Tag Archives: weightloss

What Is Gastric By-Pass Surgery Exactly?

So, I have had some questions lately from friends.  Some people have asked me to describe what is involved in a gastric by-pass surgery.  Not what I have to do to get ready, but what the doctor actually does to your insides that helps you eat less and thus lose weight.  I have also had people who are considering different procedures and ask my opinion, because you know, I’m an expert, right?

OK, you can stop laughing now.

But seriously, unless you are researching gastric by-pass surgeries because you want to have one, you may not be aware of what actually happens when the doctor performs the surgery.  I know I was not aware.  And if you are considering the surgery, the best thing to do is to reach out to people who have had one of the procedures and ask questions.  Each procedure is different and each person reacts differently to the results after the surgery.  Oh and yes, there are several different types of gastric surgeries one can consider.

I want to spend some time today discussing some of the different surgeries and the doctor does.  I will also include some YouTube videos and other links that will describe the surgeries better than I can.  This post might be kind of long.

What is Gastric By-Pass Surgery?

Gastric By-pass surgery is when a surgeon somehow creates a much smaller stomach and re-routes your digestive track to that smaller stomach.  This will help an obese overeater eat less and help them lose weight.  There are several ways to achieve this smaller stomach.

The surgery can either be an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery.   An open surgery is exactly what it sounds like.  This is a traditional surgery where the doctor makes a long incision to operate.  A laparoscopic surgery is when a series of small incisions are made and tiny surgical tools are used to perform the surgery.

The different types of Bariatric surgeries are the Roux-en Y gastric by-pass, the lapband, the gastric sleeve, the lapband and gastric sleeve combo, and the duodenal switch.  The Mayo Clinic has an excellent site with pictures and vivid descriptions of each of these surgeries, but I will give a brief description here.

Roux-en Y Gastric By-Pass

This is the surgery where a small pouch is made and the rest of the stomach is cut off and then the intestines are rerouted to the small pouch.  An alternate version of this is to staple the larger stomach off from the pouch.  This is the surgery that I had.

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This YouTube video further describes the procedure if you’re interested.  It is not graphic and does not show a live surgery, but uses pictures to show what he doctor does.  I could not watch videos of live surgeries.   Too gross for me.

The Lapband

The lapband is when a small band is used to create the small pouch instead of stapling.  Sometimes the larger part of the stomach is reduced to create a gastric sleeve.  There are a couple of different bands.  One is a metal band that stays in your stomach.  The other is an adjustable band that occasionally needs to be filled back up with fluid to keep it firmly tight around the pouch.

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Gastric Sleeve

A gastric sleeve is when part of the stomach is removed to create a smaller narrow sleeve type stomach.  This can be done on its own or in combination with the lapband.

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Duodenal Switch

This is the most drastic surgery.  Usually, the stomach is left in tact or this procedure can be done in combination with gastric sleeve and the digestive tract is rerouted to by-pass most of the intestines.  This is very drastic.

I am not very good at describing this surgery, so I am going to refer you to the YouTube video and the link I provided above.  This was not a surgery that I wanted to have.  Too drastic for me.

These are the primary procedures.  Each surgeon has their own speciality.  You will need to work with your surgeon to decide which procedure is best for you.

Advice

As far as my advice, I am happy to listen to anyone who wants to ask questions.  I will happily answer them.  If you have decided you definitely want one of these procedures, great.  I have all kinds of advice and ideas.

If you are on the fence, my advice is to think about this some more.  Go back to the drawing board.  Talk to your doctor.  Join a gym, try a new diet plan.  Buddy-up with a friend.  Seek counseling.  Join a support group.  Try to lose weight the traditional way through diet and exercise.  Do not rush into a procedure because you feel helpless.

If after you feel you have tried everything and you feel surgery is your best option, go for it.  Just remember, the surgery is a tool, not necessarily the answer.  You will still have all of the problems you had before the surgery.  The desire to eat or overeat is still there.  Any depression or self-doubt persists.  Laziness is still a problem.  So, unless you are willing make those changes as well, the surgery will just be one more, albeit very expensive and drastic, short-term fix.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets.  I learned a lot about myself and my health, both physically and mentally, through this process.  I am glad I did it.  I could not, however, have done this before I was ready.

The Big Five-O

Nope I’m not talking about age nor the Book’em Danno type either.  I have passed a major milestone in my weight loss.  I have exceed the 50 pound mark for a total of 51 pounds lost.

I can hardly believe it.  I do feel a lot different.  I am also wearing a smaller size now.  I’m down from 26/30 to a solid 24.  Pretty soon, I will be packing up some clothes to give away.

