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Surgeon TestimonialAlexander D. Abkin, M.D., F.A.C.SAfter 1 year, and 150 pound lost, what can I say but ... DOCTOR ABKIN, AND ALS, GAVE ME MY LIFE BACK !! .. I can't thank them enough ... Quick synopsis: I researched gastric banding for 3 years before I decided to do it. In all my research, Dr. Abkin’s (and Bertha’s) names were always regarded very highly in the field. What I liked most about Dr. Abkin was his straight-forward honestly. He never talked me into one procedure or the other. He listened, and respected the surgery I wanted. I had my Realize band operation done on January 29th 2008, and was the best thing I ever did. I was back “to normal” within two days. I can truly say Doctor Abkin not only saved my life, but gave it back. .. And the folks at ALS are great too - plus I can't tell you how many \"friends\" I made from ALS and the Support Groups. What other Medical team has the \"Program For Life\" program .. Notice it's Program for LIFE .. These folks are in it for the long haul !! If you have any hesitation concerning Doctor Abkin, or ALS, DON’T !! Paraphrasing those Pizza box saying .. “You’re looked at the rest, now go to the BEST” !! |
Rules to be successful on February 28, 2011 2:07 am
Over the years I have collected some common “rules” one should follow in order to be successful. So far I am up to close to 25 “universal set of laws” one should heed during their journey.
I would love to see this list grow, so please feel free to add to it. Maybe one day this will be adopted as the Constitution of Gastric Success!! :D
(1) Get your daily Protein requirements in (60 – 80 grams – your Doctor/Nutritionist may have different target amount – so follow their recommendation). Protein requirements will change over time (depending upon weight loss stage, amount of exercise, hospitalization, etc). Check with your Doctor/Nutritionist concerning your protein needs.
(2) Protein drinks should be: between 20 and 30 grams of protein per serving (25 is recommended), contain less than 150 calories (110 recommended) contain less than 10 grams of carbohydrates (5 is recommended) (your Doctor/Nutritionist may have different rules – so follow their recommendation).
(3) Remember eat: Protein first, then fiber (ex veggies/fruits) then (if there is room) good (NON-starchy) carbohydrates.
(4) Drink at least 64 ounces of non-carbonated/non-caffeinated liquid.
(5) No drinking while eating and/or 30 minutes before and/or after meals (your Doctor/Nutritionist may have different rules – so follow their recommendation)
(6) You must east to lose weight!! Yes I know this a strange concept but if you don’t, your body will go into “starvation mode” and “store all it can”.
(7) Each meal should take at least 25 to 30 minutes to complete. Studies show it takes this long for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full – no matter how much food is in it.
(8) Eat at the same time everyday
(9) Eat until you are full, not stuffed
(10) Wait 30 to 60 seconds between putting another piece food in your mouth
(11) Make sure foods (especially meats) are moist
(12) Before you put that piece in your mouth, ask yourself “Would I give this size to a baby?”
(13) Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew- Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew- Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew- Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew- Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew- Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew-Chew (at least 30 times, or until it feels like baby food consistency)
(14) Take your vitamins !!
(15) Remember, during the operation they put the tool around your stomach, and not your brain. So, you will need to do some self control.
(16) Exercise – begin slow (example walk; climbing a flight of stairs; park in the furthest spot in the lot) and then gradually increase. My suggestion do two days; rest a day; do two days; rest a day; do two days
(17) If you feel like “snacking” do something else (ex. Go outside; call a (WLS) friend; come to the board and post, etc)
(18) Participate in a support group!!! It is a fact that those who attend supports groups have increased weight loss long term!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(19) ok .. a little gross and try to figure out what I am saying .. What you think may be a “GAS” may come out as a “Liquid” or “Solid” .. so BE CAREFUL and BE PREPARED !!
(20) Remember to speak to your Doctor/Nutritionist regularly.
(21) Speak to your Psychiatrist/Psychologist at least twice a year, especially when the “honeymoon” stage is over.
(22) Keep your surgeon appointments.
(23) At specified intervals, get your blood-work done. Check with your Doctor.
(24) Know I am always here for you :D
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3 Year Band-iversary. on January 27, 2011 12:12 pm
As many of you know, I rarely toot my own horn, or try to call attention upon myself. However, as I begin my 3rd year as a Realize Band patient, I cannot express how grateful I am that I decided to do this procedure. I think back to where I was over 3 years ago to where I am now, and all the GAINS I obtained while I lost weight, and I am humbled. And I would love to share some reflections.
