One Week Post-Op

Today was my one week post-op surgical visit! Debi drove me out to Ft. Worth to meet with Dr. Novak and the PA. It wasn’t a long visit but it was a great one!
-Scar sites healing nicely
-Good feedback on liquids/protein
-Date for lifting and exercise bumped to 3 weeks!
-All great!

As I was talking to my surgeon and the PA, it was so incredibly encouraging to hear them say, “we just knew you’d do great”.  Maybe they say that their patients, who knows. I don’t really care. I know that they mean it. It feels SO great to hear your surgeon and their staff cheer you on and to celebrate your progress as much as you are! One of the reasons why I chose Dr. Novak to begin with was because I felt that he was confident in ME. Not cocky because he’s a great surgeon, not confident in the surgery- confident in ME! That’s a great feeling!

I let Dr. Novak know I was interested in trying Title Boxing and he seemed really thrilled with that idea. He mentioned he had wanted me working with a trainer so I wouldn’t hurt myself, but he was very familiar with Title and said that was a perfect route to go. I’m excited to get to try it out in a few weeks and see how I like it!

In other news, I’m basically having a long-term love affair with tomato soup. There. It’s out now. Tomato soup is life. Based on my certified tomato soup expert opinion, I’m providing you all with a definitive ranking of best and worst tomato soups:

Worst: Campbells (canned)
-Lacks any flavor
-Can be saved if you add your own basil/salt/milk
Bad: Progresso
-Salty and sad
Mostly OK: Campbells (boxed)
-More flavor, that’s about it
Alright: Starwood
-Texture was really smooth but had bizarrely large chunks of tomato
Better: Panera
-Favor doesn’t need any help
-Only gripe is some of the tomato chunks were yellow, not red. That weirded me out
Best: La Madeline
-God’s gift to the soup world
-Please bury me with a jar of this

Now that we’re all on the same page about the soup situation, I can tell y’all a little about my new (old) liquid diet. I’m back on full liquids… yay! I had a FABULOUS half a protein shake (GNC Go Lean, duh) this morning. Some La Madeline’s tomato soup for lunch (about half a bowl- which is somewhere around half a cup?) and for “dinner” I finished the 2nd half of my shake. Tomorrow I’ll be better about protein because I can add my unflavored protein to my at home soups- but it sure is nice being able to sit and have soup like a normal person.

There have been two really difficult changes so far:
1. Not drinking while eating
2. Putting the spoon down while eating
REALLY, really, really difficult. I’ve been watching Dr. Duc Vuong‘s videos and he said until you get into the habit, you should try sitting on your hands between bites. While I’m not “chewing” my soup, I’m also not gulping it down either. It is shockingly difficult to set the damn spoon down between bites. Who knew! When I do start eating, it’ll be a longer process of chewing between each bite- but this is a solid habit to get into now! For the next week, I’ll keep practicing on soup. 🙂

-Alee

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3 Days Out & Half A Stomach

Today is my third day post-op after having a good portion of my stomach removed. So far I’ve been tremendously thankful to report almost no gas pain from the procedure! I have a bit of pain in my abdomen near my belly button, but not anything that isn’t manageable. Over all, I don’t think it could have gone any better!

Thankfully, my surgeon gave very simple and clear instructions: hydrate. Several of my fellow sleevers (still not sure if I like that word yet) have been given strict orders to hit a water minimum of 64 oz. and protein goal of 40 grams the entire first week. I was SO thankful that my doctor gave me one job. The day of surgery it was difficult to get in my water. The day after it was less difficult, but still not enjoyable. Yesterday and today it’s felt less like a chore and more normal.

I’ve been able to mix in a little protein here and there. Unflavored whey protein irks me. I can’t get it to blend right and it leaves a weird film in my mouth. This morning I mixed up a half a scoop into 8oz. of ice water in a blender bottle and was able to sip and enjoy that! I may have to keep that going for the next couple of days.

Also- hot tea goes down like magic! I shocked myself when I’d finished my first cup of hot tea this evening. It was such a pleasant surprise to be finished so quickly.

