- Name: Erica Alikchihoo
- Username: Womyn42
- Location: Denver, CO, USA
- Member Since: 9/2/2008
- BMI: 26.0
- Post Op
- Surgery Type: RNY (03/02/09)
- Surgeon: Michael A. Snyder
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Surgeon TestimonialMichael A. SnyderMy first impression of Dr. Snyder is that he passionately wants to help obese people become healthy. That impression never changed. He gives you all the tools you need to be sucessful in his program, right down to employing a registered dietician and a notebook of things to expect, things to do to prepare, a shopping list of things to have on hand for after the surgery, a list of expectations as to what you should be doing after surgery to become healthy, and many more tabs.rnrnThe office staff was very helpful, although I sometimes had trouble getting calls back. I just had to be my own advocate and keep calling and leaving messages, and emailing when the calls didn't work.rnrnI didn't dislike anything at all about him. He is high energy, and sometimes that's a little intimidating to someone who is basically sedentary like me, but I hope that as the weight comes off, my energy levels will go up, too.rnrnHe demands execellence of himself, and he demands it of you, too. Make sure before you have your surgery that you KNOW what you are going into, and the side-effects you could experience because of it. Make sure you follow his eating suggestions BEFORE surgery so that you know how you'll eventually be eating after surgery. LOSE WEIGHT before surgery, it helps him be able to move around in your belly. He does address the risks of the surgery, both physical and emotional, and warns you that there will come a time you'll wonder \"why did I ever do this?\" I told him that time would never come.rnrnHis aftercare program is excellent. There are several different support groups you can attend at the hospital, and he requires visits to his office the week after surgery, then 3 weeks post-op, then 6 weeks post-op, and then again at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, and thereafter once a year. At the first 3 appointments, you also attend nutritional classes so you know what you can be eating and how to transition to the next steps.rnrnI would rate Dr. Snyder a 10, extremely competent, enthusiastic, personable, helpful (he even gives you his personal pager number in case you panic or have problems). And his bedside manner is great, along with his surgical competence.... both are wonderful!
- Books & Literature - I LOVE to read, will read any genre, but tend to stick with particular authors
- Cats - We've got 4 - all
- Theater - I live near and LOVE the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and go often.
- Music - Goddess music, and country-western
- Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender - Lesbian
- Beadwork - Goddess rosaries, earrings, and bracelets
- Grandchildren - I've got 3, all boys, from 9 months to 5 1/2 years
- Reading - Autobiographies, science fiction, historical fiction, comparative religion
- Mind, Body and Spirit - I create ritual to implement change in my life, I also do spiritual healing
Erica Alikchihoo's JourneyClick Here To View
Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.
I was always "lush" - "curvy" - no skinny-mini for me. I look back at pictures of myself, and I was NOT fat, but I was constantly TOLD I was overweight, and my parents constantly had me on "diets". I was 5'9" and weighed between 140 and 145 most of the time. But my relationship with my parents was not the best, and I ran away from home at age 16. Ended up being kidnapped, raped, beaten and held hostage until I believed that I deserved to be where I was. Took me nearly a year to get out of that situation, and only then because he killed two of my pets. I was so afraid of him that I left the state, made some bad decisions, ended up pregnant, and had to come back home to my Dad and Stepmom's. I had the baby, and then to prove to my...
Update - Surgery, New Job, Work Comp Injury.... on July 26, 2010 7:21 pm
Well, based on my last "So Angry I Could Cry" post, you guys could probably call me the world's biggest whiner. I was bound and determined that the surgery I was being forced to have was unnecessary and extravagent, but it turns out that it wasn't. My neurosurgeon made her incision and got into the area of my back that was giving me trouble, and found that the less invasive surgery would not have worked anyway. Seems that I had a vertebrae that was being crushed, and causing me to tip to the right, and it had not shown up on either the x-rays or the MRI. So, what should have been about a 4 hour surgery turned into 6 hours while they worked to "jack up" the affected vertebrae and get the proper hardware and spacers in there so that I can once again straighten up (after the physical therapy helps to loosen up the contracted muscles on that side of my spine). And for the first time in over 7 years, I am pain-free. I no longer suffer from disabling sciatica down my left buttock and leg, and the pain that was beginning to manifest over the top of my right hip and down into my right groin is gone as well. I had forgotten what it is like to be able to walk without hurting. In fact, I felt so good, that ONE WEEK after surgery, I was out interviewing for jobs....using my walker, and wearing my rigid back brace..... you should have seen some of the looks I got. BUT, I also got some "Wow....if she'll come out for a job interview ONE WEEK POST-OP....what dedication can we expect from her if we HIRE her??" And lo and behold....I was offered not ONE job, but two!! I ended up taking the one that paid a little less, but was a lot closer to home, and I would be working in amongst people and doing things that would really help out, and it is a state job, and therefore fairly secure. The other job would have paid about $3K more, and I would have had about twice the vacation time, but it sounded and looked very lonely. I felt like I would be a "figurehead" for the department, and I couldn't imagine what there was that would keep me busy and occupied, since my potential boss did all his own PowerPoint and grant-writing.
