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.

martini.jpg

 

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.

fruit water.jpg
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.

soup.jpg

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

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