In 2007 I was way over 400 pounds (435 prior to the operation). The person who was once the life of the party was quickly becoming agoraphobic. For about 2 to 3 years prior I stopped interacting with friends; I stopped going to my favorite vacation spot; I stopped going celebrations. Every day life was becoming more and more difficult. I had difficulties doing my daily work tasks. I need to take frequent breaks from walking. Walking up and down stairs was not only difficult, but painful. Getting into and out of my Honda Civic was a chore. Not to mention my stomach resting on the steering wheel, and my seatbelt “just barely” fitting. And “hygiene” was beginning to be difficult.
My health wasn’t getting any better. I had hypertension; high blood pressure; high cholesterol. I was on the following Medication
Diovan HCT 160 / 25 mg for High Blood Pressure
Lipitor 20 mg for High Cholesterol
Coreg / Norvasc 20 mg for Hypertension
Carvedilol 12.5 mg for Beta Blocker
Secretly all I wanted to do was die.
In the summer of 2007, my doctor said that I really should think about doing something surgical. She stated I am young enough and healthy enough to do it NOW, but who knows what the next year may bring. She also said if I don’t do something, there is no guarantee I will be around for the next 3 years. Therefore, that’s when I decided to seriously consider weight loss surgery.
The question was: “who should do it”? After interviewing approximately 15 strangers (they were basically friends of friends), and on-line checking, I decided to go with Advance Laparoscopic Surgeons, located in Florham Park, New Jersey. In all my research (on line, and word of mouth) Dr. Abkin’s (and his partner Dr. Bertha’s) names were always regarded very highly in the field. On October 24, 2007, I went to their seminar at the Parsippany Tara Hotel. What I really liked about Dr. Abkin was his straightforward honesty. He listened to what I had to say, and respected the surgery I wanted. He never talked me into one procedure or the other - unlike other Doctors from other practices I met with where trying to do.
Come mid-November (2007) I had “all my ducks in a row”, and was ready to have the operation. I could have had it in either November or December, but I decided to wait until after the “New Year” – because I thought I would be in too much pain to enjoy the holidays. If I knew then, what I know now - I would have had the operation in November.
I had the Realize band operation on January 29, 2008 at Saint Peters Hospital, in New Brunswick. I arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. for my 9:00 a.m. surgery. I was wheeled into the operating room about 8:45 a.m., in the capable hands of Doctor Abkin. Who would have known that the “old me” would have “died” at the moment I was wheeled out of the waiting area, and the “new me” would be “born” in the operating room about 30 minutes later.
I was in and out surgery in about 45 minutes (no complications). When I awoke I felt nauseous, and I had dry mouth because of the anesthesia. I had this feeling for about 2 - 3 hours, and all I wanted to do was sleep some more. Since I never had anesthesia before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I hear this is quite common.
I was in recovery from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I was home by 3:00 p.m., and I rested for most of the day. The only discomfort I experienced was a feeling that I could only equate to when someone does a lot of sit-ups, and an inner chest pain (which I later realized was caused by the intubation). No other pain.
The next day I still had the “sit-up discomfort”, and chest irritation, but felt relatively normal. By the 2nd day after the operation, I was back to normal. If I wanted to I could have gone back to work, but I decided to stay home because I had vacation time coming to me.
On the 3rd day I started my “semi-solid” (soft/puree) food intake. I had no problem swallowing or keeping anything down. However, I followed all the eating directions verbatim. I did not deviate from the recommendations. By the 4th day, I noticed I have not had any hunger pangs since before the operation. I also realized any “hunger” I did feel, quickly disappeared when I drank something. It was a wonderful feeling, and is an experience that I still have.
Since the operation, I realized (no pun intended) I have not had any hunger pangs that I used to experience before the Realize band. It gets to the point that I have to “force” myself to eat, because I do not feel hungry. I also realized any “hunger” I did feel, would quickly disappeared when I drank something. It was a wonderful feeling, and is an experience I never thought was possible. It’s an experience that I still have.
My weight loss has been called remarkable. On my two week review I lost 17 pounds. On my one month review I lost an additional 30 pounds, for a total of 47 pounds. On my three month review I lost an additional 28 pounds. On May 21 I weighed myself and lost another 5+ pound. On July 11 weigh-in, I lost a total of 100 pounds. On February 28 (2009), I lost a total of 150 pounds. in January 2010 (2 years after the operation) I was down about 190 pounds. And that’s where I have been since, between 185 and 190 pounds. There are times I wish I have lost more, but I stop and realize where I came from, and I get great satisfaction where I am today.
Since the operation, I consider myself an “unofficial” walking testimonial commercial for the Realize Gastric Banding procedure. I speak to anyone who is willing to listen, and even to those who don’t :-) !! I tell everyone about it, and I highly recommend this operation to anyone who asks about Bariatric Weight Loss surgery. I always reinforce that the decision is a personal one, and I would never sway a person one-way or the other which operation to have. The bottom line is to lose weight.