Today I finished my Christmas shopping.  I had been nearly done for quite a while.  I just had to pick up a couple of things to round out the shopping.

I’m excited about Christmas this year.  Maybe it’s because I’m feeling so much better than I have in years.  All my presents are wrapped and under the tree and Christmas cards mailed out.  Tomorrow, I am making a special Christmas treat for some of my friends and family to hand out as gifts as well.  I’ll share more about that treat once I have them done and I’ve given out a few gifts.

Anyway,  I am tired today after all of the shopping and gift wrapping.  I will leave you with a photo of my tree with the presents under it. IMG_1168

OMG They So Totally Fit!!

So, a few weeks ago I think I said that I ordered a couple of pair of jeans online.  My old pants, ranging in sizes 26-28 are too big and really starting to fall off of me. I ordered two pairs of jeans, sized 24 short.  (Yes, I’m short.  I’m 5’1″.)  I have been very concerned that they would be too small.

It’s one thing to have your current clothes feel roomy and slide off of you.  It’s quite another to comfortably fit into the next smaller size.

Well, I tried on both pair and they both fit perfectly.  I never thought I’d be so happy to fit into a size 24, but I am so happy to fit into a size 24!  For one thing, it increases the number of pants that actually fit me properly from zero to two.  But they are also 1.5 – 2 sizes smaller than the pants I was wearing before.

Whoo hoo!

I also bought a very snug support garment for my top from Spanx.  Wow, what a difference that makes!  The Spanx top also offers a little more support than the binding garment they gave me at the hospital, plus it is a lot less bulky.

Tonight is the Christmas party for my writer’s group and I will be donning my new and improved jeans, my Spanx top and a size 24 blouse as well.  Yay me!  (Although, that’s probably more information than they wanted to know.)

Oh, and btw…check out my new weight loss!  46 pounds down baby!

New jeans:

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A New Milestone

So, since the surgery, I have been wearing the same clothes I was wearing before the surgery.  Before the surgery, I mostly wore a size 28/30, depending on the style.

Well, today I am wearing a size 26 blouse that I have not been able to wear for quite a while.  I also tried on a couple of size 24 blouses I have hanging in my closet.  I was able to button all of them.  I tried them on before the surgery, and I could not.  A couple were still quite snug once buttoned, but more than one fit me pretty well after being buttoned.  I’m not sure that I am ready to wear them just yet.

When I tried the blouses on, I was not wearing the binder that I still have to wear.  I have been wearing a support garment since the surgery.  The binder is a bit bulky and I still need a little extra room under my clothing for now.  Once I get the clearance from the surgeon to stop wearing the binder, I will probably still wear something under my clothing for support.  I have a pair of Spanx, and I will probably buy a couple more.  The support is actually kind of helpful as my muscles continue to heal.  I’ve noticed that if I take the binder off for a couple of hours, my muscles in my abdomen and back start to hurt.

It was nice to try on the size 24 blouses and button them.  I know that before surgery, I could not even do that much.  I know that probably in the next few weeks, I will be wearing them.  I’m not ready get rid of my size 28-30 clothing yet, especially while I’m wearing the support garment.  I still feel that I can wear them comfortably without feeling as if they are ridiculously too big for me yet.  Once I move from the binding garment to Spanx or some other kind of support garment, I probably will be ready to toss that clothing.

On another note, I did go to the surgeon’s office this week.  I met with the nurse about my progress so far.  I told her all of my ups and downs with the diet, drinking fluids, taking vitamins, etc.  She is so wonderful.  She had the surgery herself 17 years ago, so she really knows first hand some of the things I’m going through.

She was happy to hear I had a menstrual cycle.  She did tell me they may become more frequent now that I am losing weight.  She’s told me this before, so I was not surprised.  I told her about some constipation I’ve been having.  She is convinced that I am not getting enough fluids.  I think she is probably right.  So, I’ve spent the past two days just drinking water like crazy.  The other day I was up until almost 1:00am to make sure I met the daily water requirements.  I have to say, it has really helped.  I will spare you all the details, but I am feeling much better.

Overall, the nurse felt that I am right on track.  I’ve lost 40 pounds.  I look much better.  I feel much better.  I’m walking a lot.  I can walk much, much farther than I have been able to in the past couple of years.  My back feels better.  My breathing has improved.  So many good things.  She really commented on how I looked.  She said that my face has really opened up.

Well, I guess now is a good time to post a current picture of me.  Just as a reminder, this is what I looked like before the surgery.  This is a picture of me and my baby sister at her wedding.

