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About this blog

Before, During, and after VSG weight-loss.  Married, 40F, no kids.

HW: 300 SW: 275 GW: 170  

Waist: 44 -> 41 -> 37.5 -> 

Entries in this blog

 

Waist sighted! Boobs remain! Booty bringing the pirates to the dock!

Has it surprised you in any way where the weight comes off of you first?  I'm not completely sure what I was expecting, but having no children, and being able to feel that most of my stomach fat was on top of the muscle, I had a reasonable hope that my relatively small waist was still under there somewhere.  What I wasn't expecting is for all the weight to start literally falling off my stomach and upper thighs quite like it did without touching my booty (hurrah!)  So this rambling post is all leading up to one thing: a celebratory jump for joy that my waist is now 35" and heading down, putting me in the healthy waist range again for the first time in years.  I went from 52-49-56, which blew my mind and made me want to cry when I saw it two and a half years ago to 45-35-46 now.  7 inches off my chest, most of them from my back I and under arms, and an acceptable amount from my boobs, which still look boob-shaped and lifted*  My back isn't as "melty/bulgey" as it was before, and my ribs visibly go "in" under the bra, rather than my breasts sitting on top of my stomach.  I do have more issues with slipping out of the bottom of my bra a little if the band isn't tight enough.  10 inches off my hips, whichever came mostly off the lower stomach area and saddlebags.  My booty has always been muscular, and only lost a thin layer of fat, which my wife says just defined the muscles already there more. Losing fat along my back also re-revealed the top curve of my butt, which is nice.  I feel cute in dresses again, but I've gone back to looking a little weird in floaty clothes, which is boo because I do like floaty Stevie Nicks Witchy Hippie Goth looks.  I don't measure my thighs, but they have definitely gone down.  My legs are more symmetrical, and the wife swears she can see muscle in the back through the cellulite.  Which is never going away, i know, but I'm okay with that.  I've made my peace.  Then the big hurrah.  I lost fourteen inches off of my waist.  Some of it is from the stomach, some from the back, some from the flanks, so everyone chipped in, but I did not in my wildest dreams expect to recover my waist so quickly.  I got married in a custom Victorian corset two years ago when my waist was almost at maximum size, and my corset maker, bless her, made the corset for tight lacing, getting me down somewhere around forty twoish at the wedding with more room to pull tight.  I thought I'd never be able to wear the corset again, but I tried it on yesterday, and it just barely fits. The laces close all the way, and it just gently shapes my hips a bit and holds my waist in that particular corset shape, but it still fit, it was soooo comfortable, and it looked even better than it did on my wedding day.  I should get a picture of that. Maybe the whole outfit, which was steampunk and had the corset on top, so that should hold it together. On the down side, when I was rushing to get dressed, I grabbed an old favorite retro dress that my wife wore to our ring ceremony (hers was a size smaller than mine, and mine was very tight at the time), pulled it over my head without unzipping, and looked down at what should have been a cute skull and roses dress, but was only shapeless skull and roses fabric gaping over my bra.  I'm still debating whether to have it tailored in or make pillows.  What changes and discoveries about your weight loss patterns and changing shape have taken you most by surprise or lit you up with celebratory joy?            * This was a huge worry for me, as I'd had breast reduction in 2013, and while I'd be happy with smaller boobs, I really didn't want to go back to flat, shapeless boobs, which run in the family.  Just not enough strong connective tissue in our lineage, plus that weird stretchy Celtic skin. Whew. I suspect I dodged it, because the surgeon removed as much non-glandular tissue as he could while trying to preserve nerves and glands, so that's may have left me with relatively de-fatted boobs, in case anyone was considering a breast reduction BEFORE gastric surgery.  I was 42J+ at my most extreme, 38E at surgery, and now 36DD or DDD, possibly 34..  I haven't gone bra shopping in a while. 

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

 

How I eat 1 month out (and the BEST reason not to cheat!)

