It has been over a year since I posted anything! In a way, I can't believe it. But, in another, I totally can. A lot has happened in this last year. Right around the time I last posted, I started a quest to have Weight Loss Surgery, also known as WLS. There are many types of WLS, but the types I had in front of me to consider were the Lap Band, the Full Gastric Bypass and the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy. The Lap Band put a little expandable tube around your stomach to restrict the amount that can be eaten, but I felt that was not restrictive enough for me. I was thinking about a Gastric Bypass, which I wanted laparoscopically. But, I found out, that due to my four c-sections, the bypass would have to be an open procedure. This is because I have a lot of adhesions (things sticking together inside me) from all my babies.
So, it turns out that the best fit for me was to have a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). This is a procedure that totally removes about 85% of a persons stomach. The doctors leave a small four ounce "pouch" for consuming foods. It could be done laparoscopically, and didn't have to bypass my intestines. Now, before you think I just dove into this head first, without any consideration, let me relieve your mind! The process from start to finish, took about 11 months. Where I went, there is a LONG list of things that need to be accomplished before a person can have this surgery.
First, you will get to make an appointment to go to an informational meeting, where you get all sorts of info about the different surgeries, then you have to fill out a complete health questionaire, and a three day food diary. You send this all back to the office, then attend the meeting. At this meeting you get to make an appointment with the doctor, and choose which surgery you are interested in. Based on that they give you a pass for an online tutorial about the surgery you have chosen. The tutorial goes step by step thru your procedure, stopping to let you type in questions you may want to ask your provider. It was an awesome tool to help me really get an idea of what I was going to be doing to my body.
At the first actual visit you meet the surgeon, the dietitian, the nursing staff, and the PA, who you will see for most of the rest of the visits. There will be a pre-surgery weightloss goal set up for the patient, usually they want a person to lose about 10% of their body weight before surgery. There are also exercise goals, a food diary expectations and tests and procedures to do. A person is expected to have at least 6 consecutive monthly visits before surgery. But every insurance company varies. The other expectations my doctors office had were:
Attend a support group meeting, have a psych evaluation, attend a behavioral skills class, bring in food diaries to each appointment, attend a Post-Op Diet Class, do home work assignments (such as trial liquid diet and post-op menu planning).
Finally, after all of that is done, if insurance approves, you are scheduled for surgery. Then ten days before surgery, a full liquid diet is started. This consists of consuming only full and clear liquids (strained cream soups, yogurt, protein shakes...) for the full 10 days prior to surgery. This is to help shrink and condition your liver, which makes the whole surgery easier.
Sooooo, on December 30, 2010, I got my approval from the insurance company, then on February 21, 2011, I underwent the VSG at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont. I won't say it was the most pleasant thing I have ever done. As a matter of fact, for the first couple of months I wondered on a daily basis what in the hell I had done to myself, and WHY?!!
But, let me put some stats up here: My start weight (my highest ever) was 333. So, to even be able to qualify to have the surgery I had to lose 33 pounds. That alone took me about eight months. By the beginning of December, I was down to 300 pounds. I maintained that weight until my 10 day liquid fast when I then lost about another 10 lbs, (down to 290 on the day before surgery!)
About two weeks after my surgery, I has some complications, that put me in the hospital for a week. I can't remember my exact weights at the different appointments I went to after surgey, But, today, at almost 4 months out from surgery, I have lost another 49 lbs since surgery. For a total weight loss of 92 pounds! As of this morning I weighed 241 lbs. I know that this is still a really high weight. But I am very proud of myself and feel so good! I have about another 90 pounds that I want to lose, and hope to lose it over the next 10 months to one year. There are still a ton of things that I have to learn, and a ton of things that I have to correct in my life to get this right, but I am on the road to there.
It takes a lot of support from everyone to make this journey surviveable... I would not have made it if my husband, children and my wonderful best friends (TEAM AMY!!!) had not supported me, cheered me on, talked me down from many a ledge, and been there all the way for me. I am truly blessed to have so many awesome people in my life.
I AM going to try to post more often, and get all the things I am going thru, and finding out about myself and my new world down in writing. Balance has never been more important than it is now, and I want to share every morsel of it that I can.