7.5 Months Post Op

Apr 07, 2013

Haven't been on here in quite a while. Not sure if that's good or bad. While I appreciated the support I got from this site, I also felt like I got a lot of criticism. Whatever the reason, my opinion is that this is a journey that's unique to each and every one of us. Others can share what worked for them or how they overcame stumbling blocks and plateaus or even the experiences they had along the way, but ultimately, you have to do what works for YOU. For some on here, that's acceptable; to others, if you don't do things the same way they did, well then you're just doing it WRONG. Wutevs. I used to let it bother me and I worried that I would fail if I didn't listen and I'd beat myself up every time I "cheated" based on what I had been told. Again, wutevs. I finally walked away from all the advice and listened to what my body told me to do. It's taken some time, but my body and I have become friends.   

In any case, I've lost a total of 89 pounds and only have 11 pounds to go to reach my goal of 150. I had originally said I wanted to get down to 140, but I'm actually pretty happy with where I am. Eleven more pounds and I'll be on the verge of thinner than I want to be. Sounds crazy, right? Yeah, it's still a pretty weird thought for me too. So I suppose for those of you who aren't at the same stage I'm at yet are wondering what it's like for me with eating and such...let's get to it, shall we?

Eating...   broken heart

Well, damn. I'm still not able to eat much. Probably has a lot to do with all the problems I had initially with the heartburn and reflux and all that jazz. They say it only takes 21 days to form a habit and I dealt with all the heartburn/reflux stuff for close to 2 months. Now, I can eat slightly more than I did then, but not by much. The only difference now is that I eat more often - probably every 3 hours or so. But honestly, there's some days that I get so busy that I'm lucky if I eat more than once. Like I said, I listen to my body. Some days I eat more than others, but I eat when I'm hungry. I still focus primarily on protein. Not because I'm trying to reach any particular goal of getting a certain amount of protein, but just because it keeps me full for longer. It's simply more SATISFYING. If I'm on the road for work, I'm notorious for grabbing almonds or the small Snackables meals for eating on the run.  Another fave is beef jerky and turkey bites. For that matter, when I'm at home, I love grabbing sandwich meat as an "in-between" snack....or tuna on crackers. Jeez...this is making me hungry!

Now, on that note, don't get it twisted. I eat sweets and fruits and chips and crackers and basically anything I want. I don't go crazy, but there's some days that I just crave sweets and other days that I crave salty stuff...and I absolutely don't deny myself. I don't give myself a hard time about it either. It's not every day though and I refuse to beat myself up over a day here and there of eating badly. Eating out? Yep. I do that too. My hubby LOVES Mexican food. I choose dishes that are high in protein and easy to pick at later on throughout the day. I get the satisfaction of spending time with my hubby, eating a fabulous meal and having plenty of leftovers to snack on later. That being said, I rarely order from the child's menu. Most of the kids meals are just junky with flour coated nuggets and high carb side items like fries...so NOT worth taking up what little space I have to spare in my tummy! I refuse to be held hostage by my sleeve or the price of the meal. I order what I want and take what I can't eat (which is MOST of the meal) home in a go box. 

Puking...  devil

Wow...hadn't thought about this in a while. Rarely happens anymore. Why? Because I know how to listen to my body now and I know when to STOP EATING. What's funny is that I still have a "tell" when I reach my limit that hasn't gone away. I either sneeze or get hiccups...when either of those happen, I know I've had enough and need to stop eating before I feel sick or overly full. It's been a long time since I threw up...thank God!

Potty Habits...  

Okay...I still have issues with this because my diet only allows just so much intake. It doesn't give me much opportunity to get enough fiber in my diet, so I regularly take fiber gummies to keep myself regular. I've said it in past posts, be sure you poop. Seriously. Pay attention! It's agony if you don't and it's so much easier to maintain your regularity than it is to get your guts moving again. I love fiber gummies and I adjust how many I take each day based on how I'm "going". They taste fantastic and they get the job done. The only side effect is that my tummy makes sounds ALL. THE. TIME. My hubby thinks it's funny and it's a small price to pay to have all that weight gone. I'll take it all day long!!

Heartburn and Reflux...  

I still have to take Zegerid daily to control the heartburn and reflux. If I don't, I suffer immensely. My surgeon is urging me to go get an endoscopy and make sure my hiatal hernia hasn't ruptured. I probably will, but being self employed and not insured, it isn't a cheap thing to do. In the meantime, a Zegerid a day keeps the heartburn away!


I really need to go buy more clothes. I've begun raiding my son's closet because NOTHING I have fits anymore. It's still very tough for me to buy clothes. I finally "see" the difference between the new me and the old me when I look in the mirror, but I still naturally gravitate to the plus size racks when I go shopping. I'm getting better about it though and I know I have no choice but to go shopping soon. It's hard to have business meetings when you're wearing your teenaged son's clothes. LOL!

Body Image...  

~sigh~ Now that I finally see myself as being thinner, it's shocking to see what so losing so much weight has done to my body. I look like I'm melting. I sent the request in today to see what it's going to cost to have a "mommy makeover" in Mexico. Here in the States, it can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000 and I just can't afford that. From what I understand, I'm expecting a quote for what I want done for roughly $7500 (breast augmentation with lift, liposuction, tummy tuck, butt lift). My husband is probably the most supportive person on the planet and he's giving me plenty of time and space to check into this and decide what I want to do. Not sure which way I'll go with this, but the sight of my poor saggy boobs just breaks my heart. Even my butt looks like it's melting down the back of my thighs. I'll post again when a decision is made one way or the other.

Well I guess that's about it. I don't count carbs. I don't count proteins. I don't count sugars or how much water I drink or even weigh myself on a daily basis. I'm lucky if I weigh myself once a week! I do my best to stay well hydrated and eat right and I LIVE MY LIFE. My sleeve was an experience in my life and it CHANGED my life, but it doesn't DEFINE my life. Does that make sense to you? I hope it does and I hope you find what works for you. Whether you elect to have surgery or not or whether you've already had your WLS, do what works for YOU. L-I-S-T-E-N to your body and I promise it'll tell you what it wants and needs. It can be tough in the beginning, but in time you'll understand the signals and you and your body will rebuild your relationship. Laugh if you must, but I'm telling you what I've learned from this journey. Others may scoff at me and tell me that I'm being dangerous by not following a strict diet and doing things in a specific way. Wutev. I've lost 89 pounds and I'm still losing and I'm HAPPY! I'm satisfied with how things are going and how my body is changing and I don't feel denied in any sense of the word. I've gone from a size 22 to a 14 and I'm almost in a size 12 (they fit, but they're tight). I'm riding horses again and getting outside moving and I feel like I've gotten my life back...and I did it without punishing myself or making food the center of my world. That's what got me here in the first place! Eating too much and making food the center of my world - I certainly wasn't going to make that mistake again! While I enjoy eating, food is utilitarian to me now. It serves a purpose. It fuels my body. But it absolutely is NOT the center of my thoughts, my world or my focus. If nothing else, I've learned just how addicted I was to food...I honestly had no idea! This was one of many things I learned along the way while I became friends with my body again. They don't call this a journey for nothing!

