9/5/01 - I have a date! After months of getting all the info together for the doctor and insurer, I was approved in only a week! I think I'm still in shock. I have to get the time off work, get some pre-op labs done, and one more pre-op visit with Dr. Rehnke, then I'm ready.
Product ReviewsCarb Solutions - Choc. Almond Fudge
Surgeon: Ernest Rehnke, M.D.
9/8/01 - Minor setback - I couldn't get the time off work so soon, so my surgery date was moved back a month. November 6th is my new date. Actually, I don't mind, the other was a little soon to get everything in order. Dr. Rehnke's nurse said I will need 4-6 weeks off work. I am planning for 4 and hoping to be a fast healer! I think that will be enough, barring any complications. I am in pretty good health overall at this point, which is one reason I decided to pursue this now. The way I am going, in a few more years I WON'T be in good health anymore.
10/21/01 - A little over 2 weeks to go, and I'm getting nervous. I'm a nurse, so of course I keep thinking of all the terrible things that can happen during or after a major surgery like this. I finally made a living will and a real will ( not that I have anything to leave but my kids!). I have to make sure my husband knows where all the life insurance papers are. I guess it's stuff like that that you have to deal with beforehand that starts to drill in how *real* it is. As a Christian, death does not frighten me. But I have 2 children still at home, ages 10 and 20, and that's what I worry about. I keep telling myself that, all in all, I'm still pretty healthy and it's unlikely that anything bad will happen. But still... It's funny that some people who have never dealt with weight issues judge those of us who choose this surgery as looking for an easy way out. I'd say facing death as one of the potential complications is not looking for an easy way out! But I am firmly decided. I know in my heart that if I DON'T do this, I won't live to be old enough to do all the things I want to do, and the life I WOULD have I won't be LIVING, if you know what I mean.
Fell free to add me to your prayer lists...
11/5/01 - Tomorrow is the day. I won't sleep a wink tonight! (Could it be because I am starving and running to the bathroom every 30 minutes?!) I am nervous but I thank Jesus for this opportunity to improve my life! I can hardly wait to add my picture to the to the Before and After section!
11/12/01 - I've been home one day. Still sore, but the pain is not too bad, mostly just very very tired. Everything went well, but it was a lot bigger surgery than I think I let myself realize before. Not that I wouldn't have done it... I know I will feel better in a few days, I'm sure I will be more upbeat then!
12/11/01 - I have found that reading about the experiences of others has helped me, so in that vein I am going to try to finally catch my 'diary' up on my journey so far.
Initially, it was more difficult than I expected. I haven't had any surgical complications, and according to the doctor my recovery has been completely normal, and I'm so thankful for that. But for the first 4 weeks, when people would ask me "are you glad you did it?" I could only answer "ask me in a couple of months."
I had my surgery at Palms of Pasadena Hopsital in St Petersburg, FL, and everyone who cared for me was great. I spent the first night in the ICU (my Dr's routine), then the next 5 days on a regular med-surg floor. I had morphine PCA through my IV, and my pain was controlled pretty well with that, although my husband says I was complaining about the pain when I first came from the recovery room to the ICU, but I don't remember any of that. On day 3 my NG tube was removed (yay!), I HATED that thing. On day 4 they switched me to oral pain med, Oxy-Contin, but by then I wasn't using my PCA a whole lot anyway. They got me up out of bed on day 2 (OWWW!!), but by day 4 I was doing my own thing. By day 6 I was WAY tired of that hospital bed, and thankfully I got to go home.
I went home with a gastric tube hanging out of my upper abdomen (again, my Dr's routine). It was not painful, just annoying and stinky! But I could finally shower!! I didn't sleep well for a while - I could only stay comfortable in bed for a couple hours at a time, so I napped a lot. I was eating real food by the time I left the hospital, but only a couple of bites and I was done. Not to mention, my biggest complaint of this whole thing was that I was mildly nauseous 24/7 until just a few days ago. I went to the Dr for my 1st follow up appt 2 weeks after the surgery. Got the tube out, had lost 19 1/2 lbs, and the dr said that everything was normal.
By the 3rd week, I was still nauseous all the time and starting to feel very discouraged about it. yes, it kept me from wanting to eat much, but for those of you who've ever been pregnant - remember morning sickness? That's how I felt all the time. The only thing that helped was to sip on cold water continuously through the day, which was good for me anyway. And TIRED! The least little thing would wear me out - I would take a shower and then have to go lay down!
It's been 5 weeks now, and FINALLY the nausea has stopped. I am getting a little more energetic every day, but not enough to really exercise yet. I find just trying to get the everyday stuff done is about all I can handle. I am supposed to eat high protein/low carb meals 3 times a day with no snacking, but I am finding that too difficult most days. I TRY though - I really do. But I am not much of a meat eater so I do alot of cheese, cottage cheese and chicken. And I find I actually do get hungry, so sometimes I have to have a little snack :-) So far I've only had 2 mild dumping incidents early on, once after eating an oreo cookie and sipping on some Pepsi (I know, I know! I was asking for it), once after taking a bit of hot dog (no bun) that was too big - I thought I was going to barf right in the middle of the flea market, and then very shortly I got the cramps and diarrhea.
I have lost 30-something lbs so far, and at this point I can finally say YES, I'm glad I did it.
5/8/02 - WOW! I can't believe it's been 6 months since my surgery. I am very pleased with how things are going. I have lost about 85 lbs (216 lbs) with about 50 to go, and the most significant side effect I have had is hair loss which became noticeable (to me) when I hit about 70 lbs lost. But luckily I have very thick hair so It is not noticeable to anyone else and it seems to have slowed down now.
