Never thought I would feel this good again
Aug 14, 2013
I'm just over 6 weeks post op and this is the best I have felt in at least 5 years. I'm down more than 20% from where I started, but I think it is more than just the weight loss- I felt more energy within a week of surgery. I think there are a number of reasons I feel better:
- Taking control of my life. Let's be honest, I didn't get to 370 pounds on purpose. I ate whatever I felt like to make myself "feel better". I think of it as the art of the quick fix. Sure, I fed what I thought were my emotional needs, but what I didn't realize was that I was actually making things worse by not dealing with the source of my emotions. Of course not having food as a coping mechanism has its own challenges but so far I have been doing okay.
- Getting to the gym. That's totally ironic, I understand, but hear me out. I have been studying karate for 5 years so it's not like I haven't been working out at all. But karate gave me an objective measure of how much my weight was affecting me. I could tell that I was slower, not able to lift my kicks as high, and getting winded more easily. Somehow as much as I exercised at the dojo, I couldn't make myself see that I needed more. Now I go to the gym everyday that I am not at the dojo. It turns out that I feel better the more I go, just like everyone always said I would. Part of it is taking control of my life (see #1) but some of it is the feel good part of making a commitment and sticking with it and some of it is just that "exercise high" that everyone talks about- turns out it is real!
- I think the neurological and endocrinological changes associated with weight loss surgery are working. after hearing talks about it, I hoped I would be one of those people who got the boosts they spoke of. So far it has been working in my favor. I am off of my blood pressure meds and my cholesterol meds. It has been exactly as advertised. How often does that happen?
This new energy and excitement has translated into being more productive at work, more useful around the house, and more fun to be around. Even my friends have commented to my wife that I seem to have my old spark back. I wish I could convey in words how much better I feel, but I figure if my friends, coworkers, students, and most importantly, my family all see it, then things must be going well.
Stuipidly overemotional and that's okay
Aug 02, 2013
I'm watching the end of the movie Unstoppable with Chris Pine and Denzel Washington this morning. It's a typical action movie, with a happy ending (sorry for the spoiler, but it is not exactly deep suspense). And yet, I got teary when they good guys won and Chris Pine's character's little boy came running up to him. I don't remember being this emotional before surgery. One theory is that I always used food to stuff down my emotions and now I am actually feeling them. I suppose that's possible. It could also be that my hormones are thoroughly confused by the surgery and my subsequent weight loss. Most likely it is a little bit of both. If this is the "downside" of the surgery, I'll take it!
Like David Bowie.....Changes
Jul 29, 2013
Unlike last week when I stalled, the end of week 4 post op ended on a positive note but with some things on my mind that I thought I would share:
1. Old clothes are new again. I have boxes and piles of clothes that I saved because I thought I would lose enough weight to wear them again. Before surgery I would have thought that was impossible. Now, I have started picking shorts out of the pile that a few months ago I couldn't even get over my hips! I also tried on an old suit that my wife tells me is more than 10 years old that is just a little snug but hopefully in a few weeks will fit perfectly for the Jewish holidays. It's like shopping without spending anything!
2. Back in the saddle. Well, not exactly a saddle, but tonight I resume teaching my karate classes that I have not been able to attend since surgery. This is another big milestone in my recovery! Yesterday I went to the big dojo summer picnic. I brought plenty of water and some Greek yogurt and did just fine. My friends who knew were so enthusiastic about my progress. Some people heard me talking to them and came over later to tell me that they saw my weight loss but were hesitant to say anything in case it was for all of the wrong reasons (like being sick). I had expected a really warm response from my dojo family, but it was still really nice that it happened just the way I hoped!
3. Throwing out food is hard. On Saturday I made 7.5 pounds of meatballs. Of course neither my wife nor I can eat them, so this was strictly for the kids. I portioned them out and packaged them for the freezer. Each one had 6oz of meatballs and a little sauce. My daughter had some yesterday and she ate just the meatballs and none of the sauce. So there I was with a bowl of what I can humbly say is a delicious meat rich sauce and I threw it out. Wow. That hurt. That used to be my snack after dinner; now it was garbage. I couldn't eat it because it was too soon for my pouch and I knew I shouldn't eat it even if I could but it was such a weird sensation to throw out food. Still, these are the hard choices that I need to learn to make to keep up my progress.
telling people about surgery
Jul 14, 2013
I posted this on the RNY forum, but I thought I would share it here because it is so true:
I have been very open with people about my surgery. I keep kosher, and I always felt like if I didn't tell people then I should have no expectation that they would understand what that meant or why I may or may not eat something. The same think is true with RNY in my mind. I have been telling people because I don't want them to be offended when I don't try their amazing looking cheesecake or other dessert. I have found that everyone has been really supportive- most ask what they can have for me to eat or drink at the party. At work, people are not shocked when I choose not to join them for lunch out, or when I have needed help moving boxes or doing other things.