Over all:
-Laying down still feels more comfortable
-I’m staying hydrated
-I can’t keep any pills down, but I expected as much
-I’m not in horrible discomfort
-I’m physically tired
-The bruising isn’t as bad as I’d anticipated
-My movement is slow but not very painful
-I am constantly aware of the pain, but not hurting horribly from it

My fantastic husband has done a phenomenal job of taking care of me. The day of surgery he woke me up every hour to walk, drink and put my DVT preventative leg squeezers on. Since then he’s gone above and beyond to ensure I’m comfortable and taken care of. He’s really got that, “in sickness and in health” thing down. A few years ago when I had major scary eye issues- he had to wake up every hour on the hour through the night to put drops in my eyes. No complaints, just taking care of me. I’ve flashed back a little bit to that. I appreciate how well he loves me and love him lots for it. 🙂

I’m also über thankful to everyone who’s checked in on me! I couldn’t have a better support system.

Thanks, y’all!
-Alee

Last Night With A Full Stomach

Tomorrow is surgery day! I’ve been physically preparing for weeks, mentally preparing for months and hopeful that it would happen for lots longer than that.

My brain feels like it is in 1,000 different directions right now. Here is a small glimpse in:
-I’m SO sick of clear liquids
-Trader Joe’s should do peony sales more often
-I can’t forget to take my nail polish off for tomorrow
-Did I set an out of office message yet?
-Can’t forget surgical soap tonight
-How much water have I had today?
-Have I triple checked my hospital backpack?
-How am I going to get my industrial and tragus piercings back in?
-I wonder what the dogs are doing
-Did I overspend at Market?
-Why didn’t I buy that bag?
-Still tired of clear liquids
-I think it would be really fun to eat something
-When am I going to get my car fixed?
-How will it feel to wake up at 4:30 tomorrow?
-I wonder if I’ll lose any more weight  between here and tomorrow
-I wonder how many inches I’ve lost on my liquid diet

The last two days have been a whirl wind. I’ve been on clear liquids only and am REALLY feeling over it. Having soup in the full liquid stage helped me feel less blah about “food”. I’ve been living on these guys:

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Honestly, they’re not the worst. However, I’ll be happy to never drink one again. They taste like melted jello. Weird and thick. They don’t taste awful and certainly don’t taste great BUT 40 grams of protein is hard to beat. I’ve only felt hungry once the last two days. That is so bizarre for me! I’m used to feeling hungry ALL the time! They certainly aren’t a joke… they’ve done a great job of doing what they’re supposed to.

Nearly two full weeks of no nicotine, caffeine or alcohol and all I really feel is that it would be nice to have those things. I don’t crave any of them. I’m ok without them. It would just be reaaaally nice to have them. I definitely don’t need any of it- just sort of miss it. I don’t intend to bring nicotine back in, but certainly don’t want alcohol to be as regular a part of my life as it was before. Drinking and overeating are a very familiar combination for me.

On that note- 20lbs down as of today! 20lbs in 2 weeks! Wild.

Several people in my support group have mentioned that their last day pre-op was a miserable one. I feel really sad for all of them! Today has been a great day! I got lots of laundry done, had a fabulous friend help finish the housecleaning, and then went to spend the day with a few of my favorite people at the Dallas World Trade Center! We walked around for hours checking out makeup, clothes, jewelry, home goods, and my VERY FAVORITE- lighting! There’s just something magic about a good light fixture.

I’m tired, have new glorious jewelry and couldn’t have hoped for a better day.
-Alee

7 Days Liquid & 7 Days Left

My full liquid diet started seven days ago. I feel like I’m getting the hang of it! The most major changes have obviously been cutting out eating normal foods, no alcohol, no caffeine and no nicotine. It has been a busy, tiring and interesting week:

Day 1- Tired and underprepared. Cottage cheese late afternoon snack gave me life.
Day 2- Birthday party for a couple of friends including chips, dips, pizza, Jameson… All things that I love. It wasn’t hard to turn them down, just felt kind of out of place not being able to enjoy myself in the same way as everybody else.
Days 3 & 4- Busy and long days at work. It was difficult getting all my protein in between appointments.
Day 5- Better! It was less difficult being around everybody eating and drinking what they wanted. Getting the hang of timing my shakes right. Found some fabulous GNC shakes that taste like Starbucks drinks and satisfy all my pre-op requirements.
Day 6- Feeling great. Staying hydrated, having my protein and not feeling like I needed a 2nd snack or all of my soup.
Day 7- Bought 2 cases of the GNC shakes (treat yo self) and for the first time in a week, not having chicken and veggie soup for dinner!  Had a fabulous cup of Pho soup that meets the requirements (maybe a little sodium high, but I’ll be back to my chicken and veggies soon enough) and couldn’t have been happier with it.