Anyway, I started my new job 3 weeks post-op (by then no longer using the walker).....and I was feeling so good that on the 4th day there, I was bee-bopping around delivering files, and tripped over my own feet and fell, HARD. I broke my left kneecap, and tore the ligaments and cartilage in my right wrist. The work comp doc wouldn't let me go back to work unless I was in a wheelchair with my left leg stuck straight out in front of me, in an immobilizer brace, and my wrist in another brace. But I desperately wanted to be at work, so I agreed. I never missed a day except for the day that I fell. When they did the arthrogram and MRI of my wrist and found that the ligaments and cartilage was torn, they sent me to a hand specialist, who put me in a cast. And it was so awful that although I am out of the cast now, my right thumb is still numb and I probably won't get all the feeling back for a couple of months. The knee doc discharged me last week, and I got a second opinion on the hand from another specialist, so I'm not quite discharged from HIM yet, but he was concerned that there was a hidden fracture near the bottom of my thumb, and he ordered a CT scan, and I got the results today, and there is definitely NO FRACTURE. So, I'm a happy camper!!
And I see the neurosurgeon on Wednesday for my three month post-op checkup, and I expect to be told that I don't have to wear my back brace anymore and can begin physical therapy!! That will really make me happy! Then, I can start wearing my dresses, skirts, and suits that I haven't been able to wear because of the leg and back braces....
Finally, I have one thing left to take care of.... and that's a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder (a very OLD injury, but one that was exacerbated by the fall). I'm waiting until I have a little more time at work under my belt, so that I have at the very least two vacation days that I can take off for the surgery.
And through it all, I have been able to maintain my weight loss of 141 pounds. I weigh 166 pounds....and I want to be 160, maybe even 155.... but without having been able to exercise for the past 8 months, the weight loss has stalled. I hope to kick it up when I'm out of the back brace and PT says I can begin MOVING again!!
Still, I'm in a size 10 pants, and a large blouse, and that's GREAT! Especially coming from a size 28 pants and a 3XL shirt! I've had to give away my entire wardrobe 3 times now!! But what a pleasure it is to be able to pick up a pair of slacks off the rack at Walmart or even Nordstroms, and know that they'll fit me!
So, that's all that's new with me.....what's up with all of YOU?
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Wow! Dumping! on July 24, 2010 2:05 pm
Wow....after almost a year and a half, I've had my FIRST experience with dumping. I guess you could call me lucky, huh? I've been really sick for the past 3 days with a bad chest cold, and last night I decided to do my old "standby" remedy.... a hot toddy. I've been able to eat and drink almost everything without a sign of dumping syndrome so far, so I never even considered that this might be the ONE thing that caused it for me. So....I mixed up a shot of whiskey, some lemon juice, some honey, and hot water, and took it to bed to nurse....
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Bad idea!! I no more than finished it, than I started getting the shakes, and nauseated, and barely made it to the bathroom before becoming violently ill.
Okay....no more hot toddy for me!! Gotta find a new remedy!
So Frustrated and Angry I Could Cry on April 13, 2010 7:07 pm
Okay, here’s an update on Erica. As many of you know, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has denied all appeals for me to have the minimally invasive back surgery called the X-Stop, which would have been an outpatient procedure, performed under local anesthesia, and with little or no post-op rehab needed.
I saw my neurosurgeon today to find out my other options. It’s not good. I am not a candidate for the Aspen Fusion (which would have been similar to the X-Stop), because of the instability of my spine. And my spine is at the point where the Stenosis is considered SEVERE. If I don’t want permanent nerve damage (and there may already be some), my only other option is to have a laminectomy and fusion, where they will remove bone from the back part of my spine, push the spinal cord out of the way and enlarge the passageways for the nerves going down into my legs, then they will take metal hardware and screws and position them on my spine and screw them in. I guess they glue or somehow attach some of the bone they removed to some parts of the spine so that it will fuse later on. Right now, they are only planning on fusing one level, but I’ll need to double check with them next week at my pre-op appointment, because she was concerned about a tipped vertebrae at our last meeting, but it is not visible on the MRI (only on the X-ray) and she did not mention it today when looking at the MRI.