The first month diet of soft foods has been smooth.  Make sure you're following your doctor's plan, not my doctor's plan, because each plan is unique to our situations, including anything your doctor found or did during or before your surgery.   It's also important to note that I am not diabetic and I do not have any signs of insulin resistance, before or after surgery, so my body has a healthy relationship with all of the food groups. Here's last night's family dinner, all made from scratch with my meal front and center and my wife's delectable tostada on the far right. I eat vicariously through others and cannot wait to be allowed something crunchy again.  I miss crunch, but I know I'll be allowed to crunch again soon. Oh, how I pine for a sturdy lettuce leaf!    Homemade refritos, a little bit of spiced ground beef, requeson, crema con sal (a type of sour cream), and two tomato salsas, one very mild and fresh and the other hot and cooked.  SW: 275 CW: 244  So, a month out, I'm on "soft foods" which my doctor defines as foods that are soft BEFORE you put them in your mouth and that anything hard to digest like solid meats and veg needs to be taken down to more of an apple sauce/fine mince consistency.  I've been on this regimen since my 10 day follow up and will continue until my 6 week follow up in two weeks. There was no intermittent "mushy" stage for me.   I try to eat before I take my pills with very small sips of water.  Pills taken on an empty stomach may come up.  I'm eating 3-4 T at meals that go well for me (that is, no stress, which makes eating any more impossible and leaves me sick for an hour or two). I tend around 30-40g protein a day from a variety of sources: lactaid milk, yogurts, cheeses, finely ground beef, beans, meatballs cooked in soup, soft tofu, and egg. I do not avoid carbohydrates, as I feel better when I eat a balanced diet. I eat 5-6 very small meals a day (some as small as a tablespoon of yogurt or a small skim string cheese).  I often add nutritional yeast to savory foods to increase protein and B-12.  My carbohydrate intake tends to be slow-burning low glycemic index (oatmeal, berry, beans combined with high protein rice, fresh apple sauce with no additives, a bit of high protein pancake...)   The exception is that I do occasionally eat some white rice, always combined with a protein, and I have had no crash and burn. I have also had ice cream and sorbet in very reasonable amounts that fit within my plan with no ill effects or delay in weight loss.   With the restriction I've felt from my sleeve, I average 350 calories a day with my highest day just under 500 and my lowest day 0.  I registered my greatest weight loss after the 500 calorie day and felt my best, so I'm working up to that as a second month goal. Here's what I won't be eating again for a while due to nausea and/or vomiting: Full fat dairy, lentils, ginger (go figure!), oral B vitamin, whey protein  Here's what I won't be consuming again for a while ever due to migraine strong enough to punch through the botox*: Aspartame, sucralose   Here's what I won't be eating again for a while due to changes in taste: Ginger, cheddar cheese, V8, melon (with the exception of watermelon)  I haven't felt the kind of "hey, I'm kinda hungry" hunger I felt before surgery since then, but If I skip a meal or two, my stomach will gurgle, and if I've missed 3 or more meals, I tend to feel a bit dizzy, headachey, exhausted, and/or fuzzy-headed.  Fair enough.  If I don't eat a balanced diet (for me: too much protein or fat), I feel generally unwell, but I can power through.   No dumping syndrome or anything related.  Just lots and lots of water nausea that leaves me out of action for an hour or two when it hits.  I've also had a couple of bouts of stress tummy which results in worse nausea, a fever, and, strangely, intolerance to light, so maybe migraine, too.  It lasts about an hour.  I've always had a stomach sensitive to stress, but the surgery has made that worse.   Oh, and the best reason not to cheat?  That's down to my doctor.  who cheerfully told me all about some of his patients who had advanced too soon or cheated (fits through a straw on full liquid does NOT mean fits through a boba straw) and did rupture the staple line. It's fragile while it's healing the first month or so, especially.  Will it happen to everyone? No.  But it COULD happen to you.  And then you spend a miserable (up to a) year in the hospital being operated on, in pain, possibly dying, and guaranteed not eating those tasty things you thought were ok just a little early and felt fine at the time. Was it tall tale hyperbole to keep me on the straight and narrow.  Mmmmmmnnnnnnnpossibly.  But I know he wasn't joking, and I'd rather not risk it.  Would you?   And last, but not least, here's a random picture of my dog discovering Bones Are A Thing That Exists In The World and elevating, on the spot, to a higher level of doggy existence:        *I have incapacitating migraines that have been unsuccessfully controlled with medications.  Botox was the next step, and it's working great as long as I avoid my worst triggers. (Bright sun, aspartame, sucralose, non-natural cleaning products)  10/10 would recommend. 