Okay...that's enough. I've rattled on for too long. Wherever you are in your journey, whether you're contemplating starting, just getting started, or several days, weeks or months into your journey, I wish you luck and lots of success. Listen to your body. Do what feels right. And when you get discouraged, just remember...all things, good or bad, come to an end. This too shall pass! Keep your chin up and keep moving forward!! 

As always, I'm here if you need me!   






11 Weeks Post Op...

Nov 12, 2012

Wow...I haven't posted in a while. I went through some really tough times with my sleeve where I was constantly vomiting, my throat was being torn up with heartburn and it seemed like there was absolutely NOTHING I could eat that wouldn't upset my system in one way or another. I went to my doctor who put me on Reglan and two different antacids twice a day for two weeks and it gave my body the rest it needed to heal. As my husband would say, I "dropped back and punted" with the way I ate and went back to bland soft foods and focused on my protein. I felt really sorry for myself and would frequently say how much I regretted getting sleeved. Sadness, depression, frustration, anger...all a part of my day for a while there. But I kept plugging on and doing what I knew I should be doing. Eventually, the heartburn became manageable again, my stomach settled down and my diet opened up again. Now, let's be real here - it wasn't like I had a choice to do otherwise. My stomach wouldn't handle the foods I WANTED to eat, so it wasn't like I could go "off my diet" anyway! But you see, that's always been my downfall in the past. I'd get upset with my journey and throw it all away and go eat my sorrows away. Your sleeve simply won't let you do that...and I couldn't be more thankful. 

So where am I today? The whole heartburn/vomiting fiasco was about a month ago I guess. Maybe a little more. I don't know. I quit coming on here. I quit talking about being sleeved. I just quit letting the sleeve be the center of my universe and I focused on other areas of my life. Of course I still had to eat, but eating was for utilitarian purposes only; it was fuel for my body. I tried to eat healthy, but I didn't focus so much on the label. I went through yet another stinking plateau that last almost 3 weeks. Here's the thing about plateaus - don't let them frustrate you. I, like most everyone else, noticed that when I'm in a plateau that I'm losing inches more so than pounds. I'll take it all day long. During the last plateau, I hung steady at 190 for almost three weeks. During that time, I dropped in my jeans size from a loose fitting 18 to a comfortable fitting 14! All while staying the same weight! Isn't that amazing?! Happened during my first plateau too...dropped from a 20 to an 18. So don't let those plateaus scare you. Don't let the scale run your life. Don't let the numbers determine your idea of success. To do so is to set yourself up for failure. Just live...eat healthy...get some exercise into your day as often as you can...just BE. The weight will come off in time, but you stressing over it and wishing it would happen faster doesn't help a thing. Okay?  

Crap...I didn't answer the question. Where am I today...well...as of today, I am 185 pounds. I started at 250. According to the BMI calculator, I have, as of today, dropped in category from "Obese - Class 1" to "Overweight". Not bad considering my starting category was " Obese Class 3: Morbid Obesity". I'm still in a size 14 jeans, but probably not for much longer. They're getting a little loose already. I eat pretty much whatever I want, but out of pure habit now, I go for the protein first. Last night was my son's 15th birthday and we went to a movie and then to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. I ate some popcorn at the movie and then ordered a child's plate of ribs from the restaurant with a side order of corn. The popcorn was probably not a good idea, but I didn't get much, I chewed thoroughly and I don't seem to have any ill side effects as of this morning. At dinner, I started with the ribs and had probably two, possibly three bites of corn. Yes, I know, corn is a no no. I have no excuses. I wanted it. I ordered it. I kept myself in check and limited how much I ate of it. Some may call that a dangerous attitude, but my food doesn't control me anymore. I just wanted a taste and I didn't go crazy, so I feel no guilt. To look at my plate, you wouldn't think I ate anything at all, but I felt satisfied, so I boxed up the rest to take it home for the hubby's lunch for tomorrow. Here's something else I want to pass on to you, SO LISTEN UP...we overweight people have all enjoyed a good buffet or know of a favorite restaurant that serves large portions and we eat there because we feel like we're getting our money's worth for our meal. Stop it. Do not be held hostage by what you spent on a meal. When you do that, you are literally PAYING to put pounds on yourself. I still go to buffets with my family, but I always ask for the senior rate (tell them you've had surgery - not one place has ever denied me and I travel five states for work. When I choose my foods from the buffet, it's a biteful of several PROTEINS from the bar and one or two veggies. Stay away from that sweets bar!!! If you've chosen your proteins wisely, you won't be hungry for sweets and such anyway. If you find that the temptation of the sweets bar is more than you can handle, then stay away from buffets until you get better control of your food issues. Trust me on this! My first trip to a buffet was at a Golden Corral and the never ending chocolate fountain with all the sweets stacked around it was almost more than I could bear. I was able to resist it, but it was obvious to me that I wasn't ready to be at a place like that yet. Now? Now it doesn't bother me. I like my smaller sized jeans and cute clothes more than I do those damned chocolate drizzled marshmallows! 

Okay, so that's another thing...none of us truly believe we have food issues. We tend to believe that we're just victims of circumstance and that if this had been different or if we'd done this or that differently, we wouldn't have all this extra weight. We blame it on our jobs, the stress, the people we hung around or the children we had and the havoc giving birth to them did to our bodies (we women of course). Shut up! It isn't true! And the sooner you admit that and learn to deal with it, the sooner you can move forward in your weight loss journey! And if it were simply a glandular issue, you'd be taking meds for it from your doctor, not considering or recovering from gastric surgery! We all got to our low points that led us to look into gastric surgery because of choices WE made. For me, I chose to use food as a reward. I'm sad, let's eat. I'm HAPPY!, let's eat. I'm frustrated, pass me those chips. Food is a fuel for our bodies. While it should be enjoyable to consume, it should still be quality fuel for our bodies. Would you put cruddy fuel in your car? Then why in your body? Be mad about me saying this if you want. Stew over it a couple of days. But mark my words, in time you'll begin to see how food controlled you too. It was a bitter pill for me to swallow too. Now that I see where my issues are/were, I have my control back. It's a powerful feeling...and the results are showing on the scale and in the mirror. 