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Here is me today:

 

Photo on 2012-12-01 at 12.21

 

I just took this on my laptop, so this is as recent as we can get.  My hair is still a little wet, and obviously I need a haircut.  Not to mention, I’d like to get my hair colored again.  The grey is getting crazy.

What do you think?  Do you see any difference?

 

 

 

A New Low

So, I weighed myself today and I hit a new milestone.  I’m down 40 pounds.  I was a little bit pleasantly surprised.  It has been more than a week since I lost anything and it seems as if my weightloss has slowed down.

I think some of the slow down is natural.  I also think some of it had to do with the return of my period.  So, now that I have completed my cycle, I decided to see if there was any difference today, and there was.  Today, I weighed in at 258 pounds.

Tomorrow I go to the doctor and will get an official doctor’s office weigh-in so, I would say that this number is tentative until I am weighed on the doctor’s scale.

I’ll take it anyway, though!  🙂

Home At Last

So, I convinced my sister to bring me home yesterday.  I was just getting too antsy not being at home.  I am doing a lot better.  I still cannot do anything strenuous, bend over too much, or lift anything over 5 pounds, but I was ready to come home.  It was so nice to sleep in my own bed.

I will not be alone for long.  My friend is coming into town this weekend.  He will be here Saturday morning.  We went to college together a million years ago.  My niece calls him Uncle Junkle.  Well, OK she called him that once when she was about 1 1/2 or 2 years old.  Now WE call him Uncle Junkle.  She varies between calling him Uncle Jerry or Uncle Junkle.  She loves him because he gives her piggy-back rides and is entirely too silly.  Oh to be 4 years old.

I weighed myself again and I am down to 265 as of yesterday am.  I did not weigh myself today.  I cannot get into the habit of weighing myself every day because I just get too crazy about the numbers on the scale.  I have to concentrate on other things.  I am feeling better and moving around easier.

I started to get some of my Christmas decorations out today and got caught up in cleaning my closet.  I didn’t lift anything, I just ended up sitting on the floor with a garbage bag in hand cleaning out boxes and throwing things away.  I threw out the cardboard boxes, but I’m leaving the bags of trash for Uncle Junkle to take down to the trash room for me since I’m not supposed to lift them.  He doesn’t know it yet, but I have many projects for him when he gets here.  Hey, we single girls gotta put those guy friends to work, right?

I got the Christmas decorations out though and I’ve started wiping them off so that I can put them out for the holiday.  Most of them probably won’t make it up until after Thanksgiving, which is good.  I generally do not start getting things ready until after T Day, but I figure since I’m home alone with nothing to do, I might as well do something.  I think this year I’m going to buy a small sparkly tree.  I haven’t had a tree or lights in years.  I want something festive this year and I think a nice sparkly tree will do the trick quite nicely.

 

What do you think?  Yes?

 

ONE

One more day.  Tomorrow is it.  My gastric by-pass surgery.

I have been thinking about everything I have been through this past year since I made the decision to get serious about dealing with my weight and all of the connected health related problems that I have.

A year ago, these medical problems were either completely untreated or not really under control:

  • Volatile high blood pressure that despite my efforts to control it, was still running on the mid-high side.
  • Severe sleep apnea.
  • Stress levels that were out of control.
  • Borderline to high cholesterol.
  • I ate out for nearly every meal.
  • I did not even think about exercising.
  • I have asthma that was sort of controlled.

In other words, I was going down a very dangerous path.  I said in an earlier post that it was a prescription for an early death.

Since seeing a gastric by-pass surgeon, I have changed quite a bit of what I was doing.

  • I saw two gastric by-pass doctors before my friend directed me towards my new doctor.
  • I stopped eating out for every meal.
  • I underwent a sleep study.
  • I use a c-pap machine and my apnea is now controlled.
  • I’ve been taken off of one of my high blood pressure medications.  Now the medication I do take keeps me at a normal level on a consistent basis.
  • My cholesterol is 151.
  • I’ve met with a nutritionist who helped guide my food choices.
  • I am eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • I’ve dealt with some of the other things that were causing me undo stress.
  • I’ve had a stress test.
  • And I’ve had many other tests to make sure I am healthy for surgery.
  • I lost about 10 pounds.

I feel better.  I feel rested.  I’m more positive.  And I feel that I am ready for this surgery.  Granted, I’m still not exercising at the level I would like. I can and will correct that after surgery.  I want to get my triglyceride level down to normal levels, raise my good cholesterol levels, and continue to lower my bad cholesterol levels.  Obviously, I want to lose weight.  I also need to bring my sugar levels down some too.  All of this will happen after the surgery once the serious weight loss begins.

