August 12, 2006
My journey into gastric bypass surgery is just beginning. I have had several friends who have had it done and they are really looking terrific. Meanwhile, I watch them shrink while I just seem to keep adding pounds. I am a 35 year old mother of two, and consider myself to be pretty young. I have tried many things to lose weight, some have worked better than others, but always with the same result. The weight comes back. I am 4'11" and weigh 211 lbs, which is my highest weight ever.
I have an appointment scheduled to see Dr. Steven Katsis on August 22nd, and I am very hopeful. Fortunately, my insurance company does not require pre-approval, so part of the battle is already won!
August 14, 2006
Things I look forward to the most when losing weight:
1. Wearing a sleeveless shirt
2. Tucking my shirt in
3. Wearing a belt
4. Wearing shorts
5. Playing outdoors with my kids when it's hot and not feel like I'm going to have a stroke.
6. Crossing my legs (at 4'11" this has always been kinda hard to do, if I want my feet to reach the ground).
7. Not being embarrased to drive my MINI convertible and not see the disappointed looks on people's faces when they see ME get out of it instead of some hot chick.
8. Not feeling like people don't really see ME when they look at me.
August 16, 2006
My first appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Steven Katsis is next Tuesday. I'm glad that day is finally coming. I guess I should find out for sure then if he will qualify me for surgery. I've gotten sneaky and already made appointments for my psych evaluation and my pulmonary exam. Apparently the surgeon's office schedules the cardiology exam for you with the hospital, so I'll let them do that. I know it may seem like I'm jumping the gun, but the appointments aren't for 2 weeks after I see the surgeon, and I don't see any reason to wait until after I meet with the surgeon, only to schedule them and have to wait even longer. When I called the surgeon's office to find out who to make the appts with they seemed a little irritated and told me "That doesn't mean you will get your surgery any sooner". I'm sure they have people constantly complaining and trying to get in sooner. All I'm doing is giving myself a leg up. Whether it helps move the process further faster or not doesn't really matter. I just feel good that I am taking care of things now. It helps me to feel motivated.
My brother took a picture of my husband and me sitting on the couch kissing our two year old (one of us on each side of her). I thought it would be such a cute picture. However, when I saw it, I realized he didn't know the golden rule about photographing heavyset people, which is NEVER photograph from the chest down! I was so disgusted when I saw it, that I just can't even enjoy the content. I suppose it can go on my list of things I will use to motivate me to use wls surgery as the tool it was intended for! If I ever figure out how to post pictures here, I'll add it. What the heck, right?
August 20, 2006
FINALLY! I have my appointment in the morning to see the surgeon's nurse to get the ball officially rolling, then I see the surgeon on Tuesday. From reading other's posts, I can see many have had a much longer journey to this point than I have, so I am thankful it has only taken a month so far. I realize there is still much to come, but I'm ready for it. At this point, I'm just hoping to have my surgery before October is out. Who knows, it may be November or December, but oh well. I'd really like it to be this year since I've already met my calendar year deductible on labs, etc.
I was just reading about Jessie, a fellow OH'er who passed away early this morning. She died from complications due to a gallbladder removal surgery. Apparently, she went in to have her RNY and it was discovered her gallbladder was much worse than originally thought, and as they were removing it (apparently had about 17 stones), one ruptured, filling her body cavity with poisons. She has been in a coma for the last few weeks, and finally her poor body just gave out. She leaves behind a fiance and a 5 year old son. My heart really goes out to her and her family. I know she is in Heaven now, and feeling as light as air, so I will keep that thought close. I am thankful I had my gallbladder removed in 2000, about 3 months after my first daughter was born. I weighed about 198 at that time, and was 29, so everyone thought it odd that I would be having problems with it, but I had been for several months prior to my pregnancy. Amazingly, I had no problems with it whatsoever during my pregnancy, but shortly after my daughter was born, it came back with a vengeance.
It's just another strong reminder of how serious of a thing having this surgery really is. I'm trying to keep a positive outlook on the long run, primarily better health and an increased life span. Of course being thinner and actually enjoying shopping for and wearing clothes will be a welcome "side effect". Well, wish me luck tomorrow!
Here is a picture of me with my sweet daughter, taken this spring 2006.
