Before & After RNY with Michelle M., losing 163 pounds!December 10, 2019
Why I Decided to Have WLS
I can remember being one of the bigger girls in fifth grade, probably 10-15 pounds more than most of the girls in my class. Being one of the bigger girls continued with the gap getting wider through my adult years. A few months post-pregnancy of my first child, I can remember getting down to 170 pounds and thinking that I was doing pretty good. By the time I reached the end of my third pregnancy, I weighed around 210.
One day, in my mid-30s, at Bed Bath and Beyond, I stepped on the scale. It read somewhere around 270. I jumped off faster than a mini Snickers disappears at a diet meeting. I knew then that I had to start giving some serious thought to what I was doing and how I could change the outcome.
I worked for a healthcare system and had seen several co-workers lose weight with the RNY gastric bypass. I researched the procedure, talked to several people about it, and finally made the decision to speak to my family doctor. He agreed that the procedure might be a good option for me, but first, I had to accomplish one thing, which was a year of psychiatric therapy. Boy, did that seem like a monstrous obstacle! He insisted though. He saw patients gaining the weight back and a lot of patients successfully keeping it off. The ones keeping the weight off underwent therapy.
The year of therapy gave me time to find the best specialist in my part of the world. I attended symposiums and meetings of weight loss physicians in the area. After some research and soul searching, I made a consultation appointment with my physician of choice, Dr. Michael Johnell. At the consult, I weighed 313 pounds.
Dr. Johnell explained my WLS choices and went over his protocol. Patients had to take off 20% of the excess weight to allow for the pliability of the abdomen and to prove he/she was in this for the long haul. Because of this, I changed my diet per my physician's recommendations.
The change consisted of a protein drink for breakfast, four Wheat Thins, and a piece of cheese for a mid-morning snack, salad for lunch and a normal dinner. During the time I was working on my 20% weight loss, I had to have a psych evaluation and pass several medical tests to make sure I was a good candidate for the procedure. Soon, I was off to several pre-surgical educational classes and, before I knew it, I was at 291 pounds. On March 14, 2006, I was ready and was pre-op.
Before & After RNY with Michelle M.
Having Surgery and Life as a Post-Op
My surgical experience was excellent. I still remember very clearly waking up in the hospital and being so surprised that I was not in an unbelievable amount of pain. My physician knew pain management. (That is a big deal!) I think I was in-patient for two or three days. Once I got home, one of the first things I did was, you guessed it, weigh myself.
Once home, I had a strict diet to follow, lots of broth and popsicles. I introduced solids slowly, following the diet in the classes and instructions given upon discharge. In six weeks, I was back to work and living a new life. Six months post-op, I had a great checkup, I had lost most of my excess weight! (I still tell the story of the physician's assistant commenting at my checkup that I had actually lost a whole head!) I think that's one of my favorite memories of this journey.
Reaching my goal weight in eight months was amazing. In March 2016, I weighed 291, and in November of the same year, I weighed 170. At about the same time that I reached my goal weight, my appetite returned. For nearly the first eight months, I had no feeling of being hungry. Dr. Johnell explained that most patients experience this because the nerves are slow regenerators, sometimes taking several months to reconnect after being severed during the RNY procedure. Nerves do regenerate, believe me? I'm hungry again. Post-surgery, I have always had the feeling of being over-full. I remember the first time I felt it and the last time. Twelve (nearly thirteen years) later, I still have to throw-up from over-eating.
A big, big, big deal is taking my vitamins. I am not perfect at remembering, but I have developed a routine. I take my iron, vitamin D, and liquid B12 in the morning. At lunch, I take a multi-vitamin. At night, I take my calcium. This is an absolute must! I had gastric bypass in my thirties, and I need my body to last for a long time. After all, I had surgery to prolong my life.
My sense of taste has undoubtedly changed since the surgery. Plain chicken without other foods like gravy or flavored rice is something I have to choke down. When it hits the back of my mouth, it just tastes icky. Pork chops are the same way. Steak is still good, so is bacon and hamburger.
Certain foods are still off-limits. I can tolerate very little sugar. No ice cream or milk. I can do cheese, sour cream, and warm dairy in my coffee. I stay away from soda and 100% fruit juice, one stretches my pouch, and the other gives my belly reasons to complain. My post-surgery life is much like having food allergies. There are foods I have learned to avoid. Sometimes I push the limit, get a severe bellyache, and have miserable gas.
I have discovered that when I stop weighing myself daily, I tend to gain weight. About four years ago, I stopped weighing myself and eventually had to get on the physician's scale; I was around 190. That was a reality check! I slowly started getting back down to my goal weight. My biggest tool is weighing myself daily and recording that weight on a calendar that hangs by the scale.
Recently my husband and I have discovered the mobile apps UA MapMyWalk and MyFitnessPal. We use them to track our exercise and daily food intake. We can now hike to the top of the bluffs at a nearby National Monument and walk five miles in less than 90 minutes. We are always so excited when we reach a milestone. It's all about the walk and record keeping. I now weigh between 145 and 150 pounds and am working on building muscle.
A Special Milestone / Non-Scale Victory
Choosing the RNY gastric bypass weight loss procedure was most likely my biggest milestone. I had the choice of RNY gastric bypass or the lap band procedure or nothing-at-all. At 38, I knew myself all too well and that if I had the lap band, I would not keep up on the maintenance and that nothing-at-all was not working. Sitting in a movie theater and flying in an airplane have been great experiences since losing the weight. I fit into a restaurant booth! I love to go hiking and to walk. I aim to get five walks in a week, with each walk being two to four miles.
One of the things that I find the most rewarding is all the comments and questions I've had on my success. I've lost weight so fast. Everyone wanted to know how I did it. I still tell people about my surgery and that I used to weigh 313 pounds. I have had people tell me that I don't have to tell people I lost weight with weight-loss surgery. I feel that it's important that people know that surgery is a good option and that it has lasting results.
How has ObesityHelp.com been a part of your journey?
Amazingly enough, ObesityHelp.com was here when I started my research and, all these years later, it's where I still come to remember my journey, inspire others, find answers, and look at before and after pictures.
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