So what else...OH!! Body image!! I have lost a total of 65 pounds, but in my mind, I still felt like you really couldn't tell that I had lost weight. A little maybe, but I was afraid to tell anyone how  much I'd lost because I was afraid they'd walk away muttering under their breath, "yeah, right...sure you did". I went to my nephew's birthday party Sunday evening. My brother and my sister in law are the type to have big get-togethers where they invite friends, family, neighbors, etc. so you tend to see the same people over and over. One girl in particular I haven't seen in probably 4 months or so. I was standing around the bonfire with everyone else when she walked up looking at me like she didn't know who I was. Then she said the most amazing words....she said, "Holy crap! You've lost an assload of weight! You look great!" I HEARD ANGELS SINGING! She made my day with that one comment! Someone noticed that I lost weight and it wasn't family! You know...cuz we all know family tells us what we want to hear and it's not always the truth...LOL! She was the first "outsider" to notice and it felt amazing. It was confirmation to me that regardless of what I imagined in the mirror, there are some big changes going on in this body of mine.  

Lastly...problems. Seems to be what folks who aren't as far along in the journey as me want to know about. I get it. I still look to others who are further along than me to see what they're experiencing. It's natural. So here goes...

Bowels...one day they're loose, the next day they're solid. No real problems with constipation and no, I don't take anything for that. I try to make sure I get what fiber I can in with what I eat and thus far, no real problems. Others have reported diarrhea, but I haven't had that issue. I did have one bout of constipation where I got so focused on work and everything else going on in my life that I didn't realize I hadn't had a bowel movement in several days. It resulted in severe cramps that ended with me sitting on the toilet having a bowel movement and puking in a bowel at the same time. My mother has been a nurse for decades and said this is indication that I was literally "full" and there was no room for anything else to go down. It was painful and avoidable. Lesson learned.

Go poop. Every day. Go poop. 

Gas...yeah, call me "Chicago" for I am the windy city. My gut is constantly gurgling, talking and whistling. It gets annoying at times. Like when the house is totally quiet and I'm working on my laptop and all I hear is my stomach chattering away. Shut up already! But all that chattering and noise making leads to gas. Some are sneaky Pete's that don't amount to much. Some are SBDs (silent, but deadly). Others are like fireworks on the Fourth of July and roar like thunder from down under! Makes me thankful that I've been married for 20 years to a man who thinks farts are funny. (FYI, wet farts are NOT funny, so be selective about pushing air in public. #justsaying) 

Vomiting...dammit.  I hate this part. Yeah, I vomit. But not nearly as much as I used to back when I had all the heartburn and stuff. Now it's a hit or miss type thing. Typically it happens when I eat too fast because I've gone too long in between meals and end up eating more than I intended. My food volume is still quite small. Many MANY people here on OH told me from the very beginning to under eat my sleeve. What does that mean? Don't stuff yourself. Eat until you're satisfied and then stop. Within a few minutes, the synapses will travel from your belly to your brain telling you that you're full. I typically stop eating just before I feel satisfied and then when those synapses make the trip to my brain, I feel satisfied. I eat every two to three hours and I don't follow any particular notion of breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/dinner/snack...I simply don't have time in my schedule to keep up with shit that closely. Sorry. I eat what I want at each meal and don't worry about what time it is or what kind of meal I had last. I try to get an assortment of foods daily to include fruits, grains, PROTEIN, dairy, etc and I take my multivitamins religiously. I don't take Miralax or stool softeners or anything like that. I take two gummy multivitamins a day...that's it. I drink a cup of coffee every morning (for the protection of everyone around me), but I avoid caffeinated drinks in general. I have enough gas without adding to it and those bubbly drinks make me uncomfortable. I go for Gatorade or juices or just plain ol' water. Like I said, depends on how I'm feeling at the moment. My sleeve doesn't rule me - it assists me. And so far, we're doing pretty good together. 

Food jealousy....okay, every now and then, I'll get jealous that others are able to eat what they want and as much as they want. Stupid huh? I agree, but that doesn't negate the fact that I get jealous every now and then. Now that my diet is opening up, it doesn't happen as often, but you may have to remind yourself of that until your diet opens up too. The depravity and the suffering in the first weeks after being sleeved are temporary. Don't let them get you down. The end results are worth it..I promise. 

I think that's it for now. If you haven't started a blog of your own, you should. It's cathartic to write out this stuff and get it out there. And it  helps others to know that they aren't crazy for going through the same feelings you're having. Not everyone on here is a great communicator and things tend to get said that can discourage you. Try to accept the message and discard the attitude if you get a response to a post that offends you. I walked away from OH for a while after a mild fiasco, but even in my absence, I tried to learn from the things that were said and use those messages for my own growth. This journey isn't easy. It makes us look at our inner demons and acknowledge their presence. It forces us to not only admit our weaknesses, but to confront them and overcome them. That shit is HARD! No one likes to admit they have faults! My best advice to you? Walk your journey YOUR way. Do whatever YOU have to do to make this successful for YOU. What worked for others may or may not work for you, so listen to what your body is telling you. It's hard to decipher what your body wants in the beginning. Give it time and you'll learn the signs. (For instance, if I hiccup, I'm full. If I sneeze, I for sure won't vomit. Etc...) For years we've mistreated our bodies and look where it got us. Now it's time to rebuild that relationship with our bodies and our minds and you should expect bumps along the way. That's where your support system comes in and plays such a critical role in your success. Reach out when you need help - no medals for being a martyr! If I can help in any way, feel free to private message me.


1 comment

2 Weeks Post Op

Sep 10, 2012

 Hmmm...what to say about where I am today...

Okay, so Walter and I are getting along a little better now. If you'll remember, Walter is what I now call my tummy because I've learned that my tummy is an ornery old man and it reminds me very much of the puppet named Walter in Jeff Dunham's ventriloquist act. Walter lets me know pretty quickly if I'm doing something wrong or if I've eaten something he doesn't like. One thing he and I both agree on is that protein shakes SUCK. I'm thrilled that he hates them too because they taste (to me) like swamp water smells. I don't like 'em and I'm not gonna drink 'em. And don't tell me to "think of them as medicine". No. I don't have to and I'm not gonna. They're gross! So how am I getting any protein in? I am using SlimFast shakes and they do have 20 grams of protein per shake. Granted, it takes me an hour or more to get one down, but I'm not racing anyone, so it's okay. I have two of those a day. In the evening, I have begun eating a pate that my dad cooked up that is almost pure protein. Between the SlimFast shakes and the pate, I think I'm doing pretty good for now. My biggest hurdle each day is getting my hydration. What used to take a few minutes to chug now takes much longer, so I have to make a conscious effort to remember to constantly have a drink in my hand or near me and keep sipping. It's getting easier, but it's still a challenge. 

So what else am I eating? I'm sticking to things that don't make Walter mad. Cottage cheese is something I just added back last night and it was like hanging out with an old friend. Mmmmm! So good! And so filling! I like pudding (sugar free only) and I've become a popsicle connoisseur. My favorite sweet treat is still fudgsicles though, but I try to keep those to a minimum since they're not fat free. Basically, I have thrown the post op diet out the window. (Did I mention said window was the window to my truck and I was doing 90 down the interstate?) If there are those of you that can strictly stick to that thing, good for you. ~clap, clap, clap~ No, seriously! I mean it! Good for you! I simply can't do it. The diets are so different between surgeons for patients who have all undergone the same surgery. How can one be so much better or more right than the others? It can't. So my plan has become to simply follow what my body tells me to do. And with Walter, trust me, it's not like I can stray without being punished. He keeps me in line... As he tolerates more, I will slowly add more variety to my diet while staying within the guidelines I know I need to keep to continue losing weight. I lost 32 pounds on my own before having this surgery - it's not like I don't know what to do. I got this.

