I'm excited to be giving my 6 month surgery update. There were times when I didn't think I could do this, but it gets easier every day and every month. I feel pretty much like a normal person now. I eat whatever I want (within reason) and my sleeve keeps me in line. I am thankful for that control. I still have occasional moments of pity for myself when I can't eat a big meal or a large serving of something. But, I'm always able to put it in perspective when I remind myself of the positive life changes I've had post op. I can now move around with much less knee pain than I was having. I can't remember the last time I got short of breath doing a normal activity like WALKING up some stairs. I have gone from a size 22W to a 16 Misses. Since I had to buy a suit in a size 14 this past weekend, I guess I'll officially be in that size soon. WOW! Now that's results. It feels so good to go to the "regular" clothing section and pull something off the rack. Shopping for clothes is so much less stressful than it was a few months ago.
I wasn't exercising much until around the 5 month mark. I'm getting a regular exercise schedule going now. I can tell that it is keeping the weight loss more steady and will hopefully help me firm up some. I seem to go through small stages of loose, wrinkly looking skin to smooth skin. This mostly happens on my thighs and a little on the upper arms. Overall, I'm doing pretty good with not having too much flabby skin. My hair was fine until recently and I thought I might get off without hair loss. But, right around the 5 month mark, it started shedding real bad. At least I was anticipating that it might happen so I wasn't totally shocked. I immediately started wearing wigs and am currently enjoying trying out some new styles and colors that I would not have been brave enough to try with my own hair.
I thought that Thanksgiving and Christmas would be awful in terms of not being able to eat, but it was barely a blip on the radar. I ate a little of everything I wanted to eat with no problems. As usual, I stopped when I got my full signal and tasted a little more later when I was ready or hungry. The biggest thing I have to monitor with eating these days is that my sleeve handles different volumes depending on the time of day. In the morning, I can barely eat anything at all. I've taken to drinking a protein shake for breakfast instead of trying to eat because it was getting frustrating to feel stuffed after 3 or 4 bites. At lunch time, I can take in a little more depending on my stress level and how busy I am that day. When I'm stressed or rushed, I can't get down too much. If I'm able to take my time, I can eat about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of food at lunch. I don't like to linger over my food too long, but sometimes I have to just nibble on it while I work (after my official lunch time is over) or I would never get in a decent amount of real food protein. Evening or dinner time is when I can eat what seems like a normal amount of food. I can easily do a cup of food for dinner most nights. Sometimes it freaks me out a little to eat that much, but I have to remind myself of how little I've actually eaten all day. So, it all balances out. I'm always careful to not stuff myself at dinner just because I can eat more at that time. I still listen to my full signals and stop when I feel it. Like many other sleevers, I have found it way too easy to take in junk food so I have to really watch myself with that.
I am able to drink soda with no problem. I just can't gulp them the way I used to and the way I can water. Sodas have always been a problem area for me but I luckily acclimmated myself to diet sodas on my preop diet, so that's mostly what I drink. I occasionally have a regular soda but in general they seem too sweet for me to drink more than a little of. The diet sodas don't seem to be having a negative impact on my weight loss or stretching my stomach. I started experimenting slowly with diet sodas around 4 months and am used to them now. It takes me a long time to drink a normal amount of soda and I rarely finish whatever I have ordered/bought so I don't worry about taking in too much. I was able to go back to regular caffeinated tea about a month or so after surgery and haven't had any problems with that either. I do drink regular sweet tea when I drink it. I don't drink a lot of it the way I used to, I guess because it's too sweet. But it still tastes good (better than soda) so I don't stress about it since I'm drinking a small amount compared to before surgery.
