Friday, May 20, 2011

Over Anticipating Results

I've said this before but I always end up feeling let down from the scale related goals I set for myself. It's been better than other weight loss attempts, but I can't say it's all motivation and willpower. (Thank you Sleevie!)

My first goal passed this past weekend. I took a business trip and wanted to be 220. I ended up at 222.8 which isn't bad but the truth to making a ton of goals ahead of time is that if you miss one goal it's only going to be more difficult to catch up.

One of the things I've found with surgery is patience that I didn't have before. Perhaps this is me maturing, but I have a hunch it's more that I know the surgery will make me successful. I have to work at it but in the months out from surgery it's fairly difficult to not do well.

It's my fear of this complacent mindset that has kept me going the past few weeks to break out of my norm and start adopting healthy habits and challenge myself. I sort of see it as a race between New Me an Old Me to see who is strongest.

I think we can all agree that once you start sneaking things on a fitness or nutrition plan is the beginning of the end. What may be a small setback for most people can lead to self hatred and bad decisions on a grand scale for others (ie ME!)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Have a Hole In My Life (Not In My Stomach)

Are you genuinely hungry for food or are you looking for a hobby?

Ever since surgery I've felt like I've had a lot of time on my hands. I had a solid week off work after surgery and while juggling getting in nutrients was time consuming I really wished there was something else to entertain myself

Before surgery I always felt that the constant eating was trying to fill a hole I had in my life. I wasn't happy with who I was and had a feeling of dispair, change seemed so difficult. I turned to food and because of my uneven sugar levels got into a bad habit of making bad decisions when it came to what I was putting into my body.

When I look back at the time I spent focusing on food I can see how the surgery has made me a better employee, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.

I no longer think about food non-stop in the way I did before surgery. Now I make sure I am getting the nourishment I need and plan what I take with me around that. When I run errands I run errands, I don't plan on what I'm doing when based on fast food options. It's a life changer.

Personally, I try to be artistic really hard but it's just not in the cards for me. Photography is my outlet. It helps me slow things down and notice the smaller things. I may not be the best, but it keeps me busy. This blog is another outlet and I've been spotty with fitness as of late but the gym will be another source of energy and positive reinforcement so I can reach my goal.

So to anyone who is looking to lose weight, regardless of whether you are a WLS patient or not, I implore you to see if there's something missing in your life. If you are, what is it? What might help you fill what's missing? Will food help you in the long run? Will eating your trigger food make you feel better than a workout?

Support Groups: The Key To Success

I have Kaiser Permanente health insurance which is unique in the industry where it acts as the insurance company and the doctor's offices. As a part of my pre-op education I completed a 24 week educational course. Post-operatively there are support groups to reinforce positive behaviors and to give patients the feeling of togetherness.

I went to my first session last week and was impressed. There ended up being 4 other people there and the social worker in the Options program. We spent the first half talking about addiction which was the topic of the evening and the second half was opened up to general questions and comments regarding post-op life.

The surgically altered pouches ranged in age from a few weeks (me!) to three years. As someone fresh out it was encouraging to see people 1-3 years out because they look so normal. You would never know they struggled with their weight for decades. Looking at it from the other side, I'm sure it's a refresher to look at people like me to see where they used to be and how their current lifestyle has changed their lives.

Alternative Support Avenues
Different surgeons and hospitals have their own support groups. To find one in your area please contact your surgeon's office because there may also be surgical support groups for the general public, as well.

If you do not have access to an in-person support group or you do not want to attend one then the internet has a wealth of information. There is a larger volume of people offering support and advice can be more forthcoming and prompt compared to a surgeon's office where they haven't had the surgery. Of course, every surgeon is different so make sure you follow your protocol and contact a physician with any serious matters.

Every forum is different so you may need to try multiple ones until you find home. Some that I have found include:
In addition, I've also been able to connect to fellow patients via Twitter. To find people you can search for keywords. Using the hashtag symbol (#) can also narrow down your searching, as well.

Other informational sources include YouTube, podcasts (I highly recommend Bariatric TV), blogs, and books.

Some blogs I frequent include:

Got a BodyMedia Fit!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter ( know that I won a contest BodyMedia put on for Mother's Day. While my mom technically won the BodyMedia Fit, she is contemplating taking my Bodybugg instead since I'll most likely be entering her information anyways. After playing around with the BodyMedia's interface I'm hoping I get the new toy!