That's my diet, so now we're on to exercise. Ugh. My energy levels have been in the tank since the surgery. Just no get up and go whatsoever. It's only been in the last few days since I've begun to get real meat protein that I'm beginning to perk up again. (Thanks Dad!) I have a treadmill in my living room and today is the day I will begin using it. My two week mark was a milestone in my journey that I had set as my time to begin a workout routine. I don't intend to go nuts, but I do intend to start slowly and add time on the treadmill every couple of days. I'll eventually work my way up to doing some reps on my son's weight machine thingy on the porch, but I'm not there yet. I'm still having some issues with my sutures and don't want to do any more damage. With the treadmill in the living room, at least I can keep myself occupied with the tv while I walk and it'll be easy to keep a drink nearby (and there's NO dogs! LOL!). 

So about those incisions...yeah...I really thought those would be all closed up and starting to fade by now. A little eager, I know, but I was hoping for them to be better than they currently are for sure! Actually, all but one are doing well. I have one on my right side that was doing well up until about day six and then it just went stupid on me and split from side to side. Like, gaping. (So gross!) I have butterfly bandages on it and I peroxide it and put neosporin ointment on it daily. I keep it covered with a large bandaide to ensure that nothing I come into contact with throughout the day can further infect it. It doesn't look angry or deep red or infected now, but I'm keeping up the regimen until it heals. With no health insurance, I don't need any complications.

For any newbies reading this that are still pre op and have questions about bathroom stuff, I'm sure you've read a lot about how some people have some real problems in this area. You're probably also wondering about something referred to as foamies or slimies. Foamies and slimies are both really the same and are what they call it when you regurgitate "foam" or "slime" if you eat too quickly.  (I know, it's gross. Get used to it. There's a lot that's gross about this surgery.) Has it happened to me? I hate to admit it, but yes. I got excited about some banana pudding and before I knew it, I had eaten more than my stomach could hold. The banana pudding didn't come up, but the foam and slime did. I was miserable, MISERABLE!, before it did and felt like a million bucks once it did come up. My biggest fear at that moment was that I would tear a staple and do damage to my stomach, but I was fine and a hard lesson was learned. It hasn't happened again, but that doesn't mean it won't. I'm trying very hard to pay attention to what I eat now so I don't have to go through that again. As for the bathroom stuff, I've been lucky. (Look out...gonna get gross again!) I do have loose bowels and sometimes diarrhea, but nothing that requires me to carry a travel toilet in the back seat of my truck or to wear bariatric briefs. I can control it and can typically tell when it's time for me to find a bathroom. Remember Walter? He gives me signs when it's time to find a toilet. If I listen to him, I get there in plenty of time to avoid any embarrassment to myself of NOT making it in time.

Thus far, no accidents. 

 I'm still taking my gummy vitamins, my sublingual B-12, and my Zegrid (twice a day) and I'm still pushing all the fluids I can drink in a day. I was 218 on the day of surgery and 14 days later, I'm 207 (that's a loss of 11 pounds). I've been in a stall for three days, but I'm okay with it. You can't eat as little as I'm eating right now and NOT lose weight. Maybe I'm losing inches right now. I need to measure to be sure, but even if I'm not, I'm not stressing over it. Seems to be pretty common, so I'm just taking it in stride. I'm sure once I get my back side on that treadmill, it'll jump start the weight loss again. All in all, I'm doing pretty good and life is getting back to a new normal. I'm sure I have days of frustration ahead of me, but for today, I'm doing okay.

By the way, I'm really enjoying the site/app My Fitness Pal. It's set up very similarly to Facebook with status updates and friends and such and the support you get from others is phenomenal. Not everyone there has had VSG or any other kind of WLS, so sometimes they don't understand until you tell them, but everyone is similarly focused on getting healthy and losing weight and I've already made some really good friends. It's a fabulous way to track what you eat and exactly what you're putting into your body, so it's yet another tool for success. If you decide to try it out, feel free to friend me. I'm known on MFP as StuckeyLaRue...

Hope to see you there!!!  

Activity Level...

Sep 09, 2012

So I guess one of the most common questions I get asked is how I'm feeling and if I'm back to "normal". Having VSG, I'll never be back to normal, but I don't think that's what people mean when they ask. Most want to know if I'm back up on my feet and able to get around and do the things I did before removing more than half of my stomach. So here's the lowdown on that from my experience...

For the first week, it was all I could do to get up and do my required walking to prevent pneumonia and blood clots. It wasn't so much that it hurt, but it was uncomfortable and I just wanted to sleep. I do the same thing when I'm sick - my body just wants to sleep and I guess that's how I heal. It was no different with surgery except that it lasted a bit longer.

For the majority of the second week, I was able to move around and do whatever I needed to do. I could drive, cook dinner, pick up around the house, do laundry, etc...I just couldn't do it for long. Although my incisions were still a bit tender (and one more so than the others), it wasn't really painful to get around. What was lagging was my energy level. It was like my get up and go had gotten up and left. So I'd do whatever I needed to do in spurts and nap when I could. (Being self employed REALLY helped with this and it's a luxury I'm not sure many get to enjoy.)

By the end of the second week, I began to feel like "myself" again. I went on a business trip with my hubby to Birmingham, AL on Saturday. The four hour ride did wear me down and the hubster ended up putting me in a hotel early in the day so I could rest while he worked. I did nap some, but I think I just needed to get out of the truck. His concern was me being stuck in the heat while he worked. Whatever the case, it was nice to just relax in the room until he came back. We came home Sunday morning and bought a four wheeler for our son on the way home (damned Craigslist!). I got a little more protein in on Sunday than usual and it must have been just what my body needed. We got home and later that day, and we're talking for quite some time, I was out with the kids and the hubby riding four wheelers. It was awesome! I felt so alive! Did I have pain while riding? If I did, I certainly didn't notice it. Afterwards? Nope. Maybe a little when I first got off of the bike, but after that, none. I did sleep like a baby last night though. Riding was such a great way to burn off all the frustration of not being able to eat what I wanted or do what I wanted over the last two weeks. It was such a release for me! I don't know that I'll be right back out there today, but it sure felt good to do it yesterday and it proved to me that I'm back. My confidence is through the roof right now! 

Now I can't say how quickly each of you will heal, this was my experience. My mother had VSG eight weeks before me and her activity level returned within roughly the same period of time. The important thing is to listen to your body. If you feel like it's too much to do something, don't. By the same token, don't remain in a position of self pity and not push yourself (at least a little). You have to push a little to know what your body will handle - just do it in small increments. Your body WILL let you know if you've done too much.