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

 

First ever Monthly TMI Post!

What's a TMI post you (might) be asking.  It's a post about those things I'm finding a part of VSG life that people don't talk about in polite company or usually admit to in any company, but that I really wanted to know about before getting myself into this! (Don't worry, still no regrets). So if you are polite company or do not want to hear about blood, bodily functions, and the vagaries of animal existence, you might want to skip this one.  To those of you who are still with me, this edition will cover Underwear woes, scabs, itches, surgical leftovers, bowel movements, vomiting, periods, and a special surprise guest appearance by Yeast.   Underwear woes: Your surgeon will tell you not to bother buying new clothes, because you'll only wear them a couple of times before they no longer fit.   Your surgeon will not warn you that your boobs will soon be falling out of the bottom of your bra, and your oversized underwear will twist in new and exciting ways on your body.  As a woman, I can honestly say I have never needed to "adjust myself" so many times in a day as I have since surgery.  I started out wearing size 10/Torrid size 1/2 underwear that were all either snug (the 10s) or fit perfectly (Torrid, of course).  Now, they're all a nightmare of chafing, twisting, falling down, and creeping up my butt.  I would seriously recommend considering the purchase of an inexpensive package of underwear every few weeks or so.     Scabs, itches, and surgical leftovers:  Let's put all of the skin stuff together.   We'll start with itching, since it has been a constant since surgery. There are two types of itching, though.  There's a deep, crazy, going-insane itch that happens inside with the healing tissues.  I hate that one.  That seems to have faded around week 3.  The other itch has been ongoing and is stopped only by Eucerin for eczema lotion. It's a combination of healing and difficulty fully hydrating.  When I came home from the hospital, all of my incisions were covered in purple surgical glue with the instruction to shower carefully and avoid getting "much" water on them for "long."  I followed this to the letter, and when I saw Dr. Zane again for the 10 day follow up, he was surprised the glue was all there, and he said go ahead and peel it off.   This is where the blood comes in.  The incision above my belly button had glue that had lifted by a good centimeter, so I figured I'd go with his advice.  I got half way across when, blood! I stopped there, and was seeping blood for the next 12-16 hours, and now, two and a half weeks later, that incision is a bit deeper and more tender than the others. That also happens to be the incision with a stitch in it.  The stitch is still there almost a month later, and it is black with blood I can't get out of the knot.  I may just be slow to dissolve the last part, though a week ago, a 1" piece of filament poked out of my skin next to it and slid out when I scratched at it.  No pain for that one, just "weird."  As tempting as it is to peel after approval, go slow, and if there's any tenderness,  maybe wait.  The others that I peeled the last of the glue off of were no longer tender and looked sealed underneath, and that's what I found.  The only raised scar I seem to be developing is the bigger scar where my stomach was pulled out to the left of the belly button.  That one is raised on the edges where it was (I assume) stretched during removal.  Other surgical leftovers not to stress over:  I came home with iodine on my sides, no big deal, but a bit itchy.  It looks like they washed the area where surgery actually happened (good to know!).  I found serious gunk in my belly button once everything was un-swollen and de-tenderized enough for a thorough wash in there. I can only describe it as goo. I do not know what it was, but it didn't do me any harm, and I assume it was from the surgery, since I've never seen anything like that in there before. There was a lot of it, though!   I also had a big bruise on my tailbone along with a painful abraded area about 2" long and 1" wide.  