Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Feeling better

A blood test showed that I'm anemic. We're not sure why - whether it's from low caloric intake, or a GI bleed. I had to do a hemoccult test that showed I'm bleeding somewhere in there, and since my mom had colon cancer, I have to take it seriously even though colonoscopies done after past positive hemoccult tests showed nothing serious. So I have an appt with my gastro doc next week, and no doubt he's going to want to do another colonoscopy. Oh, goodie.

I've been taking an iron supplement for a week now and already feel much, much better. Still struggling with the hunger, but it's easier for me to deal with that when I'm not exhausted. In the past week I've been able (occasionally) to eat a bit more than 1/4 cup of food at a time, and I'm hoping that when I get up to the 1/2 cup I'm supposed to be eating, my body will realize it's not going to starve to death and stop torturing me with blood sugar fluctuations.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Almost 2 months post-op

This Thursday will mark the 2-month anniversary of my sleeve surgery. I'm still struggling to adjust to eating and living with my sleeve. My surgeon & dietitian, my internist's NP/diabetes educator, and a nurse at Anthem BC/BS all seem to feel that if I could eat more than 1/4 cup of food at a time, I wouldn't be so hungry only an hour after eating. Since eating more than 1/4 cup makes me sick, I'm not able to test that theory right now. I'm getting a lot better at knowing when to stop eating and at avoiding dumping, but having to eat every 1 to 1-1/2 hours (which is what the NP/diabetes educator recommends) is a pain in the butt, especially when I'm at work, where I'm not allowed to eat or drink except during my one 15-minute break. And this isn't a nagging hunger. It's a screaming hunger, because my blood sugar has nose-dived and my body thinks I'm about to starve to death and cranks up the production of grehlin and other hormones to motivate me to eat again.

The other problem is my fatigue and low energy. I've been tested for anemia, dehydration, and various vitamin/mineral deficiencies and hope to get the test results today.

The good news is that I've lost 17.4 lbs so far and I'm fitting into smaller clothes again. I'd forgotten that it can be fun to go closet-shopping. I still can't fit into last winter's clothes but today I'm taking a bag of fat clothes to Goodwill.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Sleevester

The other day, an acquaintance asked me if I'm a "sleever" now. My beloved band is history and I do indeed have a sleeved stomach (thanks to successful surgery on August 16th). My intensive 19 seconds of research revealed that the correct answer to the question is that I'm now a sleevester - a bandster who became a sleever.

I'm finding that recovering from sleeve surgery is harder and lengthier than recovering from band surgery. I feel OK, but have little energy and get tired easily. I've lost 10 lbs since the surgery, so that's cause for celebration. At my 2-week post-op appointment, my surgeon encouraged me to start transitioning from purees to solid food, and said that the hunger I'm having is because purees don't have the staying power of solid food. Well, I already know all the words to that song, but I'm still wondering about the hunger. I can eat only a few bites of solid food, and about an hour later I'm fiercely hungry again. It's very frustrating. Eventually my body should realize that 75% of my stomach is gone now and ratchet down the production of grehlin (hunger hormone) and acid. The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned.

I'm trying to learn my new "stop eating" signals. With my band, my main stop signals were pressure in my chest and a fullness at the back of my throat. Now I feel pressure or a burning sensation in my upper abdomen, and sometimes the fullness at the back of my throat. If I don't notice any signals and overeat, I feel slightly sick. And speaking of sick...it turns out that sleeve patients can dump (something I thought only bypass patients experience). My surgeon says that's because the stomach is too small to store food and therefore "dumps" it into the intestines, where it spikes the blood sugar. Sugary foods are the main culprit, and I'm finding that sugar lurks where you don't expect it, like creamy poppyseed salad dressing and my favorite Click vanilla latte protein shake. Giving up the Click saddens me because I love that stuff, but sugar in liquid form causes havoc (I get dizzy, sweaty, and nauseated) so quickly that I just can't do it, even if I try to drink the Click slowly. So I'm searching for other breakfast options that are quick, easy, and satisfying.

One of the arguments in favor of VSG surgery is that you're basically done when you leave the operating room. No fills, no unfills....it is what it is. But that's also an argument against VSG. Except for further surgery (which in my case would be duodenal switch since I'm already halfway to the switch part), there's no adjusting my stomach or restriction...it is what it is. So I have to find a way to live with what I've got, like it or not.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Second Chances

When I was first banded, I believed (and proclaimed) that one of the great things about the band is that if you get off track or backslide, you can always start over again. Get another fill, do a band refresher course, get back on the bandwagon, and eventually reach your weight goal. At the time, it seemed to be a benefit unique to the band, largely because of the “window of weight loss opportunity” myth widely circulated in the bariatric patient community. I thought that a gastric bypass, sleeve, or duodenal switch patient used up all their chances the first time they visited the operating room, and that we bandsters were a special breed.

Since then, I’ve watched dozens of WLS patients (bandsters and others) go back to the operating room again and again because their initial surgery choice disappointed them or caused complications. I realized that we do get second and even third chances, though with no guarantees of greater satisfaction or lesser complications. The new surgery choice worked for some, and not for others. I know of two ex-bandsters who died during or after their WLS revision, their deaths due more to a combination of terrible events than to the surgical procedure they had. I also know people who have succeeded wonderfully, and without complications, since their second or third bariatric procedure. Just as with the first try at bariatric surgery, it’s hard to predict how well patients will do after revision surgery. One thing does stay the same, though. At this time in history, there is no cure for obesity, not even the most drastic weight loss surgery, and because of that, weight regain is a specter that haunts us all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another bump in the road

My bandwagon hit another bump in the road in April. After my surgeon removed my band, she was unable to pass the bougie (calibration tube) through my esophagus into my stomach because of a stricture, so I woke up with 6 incisions, no band, and no sleeve. Extremely disappointing.

Since then I've had the stricture dilated from 13 to 17 mm (the bougie was 13.3 mm) by a gastro-enterologist who says my problems were caused by longterm "silent" reflux. I can remember going to an ENT doc in mid 1980's who said my chronic cough was due to reflux, not a throat problem. Since I'd never had any recognizable reflux symptoms (heartburn, acid regurgitation, etc.), I didn't believe him. Now I wish I'd sought treatment for the reflux, but I can't go backwards and somehow I'm determined to move forwards. I'm taking omeprazole every day and aside from regaining 20-25 lbs, feeling fine. I plan to take another shot at the sleeve surgery in August.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Always a bandster at heart

My journey on the bandwagon has taken an unexpected detour. Earlier this year, I learned that the reflux I'd been having was related to esophageal dilation and motility problems. A complete unfill cured the dilation, but because my surgeon will not re-fill my band and strongly recommends removing it, I'm having surgery to remove my band and revise to vertical sleeve gastrectomy on April 27, 2012. I am very sad to say goodbye to my band, but trying to make the best of the circumstances. I absolutely refuse to go back to the land of obesity, and I know myself well enough to realize that I still need a surgical tool to help me with weight management.

I have a lot to learn about the sleeve and you'll probably see me comparing life with the sleeve to life with the band. I'll always be a bandster at heart, and the Bandwagon publications and Facebook support group will go on as before. So stay tuned!