Hey-o, I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m doing great. I’ll warn y’all now: this post is chatty as can be, so if you’re not in a chatty mood, move on by.
I had my 2nd post-op follow up this past week, and the surgeon was very pleased with my progress. I’ve lost almost 60 pounds from my highest weight, I’m working out 6 days a week, and the hip pain I had before is better in that my left hip no longer hurts. My right hip still does, but I found out it’s not weight-related. When I fell in a restaurant in May 2017, it was a really violent blow to what the physical therapist scientifically (LOL) called “the butt bone.” NOT my tailbone, but the bottom edge of my pelvis.
My husband stayed on my butt (no pun intended) about getting an MRI to find out what’s wrong, and the MRI showed that I have a partially torn tendon (gluteus minimus) where it connects to the hip bone (trochantor), and bursitis, which is inflammation of the cushion between the bones (I think…).
I just started physical therapy this last week, and– this is an indication of my seriousness about getting my life back to where I’m not dealing with this pain any more– I am going for a cortisone shot on Tuesday. I am a complete wuss about stuff like this, but I am reasoning that since I hurt like a M-F when I walk too long, I can’t lay on my right side without pain, and I also can’t use stairs, kneel, or squat (the last 2 mean I can’t work in my garden, which pisses me off), it’s stupid to allow my fear to keep me from getting a treatment that could allow me to have my full life. I mean, seriously, y’all: I get 21 Botox shots in my head every 12 weeks for my migraines, and I fought the doctor for a year, avoiding getting the shots, because of my fear. Are the shots pleasant? NO. But they’re not as bad as one would think, and within a couple of weeks, the Botox sets in and I’m able to have a normal life, where before I was very limited by chronic pain. (That’s part of the reason I fell into relapse, turning to my drug of choice: food, to soothe myself.) So if Botox shots help so much AND if I’m tough enough to handle those shots, I can certainly handle ONE shot in my hip.
After I get the shot and it does its thing, it’s possible that the inflammation will go down and NOT come back. At any rate, I’ll be able to make progress to weight-bearing exercises, which will strengthen my hip muscles– and I am determined to make great progress before I have to go back to work! Since I do a recumbent bike 45 minutes 6 days a week at varying resistances, I have more strength in my right leg than the physical therapist expected.
I’m going to be flying out of state soon, and I’m hoping after I get the shot, it will mean I am not lurching like Quasimodo as I trek to my gate. So weird: that’s how this whole adventure started: when my hips hurt so badly and I couldn’t walk without basically waddling that I got to my gate and immediately called Methodist Weight Loss Institute in Dallas. (That’s the bariatric surgery program they have at Methodist Hospital.)
On the very first post I made, I included a photo of myself at a book festival event. Here’s one where I was signing books & cards for students.
This surgery has been the best decision for me to manage not just my weight, but my eating disorder issues, as well. I have adjusted very well to the restrictions and taking vitamins and other meds.
I already take meds 3 times a day anyway, so I didn’t have to learn a new habit. I have not had the urge to binge, and when I was in full blown relapse, I was having food issues nearly every day (again.) Do I have little blips go through my mind sometimes? Yes. But I don’t act on them and I don’t feel “electrified” with the compulsion to eat. I’m happy.
If you are considering having this surgery, just know that it requires rule-following and for you to have a mental outlook that sees the sleeve as a tool, not as a way to feel left out of what others are eating, and not as a way to eat a bunch of crap and get away with it. I could eat nearly anything I want at this point, but I choose to stick to protein and produce. So many of the foods that are on the “avoid” list are also my binge foods, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings to not eat them, especially since when it comes to stuff like cookies, ice cream, bread, etc., NO AMOUNT COULD EVER BE ENOUGH. When I eat that stuff, I’m thinking about where I can get more, before I’m even finished chewing the first mouthful.
I am feeling so much better, y’all, and it’s not about appearance for me. It’s not even about being able to wear clothes I used to be able to wear before I gained weight. I just feel FREE of the urge to stuff myself until I can’t move.