I posted a video on my YouTube Channel ( comparing the differences between BodyMedia's BodyMediaFit and the Bodybugg. Neither model I compare has bluetooth wireless technology.

With hands on experience with both devices I really like the BodyMedia Fit, even though it's the same hardware the interface is more intuitive and user friendly. I also love that it has mobile apps for Android and Apple. Having a Spring Android Device the tech g33k in me loves the ID pack o'widgets, as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sushi and My Sleeve

Since I have had fears that I had stretched my sleeve and it was irreparably damaged I decided to go with firmer soft foods today.

I love sushi. I used to go to sushi and down roll after roll of rice and shrimp tempura. My favorite roll is a rainbow roll wrapped in soy paper instead of rice. I could probably eat a dozen of those if I had the funds when I was pre-op.

Today I ate 3 pieces of one roll and am so stuffed I cannot believe it. Just one of life's little miracles.

Non-Number Related Goals

Even though my last post included my number related goals doesn't mean that I discount how I feel or what changes weight loss, no matter the number, has on my day-to-day functioning. 

Above is the signature I am currently using on the WLS forums. I of course have other goals, but some of my non-scale related goals are:
  1. To be able to comfortably cross my legs
  2. Stand up on my feet for long periods of time
  3. To shop at normal stores (and not have to go to the back of the rack)
  4. Fly without fear (and extra room in my seat)
  5. Be cute on Halloween (okay, slutty)
  6. Feel like I'm in my 20s!
  7. Look forward to reunions
Achieving these things will help me transform into the person I know is waiting inside, but more on that later. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hefty Goals

With so many failed weight loss attempts and knowledge that weight fluctuations are normal I am hesitant to post my weight related goals. However, I couldn't resist when I was looking at the spreadsheet I use to track my weight and all of the things I have planned for the year.

I understand I will have stalls and have ups and downs, but I'm looking forward to a year where I am bound to come fairly close to my goals!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heard From My Surgeon

I also heard from my surgeon yesterday evening. He said that starting on soft foods when I did was fine. He let me know that tuna may be on the soft foods list but I may want to wait until the next phase (fish) to consume it because it can be dry. I'll go ahead and start that when I finish the tuna that came in my tuna wrap I had for lunch yesterday.

He did say I can have baby shrimp so I am looking forward to buying some this week to eat. Overall I think I may be a bit dehydrated and that may be giving me hunger pangs. I'm getting in about 40 oz of water and 10 oz of protein shake so I'm nowhere near the 80-100 oz I drank before surgery.

Today I had about 10 oz of protein shake, a cup of French Onion Soup (4 oz at lunch, 4 oz at dinner), a teaspoon of spinach souffle, and a tablespoon of tuna which is just about 300 calories. Not exactly like I'm gorging myself. I don't stuff myself so I'm just giving myself blind faith that everything is okay and I am normal :)

Infected Incision Sites

Yep, the incision sites are getting a little infected. I went to Urgent Care yesterday after work and got an oral antibiotic. The doctor there said I can keep using Benadryl. I also still think part of it could be skin irritation.

I started antibiotics today and the sites are essentially cool to the touch and haven't itched as much. Goes to show that you know your body and you have to trust instincts.

I also couldn't believe that there were so few Google Images of infected laproscopic incisions! If anyone has any problems let me know and I can send you pics of what mine looked like. Otherwise, I don't want to ruin your appetites.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Post-Op Fears

I am extremely thankful that I have been on the online forums for so long since I've read hundreds of posts from people who think they are broken or have ruined everything. The primary reason I am glad to have seen these posts is that I have found it to be a constant fear for me post-operatively.

I realize it probably only means I am healing, but cold chills went down my spine last week when I went from being stuffed with a half of a Jello cup to being able to eat the whole thing in less than 20 minutes. I know that is a good thing, I need to be able to eat my protein and get the nutrients I need from food to be healthy. However, it was scary to be feeling hungry still at that point. And I think I am also starting to get hungry.

It's not the tear-your-head-off-if-I-don't-get-a-burger-right-now kind of hunger but I do feel it more now that I am 2 weeks out.

Other panics I've had this week include the bruise that showed up Wednesday night and now some redness around my incision sites (I'm starting to ice them now and that seems to be making it better).