I am a little disappointed at the variety of foods that i can eat - I know that sounds crazy, but I thought I would be a little more restricted and therefore less temptation to eat things I shouldn't. After the first few months, when I felt better, I noticed that my "carb cravings" had returned, although they are definitely manageable by the simple fact that I know I will feel sick if I overdo it, and I guess that's the point of the RNY. I have never vomited, but I have been nauseated when I ate the wrong things. More often though it's just a temporary "sick stomach" feeling rather than out and out nausea. I have found that there is almost nothing that I can't have at least a bite of if I want it, which is nice. I feel like I eat more like a normal person now, in that I can want something, eat a little of it, and feel satisfied. Compared to "before" - when I would never stop at one cookie, I would have to eat the whole box and start on another one!
The biggest change in my eating habits though is actually my drinking habits! I used to drink a LOT of Pepsi, and boy did I miss that at first! But now I actually CRAVE water and I drink that almost exclusively. I do drink a little diet cola every day though - just a couple of ounces.
Except for the loose flabby skin that i am noticing now (hey, I DO exercise, but it only does so much), I am really happy with the whole thing and feel it was a wise choice for me.
11/6/02 - It has been one year, and the time seems like it has FLOWN by! I have lost about 120 lbs at this point. I don't measure myself, so I have no idea about inches lost, but I know I have gone from a size 24(and some of those were TIGHT!) to a 12 or 14 at this point. Sometimes I still can't believe it! I don't think about it a whole lot, but sometimes I'll be folding clothes and hold up a pair of my jeans and think -DANG, I can't believe these are mine! I just recently started to buy a few more clothes because the weight loss has slowed to the point that I know I will wear them for more than a month or 2, and I know it's ME looking back from those dressing room mirrors but it's still a little shock sometimes!
We made a big move a few months ago, and with job changes, school changes, packing and unpacking and trying to get things organized, I have not made exercising a priority and I really need to work on that. My weight loss is to the point now where I will probably actually have to WORK at it now to speed it up a little. Although frankly, I would not be unhappy if I only lost a little more. 180 sounds like a lot, but I am fairly tall and I feel good and I think I look pretty good, and my original goal was 160-170, so I am pretty happy with things. Without much effort, I am still losing a couple of pounds a month. ALSO, I am a little (okay, more than a little) concerned with all this flabby skin. If I got down to, say, 140 or 150, I would look pretty nasty. As it is I can't imagine how I am going to wear shorts next summer, my knees look like an elephants! And we won't even talk about my thighs. My chest looks like one of those old tribal women you see in National Geographic. In other words, I look good with clothes on, but without - it ain't pretty. I would love some major plastic surgery, but I haven't pursued that yet because A) I am almost positive my insurance wouldn't cover it B) I started a new job not long ago and C) I should try to do some more exercising first to see what that will help.
I am still able to eat almost about anything, just not alot of it, which is a good thing I guess. I can drink a glass or 2 of wine, but other alcohol seems to disagree with me, which is fine because I don't drink much anyway. I can eat more carbs than I used to be able to, which worries me, but I am still slowly losing so I guess all is well! All in all, I am very happy I did it, and I'm very open about it if anyone asks me.
4/2/03 - Almost a year and a half, and I finally realize it's ME when I look in a store window. I still have had no serious problems, just some small annoying things (like some major GAS problems at times - but we won't go there!) I weigh around 170-175 and I think that is about it for me unless I work on it. I wouldn't mind losing another 10 or so but that's about all, I don't care what the charts say about how much I should weigh! I am not exercising regularly, which I know is so stupid but it's been hard to get motivated. I would think the flabby thighs would motivate me, but I guess not! One thing has not been as I expected, and that is the amount of carbs I am able to eat. As time has gone on I am reminded in a very real sense that what "they" say about this surgery is true - it's only a tool, not magic. A GOOD tool mind you... but unfortunately it has not changed my BRAIN much, as far as how I deal with food. I still crave, I still nibble when I'm bored, upset, depressed, etc... I can eat junk food (including cookies and chocolate), just not a whole lot thank goodness. But I find myself sometimes in the mind set of how MUCH can I eat rather than how LITTLE. I think exercising will help that, make me feel better as a whole. I gotta get moving!
NOV 2004 - 3 years now. WOW! I weight 172. I have been as low as 168. For months I weighted a steady 170, but recently have added 2 lbs which really worries me. The most surprising thing about all of this, is that there has been very little change in my BRAIN. I still crave junk food. I eat things I shouldn't. I eat BETTER and much LESS than I did before surgery, but I see other people who have had this done and have gained some weight back and - it worries me. I do FEEL so much better. I can shop in regular sizes!! I feel like I look good - in CLOTHES! Naked, it's another story. YUCK. Lots of skin hangin around. I have not gone to a plastic surgeon because I am quite sure it would not be covered, and I can't afford it right now. So, I don't wear shorts in the summer!
Would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT! BUT, it is not a cure-all. I can see it is still going to be a lifelong battle.
Had my inital appointment with Dr. Rehnke on 5/10/01. He was very pleasant, and took his time explaining things to me. His office staff was polite and helpful as well. He gave me an information packet of what to expect before, during and after the surgery that was thorough and written to be easily understandable. I like the fact that he puts his patients in ICU for the first night after surgery (at least that's what the information states). As a nurse I appreciate that that would ensure close monitoring. The only negative thing I have to say at this point is that he did not go far into the potential negative side effects or risks.
Aetna US Healthcare
My doctor has a couple of staff people who do nothing but deal with his patients who are having WLS, so they know the ropes. They had me well prepared with everything I needed to submit. Still, I thought that it would at least take a couple of letters! But luckily I was approved after one letter.