I don’t know how much more weight I’ll lose. I am getting around 1,000 calories a day now, so I guess my body will stop losing weight when it’s reached a natural set point. My goal when I started out is about 15 pounds from where I am now, but I’m not worrying about it. I have a big box of clothes the next size down that I need to switch out with the stuff that’s too big now, and then another set below that. All these are clothes I used to be able to wear before I relapsed over a period of several years. Another good thing: I haven’t had to buy one stitch of clothing. When I end up with clothes that are too big, I’ve been bagging them up and taking them to Goodwill.
If you are contemplating this surgery yourself, I want to warn you that there will be people who discourage you from having it done or who had it done and regained the weight (it IS possible–completely as possible–to regain weight as it would be if you did not have a stomach the size of a skinny banana and unable to hold more than 4 oz. of food at a time. There’s plenty of stuff to eat that would fit in there. Milkshakes, anyone? Hmm?) You will also read things about marriage/divorce and some of the unpleasant side-effects of the surgery, i.e. loose skin from losing so fast, etc. I am a member of some private Facebook support groups for people who have had this surgery.
Some of the concerns/kvetching I see posted there include the following. (Please don’t take me as being judgy about these. I’m going to write (in parentheses) what I would do to make sure my needs are met in these circumstances, because that’s a way I take care of myself. I think this is from my childhood, but not having my needs met–or the perception of same–is a trigger for me in the realm eating disorder and anxiety disorder.)
The following is inspired by info I’ve read on forums I follow:
1. “I went to [insert special event here] and couldn’t eat what everyone else was eating, and I cried.” (I’d bring something I know I can eat in the event that all there is in the way of “special event” food is lard sandwiches and sticks of butter or something equally unfriendly to my goals. Again: I COULD eat just about anything if I wanted to, but I did not have 85% of my stomach removed and experience everything I went through to get to the surgery, PLUS the yicky experience I had with the anesthesia, to throw it all away. I’ve been healthier before and I fell into relapse. I do NOT want to be in that place again.)
2. “My husband said [insert ugly thing here about the person’s appearance before AND/OR after weight loss.]” (Well, first of all, my comment on things like that is, “Invite him to go f–k himself as the earliest possibility.” I don’t know if I’m just lucky or what, but my husband has loved me at my highest and lowest weight, and he does not make comments on the way my body looks no matter what I weigh. He’ll tell me I look nice and all that, but he doesn’t verbally dissect my body to note the changes in it. The ONLY time he’s said anything about me needing to lose weight was when I developed sleep apnea again and he said, “If you ever lose weight again, I’ll bet the sleep apnea will go away.” And he was right, it did. But I didn’t do this just because he made that comment.)
3. “I can’t survive on the liquid diet.” (Yes, you can. Plus, following the rules on the liquid diet prior to surgery means your liver is shrunk up to make the surgery easy to perform. My liver was so tiny that the doctor only had to do 3 incisions instead of 4-5. Chicken broth (I added pepper to mine), vegetable broth, beef broth, sugar free popsicles, protein shakes (including ready made like Premier brand and ones you make yourself, like Muscle Milk…there’s lots of ways to cope. And pee. You will have to pee like crazy.)
4. “I can’t survive on the soft diet.” (Yes, you can. Plus, the reason for the soft diet for the first 4-6 weeks after the surgery is because 85% of your stomach was removed, and they stapled the sleeve along the edge. Do you seriously want to “cheat” on this part and risk blowing out part of your new tiny tummy? PLUS, I still eat a lot of soft foods now because I find them easier to go down.)