I also had a tiff with my surgeon's nurse because I was following the protocol they gave me back in November. I was told soft foods could start last Sunday and the tuna sat fine in my belly but I called in to make sure it was okay and she basically said I could have ruined eveything. She also sort of laughed at my concern over my bruise. We aren't off to a great start. She basically said to only eat soft foods like soup for another month until I see the doctor and then backtracked on what soft food was even though it's all listed as the same thing in the manual. Never heard from the doctor and I called to follow-up with him...

I come from a long line of worriers, while I would prefer we were warriors I think that the worries are encouraging a healthy caution when it comes to surgery.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Post-Operative WLS Lower Abdominal Bruising

Woke up and noticed this bruise for the first time on my lower left abdomen for the first time. I'm sure it's been there for a few days but  has gone unnoticed since I mainly look at my incision sites.

This discovery obviously caused a bit of alarm. Looking online it seems that it's probably from the heparin shots they gave me in my belly at the hospital but I'm double checking with my surgeon today. This is also the side I use to get out of bed and I've woken up sleeping on this side so I'm sure everything's fine. Will update the post when I know more.

Update: talked to my surgeons staff and she sort of giggled at me like I should obviously assume it was ok which makes me question the staff. However, I take it as a good sign that maybe she is asked this many times and everything is ok. Waiting on a call from my surgeon regarding a food matter from yesterday so we shall see

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food Porn

No not that kind of porn, though I am too scared to Google the term to see what fetish sites I might find.<-- The Blogger Analytics should also be interesting ;)

Whenever I start a weight loss journey (yes there have been many) I start watching Food Network and now Cooking Channel quite a bit. (I also love Sam the Cooking Guy!) My family thinks I'm tortuing myself but the fact is that I get really into trying to cook when I want to regain my health. I'm admittedly not skilled in the kitchen, but there's no doubt that professional chefs have honed their craft and their art form is beautiful. 

When I watch cooking shows I look at the passion on the host's face, their knife skills, techniques, what ingredients go together, etc. I can't wait until I can eat and prepare more of the things I see.


Artifical Sweeteners and Food Additives

Thank you to Jamie Oliver and his Food Revolution team! A few weeks ago with surgery ahead of me I stocked up on products touted on the weight loss surgery (WLS) forums. As with any "diet" or weight loss protocol most people use sugar free products. This is in part due to the fact that gastric bypass patients may "dump" if they have too much sugar.

After the first season of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution (on ABC) I tried to implement fresher ingredients and watching the first 2 episodes in the last 2 days has reinforced that principle. The first season he made an example of chicken byproducts, in the season premier of Season 2 he described pink slime which concerns the processing of beef...trash.

But back to natural products. A few days after surgery I made the decision to purchase full sugar products. Obviously immediate post-op foods are not healthy or natural - Jello Cups, puddings, etc. However, I decided if I need to eat that type of products for the first 2 weeks that I am not eating enough volume to justify the use of artificial sweetener.

A couple days out from using the artificially sweetened products I feel better. I notice that much of the gas that I thought I had was actually my body rejecting the additives. One of the things that attracted me to surgery is that it encourages the intake of animal proteins and healthy carbohydrates. I will be able to eat bad things eventually, without a doubt. However, I had surgery to become a better healthier person which a balanced nutritious diet will help me obtain.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Hospital Experience

Surgery Tuesday went very well. I didn't know what to expect since I've never had surgery but my mom gave a fairly accurate portrayal of what was to come.

I was very impressed with the hospital and it's staff. They kept me for 3 days which sounded like a long time but ended up being perfect. When I was to have my surgery done with Kaiser they were going to kick me out the day after and I can't imagine trying to make the car ride home feeling like I did the day after.

The hospital has a Very Special Person program which allows significant others or family members to stay with you in your room overnight or past visiting hours. I was fortunate enough to have a private room so my mom could be my VSP. She ended up staying at my sister's but she could stay later and still used the cot to rest on when she was visiting.

Tuesday April 12th (Surgery Day)
I woke up at 2:30am to use my antibacterial scrub and get on the road to San Diego. I did my best to nap knew I'd have plenty of time for rest in the coming days so I did my best to listen to my mom's experience with her multiple surgeries over the years.

We were supposed to be at the hospital no later than 5:00am but got there more like 4:30am so we sat in the car for a bit and talked. We headed in around 4:50 behind a woman and her husband, the woman was to have surgery at the same time as me. We got to the surgery check-in and found it empty so we waited to be called in.

