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One month with Reshape Balloon



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first time poster here-- I wanted to start writing a bit about my journey, not just to help other people by sharing my experience but also to help myself express my feelings. Warning, this is going to be a long post! Also I originally wrote this on another forum where there doesnt seem to be a lot of traffic, so I'm copying it here in hopes of more conversation.

It's been just about a month since I had the Reshape balloon inserted (October 22). This is one of the various gastric balloons on the market, with the theory being that the balloon will take up some space in your stomach and force you into better Portion Control. The Reshape is actually two balloons tethered together so if one deflates and tries to exit the stomach, it will be stopped by its still-intact partner.

I have been varying degrees of overweight for most of my adult life but after a knee injury 2.5 years ago and a multi-year tendency to poor diet and low activity, I found myself at 367 lb. I've developed osteoarthritis in both knees and one foot, and have been in more or less constant pain since my injury. I've been married for 6 years to a lovely man who shares all of my same bad habits-- we lost a combined 150 lb for our wedding, and without the looming deadline to keep us honest, we put it back on and then some. The Reshape balloon was actually my husband's idea; he did the research, compared the products (including traditional gastric bypass), and then spent about 2 months talking me into it. One of my goals is to lose enough to shut up the orthopedist long enough for him to give me another cortisone shot in my knee (because I would prefer that shot without the side of lecture, thankyouverymuch, and if I can say "well I've already lost X pounds" then maybe he'll just shush up and give me the shot).

We enrolled in a program at a major medical university in our area. Each of us got the insertion (and eventual removal) plus an aftercare program (more about that later). My husband's program cost $8000 and his insertion was performed under "twilight" sedation at a hospital-affiliated medical professional building. My program cost around $9400; my weight dictated a different type of anesthesia and also carried higher risks, so I had to go to a proper hospital. Insurance will not cover this procedure, although it looks like insurance might be covering our anesthesia. Possibly. It would be nice to have some of that money back.

The day before the insertion, you are required to have a primarily liquid diet, with yogurt being the closest to solid food you're allowed. The day of, you're not allowed even drinking Water, and they do turn you away if you've not followed these rules (it happened to a man who was being prepped while my husband was in the recovery area). Once you're checked into the hospital, they give you and IV and take you to the surgical room, and once you get the gas mask on, you're pretty much gone. I have no idea how long I was out, but I was so thirsty when I woke up! You go home after the procedure; no overnight stay.

That day isn't too bad, because you're mostly still stoned on the anesthesia. I had no interest in food but forced myself to drink some flat ginger ale and half of a Protein Shake. I slept a lot. It wasn't awful.

The next day, though... ugh... so bad... you're given anti-cramping medicine (and good lord it is expensive) that helps, but your poor stomach is still trying to figure out what's shoved in it, and I spent the next 3 days or so with super angry, violent cramps. I also had bad acid reflux despite a daily Pepcid, and for about a week I had midnight hiccups that woke me up. I was pretty miserable and had even set a deadline "if it's not better by friday, I have to have it taken out." This mirrors my husband's experience (he's ahead of me by one week). I think I had stomach acid come out my nose once. It was really kind of terrible and I don't think I was prepared for just how terrible it was going to be.

Those first few days, you're really not feeling like you want a lot of food, and you're supposed to stick to a liquid diet anyway. After about 4 days of this, I was feeling exhausted, run down, nauseous, head-achey and sick. My husband made me a mashed potato-- just one boiled potato, mashed, with no butter and the tiniest bit of milk in it, and it was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten. It also fixed most of what was wrong with me. My headaches went away, I still felt drained but not bone-tired as I had been, and the cramping stopped, at least temporarily. It would come back when my stomach would get empty but I was getting more interested in food so I made it a point to always have a little something in my stomach. I have a new love of eggs.< /span>

From there, the meal plan involves slowly introducing more semi-solid and soft foods, with heavy emphasis on Proteins, and gradually working towards an unrestricted (although healthy) diet. My husband and I both progressed through these phases faster than the official plan-- we were eating plain boiled chicken breast by the end of Week 1 and salad by the middle of Week 3, when officially you're not supposed to be ready for salad till Week 5. Rice and Pasta are not officially banned but they're not favored; popcorn is banned for the whole time you've got the balloon. Menus are built around lean Protein, more lean protein, and veggies that are cooked till they're pretty soft. Carbs are part of the plan too, either carby veggies or unprocessed/whole grains like oats or the occasional slice of bread.< /span>

So how does it feel now?