Good luck to each of you!!

Food Isn't Fun Anymore...

Sep 09, 2012

I have always been a girl who enjoyed her food...like, I don't mind driving an hour or more to get to my favorite restaurant for Mexican food. Same goes for my favorite French restaurant which is roughly 2 hours from my house. WELL worth the drive. I can't even really say which food is my all time favorite. My food likes are very similar to my music likes...all over the place. I love trying new foods and the various flavors and textures...and I love HEAT in my food too (which makes Indian food yet another fave). In any case, my point is that I am someone who enjoys variety and I feel very trapped when I can't have it.  

My surgiversary is hitting the two week mark this coming Tuesday and these early days of post op and the restrictions that come with it have been KILLING me. I've been told that I don't HAVE to have variety and that I will soon  learn that. Yeah, well, so far, no luck. It doesn't help to get on here and see the vast differences in folks' diets. Some are on a clear liquid diet for the first week, others for two weeks. The same is true of when they can have pureed foods, soft foods, etc. My first response is always, "that's not fair!" and then I have to ask myself why. No one is monitoring me and what I eat. No food police are gonna jump out of my cabinets and arrest me for eating pudding before it's "allowed" on my diet! What I have to go by is what my body will tolerate and as of today, my tummy is an ornery old man (which is why I now refer to my tummy as "Walter" after the puppet in Jeff Dunham's show). Walter is quick to let me know if I've consumed something he isn't ready to tolerate yet. He does this by causing me great discomfort in the form of cramping, racing to the restroom or foamies. As long as I'm gentle with Walter, we seem to get along just fine. 

That being said, Walter is still quite cranky from having more than half of him excised. We fought like hell the first few days post op, but we seem to get along better and better as the days pass. Over this first 12 days of being post op, eating has become a chore of sorts. It starts with determining exactly WHAT I'm allowed to have and then how I can make it tolerable and DIFFERENT. I don't think I can swallow another ounce of chicken broth. It was pure heaven when I got that first taste after surgery, but that crap got old quickly. You can only drink so much of it before you feel the urge to grow feathers and cluck. No thank you. Before VSG WLS, eating was not only a means to fuel my body, it was fun. I enjoyed my food and even enjoyed the selection process of what I would have for each meal. I didn't realize how much it would hurt and how much I would mourn that process until it was no longer an option. Food just isn't fun anymore. Yeah, yeah...I know, it isn't forever. But it feels like it when you're in the midst of it, now doesn't it? And that's where I am. And admittedly, I keep testing Walter and he keeps kicking my butt. As stubborn as I am, I know I have to bow down to Walter for the time being. Back to liquids only...

My only saving grace at this point is I'm pretty sure I'm ready to swap over to a full liquid diet rather than a clear liquid diet and that should open up a whole new world of flavors for me in a SAFE way. I was feeling optimistic about this and started looking for what others were doing for this phase in their diet and stumbled across a post from a veteran of VSG.  Gadzooks!!! It's an absolutely amazing list of recipes for both shakes and snacks to get that protein in!!!  And let me tell you, the list is looooooong, but some of these recipes look downright delicious. You can find a link to her posting HERE. For me, I'm printing it out and plan to try as many as I can to get me through this next phase.

If you're like me, you've had your up and down moments in your journey. I have gone from zero to "why did I have this surgery" in 2.5 minutes and I'm sure I'll do it again before it's all over. Finding the OH site has been a life saver for me and helped me through those times. Finding the list was SO helpful to me and that's why I wanted to pass it on. I truly hope it helps you too, regardless of which phase you're currently in. 

1 Week Post Op

Sep 04, 2012


I'm so frustrated. I know I'm supposed to be on a clear liquid diet for another week, but I just can't do it. I've resorted to eating a small amount of baby food at night (2nd food, ultra pureed, roughly 2 ounces) just so I can get a decent night's sleep. It's not affecting my weight loss. In fact, the first night that I did it (last night), I woke up to a 2 pound weight loss from the previous day. It should be noted that I ate v-e-r-y slowly and used a popsicle stick as a spoon to ensure that I ate it slowly and gave my tiny tummy a chance to complain. I'll admit that it does allow me some variety in my diet and it does do a smash up job of helping me feel satisfied, thus allowing that blissful night of sleep. So what's wrong with doing it? Ahh jeez! I just feel so stinking guilty for doing it!   

It's not like the Sleeve Police are gonna come rushing out of my closet to arrest me from deviating from my diet. And if they did, I would sure hope they cleaned the closet while they were in there. I've been meaning to do that! I guess I just have the same fear that any new sleever has...am I messing this up?  

My mother is great about doing what she can to help me release the guilt. She tells me that for what little baby food I'm taking in and considering I'm having zero adverse reaction to it, the likelihood is that I'm doing no harm. I love my mom.  

So let's talk about my mobility...or lack thereof. I'm not currently taking any pain meds because I'm really not experiencing any pain. The only pain I'm having is still happening when I'm grabbing something off the floor. Bending over without supporting my incisions is still a bad idea, but I'm home and my mindset is that things are back to "normal" and I just do without thinking first. I have to remind myself to "slow my roll" and take it easy on myself. My mind tells me that I have work to do and I need to get my backside in gear, yet when I try, it doesn't take much to land me right back in bed. No pain; just fatique. This could be due to the rapid weight loss or the small amount of food I'm taking in daily or it could be my laziness rearing its ugly head. I'm lazy by nature. I was raised under the motto of "work smart, not hard", "use your brain, not your back" and I may have taken it a little too far. I hate physical labor. Getting over surgery requires that I move and work my body. Getting back to the question of mobility, I'm able to do pretty much anything I want...in short bursts. It's not that I end up in pain or anything like that. Like I said, I just get really tired. This is one of those moments that I'm truly thankful that I'm self employed.   

My incisions seem to be healy nicely with the exception of the one that I suspect they pulled my excised stomach through. That one is the largest of my incisions and has the most bruising and seems to be the slowest to heal. Nothing too rough, just some weeping that won't dry up and go away. Mom had me put some peroxide on it and a loose gauze bandage with triple antibiotic. The peroxide kind of sucked, but it wasn't too bad (and I'm a super sissy when it comes to pain). I'm really hoping it scabs over soon so it can heal faster. Coincidentally, it's the only one that the glue came off that they put on the incisions in surgery.   

Outside of that, I'm doing well. I have averaged a loss of a pound a day with the exception of the first night of baby food (yesterday) which resulted in a two pound loss this morning. It'll be interesting to see if my weight is affected a second day in a row. If it is, I am SO gonna keep eating a little baby food each night. I just can't keep doing the broths (I swear they make me feel hungry). And popsicles and jello aren't doing it for me as a meal. I don't know. We'll see. I'm like most anyone else on here. I'm just trying to work with my body and learn what does and does not work. 

