. I did start to supplement in advance of surgery - with vitamins and protein - tried to get levels up and be in as good health as possible when I went into surgery.
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