They want to do it right away. So, the surgery is scheduled for April 26th at 7:30 a.m. at Rose Hospital, and will take a minimum of 5 hours. I will be in the hospital for at least 3 days. I will be fitted for a hard plastic brace prior to surgery, along with something called a bone stimulator. It is a good thing I lost all that weight. I will not even be allowed to BEGIN physical therapy for 3 months.
I am trying to look at this in a positive light, but it’s hard, because I am so ANGRY that I could scream. I feel that I am being forced to have a massively invasive, massively expensive surgical procedure that I don’t want and don’t need, and which will force me to take a distribution from my 401K to help pay for….when a much less expensive and invasive procedure would have accomplished the same result (releasing pressure on my spine and the nerves leading to my legs). I have done everything I can think of to do, contacted everyone I can think of to contact, and now am sitting here trying not to cry with frustration. The only thing I can compare how I’m feeling to is being dragged kicking and screaming into a dark alley, where I will face the virtual “rape” of my body, which I will then be expected to pay for.
I’m sorry….I know this sounds awfully self-pitying, and maybe it is. But that’s just how I’m feeling, and I can’t change it. If you have a connection to the Divine, you might include a little request that I find a way to gracefully accept what I cannot change, and which hopefully, will relieve my pain.
Blessings to you,
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Ah Ha!! Oh Yeah!! Yippee!! Hooray!! on February 12, 2010 11:08 am
I'm in HEAVEN!! Today, just over 11 months out.... I am 2 pounds BELOW my surgeon's goal weight for me!! And only 8 pounds from my own goal!! OMG, I can hardly believe it. I have lost almost 140 pounds!! I haven't weighed less than 170 since I was 18 years old! And not only that, but I'm actually wearing, right now, a pair of size TEN designer jeans that my daughter gave me because she didn't like the style. And.....what did she get me for Yule???? Stuff from Victoria's Secret!! "Because, Mom....you've never had a chance to wear this kind of stuff, and you deserve it for working so hard!!" And my youngest daughter? Gave me a whole make-over and facial for the new year!! A new look to go along with my new body!! Doing the HAPPYNAKEDPAGANDANCE!!!!
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These last 4 or 5 pounds are still driving me crazy! on January 30, 2010 3:42 pm
I am now nearly 11 months out, and 1 have just a little over 3 pounds to go to make my surgeon's goal for me, but about 13 to make my own goal. And I've been teeter-tottering back and forth between 3 and 5 pounds for over 6 weeks. I really need to kick butt and cut down a little more, or try and exercise more (but right now, my back is preventing me from doing that - and I will require surgery sometime in the near future). But, I'm excited, anyways. I've been steadily losing inches and going down in size.... from a women's 28 pants to a size 12.... then a couple of days ago, my daughter gave me a pair of "Seven" designer jeans that she didn't care for because they were too "high rise" for her. Only problem was, they were a size 10, so I might not be able to wear them right away. Well, I got them home, and took them out of the bag and held them up, and I thought.... ya know? Those LOOK like they'll fit me..... so I tried them on for the heck of it..... and THEY DID!!! I wore them all day yesterday and they felt just fine. And I was "stylin".... ya know? Amazing. I look at myself in the mirror, and can't believe that less than a year ago, I was HUGE and unhappy and hid behind anything I could find whenever a camera came out.... and now, I'm right there..... "yeah, take my picture.... I want to post it to SparkPeople and OH and Facebook!"