I am sure that some people might not respond well. We have all heard people assume RNY is the "easy way out" or "cheating". These people are not only wrong but they are in the minority. Of course you have to judge for yourself how you think your friends and coworkers might respond, but I can say mine have been universally great and very supportive. Most reply with "oh my (relative/friend) had that and they lost so much weight!". Give them a chance to be supportive- we all need the help!
Recap of week 2
Jul 12, 2013
Well, it has been an interesting week full of highs and lows. Here are the high and low lights:
1. Turns out "Buyer's Remorse" is real. My son was going away to sleep away camp this week so we took the kids out for ice cream. We got there and I realized: I can't have ice cream. I don't know why I didn't realize this until the minute we walked intot he ice cream shop, but it really made me sad. Everyone warned me there would be times like this: everyone else is eating something and I can't. I just didn't expect it to bother me this much. Fortunately, when we got home my wife made me some sugar free chocolate pudding with PB2 powder. It's not ice cream, but it took the edge off. I have a feeling there are a lot more of these moments ahead for me, including a work party on Saturday that I am not particularly looking forward to.
2. Speaking of work, I've been slowly increasing my hours this week until by today when I was just about back to full time again. I probably overdid it based on my level of soreness, but it is a god kind of sore: the kind that tells me I am slowly getting back to myself but also reminds me I'm not there yet. To be fair, I am not yet 2 weeks post-op, so I still have a long way to go. I actually suggested to my wife that I might try to go to karate one night next week. Her skeptical look put me on the defensive- I said "I'll be 3.5 weeks out by then." She looked at me in that way that makes me rethink whatever stupidity just came out of my mouth and I realized I was off by a week- I'll only be 2.5 weeks out. Probably not ready to start working out that much.
3. Walking has been going well but I find it incredibly boring. I enjoy walking with my wife and I even have been watching Game of Thrones on my iPad while walking the track at the YMCA when she is on other exercise equipment. Still, the mindless walking in circles is too much for me to bear. I did manage to walk every night this week (except for tonight) and increased both my time and distance each night until I was doing better than 3.0 for 30 minutes. I have unfortunately hit the wall- my ankles and knees are not really up for faster or longer walking, so I am anxious to switch back to the elliptical which puts a lot less stress on my joints.
4. I saw the doctor twice this week to follow up on my incisions. Okay, to be fair I saw one of the PAs in the office, but close enough for me. I happen to think very highly of the PAs in the group so I am just as happy to see them for things like this. Turns out, they are all clear, so one less thing to worry about!
5. The weight has been pouring off this week, and I have not been hungry. In fact, I am finding it a bot challenging to eat enough. I know, that sounds unbelievable and even I am having a hard time believing it. Seems like eating more slowly and less really works! People have been telling me this for years, but I never had the tool (my pouch) I needed to make it happen. Suddenly, my four scrambled egg whites take 20 minutes to eat and keep me full all morning! For the win!
Jul 05, 2013
Well, after a quick less than 24 hour readmission, I am home again, on antibiotics, and feeling better. Here's what I've learned so far:
1. My surgeon is a boss and I'm tougher than I thought.. She took some hemostats, wiggled them into my biggest incision, and then opened them up, releasing all of the fluid that had filled up the area, probably leading to my fever. No anesthetic, no local, nothing. Stung a little, but needed to be done. She managed to do all of it right there in my room with a small surgical kit. Of course, that's why I wanted the Air Force trained trauma surgeon, rather than the fancy pants supersurgeon. I wanted someone who wouldn't freak in an emergency and is as good low tech as she is high tech.
2. You need to be honest with yourself and your doctor. I didn't want to be readmitted. I felt like a hypochondriac. I mean, really, I just got out and I had to call to come back in? But my wife wouldn't hear of it. She said- the doctor said if your temperature gets over 102, you need to call and you need to do what she says. Turns out, that was right- I wasn't a hypochondriac- something was wrong and I needed to come in and get treated. Although I consider myself pretty smart- I need to remember that I am not a doctor and I need to listen to the ones that I have placed my faith in.