Silly me, I put an antibiotic ointment on the rash.  DO NOT DO THIS.  I woke up the next morning to pustules all along the abraded area.  The doctor I saw for that diagnosed it as a reaction to the ointment, and said to just use petroleum jelly or a steroid cream because (something something - sorry) antibiotic ointments can cause reactions after all those IV antibiotics of another type.   Following those instructions, the area cleared up within a week after shedding the entire top layer of skin.  I found out from my surgeon's office that the bruising is because they sit you up during surgery.  Mystery solved.    Bowel movements:  I had to gird myself for this one, since I'm not really the type who usually talks about bathroom habits in public, but if this helps one person not feel so weird or at least feel better knowing what to potentially expect, it's worth it.  Bowel movements since surgery have been consistently weird.  The first was about three days after surgery (which they say is good), and very very little actually came out of me in a thin, strangely orange, stream.  In spite of how little there was, I still felt the same cue from my body as I did pre-surgery that it's time to find solitude and a toilet.  Since then, BMs have been increasing slowly in bulk, but they remain orange, soft-to-runny, and low-velocity enough that as soon as I feel that cue, I'm also planning a shower.  Aside from week 3, in which velocity was so slow, I spent all day close to the house, it hasn't been awful.  It's not fun, but it's also not often.  Once a week or so at a month out from surgery.  I should also mention that it's one of the things that can cause that "my heart is racing" feeling, because there's an enormous blood vessel that runs right next to your sphincter. I may only notice it so much because BMs are no longer a daily occurrence.  As far as I understand it, the phenomenon is harmless; drink more water.  I'll also add that urinating is fairly normal, though for the first week after surgery (or longer if you're slow to clear anaesthesia) prepare for some stop/start and give yourself a little more time.    Vomiting:  There has been more vomiting than I'm accustomed to after surgery, and I've pinpointed a few things that tend to cause it and others that don't.  Triggers:  Vitamins, unless buffered with a lot of food, are coming right back up.  Even the ones I don't need in chewable form.  I'm looking into the vitamin patches for this reason.  Even before surgery, my stomach has been iffy with multis and B vitamins.  Juice without water.  Even a tiny sip.  Too cold water on an empty stomach  Water without additive (I had a serious case of water nausea which is starting to resolve just this week)  Stress (I had to ask my family to please not talk about anything remotely stressful around meal times)  Not a trigger:  Fat  Protein Carbohydrates  Fruit  Dairy  Physical activity  I do find that sometimes I need to lie down after a meal or taking medicine until the nausea goes away.  Lying on my side seems to help.    Periods:  Depending on your rate of recovery and when it falls, prepare to be more exhausted than ever on your period.  That hit me hard.  Otherwise, totally normal.   Yeast: I found out at my 10 day checkup that I had a mighty yeast overgrowth on my tongue from the IV antibiotics. I was first prescribed the slimiest mouthwash in the world (which belongs on my vomiting triggers list, probably), then 5x/day tablets to suck on which left my tongue raw and painful but tasted like nothing at all, and finally a single pill, take it once and you're done oral treatment. (Why not that one first? I don't get it!)  It's almost gone now at 4 weeks out, but while it was active, the entire back 2/3 of my tongue were slimy and thick, and a lot of foods tasted very strange.   So, keep an eye out for that.    This concludes the first month TMI post. I expect any future posts to be shorter.  My top recommendations really are to watch out for yeast and make sure you always carry Eucerin (or similar thick lotion for SUPER dry skin that works for you). 

