You, Me & The Sleeve

I can be a little obsessive at times (cue: audience laughter). When my brain gets stuck on something, it’s really, really difficult to move past it. The last couple of months have been filled with reading blogs about bariatric surgery, researching VSG and hours of YouTube stories about various experiences with the sleeve. Work and summer school have been taking up the majority of my time. Whatever free time I have left is split between spending time with my husband, pre-op appointments and learning as much as possibly can about the sleeve.

Recently, I’d been reading & watching blogs about spousal experiences with the sleeve and bariatric surgery. The first few bloggers terrified me. They talked about when they lost their weight, they ended up divorced or in really, really terrible marriages. Others mentioned that it had been constant disagreements and arguments since their operation. There is another blogger who said 75% of marriages end after bariatric surgery. I’m fairly certain this number is made up and there isn’t any solid data to support it. However, I’m also fairly certain that marriage won’t get easier after having the surgery. Thankfully, I’m not counting on it to be that way!

Finally, I stumbled on a few YouTubers who actually had their spouses comment on their surgeries and weight loss. I felt a massive wave of relief hit! They equated it to any other major life change. Moving, having a baby, switching careers- if the marriage is solid before, it’ll be difficult but you’ll be able to handle it. If the marriage was rocky before, work it out before and during the process and you’ll be able to handle it. If the marriage sucked before and you don’t try to work on it, it isn’t going to make it. All of this sounds like common sense- but it was an enormous relief to hear that from other people!

In a weird way, I’d been feeling like I was abandoning Alex. I was (and still am) devoting a massive amount of my free time to research and appointments. My diet is about to change in a major way. My activity habits are about to change in a major way. Our life together is about to drastically change! I am so thankful to be married to a man who supports and encourages me. However, I couldn’t help but feel like he’d be all alone to eat dinner while I was trying my best to enjoy my pre-op diet of shakes and broth.

When I talked to him about everything I’d been reading and my distraught feelings about leaving him alone to fend for himself in the food department- In my mind, I pictured some pitiful spotlight on me at one end of the room, sadly sipping on a shake while Alex sat under a separate spotlight eating lonely chicken wings. First off, we don’t own spotlights. Secondly, this is ridiculous.

He just laughed and said he’d been feeding himself for years before and had already resolved to prepare food for himself while asking for minimal help from me. Of course he was prepared! Of course he’d already thought of it! Of course he was ready to support me through this enormous change.

We talked a lot about how relationships are food-based. We call each other after work to see what’s for dinner. We make plans with friends and family around dinner or lunch. We celebrate with food. We are already making dinner plans while we’re eating breakfast that morning. The pre-op and post-op diets will be difficult, but they aren’t the end-all-be-all. Ultimately, I think we’re both excited to make these changes together!

For the time being, we’ll continue to enjoy regular meals together and once that changes, we’ll adjust accordingly. No spotlights and different foods. I’m okay with that. Also- I haven’t decided on a final meal yet. While I’m leaning towards sushi, steak seems more appropriate. Suggestions? Whatever it is, it’ll be accompanied by some sort of scotch or whisky.

Scotch is always appropriate.
-Alee

Stationary Bikes & Unintentional Naps

6/19-
3:15pm Drove to Ft. Worth
4:42pm Remembered that I had one job: go. to. the. bank.
4:53pm Went to withdraw money to pay for tomorrow’s appointment
/hours of time with friends who live near my doctor/
9:30pm Bed time at Casa de Shafer
6/20-
12:30am Nervously having to get up to pee every 20 minutes since I laid down
12:38am Last time to look at phone and force myself to try and sleep
5:50am GO TIME! Let’s take some tests!
6:50am Out the door, off to the doctors
/testing begins and finishes around 12:00pm/

First test:
A lovely ensemble consisting of a paper vest and loin cloth were laid out for me to change into. After changing I was told to lay on my side and a nurse put a bunch of goop on my chest so she could listen/look at my heart. It was fascinating to hear all the noises! It sounded like sheet metal bending. Probably not what she heard, but I enjoyed it. Next, she had me lay flat while she looked/listened to the veins (arteries?) in my legs. The goop is cold and uncomfortable, but all in all, the test wasn’t horrible. Apparently I drifted off for a while and snored, according to the lady who had been testing me. I wouldn’t have known aside from the drool on the side of my face. I did manage to have a lovely dream about picking out a fish at PetSmart.

