I began this journey on July 23, 2001...that is the day I made up my mind to have gastric bypass. I made up my mind after seeing a life long friend of mine have her surgery in April 2001, and seeing her results after just a few months (Thanks Kathy!!!), and seeing another friend of mine have his surgery in March 2001, and seeing his results (Thanks Sebbie!!!). And after stumbling onto this site--I have taken a lot of "stuff" for being a "lightweight" at the time of my surgery...but it was through this site that I saw through the eyes of others what my life would be like in 10 years or so. So, I hope that the world starts to realize that lightweights have lives that are worth saving too...and don't hate us if we have surgery before we get into the "super MO" category...please cheer us on for getting help before we got to that point. ('nuf said, dragging the soapbox back to the closet now!)
STARTING STATS: AGE 32 Size in clothing: 22/24
HEIGHT: 5'2" Highest weight: 245 BMI:41-42
WEIGHT: at initial consult: 222 Weight on surgery day: 226
CO-MORBIDS: hypertension, (barely)"diet controlled" diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea(snoring like a freight train all the time), trouble breathing all the time, stress urinary incontinence, back pain, low energy level, low self esteem, anxiety & depression (ya think?? LOL)
Family History:hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer, obesity, morbid obesity and super morbid obesity, from both mother and father's side-(Basically, I was screwed!!!!).
My surgery was performed on November 16, 2001 by Dr. Elmer Valin of New Haven, Connecticut. (awesome man!!) I had laproscopic roux en y gastric bypass. I was released from Hospital of St. Raphael on November 19, 2001...and on November 20, 2001, I was out Christmas Shopping. I had a great recovery. My JP Drain was removed 10 days post op, and from there, I never looked back.
My weight loss was steady from there, with only a few plateaus and never lasting more than 2 weeks at any given time. I drank my water, ate my protein and walked as much as I could.
I began having trouble with my gall bladder in December of 2001. Insurance would not allow the gall bladder to be removed as part of my wls. I knew, and my doctor knew that would be problematic later on, but we dealt with it. That is to say that I suffered gall bladder attacks and informed my doctor of each and every one of them so that it could be documented for insurance. By April/May of 2002, I was having gall bladder attacks approximately every three weeks. The gall bladder would have to be removed. I was already at "goal", weighing 140 lbs, and a size 8. The great news for that was that Dr. Valin would perform a tummy tuck at the same time as my gall bladder removal!! WooHOOO!! Happy Dance!!!
On June 12, 2002, Dr. Valin performed a gall bladder removal and the tummy tuck on me. I was released from the hospital on June 13, 2002. My recovery again was uneventful, that is to say that I didn't have any complications or infections or bad things happen...I did however have a lot of pain. I won't lie about that. The TT was the worst pain I had ever had in my life. But, it was totally worth it, and exactly 2 weeks post op of my tummy tuck I traveled to my sister in law's house in Alexandria, Virginia for a family vacation in our Nation's Capital. At that point in time I weighed 131 lbs. And I was now a size 5/6, though I could fit into some 4's...they just were not very comfortable. I like to breathe (haha!)
I'm always asked if I ever regret this surgery or I am sorry that I did it...and my answer is HELL NO! And I can sum it up by telling this little story: The Saturday before my tummy tuck, a beautiful early June day here in Connecticut, my husband and I spent the day with our two sons, Brian, 7 and Adam, 4...we went for a walk down to the pond near our house and fed the family of swans that live there, we played a 'modified softball game' of just the four of us...three doing the fielding and one hitting--taking turns--we cheered every hit and had a lot of laughs, fun and expended a lot of energy. We had a little cookout (burgers and dogs and corn on the cob). That night, after baths and at the time of the "tuckings in", my then-7 year old little angel, Brian, looked at me, with half closed sleepy eyes, and said "Mommy, I am so happy that that doctor fixed your tummy because you are so much more fun now. You can run and play with us...you don't stay in the house anymore." Out of the mouth of Babes!!! My 7 yr old son summed up in two sentences what I had been struggling to say for 7 months at that point. So when someone asks me if I regret this surgery...how could I? I'm a better Mommy because of it. And since then, I taught my Adam how to ride a two wheeler...when Brian learned, I had to watch from the kitchen window...it was too hot and humid for me to breathe outside. And I just did not have the energy. Now, I ran along with Adam and before long he was off and running on his own...and I am off and running too--
**MUSTANG'S SECRETS TO SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT LOSS POST RNY** I often get emails and am asked "how did you lose so fast?", and "tell me your secret"...there is no secret. I was "lucky" that my weight came off me as easily as it did. I drank my water, upwards of 130 ozs per day...I ate my protein, I walked, I stopped taking the elevator at work and started climbing the stairs. In other words, I made TRUE lifestyle changes...changes that continue today...I still drink water, though I have brought it back down to 64ozs a day, I still eat my protein first, but I have introduced more carbs into my diet...and I continue to take the stairs at work. I work out at home when I am able to...I go rollerblading when I am able to. The only SECRET there is is following the post op way of life. Did I make mistakes? Sure. Do I still make mistakes, eat too fast, sometimes drink with a meal? Sure I do. I'm human. I won't beat myself to a pulp over eating habits anymore. That's what got me in trouble in the first place.