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

 

Current understanding of LOW protein, high carbohydrate diets and calorie restriction on longevity and metabolic health

While shuffling down a longevity rabbit hole on PubMed, I found a fascinating recent study in the area of calorie restriction and longevity.  What I wasn't expecting was its findings on low protein, high carbohydrate diets.  The study found, amongst other things, that low protein, high carbohydrate (20% fat) was associated with the greatest longevity and best overall metabolic health in spite of a tendency to weight gain as fat. The improvement was equal to caloric restriction alone, and combining the two had no additional metabolic benefits (LPHC also tended to expend the most energy) The version of the experiment where LPHC was combined with CR had the same longevity, but also avoided the increase in body mass from the high carbohydrate Intake. They also had the best immune systems The low carbohydrate, high protein group were found to have reduced longevity and poorer cardiovascular and metabolic health, though again, LCHP group with CR fared better than those allowed to eat freely. The area where LCHP created an advantage was in reproduction. Not in fertility, but in the actual process of reproduction, which makes complete sense. You can read the whole report here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4472496/ It should be mentioned this study is still one part of decades of research on Calorie Restriction and dietary composition. From the strong evidence in favor of dietary restriction, we should all be seeing increased life spans (depending on age of intervention, some will be more modest than others). But I wonder how the evidence building up for HCLP can be applied to us. HCLP emphasizes low glycemic index carb sources and 5-15% protein intake, but at our level of consumption 600-1000 calories a day in maintenance depending on your needs), that would only be 12.5-37.5g protein which seems like it would result in a deficiency. The famous Okinawan Ratio is on the low end of that, though people studied consumed about twice the calories (if I remember right, and I might not) which is still only 25g protein/day. And yet, I'm not seeing any of these deficiencies in the literature. No deficiencies in the Okinawans either.  Curiouser and curiouser. What do you think? What did this study make you wonder? 

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

 

A hint of waist discovered (and a brief ode to string cheese)

28lbs down at three weeks post-op, and we're seeing a bit of waist again!  We're also seeing fantastically baggy skinny jeans which were skin tight before the surgery.  I really liked those jeans...  Since the jeans were size 20, I'm taking that to mean that I'm back into size 18 territory.  Once I hit size 16, I'll have a plethora of clothes that fit me again but have been hardly worn.  It'll be like having myself as my personal shopper, or something.  I'm trying to wait until I'm definitely a 16 before opening the boxes so that it'll be more fun.  Has anyone else done that?  It's not all sunshine and daisies, of course.  Protein is HARD, y'all, especially when you've lost the ability to tolerate the shakes at all.  I'm keeping up with low fat string cheese and plain yogurt which, fortunately, I love.  I've also discovered that string cheese with marinara dipping sauce (and, eventually once it's allowed, pepperoni) is an excellent substitute for pizza when that craving hits.  Talk about a relief.  Pizza, in its many forms, has been my go-to food when I'm feeling nauseous but still need to eat.  Since even before surgery I spent a lot of time nauseous, I was really missing my sure-bet food. Thank goodness for cheese.  That's all I'm sayin'.  And at 50 cal/8g protein, it's been good to me. 

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

 