Over the past three years, I have come to realize many things. The one thing, life is a rollercoaster ride. There will be highs and lows, but the ride itself will be exhilarating.
There are times when I “slip” during my journey. What I do during those slips is very important. I need to remind myself to get up, dust myself off, and continue down the road. I can’t let those slips derail me. Using a military analogy: In my “past life” I would see a weight gain as a ‘defeat’, and decide that since I already ‘lost this battle” I might as well “lose the war”; admit defeat, and eat uncontrollably. Now days, I realize I haven’t “lost the battle”, but I had a “minor skirmish setback”. I regroup, with help of the troops (folks on the board and/or support groups); I get the weapons and/or artillery (proper foods) I need and go an try to conqueror my foe. I also stop and realize I have won more battles then lost, and I see eventual victory on the horizon. I stop and become accountable for my digressions. I then go back to the basics, and try losing that temporary weight gain. I remind myself that this is how naturally skinny (what we perceive as normal) people deal with this weight their entire lives. HOW they react to it is what makes us different.
I remember, this isn’t a race. “Slow and steady wins the race”. We are a generation of instantaneous results, however remember we didn’t put all the weight on at once, it took years. So don’t you think losing it would take just as long? This isn't one of those miracle instantaneous weight loss programs. We all know types of programs always fail. This is a way of life. Nowhere does any of the literate state you will lose x amount of weight in x days. I think LONG TERM. If it take me 5 – 10 – 15 years to get to my self imposed weight goal, WHO CARES!!! How long did it take to put on all those pounds? And if I never get to that number either, I am fine. As long do end up where I began.
I AM GAINING:
There have been many other milestones along the way besides the “weight loss” factor. I love to call these milestones “MY GAINS”!! It might sound funny, but everyday I stop and thank God that I am a loser and gainer. I am “a loser” because of my weight loss, and I am “a gainer” because I have gotten my life back!!
The main gain is that I have gained my self confidence, and I am again interacting with friends/family. And I have become the person who is “life of the party”.
I have also gained a wonderful bariatric family. These people are as important as my regular family. They help me along my journey, and give me the guidance and support I need, along with the love and understanding.
I have gained a special lady in my life. I never realized how empty my life was until I met her and her family.
I have gained my desire to live. Not just live longer, but to LIVE. To accept and enjoy everything in life, even if a problem occurs. I know that these stumbling blocks will be a learning experience, and I need to be grateful for them.
I have also gained new “goals” in life. The most recent one, is running. On Thanksgiving day I ran my first 5K. This is from a man who wouldn’t run to the bathroom. My goal is to run a marathon. Like with my weight loss goal, if I ever obtain the ultimate goal doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I have a goal, and I work every day at it. I realize there is no failure in not succeeding. The only failure is not trying.
The other thing I realized is that when it comes to WLS, no one prepares you for these gains. Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming. I stop and think, “What did I do to deserve this?”
I must thank the following
My Family Doctor for being truthful enough to tell me either do it now, or you may not be around.
Doctor Abkin, the surgeon who was honest enough to tell me what I could expect with the band, and skilled enough to do a flawless procedure.
The various Nutritionists who lead the support groups I attend, and who answer any of my questions without hesitation.
My bariatric siblings. It doesn’t matter which type of operation we had, we are helping each obtain our ultimate goal.
My sweetheart for loving, and giving me another reason to remain diligent.
My family and friends who have supported me throughout my entire life, and have all supported my decision to get myself healthier.
Ok, I am done. Thank you for taking time out and reading this.
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Here are my “15 Beginner Rules” concerning WLS. on September 15, 2009 4:21 am
I posted this on another posting, and decided to share it. Please feel free to add your advice. The more input, the better we can help our WLS brethren
(1) Get your daily Protein requirements in (60 – 80 grams – ask your Doctor)
(2) Drink at least 64 ounces of non-carbonated/non-caffeinated liquid.
(3) No drinking while eating and/or 30 minutes before and/or after meals .
(4) Remember eat: Protein first, then fiber (ex veggies/fruits) then (if there is room) good carbohydrates.
(5) Before you put that piece in your mouth, ask yourself “Would I give this size to a baby?”
(6) Chew Chew Chew (until it feels like baby food consistency)
(7) Wait 30 to 60 seconds between putting another piece food in your mouth
(8) Each meal should take at least 25 to 30 minutes to complete
(9) Eat until you are full, not stuffed
(10) Make sure foods (especially meats) are moist
(11) Eat at the same time everyday
(12) Remember, during the operation they put the tool around your stomach, and not your brain. So, you will need to do some self control.