I’ve been doing lots of mindful thinking. Thinking about the shakes I’m putting into my body. No, it isn’t an omelette and isn’t as fun to eat or as delicious- but it’s giving my body the exact nutrients that it needs! I’m also trying to pay better attention to when I’m not hungry anymore. I think that we’re all very used to just eating whats in front of us. Sometimes that’s ok because it’s healthy stuff in front of us. But- we need to be able to recognize when we’re done. That’s something new for me!

One week of full liquids and I’m down 15 lbs. Fifteen! Fifteen. How wild is that? I’ve got 5 more days of full liquids (shakes, cottage cheese/yogurt/jello snacks and chicken with veggie soup) and then the final two days are clear liquids only. It feels GREAT to step on the scale every morning and see it go down! I feel like this is a little taste of what post-op might feel like. I know every day I won’t lose and will probably stall after a few months, but it sure is nice seeing the scale get into numbers I haven’t seen in years. I’m now below my lowest weight from a couple of years ago when I was hitting the gym at 5:00 Monday-Friday and eating right! All it took was a medically supervised liquid fast- haha!

Last trip to the grocery store: I think on day 4 of the liquid fast I’d gone to the grocery store for more cottage cheese (story of my life) and saw some tiny cocktail spoons. One thing I’ve seen other weight loss surgery patients recommend is using these to slow down your meals! I figured, hey- why not make the tiny bit of cottage cheese you get last longer! Try these! So, I grabbed them. When I got to the register, the high school aged cashier scanned the tiny spoons. Upon putting them in the bag she said, “Awww, tiny spoons! Are you going to eat a tiny meal with the tiny spoons?”

Yes, yes I am.
-Alee

Food Finale & Liquid Diet

Wednesday was my last day to eat & drink whatever I felt like. Honestly, I don’t feel like I went as wild as I was anticipating. I picked up an iced coffee (unsweet with half & half) from Starbucks, grabbed a breakfast burrito from Sonic (no fries or tots, just the burrito) and headed off to class. I had a few hours of work to do before I could come home so, I stopped to grab a bacon cheeseburger and diet Coke at One and Only in McKinney. I was a little irritated because I forgot to get fries but wasn’t hungry after eating the burger.

Mid-morning, I got a call from the PA at the surgeon’s office. She left a voicemail about my triglycerides being slightly elevated and that potentially putting me at risk for post-op pancreatitis. Scary! The good news is that she said if I follow my pre-op diet, she feels certain they’ll return to normal levels and there will be minimal cause for concern post-op. Not exactly the call you want to get- but so far all my other tests have been clear. I’m pretty thankful!

My 15-minute drive home went a little like this:
-Stomach knotting up
-Worrying about going out to dinner. Will I enjoy it enough? Will I regret what I’ve eaten?
-Should we cook at home? Will I regret not cooking another big dinner with Alex? What did we even cook together last time?
-What if I can’t stick to my pre-op good enough and get pancreatitis? Other people are tempted to cheat on their pre-op diet, what if I do too?

Oh, anxiety… I was wondering when you’d show back up.