Second test:
Breathing, breathing and more breathing. Then breathing on a bike. Then breathing on a bike while balancing one arm on the nurse. Then breathing, peddling furiously, stabilizing on the nurse and using four fingers to grip the handle while one finger was hooked up to another monitor. I also had 10 little sticky electrode sensors stuck to me, but I was less conscious of these because, you know, balance. At first I’d been nervous about the physical test. I’d read horror stories on the internet about obese people who elect to have weight loss surgery done- their cardio tests had been intense running. No, thank you. When I heard I was just going to have to do the stationary bike, I actually laughed at the lady on the phone and told her I could ride a stationary bike for 3 days without stopping and thanked her for making me feel better.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Prov. 16:18

Classic.
One: bike seats HURT. Who wants to sit on a hockey puck and bike their hearts out for half an hour?
Two: 8-10 minutes? 8-10 minutes of hell. Max heart rate 8-10 minutes is significantly different than 8-10 minutes of casual biking.
Three: I hate stationary bikes.

Next was meeting with another doctor at the office. He answered more questions. Honestly, I don’t remember much about what he said because I was too busy thinking about how bad my posterior hurt from sitting on a glorified brick for 30 minutes.

Then off to a meeting with the dietitian, nutritionist and completing my pre-op class. This was information overload. I loved it! I finally got to find out what my pre-op and post-op diet is going to look like. I can go buy vitamins now! Soon I’ll go buy soups and stock up on all the protein my heart can stand. I like to prep, ok? I was also given a fabulous pair of leg squishers to prevent DVT post-surgery. I’m looking forward to them because I’ve never participated in the leg warmer fad. Now’s my chance! No, really. I just don’t want DVT and I’ll wear whatever goofy apparatus they want me to in order to recover the best way possible.

Several hours later, I walked over to the checkout desk. The lady at the desk looked up and said, “Ladd?”.
“…Yes?”
“You just looked like you’d been here for hours. Let’s get you out of here.”

Nailed it.

I’ll probably post more about what the dietitian & nutritionist said. I’ve really enjoyed reading others stories about what they can/can’t eat pre-op and post-op. Although they’re almost all the same, it’s interesting to see the slight variances. Hopefully y’all find it interesting too!

After I walked out the door, I felt even better about everything. I know this is the right decision. There is no doubt that this is going to be a difficult overhaul of my current life and situation, but I feel so much peace and excitement! My next test is the 29th. My liquid diet starts on the 6th. I’ve got lots to do between here and there and can’t wait to get started.
-Alee

Testing 1, 2, 3

Tomorrow is my first official pre-op test! It’s getting real!

It’s still shocking to me that all of this is happening so quickly. The next two week will include 4 tests and 2 classes. Tomorrow is the easy one- the chest x-ray. Tuesday will be full of more tests and classes. The 29th is the EGD.

This is where I get nervous. Not because I’m afraid they’ll tell me I’ve got a hernia or that the doctors will judge me for all the gum I swallowed when I was 10. I’m nervous because of all the YouTube videos of people saying stupid stuff post-anesthesia. I’ve never really been a deep-dark-secrets kinda gal. My life is an open book, honestly! I have no idea what I’m afraid I’ll jabber on about. Hopefully it’ll be about how handsome I think my husband is or how I just really miss the dogs. I have no idea what to expect.

I don’t feel nervous at all about undergoing anesthesia for my sleeve because I’ll have already done it once (although, the first time will be more mild). Not knowing is the worst. I can’t imagine what I’d say to actually embarrass myself. My husband is taking me to have the test done and then bringing me home afterwards. We talk about everything from weird bowel movements the dogs had to having the other pop an unreachable back zit. I can’t fathom what in the world I’d say or do that would be legitimately embarrassing, yet- here I am.

If anything, I just hope it makes for a funny story I can tell y’all later.
-Alee

 

Why him?

I’ve been asked a few times about why I chose my doctor. So- let me tell you why I picked him and about doctor shopping.

My first doctor was recommended to me by my too-cute-friend, Jessica (check her out on Insta!) . Jessica elected to have VSG back in 2014 and has had phenomenal success on her weight loss journey. I’d give my right arm and probably my left leg to look like her. I figured- Jessica’s had great success with her doctor, so I’ll start there!

I called them and they were able to get me in fairly quickly (thanks to my fabulous, flexible and supportive boss). First- I sat with a very smiley nurse who asked lots of questions about my health, family history, drinking/drug habits and who referred me. The nurse asked all the regular health questions- high cholesterol? High BP? What daily medication I was required to take? I told her, “I’m really lucky because I’m healthy as a horse. My only problem is that I’m fat!” She immediately said, “Oh, no! Don’t say that!” and I tried to explain what I meant- I’m very thankful/lucky/grateful to be in overall good health, I’m just very clearly obese and that’s why I’m here. I don’t think fat is a bad word. I know it makes most people (especially other fat people) uncomfortable because they see it as a derogatory remark. For me, it’s just an adjective- an adjective I hope to not be for much longer.