Detailed VSG experience from decision making through 3 weeks post-op

I know, I know, I should have started this before surgery, but instead I'm staring it 3 weeks after surgery, so let's see if my memory will let me get caught up.   Background:  I've lost and regained all of my excess weight the old-fashioned way a few times, but I had been resistant to bariatric surgery until I heard about and researched VSG because I was concerned about malabsorption and dumping syndrome.  The last thing an aspie with life-long IBS needs is dumping syndrome.  Even after reading up on VSG, I was leery to try it because I didn't want to lose the enjoyment I have from cooking for my wife and exploring the culinary world.  We talked about it a lot.  Finally, we decided that the benefits would outweigh the struggles in the long term when I became very unsettled by no longer recognizing myself in mirrors.  (That's not to say that pain and fatigue weren't an element, or wanting to be there for my family long term, or wanting to avoid the severe loss of quality of life my mom suffered after 50... But those were already there.) Pre-approval classes:  Before surgery with Kaiser So. Cal, I had to go through their Options class.   What I learned from the class is that if one instructor seems to have unreasonable demands and/or rubs you the wrong way, there's usually another with a different approach.  My first instructor was a "tough love" type, and if you know anyone on the Autism Spectrum (like me), you know that tough love doesn't work with us, especially when we're trying to meet you half way, but need more information to do so.   Long story short, first instructor operated by goading the class, and some people need that.  Some people do better hearing "don't ask - just do" while others need to know how they can tailor a plan to their other medical problems.   This instructor insisted on 60 min, minimum, of moderately strenuous exercise per day, and all that did was destroy the little cartilage I had left in my knee.  I could have really used that cartilage post weight loss!  It got so bad, I almost quit entirely, when I found out that I could finish the class with another instructor, and what a fantastic instructor she was!  She answered questions, explained the whys of everything, and she was honest that each post-surgical plan will be unique to the individual.  I finished the course within a couple of weeks then, and I had my clearance to request an appointment with the surgeon by Feb 13.  She also helped out by telling me which hospital tended to have the shortest wait.  Approval:  I had my appointment with Dr. Zane on March 10, and all of my labs were good.  No sign of diabetes.  Weight loss of 25lbs the old fashioned way.  Blood pressure a little elevated but not too bad.  Fibromyalgia? Bad.  Joints and back? Crazy painful. Dr. Zane agreed that I was in a great place for VSG, and when he asked when I'd like to do the surgery, I told him "I'll take the first opening you've got."   As it turns out, he had one last opening available for March 27, and I took it without a moment's hesitation.  Pre-op & Surgery Day:  To get ready for the surgery, I had to observe a clear liquid diet for the two days leading up.  That, alone, made it tough for me to eat.  Looking back at my logs, I was lucky to make 600 calories a day those two days, and that was only by virtue of being able to chug protein water.   No chugging after surgery, though!  Surgery day, my wife, MiL, and the service dogs all trundled down to the hospital.  We arrived only to discover that we had a two hour wait before check in time!  So the lucky dogs got a nice long walk around the new hospital complex with all of the flowers in bloom, and I think everyone felt better for that.   Once I checked in, I was given a robe to change into and a pair of disposable hospital underpants that were made of the most uncomfortable material ever invented.  They had a texture a bit like stretched out gauze, and (TMI alert!) my butt is STILL healing a patch of chafing from them 3 weeks later.  Just so you know, part of the surgery involves you being sat up in the OR, so if you have mysterious butt bruises or soreness, it's probably that.  I had no idea.  Okay, so, hospital, gown, TMI, and now I met the surgical team.  Two anesthesiologists, both of whom were incredibly cool.  Don't be shy about telling these guys if you have nausea issues. Everyone kept me WELL drugged to avoid any vomiting.  They also made adjustments for my long-term use of extended release morphine, so make sure you tell the docs about that, too.  I remember being wheeled into the OR and my doctor making a joke.  I was just alert enough to respond to the joke and then they knocked me out. I went out while being transferred from the gurney onto the operating table, which was so bizarrely narrow.  After surgery, I woke up on the most comfortable hospital bed I have ever been fortunate enough to experience.  I guess it's because it's the bariatric ward and the beds have to be comfortable enough for people significantly heavier than me, but it's the first time ever in hospital that I wasn't squirming in discomfort because of the mattress.  Aside from that, I woke up thirsty and in zero pain.  I think I only used the pain pump 4 times during my 24 hours in the hospital. I also want to mention that I woke up feeling incredibly positive, motivated, and ready for the future.  For someone who's suffered major depression most of her life, that was kind of amazing. Endorphins, maybe?   