My mom was right about many things, once I went back they weighed me, let me go to the bathroom one last time, and told me to change into a hospital gown, socks, and thin leg coverings to protect my legs from the compression garments I would have to wear post-op.

As I suspected it took the nurse a few tries to find my dehydrated veins, I stopped counting around 4 tries but we finally found a good spot in my left hand which helped me make sure I didn't rip anything out in the coming days.

Once they had the IV drip in my parents were called back and we briefly saw my surgeon and the anesthesiologist. I still wasn't nervous at this point. Actually if anyone asked me what I was feeling I was going to be honest and say hungry! I was even joking with my mom that they were monitoring my heart beat because whenever my grandmother goes to the ER she tells us it was serious because they put something on her finger.

When they were ready to take me back a nurse wheeled me in and it was like a big ride to the OR. I saw he was wearing a Bodybugg and was amazed when this lean and fit nurse told me he had undergone gastric bypass 3 years ago.

Once in the OR they moved me to the operating table and they started putting me into anesthesia and I barely remember anything more.

I woke up in recovery with reminders from the staff to breathe when I would hear beeping from the monitors behind me.  One man named John had a lot of difficulty with this because I kept on hearing the nurses yelling reminders at him. I was fairly out of it at this point but remember I was in a bit of pain and confused but gladly accepted anti-nausea and pain medications when asked if I needed them.

I next woke up when I was getting to my room. Scripps Mercy has a program that allows a Very Special Person to stay in the room with you which also grants you a private room. Score one for me. I woke up and my parents were there and I was going in and out. I was hooked up to a pain pump and from my mom's advice became well acquainted with it. I know my sister came and we visited but I really was not entertaining for my family that first day. I also had leg compression garments on that basically massaged the blood around in my legs to avoid blood clots. It was like being at Brookstone with good drugs.

Luckily I was fairly mobile, I was woozy on my feet but made a few laps around the ward which was marked as 1/16 of a mile. It is important to get on your feet after surgery so even though I didn't feel like it I made a couple of attempts to move around. To keep my mouth moist they gave me lemon flavored swabs.

My sister and her girls came by to pick my mom up and I showed them everything medical. My 8 yr old niece is very interested in medical things right now so she took an interest in what was going on. 

That night my night nurse needed to change my pain pump at midnight. I knew that it only administers medicine at specific doses over a certain time but she made me feel like a junkie. I'm sure she was trying to determine if I needed anything stronger but she insinuated that the amount of meds I had gone through would have been appropriate for a bed ridden open procedure.

This was the only service issue I had at the hospital, I would press the call button and nobody would come in. I was unhooking myself to go walk and go to the bathroom but by my last spin around I was so dizzy and nauseous I sort of laid halfway in the bed until someone came to check my vitals.

Wednesday April 13th
I started to ween myself off of my pain pump and overnight and in the early morning got very nauseous. I was afraid it was from the lack of pain meds but after going to the support group they hold on weekdays there I realized it was from the anesthesia and the pain meds were blocking the nausea. I immediately started hitting the green button on my pump as often as possible and put myself to sleep most of the time.

I was literally dry heaving when physical therapy was talking to me about the support group meeting and have to credit my mom for dragging my butt to the session. The coin it as a exercise class which is true but it was great to see people felt as awful as I did and hear the people who had surgery on Monday tell me that was them the day before. I literally puked in a washcloth on my way back to my room. 

I wasn't hungry in the least but savored the ice chips they gave me. The instructions was 1 oz per hour which I fell short of. Amazing to think that I did liquids Monday and ate nothing on Tuesday!

I spent much of Wednesday in and out of consciousness but was feeling better by the evening when my sister, her husband, and the girls stopped by.

By then I had a routine where I would put myself to sleep after my mom left at 8:30pm and then I would wake up around 11pm for a round of walking. It was hard to keep count but I tried to do about a mile every time I did a round. The night staff would be cluttering the hallways but not many people would be walking around that time of night. I would then start to knock myself out again and they would take my vitals around midnight.

By Wednesday night I was unhooking and rehooking myself up to the machinery myself unless my mom was with me. I was a model patient.