That's it for now...I'm tired. Again.   

Getting Sleeved...My First Six Days

Sep 02, 2012

Before you start reading, you should know that this first post is LOOOOONG. I’m not sure why I felt the need to write my story in such detail except that my friend and her sister are going for this same surgery in two months and I wanted to document as much as I could before details start slipping from my memory. I wanted them to get a feel for my entire experience, not just bits and pieces of it. I’m of the opinion that knowledge is power and the more you know, the less there is to fear. The following is my story and I hope it helps some of you feel comfort in your decision to have VSG…

My story starts with a call to www.ALighterMe.com, a company who has surgeons and hospitals in several locations in Mexico. I spoke at length over several conversations with two patient coordinators, Ronda and Janese. Both were very patient with all the questions I had and never failed to respond to a phone call or email within minutes. Both had also previously had weight loss surgery and were able to speak from experience. These two ladies were just awesome and were monumental in my decision making process. I ultimately chose Dr. Allejandro Lopez as my surgeon and elected to have my surgery in Tijuana. While this would give most cause for worry and concern, you’d have to know me to know what kind of research I did to know why I was so comfortable with my decision. If there was negative information about this surgeon, the company or the hospital out there, I was bent and determined to find it…I found nothing but glowing reviews.

Okay, so the next concern is location. Tijuana?! Yep, Tijuana. My safety, you ask? Well I’ll tell you this…It’s safer to visit Tijuana than it is to visit Philadelphia or Atlanta. And this isn’t me talking – don’t rely on what I say – Google it and do the research for yourself. You should research WHEREVER you’re considering regardless of whether it’s State side or international. The burden falls on you, the patient, to do your research beforehand. Be comfortable with your decision; you’ll be challenged on it by others at some point. The cherry on top to my decision was the thousands of dollars I saved on my surgery versus what I would have spent in the US or even other companies offering the surgery in different parts of Mexico. I’m totally cool with saving money!

One of the things I really liked about this company was that we were assigned a driver to get us back and forth from the airport, the border, the hospital and the hotel. We also had a patient advocate who visited with us several times a day regardless of where we were who assisted us with everything from “I’m nervous” to “My ac isn’t getting cold enough”. Our driver was Abraham and our patient advocate was Eduardo; both are very good at what they do and give you the feeling that you have someone looking out for you at all times. I’m all about comfort and that was a comfortable feeling. Abraham was in touch with me as my plane pulled into the gate at the airport in San Diego. He was right there to scoop us up and get us to the hotel across the border for the night before we went to the hospital in the morning. We met Eduardo at the hotel who instantly gave off the aura of being in charge of things so that all I had to worry about was getting through the surgery and recovery; he would handle the rest. And that he did. Both he and Abraham treated us like we were family that had come into town, not fat little ladies coming in for surgery. LOL!

We arrived at the hospital around 7 am on Tuesday, the 28th of August, 2012. My hospital was Mi Doctor in Tijuana and it’s a small hospital that is only roughly a year old and still expanding. I stayed on the third floor in room 307, one of the only rooms with no window (this proved to be to my advantage later as the room stayed dark even during the day and allowed me to sleep better). The third floor only has 7 rooms with a total of 14 beds and they allowed my mother to stay in the other bed in the room with me during my stay. My mom is a RN and not a very quiet one if she sees wrongdoing, so I felt even safer knowing my mom was with me. I knew I had a safety net in place. And at 42, I’m not afraid to admit that it was comforting to know my mom would be there when I would be feeling at my worst. She drives me crazy at times, but there’s nothing that replaces your mom when you’re sick or hurt.

They had me change into a gown and started my IV shortly after I got there. The blood was drawn for their testing and the nurse conducted an EKG. I felt like a little kid when they started the IV because the little sticker they used to tidy everything up on my arm had teddy bears on it. Funny what’s soothing when you’re nervous! Those bears were silly, but helpful. Although there was a definite language barrier, the nurses each had different ways of communicating what they needed me to know or what they needed to know from me. In the end, I was able to effectively communicate with all of the hospital personnel. What surprised me was the level of care I received despite the language barrier. These nurses showed that they cared and did their best to ease my fears and no words were needed. It’s a powerful thing to witness; even more so to be a part of. I remember one stroking my arm as she put meds in my IV…such a simple gesture, but it calmed me. That, friends, is a NURSE.

Once my tests results were returned and it was determined that I was safe for surgery, the nurses weighed me. I had begun this journey at 250 pounds. When I called to schedule my surgery, I was down to 223. As they wheeled me down to have the VSG, I weighed in at 218.6 pounds. I remember laying on the operating table and telling the anesthesiologist that I was scared. I remember him rubbing my temples and telling me that I was in good hands and not to worry. We talked for a moment and he asked if I was ready…and then everything faded to black. I am forever grateful that he took the time to allow me to release the fear before putting me under. May sound silly to read that now, but lying on that table, it was a big freaking deal. Once again, the care and concern of the hospital staff was evident.

They say it took just over an hour to do my surgery, I have no idea. I awoke to the sound of my mother yelling, “Tracey! Are you ok?” Now I reiterate, I am 42 years old (almost 43), but even at my age I know well enough even under anesthesia to know that when my mother asks if I’m okay, I better answer quickly or she’ll be in there in a FLASH. I don’t know how I responded, but it must have been to her satisfaction. Later, she told me that I had been in recovery for longer than she anticipated and she wanted to know for herself that I was alive and kicking. I don’t think it was too much longer after that before I was moved back into my room with my mom. I did have to move myself from the gurney to the hospital bed…as I try to remember it now, it’s difficult to recall. What I do remember is the feeling of “this is gonna suck” and not being wrong about that assumption. I’m sure it was over quickly though and I was tucked in my bed to rest for a while before it would be time to start walking to speed up my recovery. I vaguely remember the nurses pumping several syringes of God only knows what into my IV and then drifting off to sleep.

I’m not sure how long I slept, but having a nurse for a mother, you can bet she was worried about me getting pneumonia or blood clots or any number of other ailments if I didn’t get up and get moving soon. As soon as she felt like an adequate amount of time had passed, she started encouraging me to walk. And by encourage, I mean she told me to get my butt up and start walking…NOW. Nurses are funny like that. Even if it’s your mom, that nurse mentality kicks in and your health and well-being become more of a priority than whether or not what you’re having to do is uncomfortable or not. At least I knew it came from a place of love…but getting up that first time SUCKED. If you think you’re going in for a cake walk, cancel your surgery now. This is NOT the easy way to lose weight and it ain’t for sissies. This is one of those situations where you have to put on your big girl (or guy) panties and deal with it head on. Yes, it hurt it get up. It hurt to walk. It hurt to breathe! But it was one uncomfortable day to begin dealing with YEARS of bad eating choices. I was not going to undo all of those bad choices without paying some penance along the way.