Readmitted and it feels so bad!
Jul 04, 2013
I don't remember who sang that song "Reunited" but it has been going through my head since I was readmitted last night. Turns out, if you are running fever >102 they like you to come back and figure out where it is coming from. So after only being home for a few hours (but at least long enough to get a shower!) I was on my way back to the hospital.
First, the good news- no pneumonia, no UTI. Of course that is also the bad news since it didn't help us figure out what to do next. So I found myself back I. The hospital on IV antibiotics. After 2 rounds of antibiotics, the fever appears to be gone, but the surgeon didn't like the way my biggest incision looked so she decided to open it up and pack gauze in it to drain it. It was warm to the touch, firm, red, and swollen. So right there on the spot, she poked into the incision, pulled it open, and all of this fluid and blood poured out. Yay! Surprisingly, it didn't hurt much- just the slightest twinge but when she released all of that pressure, boy did that feel better!
Hopefully this means that before the end of the day I will be back on my way home again. So if something like this happens to you, don't panic (like I did when they told me I was being readmitted). We will all have bumps on our road- hopefully this will be my only one but at least I know I am in good hands and good company!
36 hours post op
Jul 02, 2013
You know how they say behind every great man is a great woman? All I can say to that is Amen!
Surgery was at 3 pm and i didn't make it up to the floor until 8pm. Like we did for my wife's surgery, I had made a draft email to send to friends so that all she had to do was hit send. That way we avoided having to send a bunch of texts and emails saying that surgery went fine. An excellent tip she gave me: blind carbon copy everyone so that if you forgot anyone it wasn't obvious to everyone else.
The first few hours after surgery were pretty good. I don't remember much until they brought me up to the floor. I felt surprisingly good. I got my catheter out by 3 hours after I came to the floor, got up and did a few quick laps around the floor, and settled in for the night. I thought the dilaudid PCA was my best friend. I made it trough the night okay as my wife sat at my side and watched over me.
The next morning started early as the nurse came in at. 2:30am to threaten me that if I didn't urinate soon they were going to recath me. How rude! It seemed like a nurse or tech came in every hour with the intention of waking me for no apparent reason. So at. 5:30am I walked a few more laps and settled back in. After a quick nap my first visitors came around 11:30am.
Jun 19, 2013
There, I said it. My surgery is less than 2 weeks away and I'm starting to freak out. I guess that's normal, at least from what everyone tells me, but that doesn't mean I like it.
What am I scared of? How long do you have to read this?
- This is going to hurt. How do I know? My wife had RGB a few weeks ago. She's almost back up to full speed. Granted, she had some complications that I will hopefully avoid, but clearly in the first week after surgery she was in immense pain. I don't do pain well. I've had arthritis in my knees for years, but somehow I don't think I have ever experienced anything like this before.
- What if I do the surgery and have complications? There are a myriad of possibilities: popped sutures, infection, stricture, bleeding, clotting, hernia..... Did I mention I'm not good with pain? That is just going to be amplify anything I am feeling.
- What if I do the surgery and don't lose weight? Granted, in 6 weeks since starting my presurgery diet I am down nearly 10%, but what if I can't follow the plan? What if the magic doesn't happen for me? What then? I see how little my wife eats. I can't imagine ever being satisfied. I know that with the bypass big changes happen on both the endocrine and neurological levels, but how can I go from eating a pizza to eating 1 slice and being happy?
- What if I do the surgery and lose the weight and then regain it? We've seen it happen to other people. It doesn't seem impossible that it could happen to me. After all, if I was that good at controlling my eating would I have grown to a BMI of 58 to begin with?
I suppose that there is not much I can do. If I allow myself to be paralyzed by my fears I will never get to my goals. Not the weight loss goal, but the other things
- shopping in a regular store for clothes.
- Flying without needing a seatbelt extender or pannicing because I can't find a seat with an open seat next to it so that I don't crush the normal sized person next to me.
- Going on roller coasters with my kids that I can't fit on now because I can't close the restraints.
- Getting off my CPAP so that I can snuggle close to my wife again when I sleep
So I guess that I have to believe: in myself, my surgeon, my nutritionist, my wife and kids, my friends. I have lots of support and for that I am grateful. Hopefully in a few more weeks I will be able to write in and tell you that everything went okay.