Height: 5'3" Starting weight: 217 (5 lost before surgery) Starting BMI: 39
Product ReviewsUnjury - Protein Powder
Books & Literature - I love to read and to listen to books on tape.
Travel - I love all sorts of travel.
Dogs - I have a Maltese baby named Susie.
Dancing - I sure would like to learn to dance.
Board Games & Puzzles - I'm a big jig saw puzzle worker.
Photography - I love video and video editing
Scuba & Snorkeling - I love to scuba dive!
Genealogy & Family History - I'm researching my roots--there are Scottish castles!
Grandchildren - I have a wonderful 2 year old grandson, Colin.
E-Bay - Hate to admit this one!
Click here to see interests of other ObesityHelp members.
Surgeon: John W. Baker M.D.
At age 52, I have tried everything to lose weight. And most of the methods worked, at least in the beginning. The only problem is that I am better at gaining than losing. The moment I would get distracted, I would gain back all that I lost, plus more. If I had a dollar for every pound I ever lost (each time I lost it), I would have no problem self-paying!
Over the last few years this has gone from a cosmetic problem to a health issue. I don't sleep well--and discovered that I have weight-induced sleep apnea. I have degenerative arthritis which is causing constant pain, particularly in my lower back. My mobility is noticably reduced and I am constantly short of breath. This is not the quality of life that I want.
I want to be able to:
1) Romp with my grandson.
2) Marathon shop with my oldest daughter. (With her this is an aerobic activity!)
3) Backpack with my younger daughter. She wants me to go to Alaska with her this summer and hike in the wilderness.
4) Scuba dive with my husband. I LOVE diving, but right now there is no way I could even get back in the boat!
5) Keep up with the 30 year olds I work with.
6) Go shopping for myself and actually come home with something for me instead of my daughters.
7) Be physically able to do a full day of volunteering on my feet in an active role.
8) Feel inconspicuous in a crowd.
9) Be seen by others for who I really am.
10) Fit comfortably through tight places.
11) Get rid of food guilt.
My journey through WLS started 1/2/2004 with a call to Dr. John W. Baker's office for information. After talking to Becky, I went by to pick up a packet of information and spent almost an hour talking to her. My BMI of 38 was at the low end of what would fit insurance criteria, and we discussed co-morbidity factors. After sharing my fatigue and sleeping issues, she suggested that I see a sleep specialist to learn if I have sleep apnea. She warned me that it might take several weeks to get in.
I called Dr Davilla's office on 1/5 and was blessed with a cancellation consultation opening on 1/6. They had a cancellation sleep study that same night, which showed up my apnea. I spent the rest of the week visiting my PCP and rheumatologist and getting my records sent to Dr. Baker.
On 1/12, the letter was faxed to my insurance BC BS of California (PPO). Or, at least it was faxed somewhere--the insurance company never got it. When I called the insurance pre-approval office on 1/19 to check on it they had never received it and said that they wanted a phone call from the Dr's office instead. They made the call on 1/20, furnished a bit more supporting documentation on 1/23, and surprise of all surprises, I was approved today 1/26!
Tomorrow I go for blood work. My consultation is scheduled 2/12 and surgery 2/23. Getting surgery this quickly is also unheard of with Dr. Baker, but again I benefitted from a cancellation. Coincidence? I don't think so! Praise God!
Blood work today. No big deal. But the big news is that a visit to the gynocologist brought the decision to do a hysterectomy at the same time as the RNY. This made us have to move the surgery to 3/1/2004, but it is worth it to have one surgery instead of 2. I'm starting a food journal to try to force myself to be accountable for what I eat. It would be an advantage to start weight loss BEFORE surgery. (And besides it might keep Dr. Baker from yelling at me!)
2/5/04 All my lab work is done. I am looking forward to my consult with Dr. B on 2/12. It is an all day session, with education, exams, preop tests at the hospital. I understand there will be 3 other WLS patients in the education part with me. I look forward to meeting them. I have thought a lot about the question that Dr. B asks everyone on their consult "When are you going to start helping yourself?" I feel the WLS is a huge step toward helping myself. I have started making life changes in prep for surgery. I am now caffeine free (and I did it slowly without the usual headaches). I am trying to be sugar free, but am not doing very well there yet, but I have cut way back. I am trying several protein mixes and have found one UNJURY which is really great! I bought it in chocolate and vanilla and am having at least one shake a day, and experimenting with mixing it with other foods--the vanilla is good in applesauce. I am trying to do better with vegetables--that is always a problem for me. I have worked up to 15 minutes a day on the gazelle. The result of all this is that I have lost 5 lbs!!! Dr. B does not require weight loss before surgery, just sanity, but I figure if I can expect to lose 70% of excess weight from surgery, then the less I go in with, the less I will end up with. I don't know if that logic holds, but it is worth a try. And this time I won't gain it back!
My biggest struggle is not telling my friends. I am terrified that my 89 year old OPINIONATED mother will find out from someone letting it slip and I just can't deal with her anxiety. She would literally work herself into a heart spell and end up in the ER over it. Much better to tell her afterward, if necessary then. I am blessed to have good support from my husband and grown daughters.
