Jul 16, 2014
WOW! So many new faces! I can’t believe it’s been more than 7 years (4/10/07) since my VSG! Six years since reconstructive surgery. I’m going to go lurk in the “Graduates” forum, but I wanted to make a pit-stop here at the VSG forum first. Like many here have said before, “the best thing I could have done” or “I wish I had done it much, much sooner!” and I eco those remarks, it has been a wonderful 7+ years.
Back on April 11th 2014, I got an email from Eric Klein, co-founder of ObesityHelp.com, I don’t know him and I’m sure it was an automatic email asking to share my long term experience, but it was put together very thoughtfully, so here I am, a couple of months late, but here none the less. The message was an appeal to come to the site and share my long term experience, gosh, you don’t have to ask me twice, it’s just been so busy that time is barely enough. However, this site was such a godsend back in October of ’06, when I re-started my journey that I had to take the time to write.
I don’t believe that anyone that makes the decision to take the WLS route does it lightly. It was heart wrenching and a long drawn out process for me, as I’m sure it is for others considering this option and I did a LOT of second guessing and back pedaling. So much came into play, such as irreversible, complications, mutilation, not another full meal again, failure again, too much more to mention all. I also considered all the positives, again way too many to mention here, but I’ll mention 2: being able to cross my legs (!!!), being able to wrap a normal size towel around myself (!!!), so many more! This is a very personal decision and one that others that are not afflicted with obesity cannot usually understand. So once I made up my mind, I did not let anyone detract me and I tried to stay positive. I also have a very supportive husband that wanted the best for me, weather I did or didn’t have the surgery.
Back in 2003 I reached a personal “low”, or should I say “high” of weighing over 300lbs, it was almost the worst period in my life. As many here with this horrible disease, I had tried every diet known with mixed results, only to regain all the weight lost and then some more on top of that, as I’m sure others have experienced. Sometimes I feel like I could literally write a book. I either did not assimilate the information properly or my physiology just did not respond. I had all the typical complaints and discomforts associated with obesity, which I’m not going to recount, luckily I did not have any other health issues or co-morbidities, yet, but they were not far off, I’m sure. Very guardedly, I started to research WLS, I felt like a failure and ashamed that it had come to this. Back then, the By-Pass (RNY) and the Band were the only options. I did not want to have a foreign object inside of me that would require another surgery to remove, and I did not want to have my digestive system rearranged. I did not like the many complications and issues associated with the surgery, but losing the weight was such a temptation! I started the process, but to make a long story short, I stopped; I just could not wrap my head around what the RNY entailed and without any other viable options (in my opinion) I went on my way without it for another (almost) 5 years.
Fast forward and almost 70lbs later, pretty much the worst period in my life, I was at my limits and decided to take the plunge. By this time turning in bed at night and getting into and out of the car was an ordeal, and the trail of broken or damaged chairs I left behind, just to mention a few things. Went to the primary doctor, started to document the process, the tests, the documentation, getting all the approvals, the research, etc., but still not happy about the RNY and by now had heard about the “Sleeve” (VSG). The more I found out about it the more convinced I became that it was the option for me. The challenge was that it had been performed for less than 5 years, considered “experimental” and there was not a lot of data to support its success. I was approved for the RNY, but continued to research the VSG, hours and hours daily. I posted many questions here on OH and got lots of help, one in particular was an insurance savvy member (can’t remember his name), THANK YOU wherever you are, with his help and detailed instructions I researched, prepared and submitted an appeal to my employer’s insurance committee, after our UHC “self-funded” plan denied it. I basically documented the cons of the RNY and the few studies for the VSG and that it would be a “risk and detriment” (complications) to me and my employer if I didn’t have the VSG, legal action implied, but not mentioned. It took just a few days (2); these were the longest days of my life. Then the news came on March 29th, 2007, “You are approved for the VSG”! My surgery was immediately scheduled and I got my VSG on April 10th, 2007. The sleeve has come a long way since then!
Let me share some stats. I’m 5’10”, I have a large frame, literally “big boned”, no joke. Wide shoulders, wide hips, I’m built solid, like my dad. At a weight of 175 (almost my lowest as an adult) I had a BMI of 25.11, practically skin and bones, I was considered borderline “overweight”. I have resigned myself to accept that under those guidelines I will never be “normal”, but I am normal for me. I registered for a pageant and listed my true weight, I was asked/forced to change it (30 lbs. lower), because “it cannot be”, even after changing/lying, I was still 20lbs heavier than the other contestants.
Jul 16, 2014
Continued 2 out of 3
Female BMI Standards: Overweight = 25–29.9
Just 8 months after WLS, I was almost at 80% goal. I was disciplined, I exercised as much as possible and I watched my nutrition and fluid intake. My surgeon tested my labs every 3 months for the first 18 months and I never had a deficiency. Now my primary tests me annually. To me this is proof that typically, we eat more than necessary to survive. Those of us with the obesity gene can’t resist food. A few short months later I was at goal, I had lost nearly 180 lbs. I was in heaven. I went from a size 30W to a 12/14. I will never be a size 4, ever. I started researching reconstructive surgery at 8 months post op, after almost 20 years of being obese, my skin was not about to bounce back. Some thought that I was too early and may sabotage the remaining weight I had to go, but it worked for me. Pre and post reconstructive surgery I ended up losing nearly 20 lbs., the last 20 came off shortly after.
Researched my surgeons, went to 3 evaluations, UGHHH! Hated it and settled for a surgeon on my insurance list. Except for one of the procedures, they were all covered. Later, the insurance ended up covering all the work, thanks to great documentation from my surgeons coordinator and I only paid deductible and co-insurance, could not complaint. I had my surgeries done in two stages and one revision. Here is my list.
Jul 16, 2014
Continued 3 out of 3
Blepharoplasty/ Upper eyelids only (after vision fields test showed vision impairment)
Mini eyebrow lift
Neck Lift/Lower face lift (turns out they are both the same)
Want but haven’t had:
Mini thigh lift – My thighs/knees are really bad, but I have reservations about results
Arm lift – My arms are a little flabby but not horrible, I can live with them this way.
I’m very happy with the results of my reconstructive surgeries, I may still consider the Mini-thigh lift in the future, we’ll see.
Fast forward to today and one other reason for coming back to OH. I kept my weight off for a good part of a year, then almost two years post WLS I started to slowly gain, I think they call it “grazing” and as of last summer I had gained just over 35 lbs. Not good. Wake up call! I did manage to lose 10 lbs. but my exercising is lacking, I need to lose those pesky 25 lbs.
I have had no complication, not a one. I have had the foamies a few times early on and now and again when I can’t resist the offerings and my bad habits show their ugly head, ultimately ended up throwing up, but very infrequently; I’ve learned how to gauge how full I am very well. Immediately post op WLS I was barely able to drink, later eat 3 oz. of food, I now can eat about 7 oz. I can go on a cruise and eat a little of each course with no issues. My husband and I usually share a meal, so we have saved a lot!
I’m over the moon with my Sleeve; the only regret I have is that the VSG was not available sooner. All the best to those of you that have started this journey or are contemplating it.
Jul 09, 2008
Life is Good!, No! Its GREAT!
Total Lost: 178 lbs, BMI 27.12 as of July 2008
Over 160 lbs lost, Onederland, size 12 and BMI