Then- the doctor came in. He was nice, straightforward and very optimistic. I didn’t ever feel like I was being judged. While most of the information he gave was clinical with statistics and studies- I felt like he genuinely wants to help and has my best interest at heart. We spent over an hour discussing possible complications, outcomes and what I should expect pre-op and post-op. I never felt rushed or like I was irritating him with all of my questions. I imagine its frustrating for doctors who preform elective surgeries- they probably have lots of patients asking the same things over and over. There is a lot to be said about face-time with your doctor. After that, I spent about half an hour going over the financials involved with self-pay, outpatient surgeries and all the appointments from here to there.

I left feeling incredible! HEY- I don’t have to be fat forever! What a great thought!

Fast forward a couple of weeks, I’d been recommended to see another doctor by a friend who also elected to have VSG surgery. I gave them a ring and they were able to see me in the next week or so. When I walked in, I was handed a stack of papers and sat in the waiting room for almost an hour. Then, the doctor came in. He introduced himself to me and the other 13 potential patients in the room and began giving basic information on the Lap Band, Gastric Bypass RNY and the VSG. After his presentation, all the patients were handed a folder with a little more detailed information and called back one by one to meet with the doctor. 2.5 hours later, I was finally called back. It felt like being called to the principals office (not that I’d know what that was like, thank you very much). A nurse took my vitals and then the doctor came in. The exchange between us went something like this:
Doctor: “So?”
Me: “Hi, I’m Alee.”
Doctor: “Hi, I’m doctor _____. So?”
Me: “…”
Doctor: “Any questions?”
I told him about having scheduled other appointments and although I’d previously thought it impossible, his attitude got even worse. He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair and proceeded to completely scrutinize everything I said to him. If you’ve ever watched the TV show, “Scrubs“- you’ll remember Dr. Steadman. That was him. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. I left feeling frustrated, angry and slightly tickled that I’d actually met the real life Steadman.

I attempted to make a few other appointments with doctors who wouldn’t return calls or emails. I decided this was a sign of either:
1. They’re SO good that they’re too busy for new patients
2. If I ever do get a hold of them, and they do my surgery, I’ll die because they won’t pick up the freaking phone
I chose to believe the latter and opted to pick the first doctor.

I’m not really sure how to end these blogs. I feel like I need a cool ending phrase… not so much, “xoxo, gossip girl” but more than “-A”. My go-to conversation ender is usually, “well, there ya go”. That doesn’t sound right either.

I’ll work on that.
-Alee

Well, here we are.

My name is Alee and I’m fat.

How do you like that for outstanding literature? There it is. I’ve been overweight for nearly my entire life. I’ve actively participated in the the fat free fad, Snackwells boom, grapefruit diets, low carb, high fat, protein only, Lean Cuisines, HIT workouts, weight lifting, intense cardio, running and more calorie counting than I can remember. Yet, here we are- still fat.

Most of my young life I was a head taller than everyone in my class. I would stand in the back of group photos, not to hide my body, but because I was proud to be one of the (if not THE) tallest girls in my age group. When Jr. High hit, I quit growing up and began growing out. Prior to this, it was easy to say that I was “big boned”- whatever that is supposed to mean. Friends got taller and I kept growing wider. Unfortunately, I never did progress past my 7th grade height. Extra unfortunately, I did progress to an obscene number on the scale. At 27, I’ve decided to take a drastic step in reclaiming my body- I’ve elected to have the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) surgery.

This isn’t a decision I came to lightly, but the opportunity came suddenly. Before I knew it, I’d booked a couple of appointments and headed off to one of my favorite cities (major love for Cowtown) to see my first choice in Doctors. Upon pulling into the parking lot, a  waive of nausea hit me- “Do I really want to do this?”

A million reasons why I’ve wanted to do this popped into my head- the biggest ones being:
-I want to live a long and healthy life
-When we finally decide to start a family, I want a healthy pregnancy
-I’m SO tired of trying to lose weight and feeling defeated
The answer is an absolute, resounding- YES. Yes!

I want to do this. So- off to the appointment I went. I spent over an hour with the doctor and a friendly nurse then another half hour going over the financials with another lady. The doctor was optimistic, but very real. No sugar coating, but supportive. I left the appointment feeling resolved and at peace with my decision.

Today, I made the call to the doctor’s office and have all my pre-op appointments set. They’ve assigned a surgery date of July 20th, 2017! The day is rapidly approaching and I can’t wait!

The reason I’ve decided to blog is that I’d like to be as candid as possible about my experience with weight loss surgery. I’ve had friends who have lost significant weight from diet and exercise alone. I’ve also had friends who have lost significant weight through weight loss surgery. Our bodies are fascinating! I LOVE hearing other people’s stories and hopefully you’ll enjoy hearing mine. This is my journey to becoming a lighter Ladd. 🙂