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My Story It's an interesting story. I was the product of a very broken marriage (I am the oldest of 7 siblings - 2 sisters and a brother on my mother's side, and 2 sisters and a brother on my father's side). I am the only child of my mother and father together. But, although I didn't have a firm foundation as a start in life, I was lucky.... I had my "Granny"... a woman who wasn't even related to me, but who became my lifelong babysitter when I was just 6 weeks old (after her own grandchild had died of leukemia). As a matter of fact, I never even knew she was a "babysitter" until I was over 10 years old. I spent all my time with her. As a baby and toddler, I was a pretty skinny kid, and to my Granny, food was love. She was constantly fixing mashed potatoes, gravy, biscuits, pies, ice cream, banana bread and other things that we know now are not good for kids. Still, as a child, my activity level pretty much took care of the extra calories.... When I finally went to live with my Dad at age 9, I was MAYBE 8-10 pounds overweight. But to my dad and new step mom, I was FAT. I will post pictures detailing my journey to fat.... it's pretty amazing. They immediately put me on a diet. Those of you who are my age will remember the graham-cracker type of things that you ate with a whole glass of water, that were supposed to expand in your stomach and make you not hungry. And, those little caramel-type things that were also a "diet aid". Additionally, they made me drink water with apple-cider vinegar to help burn the fat off. Then, we moved far away from my "Granny" to northern California, where my stepmother had complete control over my diet, and got me to what she felt was a healthy weight. And I WAS slender. But, the money wasn't good up there, so we had to move back down to southern California.... and while they prepared to move, they sent me to live with my Granny. Unfortunately for me, although I loved her to death, it was a really bad move. I went from 85 pounds in the 5th grade, to 120# in maybe 3 months. Stretch marks all over the place, the beginning of the "end" for me. That started a weight problem that I battled for the rest of my life. Although I was tall in high school (5'9"), I still weighed more than any of my friends at 145#. My measurements were like 38-26-38, and everyone else's were like 32-22-34. When I was measured for my drill team uniform and they called out my measurements, the whole room fell silent. But pictures from that time show me as FAR from being FAT. Voluptuous, maybe. I have a picture of me taken on my 12th birthday, and I looked like I was maybe 18 or 19. And.... I was starved for affection. Neither my Dad nor my Stepmom believed in physical warmth, so there were no hugs, no outward signs of love, very little praise, but lots of criticism about my weight. "If you would only exercise more.... if you would only ride your bike.... if you would only go out for sports.... if you would only go to the gym...." My dad, a cop, even got me "Black Beauties" - a really strong amphetamine. When he could no longer get them, I turned to street drugs (whites). I got so that I weighed about 135, but even then, they called me fat. Finally, at the age of 14, I developed a huge crush on the 21 year old brother of one of my schoolmates, and when he found out about it, he arranged to be alone with me in his car, and then took me up into the mountains and savagely raped and sodomized me, and told me that if I ever told anyone, he would say I put out for all of his friends. I was way too ashamed to tell my parents, because their standard belief was that any woman who was raped had in some way asked for it.... so, alone and without anyone to confide in, it wasn't surprising that he came back again and again, and the scene repeated itself for more than six months, until I ran away to get away from him. But, because of my parent's beliefs, I also believed that I had done something to deserve what I'd gotten. I didn't know what, but I must have led him on somehow. Even so, I ended up running right into the arms of a psychopath, who not only kidnapped me, but raped me, beat me, emotionally abused me, and basically held me hostage for months, until I believed that I was where i was supposed to be. But when he finally killed my second pet in as many months, I went back to my Dad and Stepmom and begged to come home. They took me back in, but he continued to stalk me, and I was so afraid of him that I ended up running away again, from southern California to Wyoming. There, I became an adult, and learned to support myself. But, after a couple of years, and a few bad choices, I became pregnant, and had to return home. After the baby was born, I met and married a nice man. I didn't love him, but he represented safety and security, and respectability. I weighed 170 at my wedding.... still nicely shaped, but he was obese. I was okay for a couple of years, but then we moved into an area that was close to where my stalker had lived, and (although I didn't realize it then) I purposely began to put on weight.... to make myself unattractive to my stalker, should he ever find me again, but also to make myself unattractive to my husband, because I didn't love him and didn't want to be intimate with him. After my second baby, I never lost the weight, but instead, just continued to gain until I was over 300 pounds. I think I topped out at 312, but I'm not sure, because there were months at a time when I would not get on a scale. By the time I was 34, I needed to be out of my marriage so badly that I developed a depression so deep that all I could do was work and sleep. I finally met a woman who showed me options I never knew I had, and I found the courage to leave him after 15 years. I became involved with a women's empowerment group. Then, I began to work on myself. I started to see therapists, and changed when they weren't helping. I finally found myself, in desperation, seeing a male Orthodox Rabbi for therapy, and he did the absolute most to help me. I finally made breakthroughs that I thought were impossible..... and once I was able to do that, I was able to address my weight problems. I joined Weight Watchers, lost 50 pounds, regained it, lost it again, regained it again... did Dr. Atkins with great luck until I developed a fat intolerance and thus uncontrollable diarrhea, so had to stop that.... tried South Beach, Richard Simmons, NutriSystem, etc. Nothing working. Now, after many years of research, I've found that my best option for weight loss is gastric bypass. I've read everything I can get my hands on, made arrangements with a world renowned surgeon who has done over 2000 of these procedures, worked with his dietitian to become acquainted with and started on his eating plan, and gone to the support groups and nutrition classes required by the hospital, which is a Bariatric Center of Excellence. I hope to have my surgery in February some time, and can't wait to see the changes this will make in my life. I know it is life altering, and that the changes in diet and nutritional supplementation will be life-long.... but I wasn't going to have much of a life as it was, if I didn't do this. So.... as I will it, so mote it be!