Well, for me, usually it feels like nothing, but sometimes it bothers me, and it's hard to describe it. If I eat something that my body doesn't like-- which tends to be dark, leafy greens, whole Beans (like edamame) or tough/fibrous veggies)-- my whole stomach feels heavy and "grabby" for the lack of a better word. It's like a cramp but not quite. And I get the most ferocious after-taste of those veggies. I had some sauteed kale which did not agree with me, and for 2 days I just kept belching up lawn mower bag flavors. Bleurgh.

Sometimes I can feel some bit of food that's caught between the balloon and the inside of my stomach, but it's annoying rather than painful. You have to chew chew chew your food to bits while you're eating but sometimes it's hard to be perfect, and your balloon will let you know when you've had one of those times.

I have random hiccups a LOT. My nurse says this is usually from eating too fast but sometimes it's first thing in the morning, so who knows.

My husband is not as comfortable. He has moderate cramps after almost every meal. The nurse and the dietitian both say that's because he's eating too fast, and he's trying to get better at that. We did get another anti-cramping medicine (not the super expensive one) but he won't take it because it knocks him out.

I've never felt the uncomfortably full feeling I'm told will happen when you overeat, but I've not really over-eaten since getting the balloon. But that kale, man, I am not touching that stuff till after the balloon is out. And I think edamame is going to end up on that list too.

What's the rest of the program?

Our expenses included 12 office visits, to cover a full year post insertion (aka 6 months after removal). We can see the dietitian, a behaviorist, a medical doctor or an exercise specialist (or we can see two in a visit and they count it as two visits, that's fine). We can also email questions to the dietitian or our nurse anytime, as long as they're not long research projects. Apparently participants in their program lose an average of 12lb more than non-participants, or so they tell me. But the nurse was a godsend during those awful days-- she was able to help us get a little relief where possible, and encouraged us to stick with it when we wanted to give up.

So how are we doing now?

We are both drinking oceans of water, which you must do because it's very easy to become dehydrated. We are currently consuming about 900-1000 calories each per day, spread over 3 meals and sometimes a snack. We tried going for the 5-6 tiny meals a day approach but it's just not for us. The dietitian says it's ok and we should do whatever works for us. We are also exercising 30 minutes a day (every day for him, 5-6 days a week for me) on a recumbent elliptical in our house.

Progress so far: I've lost about 19 lb which I think is kind of awesome. My husband has had his balloon for a week more than I have. He's lost about 23 lb. He has 19 weeks to go and I have 20. I don't believe we will keep up this rate of weight loss but I sure would be tickled if we did.

Feel free to ask me anything and I'll try to answer!

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Welcome to the site! I hope some other "ballooners" see your post and introduce themselves. One question: The balloon stays in for a total of 6 months or have I got that wrong?

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You're correct! The balloon stays in for 6 months. From what I understand, stomach acid deteriorates the balloon over time and the risk of breakage or leaking increases after 6 months. You can, however, get one balloon removed and a new one inserted in the same procedure (you have to pay for the new one).

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My gastroenterologist wanted to put an Obera balloon in , didn't want the slowed rate of loss, my ortho said no, your joints can't wait, PCP told me I was too close to diabetes (daddy's side) heat disease and kidney disease( mostly mama's) popping out. I believe he called me a "walking time bomb". So since,i,have GERD, a 1st cousin who died of esophageal cancer, no sleeve, an RNY instead. Now I don't disrespect sleeves, some of my,neatest friends on here are sleevers, it just WASN'T going to work for me.
But great good wishes for you and hubby both. Someday we will see Before and After pictures, Yes?