I often hear and see "I've ONLY lost X#'s in X weeks, how can I lose more? or I thought I would have lost more by now." The fact of the matter is we all lose at our own rates and you may be losing different than me or your cousin who had wls the same day you did, or your significant other who lost twice as much as you in the same amount of time. There is no sure fire way to tell how much you are going to lose and in what period of time. But I will tell you this...take the number of pounds you have lost and divide it into the number of weeks...figure out what your average weekly weight loss is. Then remember that on a "diet" the average weight loss is 1.5 lbs per week. I'll bet you are ahead of that game, aren't you?
So don't fret about it, take it logically, see how much you have lost on average and relax, follow your program, and I'll bet you lose a lot more. And after you get to goal, if you notice a few pounds adding up on the scale...don't panic. Just go back to the basics. Treat yourself like you are a brand new postie and watch the pounds fall off again.
**Okay, now, I have been receiving emails lately from people with BMI's not even reaching 40, saying that they are desperate to get this surgery. The Media portrays and perpetuates this myth that this surgery is the *easy way out* and living life post op is *easy*. You can NOT take this surgery off when you reach goal and start eating *normal* again. You will NEVER again in your life go out to eat in a restaurant and eat whatever you want. You will be limited FOREVER!! So, before you email me and ask me for encouragement or ask me how I got approval with not having 100 lbs to lose, get your facts straight. I did have 100 lbs to lose. I had serious co-morbids and this surgery is serious...it is NOT easy and you have to be willing to make a total lifestyle change FOREVER!! And I will NEVER encourage ANYONE to gain weight in order to get approval. If you don't already have a BMI of 40 (or 35 with co morbids)...don't bother...because you won't get out of me what you are looking for. I am an advocate for this surgery to those who qualify for it. If I offend anyone with these statements: TOO BAD!!!
Stats at one year post op:size 2/4 Weight: 120-124
July 31, 2003: Went to see Doctor V. today...great visit. He's very impressed with his work. He said that my tummy looks like that of a 20 year old. I need a little work for scar revision. He gave met he name of a good plastic man.
AUGUST 23, 2003: I GRADUATED FROM DOG GROOMING SCHOOL!!! WA-HOO!!!!! I am now an assistant to the director at the grooming school I graduated from. It's great fun, I'm having a ball. I love it so much. Can't wait to get out of the full time job and grooming full time...someday it will happen!! Just think positive.
Update: December 2003...STRESS...STRESS in my life is causing me to lose weight again. No matter what I do, I can't seem to keep weight on...I know, it's terrible, right? But I am down to about 110 lbs, the last time I checked. I am wearing a size 0/2, maybe a 4 on a good day. I am a little concerned, but I have faith that when the stress is gone, I will bounce back wto where I am supposed to be. I am not feeling ill or sick or anything, and I am continuing to take my vits...I just have lost 15 lbs in the last month or so.
February 1, 2004...had blood work done...low vitamin B levels, elevated homoscyteine levels...am now on Folgard, probably for life. Have been on it for about 3 weeks now, and feeling a difference. I still feel a bit fatigued at times, and worrying about the side effects of low B vitamin had me freaked for a few days...but I'm getting better, getting stronger and gaining back some of the weight that I lost before Christmas. I went shopping last night and bought a skirt, size 1...never in my wildest dreams...a size 1...jeans are a size 2...Wow!!!
August 5, 2004: I decided to do a little update...it's been a while. My weight loss has held very steady, bounce between 117 and 125 (during *that* time)...I'm still on the Folgard and that seems to be doing very well. I did NOT move to Florida as I had planned...I am still in CT. I had carpal tunnel surgery in May, after having a freak injury at work in March, not related to my dog grooming. I actually am not grooming at all right now. And with the "paw" not doing well, I don't know when I'll get back to it. I miss it terribly. I have 2 German Shepherds now...Kendi is the puppy love of my life. He's the sweetest puppy EVER. He was born in December, he weighs almost 80 lbs and he thinks he is a lap dog. And best of all, he adores ME. LOL It's been an interesting several months for me, and every day is a new and exciting adventure, sometimes good and sometimes bad. I wish I could say that it has all been good, but...well...life isn't ALWAYS good...we all have our down times. Have a Sparkling Day everyone.