When I got home I sat in my car for a minute and thought about why I’d been feeling so anxious.
1. If I didn’t like the food I was eating for my last meal, I have every capability to get up and eat somewhere else. I love sushi. I love sushi so much I want to be one big giant sushi. I wasn’t going to regret it. I’d be perfectly content with it. It’s sushi.
2. We were going to be making a big pot of pre-op diet approved soup the very next day. We will continue cooking with each other. This isn’t the end of us cooking all together, it’s just changing a bit.
3. Taking it day-by-day, I don’t think I’ll be tempted to cheat. Tonight is a good friend’s birthday and the most tempting thing there will be a 750 of Jameson. However, this is two weeks of work for a lifetime of better habits. I can say no but I’m also capable of setting myself up for success. I’ll bring a nice pitcher of decaf tea. 🙂

We had dinner at one of my favorite sushi restaurants and then went over to Bar Louie for martinis. I never knew I’d enjoy a martini until I tried their Rat Pack- it changed everything. We went home and I had my last bit of alcohol and nicotine.

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My pre-op diet is significantly more flexible than others that I’ve read. I have a shake for breakfast & lunch. Dinner is 2 cups of a broth based soup. I’m allowed a snack or two that can be either cottage cheese, yogurt or sugar free Jello.

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I made the fatal mistake yesterday of drinking a smoothie mix rather than a protein shake mix. The major difference is the amount of calories and protein between the two. The smoothie mix only had 80/cal rather than 120/cal and 10g/protein vs. 20g/protein. Yesterday was stressful because I had booked an oddly high amount of appointments for a Thursday. We were also trying to help get Debs out the door for her Uganda trip. There was just a lot going on.

I felt disrupted because I didn’t stop to get my normal iced coffee (which isn’t a BAD drink- I just can’t have caffeine pre-op), I also couldn’t have any nicotine and I was way down on calories. I was definitely not setting myself up right. Last night I ordered decaf cold brew on Amazon (which arrived 12 hours after I ordered it. I love Amazon.) and made sure my other meal replacements had a better amount of protein in them. All day I felt like I was moving in slow motion and just felt exhausted.

Last night’s soup was great. Carrots, onion, celery, cabbage, chicken, small amount of egg noodles… literally everything you could want in soup. Although I felt dead tired while we were making it, it was well worth it! Something about soup from scratch is just the best.

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This morning I had a much more protein packed shake. I’m still missing nicotine and caffeine, but if that’s the worst part of this then I’ll be alright.
Cheers to breakfast, lunch and dinner!
-Alee

EGD-Day

Today was the day I’d been SO nervous about- my first experience with anesthesia.

Obviously everything turned out ok because I’m sitting at home and typing this blog post. No adverse reactions. No breathing tubes down my throat. Nothing! Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, or EGDs, are necessary pre-sleeve to ensure everything looks typical in your stomach. They are looking for any abnormalities like hernias or cancer. Thankfully, they found nothing- collective sigh of relief. Surgery should still be scheduled for the 20th, as planned.

In preparation for today’s test, I was required to stop all food/liquid at midnight and not use any nicotine products for 24 hours in advance. Everything was as expected until I woke up with unbelievable cotton mouth. I really, really, really love drinking water. I have a hot pink blender bottle that I use daily and refill constantly. It was SO bizarre to not wake up and chug water… you know, my normal routine.

Anyway, we arrived at the medical center at 10:00 for my 10:30 appointment. As things often do, they ran late. I think I was finally wheeled back to the OR a little past noon. Thankfully, Alex was able to wait with me until the doctor arrived and took me back! EGD Waiting Room

When they’d taken me back to the OR, they asked the same few questions again- name, birthday and what procedure I was having done. The last thing I remember was joking with them about the Z my first name and then boom, lights out. Next thing I remember was being wheeled out and asking the nurses what color I should paint the study… the study that we don’t have. Who knows what other stuff I said while I was ultra loopy. I was very sure I’d had the colors narrowed down and none of them would tell me what colors they liked best. I was irritated because I couldn’t get an opinion from them and then realized it was ME asking about colors to paint the study and that we don’t even HAVE a study! From that point, the groggy feeling wore off and it was just a waiting game to be cleared by anesthesia to leave. About 30 minutes later I was free to go!

We had a fabulous soup lunch at Panera and I came home and napped. My throat is a tiny bit sore but aside from that, I feel great. Much, much less scary than I’d anticipated. I think we always brace for the worst.

7 days until my liquid diet starts and 21 days until surgery. Not that I’m counting down or anything. 🙂
-Alee

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