I slept and dreamed of cooking delicious things and serving my wife and MiL afternoon tea on our deck, enjoying the process of creative cooking without needing to eat it.  I still want to do that.  (But I'll probably join in, at least for the tea...)  Shortly after napping, I felt well enough to walk around the floor, and I fell into a routine of getting up to pee and then going for a walk.  No catheter involved.  Kaiser also had a set up for bariatric patients of single rooms with fold out chairs that allow a family member to stay with you overnight, and that was invaluable.  I don't think I slept much after the time immediately post-op, and my will to exercise was a lot greater than my stamina.  I was also incredibly grateful to the suggestion I read somewhere to bring your own pajamas and robe, etc.  I'm sure that helped with morale.  Food, or "food" rather, was diet Ocean Spray cranberry juice (ugh), chicken broth that tasted exactly like KFC fried chicken (still don't know what's going on with that one), jello (didn't touch it), and ice chips.  I found the salty broth and the ice chips the easiest to eat, but I also discovered I had a bad case of water nausea.  That's only just starting to go away, and I'm a person who LOVES drinking water.  So, thanks to the soup, I met my Dr's expectations, and when he came in the next morning in between surgeries, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go home.  He warned me that I had one stitch "to remind me I had surgery," and said my healing looked good to him.  Don't scrub the surgical glue or get it too wet, and then Discharge ahoy! Dr. Zane released me onto a full liquids diet and out the door I shortly went.  I was also told that I'd had heparin shots (one last for the rode before I left the hospital) and a LOT of IV antibiotics.  It was an absolute dream to slip into my own clothes, but if I had thought it through more, I would have brought something other than comfortable jeans.  Even though they sat well below my incisions, they pushed up on the incisions just enough to cause a case of the ouchies and enormous relief upon arriving home.  Having a pillow to hug to my stomach helped a lot on that car ride and on car rides for the next week and a half or so. First week post-op:   I have 5 incisions, and the "big bad" where my stomach was extracted is just to the left of my belly button, about an inch long with almost no bruising at all in spite of the heparin.  Dr. Zane assures me this is because my surgeon is just that awesome.  I love him for his modesty.  That one stitch he mentioned was a tiny slice of hell for the first week and a half.  Rolling over or sitting up were painful enough to make me see spots and yelp, but that did go away as the sutures began to dissolve.  So if you're in that kind of pain, know it does go away, and it's just whatever stitches you have being evil.  In fact, they were so evil that on the first and second night home (where the IV pain meds had worn off), I was in so much pain, I spent most of the night wandering back and forth across the dining room and kitchen with a pillow clutched to my stomach.  The third night, I managed to sleep all the way through, and then some.  Taking my medicine for the first week was probably the hardest part.  One pill at a time with only enough water to wash it down.  Did I say water? I meant water with a splash of juice.  I couldn't tolerate plain water or artificial sweeteners at all.  And I did try.  Unfortunately, my sensitivity to artificial sweeteners has only gotten worse post-op, which made it increasingly difficult to get my protein in.   My salvation?  The discovery that milk is still not only delicious but that I did not develop an intolerance to dairy!  Granted, I always drink lactose-free milk, but I also have no problems with cheeses or yogurt. So, fat free lactose free milk kept me going when the going was rough.  It took the best part of an hour, at this point, to get down a 12 oz glass of liquid.  I spent a lot of time sitting at the dining room table staring resentfully at a glass half full.  It did gradually get easier as the first 10 days progressed, and the evening before my follow up with the surgeon, I had a delicious dinner of Tom Kha Kai (broth only) from my favorite Thai place, and the spice was deliciously soothing.  YMMV on that part, but I was raised on salsa.  The other discovery I made the first week is that walking was suddenly easier.  I wanted to walk.  I felt like I could just keep walking forever.  That's a feeling I haven't had in a long time.   By the time I went to my follow up, the majority of those struggles were in the past.  And one was in my future: thrush.    Follow up appt & the 2nd & 3rd week:  At the appointment, my Dr. asked me how I was feeling, how I was healing, and how I was doing at keeping things down with the full liquid diet.  It was all going well there, with 20lbs lost since surgery, so he cautioned me that everyone has a 2 week stall about 2 weeks out, and he moved me right along to soft foods.  I asked him what's the difference between soft foods and mushies, and he answered "they're the same."  After asking a few questions, it became clear that he combines those two groups and emphasizes that the food has to be soft even before you put it in your mouth.  No chewing chips until they go mushy.  I have no problem with this at all.   He also diagnosed me with thrush.  Ugh!  