Barbara's WLS Journey

Who am I and why am I here?

Hello, I am Barbara, a 51 yo wife and mother.  I have been married for 28 years to a wonderful man, he is a paramedic/firefighter.  I have 2 boys, a 15 year old and a 19 year old.  I worked in the healthcare field for 20+ years.  I went part time when I had my boys and then quit completely when my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer so I could take care of her.  That was 11 years ago. I spent the last 10 years volunteering in the library at the elementary school my kids went to. I started subbing in the physically impaired special ed. classroom, I was a full time, temporary  permanent sub! LOL  Well the girls kept trying to get me to just take the job instead of subbing , so I did and I love it!  I have also started a business with my best friend: Inspired Pandemonium.  We have always been very crafty so we decided to start selling our work. We are revamping and setting up a new website so check us out!

So, why the blog.  10 days ago (April 27, 2015) I had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.  I wanted to share my journey, so many people have helped me through all this, I thought maybe if I blogged I might help someone else.  I also need to keep a dairy and I am bad about writing things down! I always have a computer near me, so……..

I have always had weight issues.  I was always pudgy as a child, I grew up in a German family where butter and gravy went on everything and food was given for every emotion: sad-have a cookie, happy-have some ice cream, reward-have some cake, you get the idea. When I was 13 I was raped by a friend of the family. I couldn’t tell my parents what happened, (he threaten to do the same to my 7 year old sister if  told anyone, I was scared and believed him) so I ate my emotions.  I started putting on weight and in high school I was around 275 lbs.  I was a mess in high school. I did drugs, drank alcohol, smoked and slept around.  Then I met my husband.  He was the first person I ever told about the rape.  He helped me to tell my parents and to get me into counseling.  He saved my life!  I continued to eat my emotions though, I was 311 lbs on the day I married my husband, May 16, 1987.  I pretty much stayed around that weight for many years.  I gained 10 lbs when pregnant with my first son and 50 with my second (that was a horrible pregnancy, my thyroid quit functioning, I was on 110 units of insulin a day and almost died twice during the emergency c-section–but man he was worth it!!).  I would go back down to around 315 lbs.  When my mom was diagnosed with liver cancer (her second go round with cancer, she was diagnosed when she was 42 with colon cancer and was clear for 13 years when it metastasized in her pancreas and liver) She was given 3 months but she was stubborn, she lived for another wonderful 18 months passing at 57 years old.  My mom and dad were 15 & 18 when I was born and would have celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary the year she passed. They were true soul mates! My sister who is 5 years younger than I has never left home.  She still lives with my Dad.  I worried so much about how they would deal with my mom’s death that I didn’t take the time to grieve for myself.  I started eating more and I got up to 380lbs.  I had diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and a heart attack in 2008.  I was recently diagnosed with stage 3 kidney disease.  The diabetes and high blood pressure are destroying my kidneys.  I was told if I didn’t lose weight, get the diabetes and blood pressure under control,  I would be on dialysis by the time I was 60.  I had already been losing weight, over the past 4 years  I have lost a total of 140lbs (I lost 100, gained 40 then relost the40 ) but I was still 280lbs and though my numbers got better, they were still high.

My next door neighbor had had the WLS surgery about 2 years ago. She was doing so well and as above I was having all these medical issues.  I decided to look into it. First I needed to find out if my insurance would even cover it, I was very happy to find out they did.  I was required to do 6 months of a medically supervised diet.  I was already dieting and losing weight so that was no big deal.  The surgeon I decided to go with has a great program.  First you fill out some paperwork to see if you are even eligible to have the surgery.  After being accepted I had to go to a meeting where the surgeon showed a video on the different types of WLS and what the pro’s and con’s of each surgery was and then a Q & A.  This was a great meeting, I knew right away I was going to do the Roux-en-Y, it has a higher rate of the diabetes going away and that was my goal.  Dr. Eagon requires you to go through a process before having your surgery.  You see a psychologist, a physical therapist, a dietitian, and attend a WLS support group meeting. I was extremely well prepared going into this.

I did my 6 months,  I did the things required by my surgeon and then I was FINALLY able to schedule my surgery.   January 20th was my scheduled day.  I had to wait 3 months.  The week before the surgery during my pre op appointment the nurse asked when I had my last stress test and it had been awhile (we were doing echocardiograms).  My cardiologist decided it would be best if I had one before the surgery.  I love my cardiologist and his office, they got me in the next day for the stress test.  Well they saw a blockage in one of the stents so I had to have a cardiac cath. Welllll, my insurance company said since I was asymptomatic, they weren’t going to pay for it.  So a few days before the surgery I had to cancel.  My cardiologist and I fought with the insurance company for about a month and they finally agreed to pay for it.  Now here is the kicker, I went in, had the cardiac cath and we find out that it was a shadow from my breast tissue, I was fine!  Yea I was fine, grrrr I was fine–I could have had the surgery in the first place.  I called the surgeon the middle of February and they were scheduling for middle to the end of May–I was heart broken and frustrated, I was wavering on whether I should even do the surgery.  The nurse knew what all I had gone through and she said she would call if she could get an earlier date.  She called the next day and said April 27th was open. I took it!  I had to wait about 2 months but everything happens for a reason, while going through the cardiac cath debacle they discovered the kidney disease.

I had my surgery April 27th.  It was a great experience.  First, my preop nurse was a nurse I worked with over 25 years ago, it was great seeing her and I knew I was in good hands.  The hospital is very small, only 77 beds and it is located in a wealthier area.  The care was unbelievable, every one from the house dr. to the house keeper were awesome.  Not once did I see a frown or any one with a bad attitude.  I got a newspaper every morning and every afternoon a woman would come through with a cart of complementary items.  Magazines, crossword puzzles etc.