The first 24 hours after surgery, my biggest fear was that I would live. And I did. And you will too. While they were in there clipping my stomach, they discovered that I had a hiatal hernia and repaired it. It’s possible that the repair of the hiatal hernia contributed to my discomfort, but I suspect that gas was the larger suspect. I read a post earlier from a gal who had surgery the same day as me who said that her doctor gave her a suppository to help with the gas as soon as he heard intestinal sounds. I wish I had known about that, but I didn’t. And if you haven’t already had your surgery, I highly recommend discussing this with your surgeon. Gas is temperamental.  The longer it stays in you, the more crazed it becomes and the more it hurts. It’s like a caged animal that needs to be released into the wild! I brought chewable gas relief tablets and then had no urge to chew them. Another patient shared her GasX with me and it was in the form of sheets that melted on your tongue. We ended up sending Abraham, our driver, to get more because the relief was so profound. (And God bless him, he couldn’t find them in Tijuana so he drove back across the border to get them for us. Now THAT’s service!!) Now for you softer ladies who don’t pass wind in front of others, I have three words for you for that first couple of days after your surgery…Get Over It! Like I told you earlier, this gas is like a caged animal that wants to be released. For the love of God, release it! No good can come from holding it in!! Besides, if you followed your pre-op diet properly, the smell is minimal (if at all) anyway. If a four foot fart was the only thing standing between me and immediate relief from pain, I don’t care if I part your hair – get outta the way! It’s coming!

It’s absolutely mind boggling how much pain a little air in your system can cause…if you don’t pack anything else in your bags before you go to the hospital, please, please, please heed my warning and pack something for gas. For our group, and yes, we all shared, the sheets that melted on our tongues worked the best. The melted quickly, there was little need to swallow and the results were almost instant. For some patients, that gas can get caught up in your shoulder or under the ribs…any number of places. All hurt. I didn’t need it, but I did end up lending out the heating pad that I brought. The heat helps to break up the gas so you can get it out. A warm shower will do the same if you don’t have a heating pad. They didn’t let me in the shower until the second day, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. My suggestion is that you pack a heating pad. You’d rather have it and not need it, like me, than to need it and not have it. If I can find room to take it to Mexico, you can find room in your bags too. The bottom line is that gas is not your friend and going into this surgery on the offense is your best bet.

So that was pretty much it for the first 24 hours…sleeping, walking, chewing on ice chips and trying to fart. Glamorous, huh? The next day wasn’t a whole lot better, but the prayers for death that I had prayed for the day before, I was now busy recanting. God and I are on pretty good terms, so He was pretty cool about ignoring those pleas for death.  Now I just wanted to be pain free…and a hamburger. No, not really. I just wanted something besides ice chips. Something with a little flavor. But my tiny tummy was still in shock and ice chips were really all I needed for the time being. I wish I could say I was hungry, but nope…not hungry…like, not at all. The IV kept me hydrated and the ice chips kept my mouth hydrated. I did use some chapstick, but not nearly as often as I anticipated that I would. It was nice to have though. I spent much of the second day sleeping only waking to do my walks or go to the bathroom. It was on the second day that they did the first leak test which consisted of me drinking some nasty blue water. They checked the drain periodically throughout the day to see if any of the blue liquid escaped my tiny tummy and made its way into the drain. The blue liquid was gross and made my tongue and mouth look like I had chewed up a Smurf. Thankfully, it wasn’t something that required me to do anything other than exist after I drank it, so that worked well with my plan to sleep the day away.

The pain was much more manageable on the second day, although I did feel sharp pangs in my incisions when I went to get into or out of bed. My remedy for this was to support the incisions by pressing firmly on them with my hands as I went to stand or sit. It should also be noted that the best way to get into or out of bed is to “roll” and use your elbow for support. Not all of your incisions will bother you, only the larger ones. Those are the ones you want to give pressure when you do anything that uses those stomach muscles. It minimizes the pain to a large, large degree.

Now, because I said “only the larger ones” when talking about incisions, you’re wondering about the size. My largest incision is only 1.25 inches and I think that may be exaggerating slightly. They’re all small. I have a total of 5; four incisions for the laparoscopic instruments and one for the drain. Once the drain came out, that one quit bothering me within a day. I’m currently 6 days out and I still support the largest one when I go to stand or sit or if I’m picking something up off of the floor.

On the morning of the third day, Thursday, I was moved from the hospital to the hotel. Before I left, they did the second leak test. This one required a little more participation on my part. They took me to some sort of xray room and had me stand in front of a machine. There was a monitor where I could see what appeared to be my throat and upper chest area. I was given a small cup full of clear liquid that I was asked to drink in small sips. As I sipped the liquid, I could clearly see it go down my throat and enter my tiny tummy and then exit. The drink was gross and tasted like I was drinking a thermometer. A very metallic taste, but at least it went quickly and they were able to determine that I had no leaks.  My mother packed our bags, the nurses removed my IV and I was taken by wheelchair downstairs to meet Abraham to be shuttled to the hotel. I was ready to go and felt energized as we pulled away from the hospital. A short two miles later, my energy level was dwindling; all I wanted was to get back into bed.

Because we had arrived so early at the hospital, our rooms weren’t ready when we arrived. Fortunately, the hotel has a gorgeous lobby where we were able to sit comfortably for a few minutes while Eduardo discussed with the hotel team how the situation would be handled. We ended up going to the hotel restaurant for our first bowl of chicken broth while we waited for housekeeping to ready our rooms. The server brought us jello, broth and a popscicle. Before this surgery, I could have wolfed all of it down in a matter of seconds. Not now! I couldn’t finish the soup, nor the jello, nor the popsicle, but I did get a nice taste of each that was very satisfying. It didn’t take long before we were notified that our rooms were ready. Much like the day before in the hospital, once I got settled, I spent much of the day sleeping only to get up for walks or trips to the bathroom. My poor mother spent the day searching for English speaking shows on television! I think she may have slept quite a bit too. Nurse or not, she’s still my mother and the whole experience was taxing on her to watch me go through this. Having just gone through this same surgery herself only 8 weeks prior, she knew all too well what I was going through. I want to say that she and another lady (who was there supporting a friend who had the surgery) went out for a short trip and had lunch at Applebees, but I may be getting my days mixed up. I remember being glad that she had a friend while we were there. This surgery has turned my mom into a walking billboard for VSG – she’ll tell anyone who’s willing to listen all about it and how much it can change your life. She’s so outgoing now! She’s proof positive that this surgery changes more than just your weight. In any case, I spent most of the day sleeping. The doctor came by that evening to check my incisions and my drain and to be sure that I was taking my meds properly. He wasn’t there long and I was okay with that…let me sleep, please.