Thursday April 14th
By Thursday everything was routine. I always had new nurses but everyone was very friendly after that first night. I only used my pain pump a few times to knock myself out but read, played on my iPad, and watched TV most of the day. I even snuck out to take a walk while my mom was napping.

I also got to take a shower which was heaven. I wish I had had my own products but it was great nonetheless.

The support group was great, I could do more of the moves (look up non-stripper chair dancing exercises and you get the drift). I then got to be the reassuring face encouraging the Wednesday surgery patients on.

When I was walking the halls there were actually 3 ladies making their rounds that had not been at the meetings but had surgery the same day as me. I actually had not seen them up and walking around either which seemed strange to me.

They have me Hawaiian Punch and chicken broth to drink which I was told to drink an once of every hour. The Hawaiian Punch didn't really make sense since it's loaded with sugar but it tasted good. The broth was okay but they have me a huge cup of it and I drank it cold except for the first "dose" I had. In all I probably had 4 oz of broth and 4 oz of punch.

Friday April 15th
Happy discharge day to me! This was the day when I sad F-It and started hitting my pain pump to enjoy the naps before my dad came to get me. They gave me Jello and it was okay. I felt great but was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep once I got home.

 I also got kudos for attending a third exercise class.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some puddings and soft foods. I was really craving chocolate but was put on clear liquids through Saturday. Instead I had a sugar free popsicle as soon as I got home. My mom made me some broth and I ate about 3-4 oz of that as well.

I actually slept well at home. I propped myself up and was able to fall asleep at night without a problem.

Saturday April 16th
I took it easy on Saturday and worked on the computer some, caught up on some TV, and tried to move around. I was tempted to try a chocolate protein shake but I don't want to push my limits or risk my new sleeved stomach so I decided to wait.

Against my better judgment I weighed myself and it appears I have lost 12 pounds since surgery!

Sunday April 17th.
I ran errands with my parents today to San Clemente and Home Depot and still had energy afterwards. I drank a few ounces of protein shake in the morning and was completely stuffed when I had 60% of a pudding cup for lunch. At this point I'm buying more full sugar or no sugar added products, sugar free is great for people who may dump with the bypass but I don't want to become reliant on unnatural sweeteners which really aren't good for your body anyways.

I finished the pudding cup and had some more protein shake for dinner. 

I took an afternoon nap and watched TV the rest of the evening.

I have no regrets regarding surgery. When I get hunger pains they usually go away on their own or are easily solved. I do, however, get a panic at those moments and when I sometimes wake up on my side in pain during the night I have damaged the staples. I think they must be more resilient than that, but I went through a lot to get surgery and want to do what I can to honor it.

At this point I'm not pushing the soft foods I can have because I don't want to grow tired of them. Instead, I'm relishing my pudding cups and protein shakes knowing that soups, eggs, and tuna are all possibilities. 

I have 5 incision sites that are very small. They were actually covered by band-aids post-op and my surgeon removed them on Friday. Now there are strips of surgical tape holding them in place but they are beginning to fall off. They are almost more like zits than open wounds which is very exciting.

At the hospital my sugar levels were all over the place. I was pleased that my fasting glucose was 93 on Monday and before surgery it had dropped to 78 from the clear liquids. I've run as high as 105 and 99 is technically the cut off for having Type 2 Diabetes as opposed to being pre-diabetic.

They pumped some sugar in my IV during surgery so my levels were dropping from 150 back down to the 90s during my hospital stay. As of now I am off of my metformin which is a big relief to me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Surgery Tomorrow

Even though it's 2 years in the making it seems like surgery has crept up on me. Despite the frustration and everything I have had to do to get to this point, it's finally coming together. It's very surreal really.

I spent all of last week working a highly stressful conference. It was my intention to do all liquids but that idea quickly went out the door. However, thanks in large part to room service not having potato skins, I made it through the week and even lost 3 pounds.

I went to Kaiser and had my labs drawn this morning, shopped for robes and slippers at Target and Kohl's and made it to San Diego for my pre-op appointment.

The nurse gave me my spirometer and surgical scrub and it's all becoming a reality.

I was on all clear liquids today, I ate 3 chicken bullion cubes worth of soup, 3 sugar free Jello cups (strawberry), and 3 tablespoons of milk of magnesia. I guess I know my lucky number now!

I thought I might perhaps be nervous for surgery but to be honest I'm still exhausted from my trip and this has been a long time coming. I can only look forward to what the future holds.