5. “I heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce after one of the spouses has this surgery.” (Well, I’ve heard that 50% of all marriages end in divorce regardless of whether one spouse has bariatric surgery. I’ve read posts from spouses who feel so much better about themselves after they lose weight that they choose to dump the partner who acts like the one I reference in item 2. I’ve also read posts about people who divorce because the partner is so insecure that he or she assumes that since their spouse lost weight, that means they are going to cheat. Another common thread is that the husband/family did not want the woman to get the surgery so he/they is/are punishing her now for getting it by providing her no support or assistance when she’s tuckered out from having major surgery…. like I said, I must be really lucky, because none of those issues are present in my marriage/family. ALSO, I think the above issues for these people were probably there in some way before weight loss happened. I would NOT allow these fears to keep me from getting healthy.)
6. Another one: “My spouse, “X”, does not like my body because I have loose skin.” (Hm. Reminds me of this Dr. Phil episode. The woman had a male friend and they wanted to take their relationship to the next level but he couldn’t stand to see her body in a swimsuit (or, I’m assuming, without the swimsuit.) This is all kinda weird to me–that they were like this–and the lady wanted to have surgery to remove the extra skin because THEN this guy– who, honestly, was NOT anything to write home about–would love her. He was going to loan her the money for the surgery, but he wasn’t sure if his “investment” would “pay off.”
How freaky is that, y’all? I told my husband this morning that if certain parts of my body get any lower, I’ll be able to tuck them into my waistband, mmkay? I’m not thrilled about the situation where I have loose skin or “flat” body parts, but rapid weight loss causes that, and it’s not like we don’t know that ahead of time. Within 18 months, anything that’s gonna tighten up will do it… and things that won’t tighten, I suppose, can always be rolled up. (HA ha ha.) ALSO, there’s a lot of talk about skin-tightening cream on the forums I follow. I kind of doubt that any skin-tightening cream will work, but I’m sure the loose skin will be nice and moisturized.)
Here’s what I’ve learned about plastic surgery after bariatric surgery, based on what I’ve heard from other people who have pursued having loose skin removed: insurance won’t pay for it unless the extra skin is also a medical issue, like it has rashes or it gets in the way of being able to do basic self-care. AND, here’s what I’ve learned about myself: there is no friggin’ way I’m going through surgery again unless I’m dying. Besides that, even if I had tens of thousands of dollars to have some doctor cut and tighten, I can think of better ways to spend the money. I’m not judging anyone else who has it done–and there are some people who medically need it in order to be healthy, but it’s not for me.
OH and by the way? Paul, the guy on the Dr. Phil show, said that Dawn’s stomach looks like a pork rind. I would have to do it, y’all: I would HAVE to invite him to f–k off at his earliest opportunity. What a douchecanoe.)
7. “You mean I can’t drink [insert name of soda here] any more? I hate my life!” (I saw a former teaching partner yesterday and told her that I no longer drink Diet Coke. She was surprised, because I was a Diet Coke addict. I used to bring my own case (it’d last me a week) and kept it in my classroom fridge. I started the day with a Diet Coke and was rarely without one all day long. I had begun to lose my taste for it over the past year or so, but when I knew that this was something I had to give up, I did it. December 23, 2017, was the date of my last Diet Coke. It is not lost on me that I sound like someone who gave up drinking or drugs on a certain day. I was heavily addicted to caffeine.
Anyway: YES you can give up soft drinks. Compare your love for that soda to your future as a healthier person. I order water with a slice of lemon when I go out; I drink a lot of Crystal Light, although some of them are too acidic and bother my stomach, and I’m experimenting with that. Crystal Light Peach Mango Green Tea is one I can handle. Plus, I drink a ton of water. I could also drink decaf tea if I wanted. Caffeine is also a no-no because of stomach irritation.
The program I went through, Methodist Weight Loss Institute, did a great job of prepping me for what to expect, and meeting with the nutritionist for 4 months prior to surgery helped me because I was accountable in terms of a weigh in– couldn’t gain an ounce!, and in setting goals for what I would work on. I think the key is accountability, which is why I have this website. I thought about deleting it since I rarely write on it, but I want to keep it up because it provides me with accountability, whether or not anyone but me reads it.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Quandaries? Hmm? (That’s what I ask my students after I explain something.)
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. They are moderated and you will not see it appear until I approve it, but ask away if you want.