In the pictures I've posted so far, you have seen 3 of the 4 shirts I commonly wear on a regular basis. I don't sweat to death in them, and they cover my round tummy. Oh, and I'm a hair cameleon. I like to change the cut and style often, but that body is unmistakingly me. :)
August 21, 2006
Well, I had the consultation appointment with the doctor's nurse, Anita. I found out I'm actually scheduled to see Dr. Kevin Fisher, not Dr. Katsis as I was led to believe. They are both very kind and capable surgeons, so it doesn't put any wrinkles in my plans. She went over the "Bariatric bible", which outlines quite specifically what I will be able to eat starting the day of surgery through the first six months. She went over all the "do's" and "don'ts". Some of them are rather strange. No chewing gum again, EVER. I suppose it could be life threatening if it gets stuck in the new anatomy. She also gave me a list of the appointments I need to make, so HA! Been there, done that! They are already scheduled, so I don't have to wait 3-4 weeks to have them done. I'm rather anxious and nervous at this point. On my way to the appointment, my stomach was actually upset. I haven't felt like that since when I was in college. My stomach would always get upset on the first day of every new semester. I met another nice lady while I was at the doctor's office, and she is considering having the Gastric Band surgery. I might have just found my first "fellow surgery buddy". My head is really swimming with everything right now, and I have work to do, so I'll add more later!
August 22, 2006
I met with my surgeon today. Dr. Fisher seems to be a very warm, sweet person. He made me feel comfortable right away. He came in and shook my hand, offered me a seat, then sat down right in front of me. He went over the information I provided on the papers I had been given to fill out ahead of time, and we talked about the type of procedure I was considering, which is the Roux-en-Y. He explained the procedure to me in detail, showing me a chart all the while he talked. He answered all of my questions very patiently, and seemed to be supportive of my decision. He said he does not accept everyone as a surgical candidate, but he did agree I would be a great candidate. This is primarily due to a liver condition I have, called Focal Nodular Hyperplasia. This causes benign lesions on the liver, as well as a fatty liver which causes it to be larger than most. This is a long term threat to my health, as there is always a slight chance the lesions can become cancerous, and liver cancer never has a sunny prognosis. He seemed to think the WLS will help my liver in the long run. I'm so happy to hear it. I would really rather avoid a liver resection (removal of part of the liver) in my future! He said he would fight for approval for me on the basis of my liver alone! Thankfully, my insurance does not require pre-approval, but it will go a long way toward proving medical necessity.
Since I have the majority of my pre-tests scheduled for the first week of September, he said I may be able to schedule my surgery as soon as about 8 weeks after they are done, so I may be looking at late October or early November. That seems like a long way off now, but I know it will just speed by. On the one hand, I'm anxious to have it done right away, but on the other hand, I'm freaked out about it and in no hurry at all! I think that only demonstrates that I am sane (most of the time anyway)!
August 25, 2006
Not too much has been going on the last couple of days. Just living life and waiting for the first of my appointments to begin. I had a message from the hospital today, calling me to schedule my Cardiology exam. Of course, they called me at home (early in the day), and I was at work, so I didn't get the message until I got home from work, right before 6:00 pm, and wouldn't you know it, they close at 6:00! It ALWAYS seems to happen on a Friday, and then you have to wait the whole weekend! Oh well, it's not that I'm impatient, I'm just really curious to see how soon it will be, since my others are now only a week away. I'm hoping it isn't going to be too much past that!
It's been so hot this summer. We've been in the 100's ever since the weather started getting warm. That just isn't typical weather for Oklahoma. I mean, we are usually in the high 90's with plenty of humidity tossed in to make the air feel like you are breathing through a marshmallow, but lately, it's just been too hot to even enjoy being outside. We've begun to have some rain a couple of times in the past 2 weeks or so, and it has really been welcome. Our yard was getting so brown it was beginning to look like someone set fire to it. My poor little evergreen trees aren't so evergreen now either. I'm really hoping they aren't dead!
August 28, 2006
There hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on around here lately. I did get a call from the hospital today to schedule my Cardiology appointment. They told me the first date they had available was October 11th! I could NOT believe it! I groaned a little and said "Oh no, I need it before then". Then she asked me if I minded going to a branch of the hospital which is actually closer to my home. I said no problem, and she said "Okay, then we can see you Wednesday". WOW, I couldn't believe it. I scheduled my other appointments over two weeks ago, and they aren't until 9/5 and 9/7. I thought she was going to tell me my appointment would be sometime after that in September. Needless to say, now I'm all happy about it. I hope everyone is doing great today!
September 6, 2006
Well, I saw the cardiologist last week, and they tell me my heart looks great. I saw the pulmonologist yesterday, and my lungs and breathing are also great. I see the psychiatrist tomorrow, and they will probably tell me I'm crazy.
I am doing a pretty good job of being patient while I wait for this whole process to run it's course. I don't particularly find myself overly anxious for the surgery date. I'd like to know when it is, definitely, but I don't feel like I'm in a rush to actually have it done. I guess since I know a change is in the works, I feel at peace with my current situation. I have met a lot of really great people through OH, and gotten so much support I never expected. I want to thank everyone for that so far.