The mouthwash treatment was intolerable, the tablet treatment, slightly tolerable, and the pill, completely tolerable.  What a pain in the behind to deal with while learning to eat again!  Especially with soft, mushy food.   It did put me off eating for a few days, but things got better once the medicine kicked in.   So make sure you can find a yogurt to take in during that first week after the IV antibiotics!  Other than that, the Dr. said I'll be on this soft/mushy stage until my next follow up with his nurse, the beginning of may, so here's how I'm allowed to eat now:  4 tablespoons of food per meal, max.  (I've only managed the full 4 a couple of times.  More often, my meals are closer to 2T, and I feel full)  4-6 meals per day  No water or drinks for 30 minutes after eating. All food must be soft and moist.  On the way home, my wife and I celebrated by swinging through Taco Bell to split a Pintos & Cheese.  It takes me about 30 minutes to eat 2.5T of it, one tiny mouthful at a time.  We're talking Barbie spoon size for that first meal!  I also had to wait another 30 minutes for the nausea to go away before doing anything else.  Since then, I've been living primarily on beans, soft cheese (queso fresco is a favorite!), yogurt (plain with cinnamon), the occasional tuna salad, and lactose free fat free milk, still 1-2.5T for most meals before I feel that sensation that the next bite will not be appreciated in my stomach.  That feeling really does seem to be different for everyone.  For me, it's a subtle hiccup-like sensation in the back of my throat.  I have missed the signal a couple of times, and yes, I did throw up.  Throwing up itself is an interesting experience post-op.  It's not the same "oh my god I'm turning inside out!" feeling I remember from before.  With the exception of my body rejecting a vitamin it did NOT like, throwing up since the surgery has been non-painful and over quickly with very little bile involved.  My birthday happened during this time, and I had a treat of curry rice in Little Tokyo for lunch, cheese enchilada and beans for dinner out with family (shared the dish with my wife, who ate most of it), followed by a birthday flan the table shared, and then at home, a bit of ice cream birthday cake and some out of this world raspberry sorbet from Fosselman's, a local family-owned ice cream parlor that's been dishing out the good stuff since 1914!  Some of you are probably wondering if the carbs on that day set me back at all.  The answer is: nope.  Remember, this is only one day, and each serving was 4T or less.  I had a great time downtown on my birthday and got in a lot of walking with my family while we explored Little Tokyo together.   And then I crashed into bed and slept for 36 hours.  No joke! During this stage, I also had my first post-op experience with stairs, and my heart would race like crazy by the time I got to the top.  It turns out, that's a sign of dehydration.  Once I got to the point where I was getting in my full hydration, the racing heart issue stopped.   Now, I seem to be evening out a bit as I get the hang of things.  I still eat with the family when there's a family meal, and I focus on the soft foods that I can eat, protein first. When they have tostadas, I have beans, queso fresco, crema, and salsa. When they have Eggs Benedict, I have egg and avocado with a teaspoon of hollandaise.  When they have spaghetti and meat sauce, I have meat sauce.  My travel food is low fat string cheese, or in a pinch, Taco Bell Pintos & Cheese.  My wife and I split a lot of meals.  My most recent meal was beans, salsa, and requeson from the middle of her burrito. Working out a plan to share meals with your SO has been a great way for us to keep eating together and enjoying food as a shared experience while keeping me within my requirements after VSG.   I've also been pleasantly surprised with HOW the weight is coming off me.  It seems to be coming off from the areas that were deforming my shape first.  I used to be one of those larger people who stays perfectly in proportion, just large.  I'm moving quickly back in that direction, and that alone is heartening.  I do suspect that part of the reason my waist went down as dramatically as it did is due to the actual removal of 85% or so of my stomach.  Considering how much I could eat in a sitting before without feeling full, I would imagine my stomach was on the large side.  I'll have to ask about that during the follow up.   What else?  I'm on the verge of crossing down from Obesity III to Obesity II, which feels like a great landmark to pass.  I'm wearing clothes I haven't been able to wear since a major injury pushed me from "hanging in there" to "nope" back in 2014 by severely curtailing my physical activity. My clothes are fitting better even when they're loose (except my damn bra, which is too big around the ribs now and a collection of underwear that think they're thongs).  My vintage-style dresses no longer REQUIRE a petticoat to hang correctly over my hips, although petticoats are always cute, and I suddenly have more leggings and tank tops that are actually comfortable to wear again.  It's like shopping in your own packed wardrobe and the opposite of all of those miserable shopping trips where nothing fit right. I'm glad I never gave up hope that I would be able to wear these things again.  I really am.  Hopefully by summer, I'll be able to fit into my favorite size 17 capris.  #GOALS

HeatherS.

HeatherS.

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