Like many other WLS patients, I struggled with whether to tell people about my surgery. I decided to tell them so that I wouldn't feel like I was being deceitful about how I lost weight. I know that's not the best decision for everyone, but it's the best choice for me. I also decided that I wasn't going to talk about the surgery I had or give out any other info. I know that some people are too invasive/nosy/insensitive with their questions and I didn't want to have to deal with that. I can just imagine someone asking me how much of stomach I let the doctor cut out, how many times I've thrown up, or how many times a week I poop. I'm sure some of you have dealt with that BS. My strategy of telling people that I'm not giving out any details about my surgery, including what kind of surgery I had, has been extremely successful. The minute I tell people that I'm not telling what kind of surgery I had or that I'm not giving out any details, I generally don't get any other questions. I mean not one more question after that. On the maybe two occasions that someone tried to push it a little further I just looked at them blankly and smiled and let them figure out why I wasn't talking anymore. They got the message REAL fast. It's kind of funny sometimes. I tend to tell friends or closer acquaintances that it makes me uncomfortable to talk about it and they respect that immediately without feeling like I"m shutting them out. Maybe this strategy will work for someone else. I think in time I may be more open about the surgery, but I'm not ready right now.
Overall, this was the best health decision I could have ever made for myself. I hope that other people who are on the fence about it can benefit from this blog and from other people's blogs. Feel free to post any questions. I don't sign on as often as I used to, so if I don't respond it's because I haven't been online in a while. But I will respond to all questions as soon as I see them.
I was supposed to post these questions awhile ago. I didn't write the answers as we talked so I can't remember everything he said, but I think I remember the answers to the important stuff.
1. Number of VSGs done? can't remember this one, but I think he said over a hundred
2. What size boughie used? 40 french
3. Impact of boughie size on maintaining goal weight and not losing too much weight? I think he said this is different for everyone and more related to changing your eating patterns when you reach goal, not so much the boughie size.
4. How much stretching of the sleeve can be expected? the sleeve will not stretch unless you overeat and push it past capacity.
5. Number of leaks you have had? 1
6. Treatment for leaks? go in and reinforce the leak area. then treat as needed in hospital/at home with fluids, etc. until leak heals. risk of leaks with VSG patients is greatest because there are more staples placed. (obviously this is a more complicated issue. this is just the gist of it)
7. Worst case scenario for leak not healing, i.e. loss of stomach functioning? leak will always heal eventually with proper treatment. should not expect to lose your stomach due to a leak.
8. Other complications you have experienced? occasionally incision site infections, but rare.
9. Risk for ulcers? no more so than general population.
10. Is esophagus at risk duing surgery? there is some risk but not a significant concern since staples are kept as far from esophagus as possible. (there was more to this issue that I can't remember)
11. Difference in type of staples used? there really is no difference (can't really remember how I phrased this question, so there may be more there to explore if it interests you)
12. Sew over or buttress staple line? yes, either a sew over or organic (think that's the term he used) reinforcement material is used on the staple line.
13. How do you decide who gets sew over vs reinforcement material? it depends on what is available in the OR. if the reinforcement material is not available, then sew over is done. (of course, this made me want to call the OR and tell them to have that stuff available on my surgery date, but I restrained myself. :crying: I didn't go into which was better as it seemed to be more a matter of convenience to have the reinforment material versus having to do the sew over by hand. I figure with only 1 leak, he's perfected both methods.)
14. Should I expect issues with scar tissue from prior surgeries that might impact this surgery? no
15. Issues with finding a hernia/gallbladder problems? if a hernia is found, it will definitely be fixed during the VSG. the gallbladder will only be removed if it is significantly diseased.
16. Is single incision VSG possible if a hernia is found? can't exactly remember the response to this but I think it was that the single incision will depend on ability to fit necessary instruments into stomach area, not on the hernia.
17. Will I need meds for gas/heartburn postop or for lifetime? this varies by individual (can't remember this part too well but I think more was said)
18. What are some good natural food protein sources for immediately post op? the immediate postop phase is about survival. it is more important to get in fluids. no one is able to take in the recommended protein. (how true!!! it's amazing that I remember this part very clearly but still ended up getting dehydrated. ) :scared0:
19. Recommened vitamins for postop? any store brand multivatim is fine. will need to supplement calcium. (this part was discussed with the nurse when getting all of my postop diet info).