October 11, 2004...my 3 yr post op visit went great. I know I went a little early (6 weeks), but hey, no time like the present, right? I had a great talk with Debby about how I am maintaining my weight loss, how I manage living post op and she's asked me to speak at the support group (YIKES!! I hate public speaking) But, for Dr. Valin, I'd walk through the cookie aisle of the grocery store (my idea of walking through fire). So, I'll suck it up and do it LOL Actually, I don't think it will be that bad...talking about WLS is something I am passtionate about. I've come to realize that my surgery defines me. It is who I am...and I am who I am because of it. All aspects of my life has been changed because of my surgery. Not just my eating, but my relationships with myself, other people, friends and strangers alike, my relationship with food, and social situations have all changed. My feelings and emotions have changed...I deal with things differently now. It's been a hell of a ride. And you know what, tomorrow is another day!!! Ya-hoo!!
February 15, 2005: Time for another update...the last steps of my journey are about to be completed; My breast lift is scheduled with Dr. John Reilly in New Haven, CT., for February 21, 2005. I will update more after my surgery. I'm excited and happy...I also have a standard poodle named Chanel in addition to my 2 shepherds. I didn't have enough insanity in my life; I had to add a 3rd dog. LOL
2/24/05: I had my breast lift on the 21st; I haven't seen "the girls" yet, they are still bandaged up...but I only have one thing to say at this point: OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
March 1, 2005: I saw Dr. Reilly today for a post op check up on my breast lift; WOW!!! That's all I can say. Thank you Dr. Reilly. The "girls" look great. I am so happy with them. The steri strips are still on them...but a few have come off and the incisions are practically invisible...I just can't believe it. The boob job was the last piece of the puzzle for me to take back my body from the ruins of morbid obesity. I am so thrilled with the results so far. And for anyone in CT. I would recommend Dr. John Reilly of Shelton and New Haven for plastics. He's wonderful!!! Thank you again Dr. Reilly!
And my puppy, Kendi, has passed away. He was only 15 months old, but he had some medical problems. Rest in Peace Kendi-pup!! You will always be in my heart.
May 30, 2005: My 36th birthday was very eventful: I got my dream car!! 1967 Red Mustang!! I have wanted this car since I was 16 years old!! We got her off of eBay and it was a great transaction. Mike and I have wanted a "classic 'stang" for a long time and we made it happen!! Thanks to my searching and my husband's love, we got "Miss Vicki" We LOVE this car. And because of "Miss Vicki" we've made some really great new friends...I Love ya Brian, Melissa, Alexis and Shelby T.
July 2005: Well, I wish I could say that things were going well..but, I can't. On June 11, while taking my poodle outside, Chanel and I were attacked by my next door neighbor's Husky. Though I wasn't bit, I am facing a lot of physical therapy and possibly surgery on both my ankle and my knee. I'm very depressed about this. I am in a gel cast, on and off crutches as needed, seeing doctors, seeing physical therapists...it's going to be a long haul...and worst of all, because I wasn't actually bitten, the dog is still living next door to me. If you look closely at the picture above of me and my Mustang, you'll see "psycho dog and her offspring". This dog has killed other animals before...had attacked my Kendi and my Nina (my shepherds)...this dog is dangerous and I'm living and injured proof of that. Well, that's it for now...until next time...
September 10, 2005: I had my knee surgery last week. There was good and bad news...the knee, for the most part is in good shape considering; however, there are some areas of concern within the knee and concerning the knee-cap which may require future surgery (surgeries?). Only time will tell. The stress leading up to the knee surgery caused me to lose an amazing amount of weight and I went down to 108 lbs. Due to inactivity and a high amount of carbs, I've re-gained back up to about 119 or so...as soon as I hit the 108, I knew I was in big trouble and started eating the carbs...and being in a brace and on crutches for a week helped my cause there. Who would have ever thought I would have to GAIN weight?? LOL That's all for now...Have a Sparkling Day Everyone!!!
NOVEMBER 16, 2005: WOW!!!!!!!!!! FOUR YEARS OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
AIN'T DAT DA BOMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Still holding at goal and doing well. It's been a hell of an amazing ride.