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I can probably be persuaded to share photos once I get a little closer to the After. Hubby doesn't do photos haha. You have no idea how hard I had to bargain to get him into the wedding photos!

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Get mental picture of. you in wedding dress, hubby behnd a wall, "Oh look folks , there's PammySue and her blocked -head husband."

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Yep, that’s basically it hahahahaha I think he stood still for about 5 shots and I consider myself lucky we got those!

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Quick update. Went for a routine visit to my weight loss doctor. I'm officially down 26 lb since October 22 (I think that makes it exactly 8 weeks? I can't count haha) and my husband is down 29. Not too shabby! Especially considering that we had Thanksgiving, a few Christmas parties, and some other "special occasion" type things going on.

We're both eating around 900-1000 calories/day most days. I'm using the recumbent elliptical 5 times a week, 30 minutes each time; and my husband is doing 30 minutes, 7 days a week.

We make most of our meals from scratch. The things we buy pre-made are things like granola and hummus where there's lots of fairly unadulterated options. We use a lot of ground chicken -- it's high Protein, low fat/calorie, and very versatile. Happy to share recipes!

Right now, not having a lot of negative side effects; I still have to chew chew chew my food to bits, unless I want really nasty burps the next day, but that's fairly easy to do, now that I'm in the habit. But no cramping, pain or bloating (yay!).

My doctor thinks if I just keep doing what I'm, doing, I should be realistically able to expect to lose another 50 pounds or so in the 4 months before the balloon comes out. That would be pretty awesome in my book :D

Most of my visit today was just reinforcing that the balloon is just a tool, and not the reason I'm losing weight; we talked about ways to start getting ready now for continued weight loss post-balloon.

I'm really happy with how things are going. Almost halfway through with balloon time....

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Just about two weeks since my last update and I've lost another 4.5 pounds, which is pretty awesome considering I've had to navigate Christmas dinner with the extended family, a quasi-anniversary with my husband (went out for tapas and sangria, yum!), New Years Eve, and a nasty head/chest cold that made me cut some of my workouts short in that time frame.

Cruising right along!

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It's been about 3.5 weeks since my last doctor's visit and since then I've lost another 11 lb, bringing me to a total of 37 since my balloon was inserted on October 22. Impressive, especially with all the holidays in there.

I have learned a LOT about food, my body, and my relationship with food since my procedure. I think for anyone considering the gastric balloon, the before- and after-care has got to be part of the package. It's been the difference-maker for me.

I'm almost at the halfway point and had originally been hoping for a 50lb loss (although I told myself I'd have been satisfied with 40) but I think I will realistically be able to wind up in the 60-70lb range. I will still have a long road ahead but that will be one heck of a start.

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Today I reached 40lb lost, which is pretty fantastic. 3.25 months. The scale has been super stubborn for the last two weeks but I put on a shirt that I’ve not worn since last year, and it’s feeling quite roomy. I am in the middle of some big lifestyle changes that include a new job, some school, and some big changes to the social life, so the next 3 months will be more challenging, but I’ve got a really good foundation now, and I’m going to stay on track.

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Are you contemplating further surgeries when your balloon is removed or do you feel this will be enough?

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I haven't decided yet-- a lot of it depends on how I do in the first 3-6 months after the balloon comes out. If I can keep my good habits and maintain a steady weight loss (even if it's not at this rate), then the ideal way forward for me would be no new procedures until I am ready for Excess skin removal (which I am fairly sure I am going to need). But I would consider another balloon, or a sleeve, if that's what was required to get the results I wanted. I would probably also consider a proper gastric bypass, but one of those semi-permanent procedures is more appealing to me.

So ask me again in a few months :D

I do think I've learned a LOT about my relationship with food, and also about the mistakes I made last time I had a significant weight loss, and I feel that my aftercare program has been a huge resource for me. I think I have the tools I need to be successful; I just have to stick with it!

Edited by ItME

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