So, onto the surgery– I was in for about 3 hours (I think part of this time might have been in recovery my husband wasn’t sure), they said the surgery would take about 90 minutes.  I was taken to my room and given a PCA (patient controlled analgesia, the little machine with the button you push when in pain) boy that was some intense stuff, my family said I got a text message and I stared at it for about 15 minutes then said, I will read it later LOL! Now, I had intense pain meds and I have a high tolerance to pain and I was still in intense pain.  I have 6 small incisions in my stomach area.  They do the surgery arthroscopically.  The 5 incision on the left side of my stomach is where they went in.  Man, it felt like they drove a semi around in there.  I also had a drain in the 6th incision on the right.  The left side of my stomach felt like it was going to fall out if I didn’t hold it when walking.  Having worked on a surgery floor, I knew all the rules.  Roll onto your side, bring your knees up and use the bed rails to push myself up to get out of bed and use a small pillow against the stomach.  I wanted up out of bed and into the chair as soon as possible, it is so important to get moving.  I was in the chair about 4 hours after I got to my room.  I was up bright and early the next morning, who actually sleeps in a hospital ha ha, and went walking, well that was hard but I knew I had to do it.  I walked 4 or 5 times that day and they had me do steps in physical therapy because I have steps into and in my house.  The steps were easy, no extra pain from using them, the walking was a different story!!!  I was able to go home on day 3.  I had to eat and tolerate a meal (watery cream of wheat, juice and coffee)I was only able to get in a couple of teaspoons and I felt so full.  I went home with the drain in.  That wasn’t painful just a pain in the tush, it would get in the way and you had to pin it to your shirt and let it hang down lower than the incision.

I came home on the 3rd day and it was a little rough for a couple of days.  I couldn’t eat very much and I couldn’t get in my water (they want you to drink 64 oz. a day). I have an app on my phone that goes off every 15 minutes to remind me to drink.  I have a 1/4 measuring cup that I fill up and it takes about 10 minutes to drink that 1/4 cup, but if I get it all in that is 8 oz in an hour.  Now you can not eat 30 minutes before a meal and 60 minutes after and it takes you a good 30-45 minutes to eat a meal, which is only about 1/4-2/3 of a cup of food and you have to get in at least 60gms of protein a day.  It is a job trying to figure it all out!!

1 week post op I had to go to the hospital to have a barium swallow to make sure there were no leaks and see the surgeon.  OMG the barium swallow, if you have never had one, your lucky.  It is nasty!  It was good news, no leaks!  I saw the surgeon and had the drain removed (that is a weird feeling!).  I was given the go ahead to start pureed food.   Oh boy!

The pureed diet—you can have foods that are the consistency of applesauce. My diet consists mainly of cream of wheat, strained cream soups, sugar free pudding, sugar free jello, pureed peaches, mashed potatoes, yogurt and sugar free popsicles.  Basically what I have been eating since I came home from the hospital.  I am really having a rough time eating, not only am I bored with the choices, I get full really quick. I tried eating baby food chicken and home pureed chicken-GROSS, I am not doing meat but I am getting at least 60gm of protein a day.  I found a protein powder that is 30gm per tablespoon, it is odorless and tasteless, called GenPro.  This is a biggy for me, I have tried tons of different protein drinks before surgery trying to find one I could tolerate.  I hate that whey taste and smell.   I mix the tablespoon in my SF pudding, or my mashed potatoes and sometimes in the morning I put it in my yogurt. I do it twice a day.  Next Monday, 18 days post op, I will get to start soft foods.  I can not wait! I will get to eat eggs and cheese.  I thought I wasn’t much of a cheese fan but I guess I am, I can’t wait to have my babybel light! LOL!  I go back to the surgeon on June 1st and if all is good, I will progress to eating solid foods.  I am a bit nervous about that.  We leave on the 11th to go to Boston, we live in Missouri, it is 2-12 hour day drive.  We have family there so we go for several weeks every summer.  Eating on the road won’t be a problem, we never eat at restaurants, we pack picnic type foods and stop and eat at rest stops.  I am not much of a meat eater, I am not vegan but I prefer fish/shellfish to meat.  So it is going to be easy to get good fresh fish and shellfish in Boston, I hope I can tolerate it!

The stomach pain stopped hurting 1 week post op. but I get extremely tired quick.  I am exhausted just walking from the living room to my bed room and I have a small house.  A word of warning-when the pain goes away and you feel good, do not think you can do much.  Saturday my husband and my youngest boy drove to Louisville, KY for an archery competition. They left early in the morning and came home that evening.  I decided that the couch cushions needed to be straightened (my couch is low and I am OCD) and I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher.  Well I am 5’5″ and I leaned up on my tippy toes and reached up to put a dish on the top shelf.  About 10 minutes later my stomach started hurting like it did the day of surgery. I can not stand up straight, I walk hunched over like an old lady and 3 days later I am still hurting. I talked to the surgeon today, he said that I am not the first one to do this,  you feel good so you think you can increase your activity, nope, too early!  He said that I probably stretched/pulled on the scar tissue that is trying to heal and hence the pain.  He told me to restart the pain pills and take it easy and it should go away soon.  I hope because I am so tired of being exhausted and not doing anything!

So I weighed 279 lbs on the day of surgery and today, 2 weeks post op I am 260 lbs.  I have gotten off one of my diabetic medicines and I am taking half the dose of the other.  I take 2 blood pressure pills a day, I am now taking 1 and soon to be off of that, my blood pressure before meds this am was 108/64!

So this is the start of my journey on the loser’s bench!! I am new at this blogging so I will try to figure out tomorrow how to post pic’s.  Thanks for listening!

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