I am strangely at peace about the surgery. I read the message board and see people really anxious. I may be in denial, or maybe it is just more life experience. I don't expect this to be a walk in the park--two major surgeries at once--but I am really looking forward to my health starting to improve from both of them. Today, I am on my last TOM FOREVER! (And it is a doozey!)
2/13/04 Yesterday I went for my consult. It was an all-day affair. 3 of us met at Dr. Bakers office at 7:30 in the morning. We brought money, a packet of info all filled out, and my smart card from my CPAP machine. We spent the first hour or more weighing and completing paperwork. We each met privately with the doctor for a quick exam. Dr. Baker was not as stern as I had heard he would be. He was actually a bit reserved and very professionally answered my questions. He did a quick exam and mentioned that my varicose veins would show up worse when I lose weight--EEK--I didn't even know I had varicose veins! I weighed in at 216.9.
Then I met privately with the dietitian. Courtney seemed pleased at the attempts I have made to modify my diet to eliminate sweets and not completely go crazy.
Then the group met with Courtney for about an hour while she went over the post op diet plan. Then Dr. B went over the surgery and answered questions about it for another hour or so.
I still had questions about medications, so I saw him for a few minutes after the group session. By that time it was 2:40. We had not had a lunch break and I was 10 minutes late for my pre-op tests at the hospital across the street. So we (my husband Dan took the day off and went with me through this marathon day) headed to the hospital and waited an hour to get my turn to be poked proded and questioned. They took 6 vials of blood to test for nutritional components. They had trouble finding a vein because I had not eaten all day and did not drink enough. Lesson: drink LOTS the day before surgery to make the IV insertion easier!! They took an EKG and chest Xray and gave me a lesson on the spirometer (breating machine). At 4:30 I was finally done! It was a long day, but I was glad to get it all done at once. I have everything I need now--just a few ticks of the clock and I will be headed to my big day on 3/1. Overall I found Dr. Baker to be very professional. It was obvious that he knows his stuff--he is really into the technical aspects. He really wants people to be serious and informed. I feel I have made a good choice. Two and a half more weeks to go...
2/22/04 One more week to go. I am still not scared. I have most of my must-do's done. I am really enjoying the March board--what a crazy and supportive bunch of folks. Dan is being very supportive. Today I ate baby back ribs for lunch. They were so good! I'm trying to get my meat cravings in, because that will not work against me next week. Also pushing fluids. I have told a few more friends and so far no one is critical. A few are worried, but that is just a sign that they love me. I really wish it were tomorrow. I get 8 weeks off work--that is almost as exciting as the weight loss!!! I have eaten what I want, but tried not to eat when I am not hungry or graze on junk and my weight has held stable. I will use my hospital weigh in weight as my official pre-op weight. My last weight at home was 210.6
My mother called me to her house with what appears to have been the worst heart spell she has had. It took 4 nitros to get the chest pains to stop. She seemed resigned to her condition in a way I have not seen before.
My younger daughter Charla decided to come in from Texas as a surprise. I'm glad for her to have this chance to see Mom as much as to be with me. Of course she brought her 2 big indoor dogs which have left hair all over my clean house.
Mom seemed to be having a better day, so we took her to church with us. Big mistake! She had another heart spell. We had to help her out of Sunday School to the church library where there is a couch she could lay on and give her nitro again. It only took two this time. She is going to be a challenge this week--she still doesn't know about my surgery. Mean while, on the home front, my 12 lb Maltese baby Susie seems to have eaten an entire bowl of big dog food left out for my daughters dogs. She looks like a helium balloon. We did not notice until she started drinking like mad, and it all started to swell. By that time it was about 9 pm. Charla called an emergency vet who wanted us to take her in immediately, but I really didn't think it was that bad, so I let her sleep with me so I could watch her.
SURGERY DAY 3/1/2004
Dan dropped me off at the hospital and immediately returned home for his cell phone which he had forgotten. (Thank goodness we live close!) I visited with the anesthesiologist and decided on a post-op epidural. Dan and Chrissy and Charla all came in to see me for about a half hour. I vaguely remember being moved out of the preop room, but I don't remember anything after that. My hysterectomy surgery was scheduled at 7:30 with the WLS to follow. Both were open procedures. Both went well. I learned later that the gyn (Dr. Tanner) removed a softball and tennis ball sized fibroid tumors, and the WLS surgeoon (Dr. Baker) repaired some adhesions, probably from my gall bladder surgery done 25 years ago. I woke up at about 11:00.
MEANWHILE, unknown to me, my mother had taken a notion that she needed a home assistant to sit with her, starting immediately. She had called Dan at the hospital and thrown a fit about it. Charla went over to stay with her to calm her down. Dan spent the entire time I was in surgery on the phone trying to find someone on that kind of short notice. After 2 hours, he had finally come up with someone and called Mom back to tell her. She did not even remember asking it and wanted to know why he was doing that! (The last time we had gotten someone, she had fired them after 3 days because they ate too much!)