(13) Exercise – begin slow (example walk; climbing a flight of stairs; park in the furthest spot in the lot) and then gradually increase
(14) If you feel like “snacking” do something else (ex. Go outside; call a (WLS) friend; come to the board and post, etc)
(15) Know I am always here to help you !!
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Weight gain + back to basics = Success on August 7, 2009 6:31 am
As many may have read, a week ago I realized I recently "gained" a few pounds. July has always been a rough month for me. With the 4th of July weekend (lots of BBQ) and my Birthday, it’s always hard to say focused. Needless to say the total gain was about 6 pounds. For many this would not be too much of an issue. For me, it was devastating.
In the past I would have given up, and begin to eat out of control. However this time I was determine not to give up. One reason because I came too far. The other major reason(s) was that I knew I had three “tools” at my disposal (something I never had before). The first tool (of course) is the Realize band. The second tool (which is just – if not more – important) is the Realize My Success web page. And the final tool (probably the most important) was the Obesity Help web site.
The great folks on OH were all understanding. They all echo that weight gain is normal; is only a minor setback; and to get "back to the basics" (do the things that got me to where I was). I took everyone’s advice, and started from square one. Did mostly liquids, but had a few “solid” meals. I made sure I stayed around 1,200 calories a day – all the while hitting my protein numbers. I also got back to exercising.
I also went and used the Realize My Success web page to the fullest. I inputted my daily food and workout information in the respected journals. After only a week, I went back to the Doctor's office to weigh myself, and I am happy to report I lost those 6 pounds. What I am elate to mention is I also lost an additional 3 pounds - for a total of 9 pounds (lost in ONE WEEK) !!
I am now 260 (according to most scales), and 257 in my undies (OK, I know that's not a pretty picture and many of you just lost a few pounds after puking) So I guess I can say I am in the 250’s – and if that’s the case I haven't hit that range in over 20 years.
It reinforced to me that these tools do work, as long as we follow the rules.
Thanks to the Realize band; the Realize My Success web site, and the Obesity Help web site; I can continue on being a “winner” by being a loser (in weight) !!
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NJ Support Group listing on November 12, 2008 4:27 am
One of the frequently asked questions is where to find a support group? Well, with the help of many friends here, this is a listing of all the know support groups.
Be the first to leave a comment.
Here is the link to the posting. Unfortunately the O.H. staff won't make it a "sticky" post. They suggested doing this.
Ok, my journey has been a long one – but I won’t bore you with all the details – just the highlights.
I was born and breed in Brooklyn NY. And like most Italians, I had a “nickname” growing up. Since there were two Tommy’s on my block (and in my family), I was tagged as either “fat Tommy” or "fatty-boy". So it only goes to show you I have always been overweight. I fought the “battle of bulge” my entire life. Many times I’ve won the battle, but in the end I eventually lost the war.
About 5 years ago I started to think about weight loss surgery. In the past (we’re talking late 70’s-early 80’s kiddies), I knew people who had their “stomach stapled”, and some had disastrous (almost fatal) results. I knew that was definitely out. So I needed to do my homework before I choose anything. It took almost another two years before I really started to research all the different options out there.
In the meantime, I still did all sorts of diets where I would loose a few pounds, but eventually, I would find more pounds then I lost. Last summer my doctor said that I really should think about doing something surgical. She stated I am young enough and healthy enough to do it NOW – who knows what a year or two may bring. So that’s when I decided to seriously consider it.
After all the research, I decided that the lap-band was the best choice for me. The question was: “who should do it”? After interviewing approximately 15 strangers (they were basically friends of friends), and more on-line checking, I decided to go with Advance Laparoscopic Surgeons. In all my research (on line, and word of mouth) Dr. Abkin’s (and Dr. Bertha’s) names were always regarded very highly in the field. On October 24, 2007, I went to their seminar at the Parsippany Tara Hotel. What I really liked about Dr. Abkin was his straight-forward honestly. He listened to what I had to say, and respected the surgery I wanted. He never talked me, or any other participant, into one procedure or the other.
Come mid-November I had “all my ducks in a row”, and was ready to have the operation. I decided to wait until after the “New Year” – because I thought I would be in too much pain to enjoy the holidays. If I knew then, what I know now - I would have had the operation in November.
On January 29, 2008 – I had my operation done at Saint Peter’s in New Brunswick. I had NO pain what-so-ever, and was “back to normal” within two days. Since then, I have no (or very little) hunger pangs. And if I do get “hungry”, it quickly diminishes with a sip of water. As of last Thursday I have lost 47 pounds. It was painless, and (amazingly) very easy to do.
OK, that’s enough boring stuff for now. … That’s my life - so far. .. I will update the blog section when I have more to say J