You read that right, today is literally the 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my sleeve!! That's right, I made a life-changing decision back on August 10, 2009. It feels like such a momentous occasion, and I'm experiencing all the feelings, and have been for the last few months knowing this was coming up. It hasn't been all rainbows and roses, but looking back to where I was before the surgery, I wouldn't give this up for the world and I would DEFINITELY do it all over again if I had the chance. I'm not around here as frequently as I used to be, but in light of this milestone anniversary, I'm sharing some things I've learned over the years in case it helps anyone else out.
First, a couple of stats. My highest weight I ever recall was in the 220s. I was around 209 at the time of the surgery. I go into detail a little more below about my successes and failures since surgery, but skipping ahead a bit, at the end of 2016, I was around 216 and approaching my highest weight again. I was wearing sizes 16-18 similar to what I was around the time of surgery (and for most of my adult life, including in high school). Over the past nearly 3 years, I've lost close to 70 lbs. I'm currently sitting and maintaining around 149 lbs. I am within eyesight of my goal of about 145. I am currently between a size 8 and 10, depending on the item, but I managed to fit into a size 6 dress for a friend's wedding two weeks ago. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would fit into a size 6 dress one day, I would have thought you were crazy. Non scale victories - I love going clothing shopping! I work out 6 days a week and I feel better than I ever remember feeling. I have more energy, and my back and my knees hurt less.
A couple of things I've learned:
1. Do this for you: When I decided to do this, I wondered if I should tell people? What would they think? Over the years, I have realized I don't care (maybe I'm just getting more cynical as I age, who knows). I still haven't told a huge number of people, and I don't share the information widely or easily (another personal choice) but the people I have told have been hugely supportive and understanding. Regardless, I went into this to improve my health and quality of life. Not for anyone else. The only reason you do this should be for you, and you alone.
2. Don't Settle: This is a good rule in life, as it is in weight-loss surgery. I wrote a post or two a couple years back about an experience I was having with GERD (something many of us are familiar with). (You should be able to check out my older posts if you're curious). Long story short, I was experiencing GERD every day with so many different foods. I constantly had a sour taste in my mouth and it affected my sleep. I ultimately saw a surgeon *****commended conversion to bypass as the most likely way to fix my problem. I wasn't happy with that and opted to have a revision to the sleeve which he also offered and repair of a hernia. Turns out, there were some common issues in people who had the sleeve when it was a newer procedure that surgeons have learned how to avoid. After surgery though I still had significant GERD and wondered if I had made the wrong choice. My surgeon basically told me I would be dependent on a PPI for the rest of my life then. I was not happy with that. I did my research and read about PPI dependence. Through online readings and some trial and error - I WEANED MYSELF OFF THE PRILOSEC. I have not needed any PPI in over 5 years, and I am able to enjoy all the foods that aggravated my GERD (citrus fruit, tomatoes, coffee, etc.) If you're not happy with the answers you're getting, don't settle. Get another opinion, do your own research, ask questions here. Just.don't.settle. This is your life. Make sure you're happy with it.
3. THIS IS A TOOL: I could write a whole post on this point alone. I will be the first to admit, despite my current success, that I haven't always used this tool wisely. I have, over the years, often felt like a failure of this procedure, struggling to get or keep my weight under control. In the year or two after surgery, I did quite well, and friends and colleagues regularly complimented me on my success. I don't recall where I got down to, but I would guess in the 180 lb range. After that initial honeymoon period of a year or two, the weight started to creep back again, going back nearly up to my highest weight just prior to the revision (discussed above) in 2014. While physically active with swimming and biking, I did not and have not always chosen the greatest foods, particularly during times of stress. I have gone through times when I ate in excess even of "clean foods" but also just simply the wrong foods. The sleeve does not prevent or prohibit you from making bad choices. What it was there to do and did do quite well, was to remind me (sometimes quite physically) of my capacity limits. It is those times I was happiest I had this tool. I can't imagine where I might have gotten to without it. I also have PCOS and had to go through quite a learning process of how to best eat with that. That has contributed exponentially to my current weight loss success.
Now with experience, it is easier to choose the "right" foods. Weight loss surgery has been touted as a "cure" to obesity, limiting how much you can eat or how much you absorb. But this procedure is NOT a cure-all or a "fix-it" for weight issues. It can be a life changing tool in your arsenal, but its a tool nonetheless and just like any construction tool it will take work to use it well. I have definitely had to learn how to best use it, and still sometimes have to remind myself.
To that point, when I was contemplating having this surgery, I wondered if I would ever be able to enjoy "treats" again, in particular without getting sick. Given that I was having the procedure in my 20s, I wanted to ensure a quality of life. I do enjoy treats now and again, but I've learned that feeling great over the long term beats the momentary satisfaction of having dessert. Moreover, I am still astounded that if my eyes ever get bigger than my stomach, I will still experience that same uncomfortable feeling. Thankfully, its much less common these days.