Making the decision to have the surgery was not an easy one.  I did not originally want  do this.  I invested a lot of time and thought into the decision and finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted to live a drastically different life, I had to make some drastically different choices.

There are definitely some things I did not want to do.  I did not want to do the sleep study.  I did not want to sleep with a c-pap machine.  I have to admit that when I was told that I needed a c-pap machine and that I would have to take my c-pap machine to the hospital for the surgery, I was unhappy.  I do not know why, but the idea of carrying a medical machine into the hospital really turned me off.  I thought the machine would be much bigger than it was.  Part of my fear was the machine would be much bigger than it was and I really do not have the strength or ability to haul around medical equipment.  I also did not relish wearing a mask every night.

The truth is The c-pap machine is small.  Sleeping with the mask is an inconvenience, but being well rested is something I would not change.  Controlling my sleep apnea has helped lower my blood pressure and improved many other health related problems that I have.  Now, I’m glad I did it and I’m not afraid to carry my small c-pap machine into the hospital tomorrow.

Like I said, this was not an easy decision, but I knew I had to do something.  I want a better life than the one I am leading now.  The only way to do that is to make some serious changes in the way I live.  I am glad I made those changes.  While I am nervous about my surgery, anxious about the changes to come, and sad that there are some food that I love that I may never be able to eat again, I do not regret the decision.

I thank all of my blog followers, friends, and family who have stuck with me up to this point.  I am grateful for all of the well wishes and support I have received.  I hope you’ll stay with me now as the real food changes and weight loss begins and the new healthier Colleen starts to take shape.  As my baby sister called it the other day on the phone, get ready for Colleen 2.0.

Three

Three more days.  I have to admit that I am getting very nervous.  This past Thursday I noticed that some  of the anxiety I experienced a few weeks ago was starting to rear its ugly head again.  I was not as crippled by that anxiety as I was the last time I wrote about it, but I was definitely feeling tense.  I recognized it right away, started talking about it, and started taking some action.

I know that it is normal to be nervous before any surgery, especially one  that will be as life-changing as a gastric by-pass.   My challenge is to not let that nervousness prevent me from doing what I need to do to get ready for the surgery.  There is no chance in my mind that my nervousness will prevent me from going through with the surgery.  I have come too far to turn back now.

I want this change.  I need this change.  I just know that I cannot continue to live the way I have been.  Being morbidly obese is difficult.  It is painful.  It is killing me.  I have dangerously too many symptoms that could eventually materialize as heart disease.  My feet and legs hurt a lot much of the time.  My back constantly hurts and makes walking and standing difficult if not nearly impossible. Being morbidly obese is not a prescription for living.  It is a prescription for an early death.

I want to live.

Mixed Bag

So, some of the test results are rolling in.  I talked to my primary doctor at the end of the day Monday.

It turns out, my vitamin D levels are woefully below acceptable levels.  This is not good.  I am sure that part of the problem is that I do not drink milk.  I am allergic to milk, so I am very good about staying away from all milk products.  The problem is, I do not get enough vitamin D.4 She did give me some suggestions on other foods rich in vitamin D that I need to start eating more of.  She also wants me to start immediately taking vitamin D supplements, 2,000mg per day!  But after I told the surgeon’s office this news today, they wrote a prescription for a mega dose of 50,000mg.

Good news, cholesterol still 151.  This is very good.  Bad cholesterol starting to come down.  Good cholesterol needs to be higher.  Triglycerides, still crazy high.  I’m still trying to get that number under control.  I do not want to take medicine to lower my triglycerides, but if I have to, I guess I must.

One of the things I am being tested for is the H Pylori virus that lives and grows in the mucus lining of the stomach.  I do not know a lot about the virus, I just know I’m being tested for it.  If you want more info, please check the wiki-link that I provided.  The salient information that I want to provide is that the initial test, which was the blood test that my doctor did, came back negative.  This is good.  The real result will come in Friday when the GI doc gives me the results from the culture they took of my tummy.  I should also have the results from the Celiac disease test they did.  The GI doc who did the colonoscopy does not think that I have Celiac because he saw no damage, but they took a culture anyway.  My sister has Celiac disease and chances are greater among family members if one person already has the disease.

I’m not going to write anymore information about Celiac in this post, but I know a lot about it, if anyone ever has any questions, wants more information, or suggestions on how to make yummy gluten-free meals, let me know.  I’m more than happy to share.