September 9, 2006
I attended the wedding of two close friends today. It was held in her parent's backyard, poolside. It was such a beautiful day, the weather was warm with a slight breeze. Of course afterward, there was a pool party. I was the only "big girl" there. All the other girls were talking about where they got their cute new swimsuit, and I was thinking to myself how I've had my swimsuit for at least 6 years or more. I'm looking forward to next summer, when I can buy a cute new swimsuit. I won't be in such a hurry to take off my towel and jump into the pool before anyone can see me! I can't imagine what that will be like! My friend who has had wls (about 3 years ago), was there and looking as cute as could be in her bathing suit.
I had my psych appt earlier this week, and it seemed to go just fine. The doctor seemed to think I wouldn't have any trouble adjusting to life after wls. I agreed with her! If she thought I was crazy, she certainly didn't say so. I didn't get the huge 600 question "quiz" some people have mentioned. She just went over the papers I had to fill out beforehand. It was information like family medical history, attempts at weight loss, supportive family members, etc. I was in there for about 35 minutes, and paid $300. Wow. I'm definitely in the wrong business!
September 21, 2006
So, it's been a few days, but not much has happened, until just recently. My surgeon's office called me Monday morning and asked me if I could come in that morning to be weighed and have some blood work done. I trotted right on down to the doctor's office, and I am 1/2 pound lighter than the last time, which is great since I got that "don't you gain ANY weight from here until surgery, or we might not do it" speech. They drew blood to test for H Pylori which measures the level of bacteria most commonly found in your stomach lining to see how prone you may be to ulcers. They also did a TSH test to check my thryoid hormone levels, and also did a liver enzyme test. Having blood drawn is always such a fun event. I have difficult veins and getting stuck is always a multiple affair. This time, however, the lab tech struck red gold on his second attempt. The first attempt is now a nasty looking dark purple bruise that has just gotten worse since Monday (it is now Thursday night). I've never had one look that bad before. My friends at work tell me I look like a junkie! Seriously though, it just isn't funny.
I spoke with the bariatric patient coordinator from my surgeon's office and she said once all my test results were in, she would schedule my surgery, and expects it to be next month, in October. That is so great. It seems so far, but more close than ever before. I am just anxious to know what date it will be so I can go on with my life and get busy making preparations. My husband and I are trying to come up with a strategy for cleaning an organizing the house prior to my surgery in order to make it easier for him to play Mr. Mom while I'm "incapacitated". He has also voiced for the first time that he is afraid to lose me and have to raise our girls on his own. On the one hand, I feel rather selfish for having made the decision to have this very dangerous surgery especially since I know the risks, but on the other hand, I'm trying to improve my life--how well I live it, and how much longer I'll be able to.
Well, I will add more as soon as there is something to add!
September 28, 2006
Well, there is not really anything new to add, but I did get an email from Tracy, the bariatric coordinator at the surgeon's office today. She said all my test results are in, and I'm ready for surgery! She is going to call me as soon as the doctor gives her his schedule and she finds me a spot! Yippee!! Now, I'm just waiting anxiously for that step!
October 3, 2006
Here I am, still waiting to hear something from the surgeon's office. It's almost like just sitting and banging your head against the wall. It's not like I have to be the very next person to have their surgery done, I just want to know WHEN so I can continue to plan my life around this as best as possible. I have a potentially very busy October so if I'm going to need to cancel some things, I'd rather know sooner than later if I need to make changes! I'm trying to be confident that one day very soon, I will get the call letting me know when it is my turn! Yippee!
October 9, 2006
Wow, I finally got that all important call today. Tracy (the bariatric coordinator) from my surgeon's office called today, happy to let me know she has a surgery date for me. It will be on Monday, October 23rd. That is the day after my 36th birthday, and only 2 weeks from today! Am I excited? YES! Am I freaked out? YES.
I called my husband to share the good news and he quickly extinguished my flame of happiness. He reminded me he has a work conference on Tues, Weds, and Thursday of that week and will need Monday to prepare for it. It is a horrible time for him because his company is putting it on, and he is a big part of it. SO, that being said, I'm going to call my surgeon's office back tomorrow and see if they can scoot it back a week. She had mentioned they also had Monday, October 30th, but I was so eager, I grabbed the first opening they had available. I don't mind waiting another week for my surgery. It will just give me a little more time to plan and prepare. Sadly, though, it is the day before Halloween, and I won't be able to take my little girls Trick Or Treating. They are both going as little Pirates this year, and their costumes are SO cute! I have never missed this event since my kids were born. I will be so sad! It is such a fun time for me each year, watching them run excitedly from house to house, ringing the bell and seeing the eager look in their eyes when the homeowner steps out with their big bowl of Halloween candy.
I try to remind myself it is just ONE Halloween, and I will have so much more energy to run around with them next year. My DH and I had joked about renting a golf cart to take them around the neighborhood, but I'm guessing that isn't such a great idea since I will only be getting out of the hospital that day!
Well, I moved my surgery to Monday, October 30th, so it looks like I'll miss trick-or-treating with my girls after all. My husband is going to take them out, while my Grandma stays at home and "babysits" me.