On the fourth day, I woke up with my batteries on full charge. I was ready to get out of that room and just DO something. Some of my incisions were weeping a bit, so mom and I decided to go to Wal-Mart for bandages. What an experience! I guess I just expected Wal-Mart to look the same in Tijuana as it did in Georgia… it did not. Not even close. And my math skills were put to the test because everything was listed in pesos. Fun, fun, fun for the brain recovering from anesthesia. I just kind of guessed and got whatever I needed. It was fun to see how the products were laid out differently as compared to home. Some were similar and some were items I’d never laid eyes on before. It’s definitely a culture shock to go into someplace seemingly familiar and see it set up so differently. Not bad, just different. I’m not sure what happened, but all of a sudden, my energy drained and it was time to get back into bed. We checked out and waved down the first taxi we could find that didn’t require me crawling into the rear seat of a minivan that was already more than half full of occupants. We got back to the hotel and I felt tired, but okay. We met some of the other patients in the lobby and as I leaned down to give one a hug, I felt a “pop” at one of my incisions. Within minutes, my knees were buckling and I needed a wheelchair to get back to my room.

Did I do damage? Yeah. First question in my mind too. Fortunately, no. I think my pain meds wore off, I didn’t support that pesky incision when I leaned over, and my pain threshold was reached within nanoseconds of the hug. A little rest and I was ready to hit the streets again. Which is exactly what we did just hours later.

We knew we would be leaving for home in the morning and that this was our last day in Mexico, so we better make it count. Eduardo and Abraham took our group to a busy strip in Tijuana where we were able to do a little shopping and pick up some souvenirs for our loved ones back home or for ourselves to commemorate the experience. I ended up buying myself a fire opal necklace and earring set and a sterling silver bracelet for my mother. There were some other small items as well, but the bargaining with the sales clerk was half the fun and I felt like I got away with a really good deal. The trip to and from the area where we shopped was a blast too. The two things you notice in Tijuana is that there no reason to ever be sick or sad because there’s a liquor store and a pharmacy on every street corner. LOL!

After getting back to the hotel, we all agreed to meet for our last dinner together later in the hotel restaurant. The group is a constant rotation of patients with the ones going home the soonest offering whatever advice they could for those a step behind them. If anyone had leftover water or juices or whatever, it was passed to whoever was staying another day. If you couldn’t take it on the plane anyway, there was no point in wasting it. The dynamics in the group were interesting to watch. It was as if the surgery instantly made us a family of sorts and all looked out for each other. Very neat indeed.

Later that evening, the doctor came to remove the drain and to answer any questions or concerns that remained. It was our chance to have a little one on one time with the doctor before we left. The bedside manner of the doctors in Tijuana is different than anything I’ve ever experienced in the US and I have to admit that I loved it. It was a refreshing change of pace to have the doctors so laid back and approachable. The next morning, when we left to cross the border to catch our flight in San Diego, our doctor even escorted us to the airport. Now granted, he probably had other things he wanted to do in town after we were dropped off, but the fact remains that he rode with us and answered even more questions on the way to the airport. I’m telling you, the experience was very different. If you are considering having your surgery in Mexico, you owe it to yourself to check out www.alighterme.com and Dr. Lopez. You’ll save money and be treated like royalty in the process. Have you ever had YOUR doctor escort you to the airport? Yeah, me either…not until Dr. Lopez.

The trip home took a considerable amount of time. At close to 2600 miles and having to stop in Denver to change planes, it was close to 2 AM before we came stumbling in the front door. A suggestion for air travel is to be sure to ask for a wheelchair. You may not need it, but this is another case of something you’d rather have and not need than vice versa. I didn’t need it on the changeover in Denver, but by Atlanta, my butt was dragging and the wheelchair was a Godsend. Another thing, for flights lasting longer than 2 hours, get up and walk when you can at least once an hour to prevent blood clots in your legs. This was a gem Dr. Lopez gave to us on our way to the airport. You can let the flight attendants know as you board that you are fresh from surgery and they’re very supportive of getting you whatever you need during your flight.

Now I should mention that my first meltdown happened after we changed planes in Denver. We were boarding and it was dinner time and people were hungry. Some had brought food from the terminal and were quietly eating while the remainder of the passengers boarded. Across the aisle from us, a lady had a turkey and ham sandwich on marble rye. Yes, my sense of smell confirmed this and even confirmed that the sandwich had pickles. She was absentmindedly putting mayonnaise on the bread and all I could do was sit there and watch like it was food porn. I wasn’t hungry, but the smell drove me to watch her every move. It just smelled…so…GOOD. Before I could even catch my emotions, I burst into tears. I was mourning the loss of food and my choice to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. My mom sat beside me patting my arm and let me cry. In fact, she encouraged me to cry and let the emotions out. Within a few minutes, she reminded me that I hadn’t given up my favorite foods forever, just for now. In due time, when my new tiny tummy could handle them again, I would be able to enjoy those favorite foods again in moderation. She told me that the feelings I was having were right on time and very, very natural to have. She handed me her Kindle with a book loaded that was about a woman close to my age beginning menopause. It was funny and upbeat and exactly what I needed at that moment. Isn’t it funny how moms know just what to say and just what to do for us?

Mom drove us home thinking I could sleep on the way, but I was so excited to be coming home to my family that I couldn’t sleep.  Once I got settled into my own bed, my husband and I talked for a while and somewhere in the conversation, I drifted off. I slept the rest of the night and off and on all the next day and watched all the television I could stand. My family waited on me hand and foot and all just seemed right in the world. My days and nights are a little wonky from jet lag (as I sit here writing this at 3:30 AM), but I’m feeling good. I don’t really have any pain aside from all these freaking food commercials on tv…those are killing me. Outside of that, I see light at the end of the tunnel. When I woke up this morning, out of habit, I jumped on the scale. Even with the swelling that I’m sure I still have from surgery and the fact that I started my cycle in the midst of all of this, I’m still down to 213, a full five pounds lighter than 6 days ago when I was being wheeled in for surgery. Is that amazing or what?! It’s actually working! I realize I still have a long way to go and many more challenges to overcome. I feel lucky though…My mom already brought me through the worst of it and I’m sure she’ll be there for the rest of it. In addition to her, I have my patient coordinators from www.alighterme.com and all the community at www.obesityhelp.com plus my family and friends. With support like that, I have no doubt that I’m on my way to a healthier me!


Footnote: It’s interesting to me that now that I have this all down on paper, I suddenly find myself struggling to stay awake. Maybe someone out there needed to hear something I had to say in my story. I don’t know. I just know that when that little voice in the back of your head starts chattering, it’s usually best to listen. If you need support in any way, I’d be happy to do what I can. If you’re reading this, you’re already in the company of some pretty amazing people who are much further in their journey than I am. If nothing else, I hope my story helps you to know that scary as it may be, you can survive this and move forward in your quest for a healthier you. I wish you all the luck in the world!!

Best Wishes,

Tracey Lee


About Me
Surgery Date
Aug 19, 2012
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