March 2006Well, it looks like another surgery on my knee. Went to see orthopedic surgeon on the 16th. We're doing some physical therapy again, but now we're talking having to do some reconstructive surgery on the muscles...possible muscle grafting, if I understood his description well enough. Dear God...will this nightmare of this dog attack ever end??
MARCH 7: I got "booted" from physical therapy. The therapist didn't feel that there was any improvement and it was, at this point, only causing me more pain than was necessary. I started out with a 92 degree range of motion...I ended with a 32 degree...so instead of gaining motion, I lost motion. I see the dr. on the 13th...I know he is going to say another surgery and that it isn't going to be just a "scope"; he's already told me he is going to "open" the knee. I'm scared and I'm hurting. I'm depressed. I can't eat...I'm down to 115 lbs. I'm frustrated with myself, with my knee and the entire situation. I just want to crawl under a rock and hide away from it all. I'm having one of those days where I'm just ready to give up. I'll update more when I see the doc on the 13th.
April 21, 2006: I saw orthopedic surgeon on the 13th...another surgery...muscle grafting in my knee...it's going to be a real killer of a surgery...recovery and rehab is going to be hell. It's going to long and painful...sometimes I just want to crawl under a rock.
June 7, 2006: OUCH!!! Had the 2nd knee surgery on May 26th. It is THE worst pain I have ever had in my life. Doc says everything looks good so far. It's going to 6 months, maybe longer, to see how much mobility and strength I get back in this knee. Meanwhile, I'm sleeping on the couch/recliner...I can't get comfortable in a bed yet; still on crutches and in a lot of pain. Still having "issues" with the neighbor whose dog did this to me, but that is not for a public forum. I won't stoop to public mudslinging...not my style. Just say that when everything is all said and done, I think we'll be moving. Well...it's almost time for MASH to come on; it is time for my percocet...so it's time for the computer to go off and work on getting some sleep. Maybe I'll sleep more than 4 hours tonight. That would be nice.
OCTOBER 28, 2007: I am almost 6 years out from my WLS, and I have not visited this site as frequently as I used to. I have had quite a bit going on in my life...I've had a 3rd surgery on my knee, related to the attack by my neighbor's dog June 11, 2005. I have had a very difficult time; emotionally and physically. The knee pain I had hoped to avoid by having WLS is now a daily thing for me; the depression from being immobile and unable to do things on my own are now a daily thing for me. I now rely on a cane or a scooter to get around. I am legally disabled; unable to walk more than a few feet on my own without assistance.
Being unable to move about has made me gain a little bit of weight back; as well as the anti-depressants and the anti-anxiety medication. I'm up to about 135 pounds. The day of my first knee surgery was 119; and of my second surgery 123. Each surgery gets harder and harder and the recovery becomes longer and longer. The scar from my latest surgery is 9 inches long running down the front of my leg. It's pretty awful. I hate it. But, that's all I have to say at this point. I have to go and get dinner done.
October 4, 2008 -- After 3 knee surgeries; my leg is in pretty bad shape; and for all intents and purposes, useless. I've had a pretty bad year the past year. The worst coming last week; NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let anyone dismiss your pain. I was in severe belly pain last Sunday morning; and something felt really "wrong". Trusting my "gut instinct" that this was not a normal bought of gas or gastritis; I went to the ER. After 8 doses of dilauded not touching the pain; the rigidity of my belly; the tenderness; and the distension a very caring surgeon was rushed in to do an emergency surgery. I am just 4 weeks shy of being 7 years post op; and never had a "complication" -- but I found out that at 7 years post op, and virtually unheard of that far post op - it is still possible to get a Peterson's Hernia. I was in "critical" condition when I went into the operating room early Sunday evening; surgery took 6 hours and I was in the hospital for 5 days after. I now have a 9 inch incision going down the front of my belly; and there is a 4 inch incision on the left side of my belly -- that's how bad the hernia was.
Luckily for me the doctors did not dismiss my pain; they took a proactive step in treating me; and I am forever grateful for that. It could have turned out very badly for me if this surgeon had not taken care of me the way he did. He was not my gastric bypass surgeon - he is forwarding all my reports down to him. There wasn't enough time to get me down to the hospital that my gastric bypass surgeon is in - I possibly wouldn't have made the 40 minute ambulance ride. That's how critical I was. That hernia was about to strangulate and possibly rip apart my intestine - filling my abdominal cavity with all the waste that was trapped inside that "bubble" that had formed. Don't ever dismiss your own; or let anyone dismiss your pain. Take the proactive stance in your own care. It could save your life.