4. Life Style Changes: At the same time that this has been relatively life changing in many ways, including improving my mobility and overall health, in many ways it has not been as "life-changing" as I feared. In the weeks after surgery when I could barely consume 5 oz of liquid or one whole egg, I was afraid I would never be able to eat out with friends without having to constantly make excuses, that I wouldn't be able to eat enough to support heavy exercise, or that I would never be able to enjoy birthday cake ever again (that was literally a concern). I still go out to eat with friends, many of whom have no idea I've had this surgery. I just make smarter choices about what I eat, focusing on higher protein lower carb items (and yes, I almost always have leftovers to take home). Again, I do enjoy treats on special occasions, and they are enjoyed much more because I am limited in how much I can consume. And I definitely do not have trouble getting in enough liquids or food to support my very active lifestyle, including long bike rides and high intensity gym sessions. Some of these worries were very real when I was thinking about surgery or just immediately after, even though they seem silly now, so if you're in the same spot - know that while some habits may change (hopefully for the better), you will learn how to adapt them to your needs.
This is probably getting kind of long. If you've made it this far, pat yourself on the back. This board has been a helpful resource over the years, so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask (though those early are kind of a blur :). If I can answer them I will. Thanks for reading!
Congratulations !! I do have a question about how you weaned yourself off the PPI ? I am down to 1 pill 30mg a day coming off of 60mg 3 months ago. What advice can you give me to wean off the rest of it and did you use zantac or something similar to help with that ?
Yeah, it was a few years ago (you might be able to find some of the same research I did online) but basically I used the Prilosec only when I absolutely needed and treated any "break through" indigestion with Zantac. I believe that, in and of itself, helps "break the dependence on the PPI while still treating the GERD. Then I started using the Zantac only when I absolutely needed it, but to otherwise grin and bear mild reflux. I also continued to try to avoid trigger foods so as to not aggravate the GERD (tomatoes, tomato sauce and citrus food were huge triggers but so was coffee and I love my coffee so I just tried to cut back on the number of cups but didn't completely eliminate it). Over time, I found myself not using the PPI and then using the Zantac 3x/day...then 2x/day...then not at all.
Again, you might be able to find a more detailed plan online for how long to continue using the PPI, and then other meds. And its definitely dependent on not having anatomy that contributes to the GERD (fixing my huge hernia was definitely key).
Good luck! The freedom from meds is great, so I hope you are successful!
Congratulations on Year 10. I was just there recently myself.
It's good that you dropped by to offer your experience, but it would truly help others if you'd consider sticking around. Contribute here regularly, share those hard won lessons with those who are coming up behind you. Be to others what others were to you when you were first here.
We see plenty of people here who do the drive by postings on their surgaversary (sp?). We hear from them once every year or five. It's nice to celebrate with them, but it would be much nicer to see more participation.
Everyone's busy and believe me I get that. But honestly it doesn't take more than five or ten minutes to swing by every couple of days. We all are plenty occupied living our lives and we all get that. But this is your opportunity to be a mentor, and you'd make a good one.
There is a gap here that only those with long-term knowledge can fill. Please consider it.
I do stop by every now and again. Honestly, the boards are a lot quieter now then when I was new to this, not sure why. Unfortunately, if you're here frequently you'd know that people have the most questions in the first year or two. Maybe its different for you, but those first two years for me are kind of a blur. I tried stuff, I failed a few times, I figured things out with time and trial and error but as to the specifics of how much protein did I eat? Or how did I deal with X problem? Or did I have X problem, it's just a distant memory.
I try to offer assistance to people farther out when I can, trust me. People who are struggling with weight regain, or fear they need revision. But I'm afraid I'm not much help to the true newbies, other than to say "it'll all work out in the end."
I'm 15 years out and am here most days. I'm not able to answer newbie questions, protein shake questions (never drank one) etc, but I do have information, and hopefully wisdom, that I get to impart now and then.
There are several long term veterans here almost every day paying it forward.
Can't remember the last time I posted a surgiversary - I think I have more to offer than praise to receive and honestly, the support I get from my peers is invaluable.
Congratulations on your 10 years, I hope you'll stick around a bit more
Proud Feminist, Atheist, LGBT friend, and Democratic Socialist
Congrats on your 10 year surgiversary. The boards are quieter & I get that the newbie stuff is ancient history. I'm not that active on here either. After awhile it's like oh another protein shake, how much water, it's been 3 days & why aren't I losing more weight question, that you end up scrolling right on by.
I'm guessing that there really aren't that many old timer problems or maybe just thoughts of the day postings on here anymore. So people just leave & only come back for a problem or a driveby look at me post, & no I don't think your post is a look at me post. I know it's the internet so I don't want it to get twisted.
No one surgery is better than the other, what works for one may not work for another. T-Rebel
Congratulations on your 10yrs! Whatever bit of advice you can pass along I am sure is welcomed by anyone who sees your post and we appreciate you sharing your voice and journey. Whether you are a regular poster on ObesityHelp or drop by from time to time, each person has their own voice to lend to the community and in some way, it will help someone!!!
Wishing you continued success on your journey!