I am anxious, and nervous about my surgery at the same time. Even though I have given this SO much thought, and done so much research, I still have that nagging little voice at the back of my mind saying "Are you REALLY sure you want to do this?". I went to my pre-op appointment with my surgeon yesterday, which was really more of a formality than anything. Aside from the initial education seminar, it is the first appointment my husband has gone with me to. He met the surgeon and he answered all the questions we had. He explained to my husband how the procedure would be done, and what to expect for me afterward. He told me that for pain medication, I would have some type of pump where I could self medicate. He said it would be morphine, demerol, or something else. I didn't think about much else after he said morpine. To me, that seems kind of like the King Daddy of painkillers. I wonder how much pain I will actually be in. I'm sure it greatly varies from person to person. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so I will be really interested to see if that is true, or myth!
I still can't imagine myself ever being slim and trim. I tell myself I will be because gosh, just look at all the before and after pictures of everyone else who has had it done! Did they think they would ever be that thin or look that good?
A kind of funny thing happened at my support group meeting last week. We had a local plastic surgeon come to talk to us. He brought a slide show, which was pretty graphic, showing actual photographs from surgery of people having paniculectomies and brachioplasties (tummy tucks, and "bat wing" removal). A man a few rows behind me actually passed out from them. It was a teensy bit alarming, but kind of funny too. I was just glad it was a man and not a woman it happened too!
I have my pre-op appt at the hospital next Tuesday, then I start my liquid diet Wednesday. This thing just keeps getting more and more real every day!
November 2, 2006
Well, I'm home. I had my surgery on Monday, October 30th at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa OK. Everything went off without a hitch. I was going to be released the next day on Tuesday, but I asked my surgeon to let me stay an extra day, because I just wasn't feeling very steady yet. I have about 6 new holes in me. There are about 5 incision, and a hole from the drain. I can hardly allow myself to look at it, since I am easily grossed out when it comes to looking at myself! My surgeon Dr. Kevin Fisher was very nice. When my surgery was over, he went to the waiting room to speak to my family and tell them everything had gone well, and he had tested for leaks and found none.
He did say that he biopsied my liver and will want to remove part of it in 4-5 months when I have healed completely and lost 40-50 pounds. I'm so upset about this. I was really hoping that having the RNY would ultimately prevent me from needing any type of surgery on my liver. After having just spent two days in the hospital and then coming home to a rowdy, post Halloween household, I don't have a lot of pain except for gas pains. My stomach and chest are still so full of gas that it really hurts. I especially feel it when I get up from having been sitting or laying down. While I was in the hospital, there were nurses and nurse techs in and out of my room on a constant basis. They routinely checked my blood sugar levels, gave me breathing treatments, checked my blood pressure and even drew blood gasses. I wasn't too keen on that when the unfamiliar nurse stepped into my room to tell me she would be doing that. She said it was going to hurt and would likely leave a bruise. Amazingly enough, it was a real cinch. She got in there on the first try (Thank God for IV fluids), and it didn't even hurt. I also do not have a bruise as a result. I have to say the morphine pump I was on probably didn't hurt anything. I just talked to my husband about that experience, and he said she didn't get it on the first try and had to dig around a little. Thankfully, my memory of it is very different from his first-hand account!
I had shots in my stomach routinely of a blood thinner, and Pepcid shots. I was put on oxygen for my entire stay because my blood oxygen levels were low. I had a heart monitor that was kept in the front pocket of my hospital gown with 10 different wires running all over, attached to electrodes in different spots on my body. They were really careful and took such good care of me. My nurses were Janna and Teresa, and my techs were Jo and Cheryl. When I was getting ready to check out of the hospital, my tech Cheryl told me she was sorry to see me go since I was such a great patient. She was certain the next patient wouldn't be as great as me. That was awfully sweet of her to say. I noticed at different times during my stay I could hear a man yelling in the room next to me. I couldn't always make out what he was saying, but at one point I heard him yell "Get out, just get out of here!". I wonder what the heck was going on with him!
Since I've been home, things have been rather surreal. The pain medication prescribed by my surgeon came in the form of some really big horse pills! My good friend Trish rushed right out and got me a pill splitter so I could take one. So far, I've only taken the one, and don't really feel a need for another. I've had difficulty getting them down, even in small pieces. I know that I will feel stronger in the next few days. I nap a lot during the day. I get up and around and visit with my family, even sit up for hours at a time, then go back and rest for 3-4 hours. Last night I could not get comfortable in the bed. I am a side sleeper, and the surgery pretty much demands that you sleep on your back for a while. I finally got up around 4:00 am and went and slept on our recliner. It felt a lot better on my back and stomach to be sitting up to a degree. Well, I'm ready to turn in again, this time for the night, but I'll add more soon.