Once he saw that I was OK, Dan went home to check on Susie, the distended dog. She was miserable, lying around groaning. I took a glycerine suppository the night before surgery. It was supposed to be a fleets enema, but the drug store did not have any. They came 4 to a box, so we decided that he needed to go home, take Susie outside and give her one of the suppositories to see if she could get rid of some of the belly full. It did seem to help, but she bled a lot with it.
The day after surgery, I was doing pretty well. A friend was staying with Mom and she was basking in the attention. Dan finally managed to get Susie to the vet. He xrayed her but really could not tell anything. She was not as tight as she had been, but was obviously in pain. He gave her an anti-inflamatory shot and she kept on having bloody stools. Dan locked her in the laundry room when he left the house with newspapers layed down. Poor baby (Dan and Susie!)
The worst part of the day of surgery was not being allowed ANYTHING for my mouth or lips. It was 1 pm of day 2 before I could have an ice cube. I have NEVER tasted anything so good.
My lips were so dry! I never had trouble getting enough water down on that day. The epidural was terrific for post-op pain. I had no problem doing my walking.
They lowered my epidural dose to 1/2 what it had been. I could tell the difference, but was still able to get about as I needed to. That day the diet was clear liquids. The broth tasted super-salty and the jello was super sweet. I pretty much stuck with ice and water and a couple of SF popcycles. Ice was the best and it was easy to suck it slowly.
Full liquids was the diet fare for the day. They served some strained oatmeal for breakfast which tasted OK and some potato soup for lunch that was awesome. I had to make myself stop eating it. I still have no real hunger or full sensation that I can discern. Just thirst. Once they removed the epidural, I got to take a shower--how lovely!!! This was really my worst day, probably because of losing the epidural and also because of increasing hot flashes from the hysterectomy. I woke up soaking wet and shivering with cold. I called a nurse and didn't know whether to ask for cold or hot! I finally got an extra blanket! I thought I would be fine without the epidural, but found myself crying in frustration and asked for pain meds. They brought 2 magic pills. I only took one, but it took the edge off. I can take another in 3 hours, but I have been going 6 or so between. I knew that Dr Baker would release me on 3/4. But he did not show up until 7 pm! It felt good to be home. I slept in my recliner chair.
It sure is easier to log food and drink at home than it was in the hospital! I'm doing great on my water. I have to make myself do a meal--on full liquids, it is kind of hard to know the difference. My mouth is still so dry, I probably need more fluids because of the hot flashes and sweats.
I got dressed and went over to Mom's and broke the news to her. I started with the hysterectomy and sort of slipped in that they "did something to help me lose weight and I will be on a special diet". I don't think she absorbed that part at all but really handled the "not telling her about surgery" well. She knew she would have freaked out and it made her feel good to see me there and know I am OK. That really exhausted me, but at least I don't have that to dread any more!
Oh, an interesting aside... They did not weigh me in the hospital preop or post op! When I got home I weighed and weighed exactly the same as I did the morning I went in. Go figure! Oh well. It appears that Susie has lost some weight!
I'm amazed at how well I have felt in this second week post op. Sleeping has been a challenge. I tended to migrate from room to room, sleeping for about 2 hours at a time, but the last 2 nights I have slept in my own water bed. No problems getting in and out of it. I am on soft foods now. Made some yummy bean soup from FF refried beans and V8 hot n spicy with the usual protein powder thrown in. I actually had macaroni n cheese yesterday--got to chew something!
I started on the gazelle, then the weather got nice and I have been going to the park and walking about 2/3 mile. I still could use some increase in energy, but that will come. So far I've only had a couple of instances of cravings, and the hot flashes have slowed down.
The best part: At one week, I had lost 8 lbs (all in the last 3 days of the week). As of today (12 days post op), I have lost 13, so I am still averaging a pound a day. I had hoped to lose 20 in my first month, so unless I hit a LONG plateau, this is very likely to happen. My size 20 jeans are baggy and will be set aside after the next washing! Bye bye, big jeans!
Well, I am still averaging a lb a day. I'm down 20 lbs at 19 days postop! I can tell it is slowing down a bit though, so I doubt if I make 30 lbs by the time I see Dr. Baker on 4/1, but that is OK. I had set my hopes on losing 20 by then, so I am already happy. The last week has been good, but my energy is not returning as quickly as I hoped. I think the issue is as much hormonal as anything. The surgery and the weight loss have left me in sort of a funk. I hope the fog clears quickly! I have been out to eat twice now. The first time I ordered mac N cheese and pinto beans at Dixie Cafe and ate them all!! The second time I ordered potato soup and ate less than half of it. In both cases I tended to overeat because of the distraction of visiting instead of paying attention. I need to be more careful! I am up to walking a mile a day now. I really have to make myself do it, but I know it is good for me. Today I tossed my breakfast for the first time. I think I ate too quickly on the heels of my vitamins. Oops! Felt OK afterwards though. All in all, I am doing well. I'm wearing a size 16 shorts today! At this rate, I may be in a size 10 by July when I go to Alaska. Cool!
BC BS of Ca, PPO
"Never received" first letter faxed 1/12. Wanted phone call from surgeon's office. I relayed that info to Dr's office 1/20.