I still have to get the sonograms of my gallbladder.  I have an appointment Friday morning before work.  I was ill in February and they did every test imaginable for my gallbladder and they found nothing wrong.  They just need a current test showing it is still OK.  Why they cannot just take my word for it is beyond me, but I’ll go waste the money.

I met with my nutritionist and the nurse at the surgeon’s office yesterday.  They did not like my vitamin D levels, as I stated earlier.  But they also did not like my EKG.  Now they want me to get a cardiac clearance.  They said that the EKG showed that perhaps my heart is not getting enough blood.  This could be an indication of a blockage, it could mean my arteries are small, or it could just be my weight.  In either case, I have to get a stress test.  I have a heart doctor that I saw two years ago.  I am calling them tomorrow to get this scheduled.

I am very concerned about this because heart disease runs in my family.  I have never been diagnosed with heart disease.  I am hoping that this is not an indication that I have it.  My bad cholesterol is a little high.  My triglycerides are high.  Now this.  I am going to hope for the best but get my butt to the heart doctor asap.

Today’s cat picture is showing little Mia again.  I shared this picture of Mia when my co-worker just got her as a kitten.  As you can see, she’s getting pretty big!  And it seems she has made a truce with the other cat Ziggy, during naptime at least.  🙂

 

The Surgeon Appointment Part 2

Don’t look for Part 1 for this post.  It does not exist.  This was simply my second visit with the surgeon’s office.

Before I could see the surgeon a second time, I had to do these things to qualify for that appointment:

  • Psych Review.
  • Nutrition Counseling.
  • EKG
  • Pre-op clearance from my doctor.
  • Sleep Study followed up with C-Pap machine.

Now that I have completed all of these, I have to get more tests!

  • More blood work – the list of blood work tests they gave me is very long.
  • Urinary test.
  • Chest X-Ray.
  • PFT test – Pulmonary Function Test.
  • Another EKG.
  • Pulmonary consult and clearance.
  • Bariatric education class at hospital.
  • Nurse interview at hospital.
  • GI Consult.
  • EGD – that’s where they stick a camera down your throat all the way to your stomach to take a peek inside.  Fortunately, I will be unconscious for this.
  • Last pre-op visit with Surgeon’s office the week before the surgery.

I can do all of the blood work, urinary test, EKG, PFT, and the pulmonary consult with my primary care doctor.  Since I have asthma and pulmonary obstructive disease, I chose as my primary doctor one who specializes in pulmonary illnesses.  So, that will make part of the tests easier.  I also just had a PFT test when I met with my doctor for the pre-op appointment.  I might be able to use those results.

I think I can do the Bariatric class and the nurse consult at the hospital on the same day.  And I might be able to do the GI Consult and EGD at the same time, but I’m not sure.  I have the last pre-op with surgeon’s office already scheduled for October 3.

This is an intense process.  The nurse I met with today at the surgeon’s office told me they want to make sure that I am as healthy as possible before the surgery.  This way, if there are any issues, they can be addressed and fixed before the surgery.  Also, I’m sure it covers them if there are complications.  They can say, we worked hard to make sure she was a good candidate for the surgery and medically able to handle it ahead of time.  This is a good policy as far as I’m concerned.

I would rather have everything checked than to have him open me up only to find a problem.

So, back to my doctor I go with a list of new tests in hand.  Goody-goody.  Wish me luck.

Today’s kitty-cat picture is one of my sister’s former cats.  Her cat had four gorgeous kittens, as evidenced in my previous post where she was seen nursing said kittens.  I took two, Yoda and Veruca Salt.  She kept her cat, Oscar, and also kept a kitten called Mogwai.  He is just beautiful.

So, why is he her former cat? Well, let me tell you.  She was living with a boyfriend at the time.  He kept calling Mogwai his.  He fed the poor kitty fresh turkey slices every day as a treat and the cat loved him.  My sister’s cat.  Loved the boyfriend.  When they broke up, she moved out and took both the cats.  He then called her every day crying about her taking his cat.  The cat in turn, destroyed everything and cried every  day.

Now this is funny because before she moved in with him, he was an avowed cat-hater.  He complained every day that she brought cats into his house.  Needless to say, she was confused on the insistence for the cat when they split.

She had to go visit him one day to pick up the last of her stuff.  She took Mogwai with her to prove to him the cat loved her best.  She walked into the house and Mogwai jumped out of her arms and ran to the boyfriend.  The cat sat on his lap and scowled at my sister.  He had made his choice.  She just looked at him and said, “I guess he’s your cat.”

So, here he is.  One of the last pictures she ever took of Mogwai…my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s cat.