X-Post: I had my DS four years TODAY! (Long)

on 2/22/12 4:58 am

Four years ago today, I had my DS with the amazing John Rabkin, MD in San Francisco (paclap.com). I could have used a DS doc here in Chicago, but I wanted the very best I could find. After all, this was my LIFE we were talking about! Traveling for my surgery was a breeze.

I am not on OH much anymore. I found the privacy issues scary and the uneven moderation here oppressive, so like hundreds of others, I migrated over to the "other" WLS board. I still come around here now and then to answer newbie questions when I can--I remember how helpful it was to me when I started my journey.

The DS has been nothing short of a life-saving miracle to me. I was 344 pounds, had sleep apnea and the dreaded Type 2 diabetes. Today, I weigh between 155 and 161. I went down to about 143 in the early days and I looked gross in my opinion--all pointy edges, not particularly feminine. I look back at pictures taken in that era and I look so sharp and too thin. I hope not to go past my present weight, but I'll see. I am convinced that if I low-carb, I can drop any pesky pounds easily. No more sleep apnea or diabetes!!! My cholesterol is amazingly low. Life is sweet.

Let me address some common newbie questions about the DS:

Can you eat?
Yes! My stomach capacity is pretty large these days. I can eat a lot of food for someone with a tiny tummy. I just try to keep it high-protein and semi-high fat (so I do not get constipated****ep a mindful eye on my carbs but I do enjoy bread, candy and cake! I think if I had the VSG, I would be in a world of trouble right now because my stomach was cut to the small size of a VSG tummy and I can surely eat and feel raging hunger now. A friend of mine had the VSG the same day I had my DS, and she is struggling with her weight and she never got to goal in the first place.

Is pooping so bad? I do  NOT have gas or bowel issues. Yes, when I do fart (about once or twice a day, probably less than a person who did not have surgery) it stinks. When I poop, about 2-3 times a day, it stinks. It should. It's poop.

Vitamins? It's a ***** to take all of the vitamins, I won't lie. And I only have to take 14-15 a day, according to my twice-yearly lab results. I recently became sloppy in my vite habits and stopped taking them regularly and man, did my numbers drop like a stone. I cannot afford to be cavalier about them again! I order most of my vites from Vitalady and take Costco's calcium citrate.

My iron was always low before my DS and it's in the crapper now. I have iron infusions about twice a year. Those are damn easy so I don't worry about it. My surgeon would prefer if I could get my iron up with oral iron, but it's not to be. 

Plastic surgery? About 1 year after getting to goal, I did have some reconstructive surgery--an extended "anchor" tummy tuck and a brachioplasty. Insurance paid for my tummy (I documented the hell out of the skin issues and pain I was having) and I self-paid cash for my arms. Those went very well and I am thrilled with the results. I used Dr. Michael Lee at Northwestern in Chicago.

Do you have "head issues?" I do not have any "head issues" around my weight loss. I am treated a bit differently by people these days, mainly strangers, but that's fine. I spent a lot of time before surgery in therapy, so maybe that helped. Having friends and family who loved me for me helped, too. My weight was real to them, but it was not a defining characteristic, so it is not one now. I always liked me, and that never stopped no matter how much I weighed.

I also attend monthly support group meetings, which are helpful to feel "connected" to other people in my same shoes.

Does WLS mean a divorce? My relationship with my husband has not suffered as a result of my weight loss surgery, like many people here say happened to them. I believe that it's true that WLS results can make a strong relationship stronger and a weak one weaker. If you are experiencing relationship issues now, before surgery, try and resolve as much as you can ahead of time. It will make the various transitions easier to deal with.

Oh, it's tempting to flirt and enjoy the attention of the opposite sex now, but that's not who I am. I don't need that validation from anyone other than my husband. I don't feel like I have "missed" my 20s or my 30s by being obese so I don't feel the need to go out clubbing and drinking with strange guys. If that's how you feel, you may not be ready for surgery. You may have to spend some time getting your house in order NOW before you have to have a lawyer help you do it later.

Did you tell anyone you had the DS? Yes, I tell everyone and anyone. I am very proud that I took this step to save my life. I was DYING from my obesity. The second I figured that out, there was no shame for me. It's like chemotherapy or radiation. Why should I be ashamed? As a matter of a fact, I feel smart that I chose the DS. I still get the fabulous long-term results AND get to eat the foods I love, from steak to cheese to desserts to well, anything! I still love food and with the DS, that's just fine. I never feel deprived. I view food as fuel and a pleasure. I look at a menu and say "YES!" 

Do you exercise? I work out maybe once a week, doing mainly cardio. I need to do some weight lifting for muscle and bone health. In the year before and the year after my DS, I worked out 2-3 times a week with a personal trainer to make sure I survived the surgery and to maiximize my weight loss and minimize muscle loss.

What do you eat? In that first 6 months, I ate very low-carb, about 30g of carbs a day. The weight flew off. Try and maximize your weight loss "window" of approximately 18-24 months. You will be able to eat carbs later--don't squander the opoprtunity right out of the gate. I lost 108 pounds those first 6 months and I did not lose a ton of muscle.

Here's what I ate today:

B: 8 Bagel Bite pepperoni pizzas and a Diet Coke

S: 2 cups of some sort of Target nut mixture (Sweet Cajun, maybe?) and a Diet Coke

L: Jimmy John #5 Vito with extra mayo and a Diet Coke

S: Starbucks coffee drink

D: Probably some chicken thing or hot dogs--see what I grab--and a Diet Coke

S: probably some cheese and crackers

I eat a lot of cheese and meat these days. Before my DS, I was practically a vegetarian, so this meat thing is surprising, but it's also medicinal. Now I like how it tastes. I drink a fair amount of water, too. Not as much as I probably should, but I do drink other things besides Diet Coke!

If you have any questions for me, please send me a PM or ask them in this thread. I will try to get back to you ASAP.

Now, on to some pix!

February 2008: 344 pounds, size 30-32 pants

December 2011: size 8-10 pants

February 2012: (a couple of days ago) The lady handed me a size medium wet suit and life jacket and I almost laughed! Even four years later, it's sometimes hard to believe!

I wish you all the best on your journey!


I had the kick-butt duodenal switch (DS)!

HW: 344 lbs      CW: 150 lbs

Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea GONE!

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