So, yesterday wasn’t such a great day.

[Warning: this post might be a bit gross.]

On a whim my husband invited a family we’re friendly with to go out for dim sum yesterday to a place we’ve been many times and love. But, to be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of adding yet another restaurant meal to my week, nor was I happy about the idea of having to eat with people who don’t know I had surgery six weeks ago, but what the heck!

Things were basically fine during the meal because dim sum is chaotic and everyone is sharing dishes of food and no one could possibly have noticed how much I was or wasn’t eating. I ate about half the volume of what I would have normally eaten at home, and for no reason I can explain it made my stomach very uncomfortable. Towards the end of the meal I excused myself to go to the bathroom and I barfed. Although, it wasn’t really a standard “barf” because there was no stomach heaving, no retching, no nothing. I just felt like it was coming back up so I bent over and the food just sort of slid back up my throat and out. It was… odd. The food was all fully chewed and there was nothing that could have caused a blockage in the sleeve.

On the way home I told my husband what happened and that I wasn’t feeling too great. We got home and I went to the bathroom and the same exact thing happened again! About 15 minutes later it happened for the final time but this time there was heaving and retching. By that point everything was out of my stomach (all 5 tablespoons of food!) and there was no more barfing. But there still wasn’t any evidence of what could have blocked things up.

The rest of the day went pretty normally except I had some very mild heartburn and I was completely not hungry at all. I stuck to protein shakes for the remainder of the day to be safe and not tax my stomach. There wasn’t any pain, there weren’t any aftereffects, I slept fine last night. This morning I’ve had my protein shake and a slice of cheese and all is well.

I have no idea what made my stomach react like that. I hope this doesn’t mean that I can’t eat Chinese food ever again! But another day, another learning experience. Wow.

My husband’s birthday was Thursday so I made a special dinner. Last night was a big outing with the whole family, which included dinner. Tonight I’m taking my husband out for his birthday and we’ll be eating in a restaurant. Tomorrow we’re supposed to be meeting friends for dim sum at 11:30am. (For the record I’m not the one who made those plans.)

After all of this I’m supposed to weigh in on Monday morning and I have to confess it seems like a huge joke to me to tell you the truth.

No, I haven’t over eaten. I haven’t even eaten anything that’s really so far off my food plan. I had the tiniest piece of homemade blueberry pie on the birthday. But other than that it’s been “protein, protein, protein” and some vegetables, my protein shakes, and bars.

But what amounts to four restaurant meals in the four days preceding the weigh in (not to mention the fact that I got my period nearly a week early yesterday) just doesn’t bode well for the results.

I’d consider skipping it altogether, but I’ll be out of town and no where near a scale the following Monday and I’m not missing the weigh in two weeks in a row.

But I confess I still feel confused and conflicted over the whole thing. As of last week’s weigh in I’ve lost 22.5 pounds. But I don’t really feel like I’ve lost 22.5 pounds. I feel, in my mind and in my body, that I’m the same. My clothes don’t really feel all that different, but maybe that’s because I’m still primarily in yoga pants while I wait for the incision by my belly button to finish healing. (More on that in a minute.) I don’t think I look any different when I look in the mirror, clothed or naked. Of course, the nurse’s remonstrations from my one month check up are still rattling around in my head making me feel like my efforts aren’t worth much. (It still doesn’t help.)

I took a few walks this week. Well, more like a couple. They weren’t long. But on at least two days I was able to get out and stretch my legs. It’s caused the pain in my foot to recur, which is very frustrating. I even bought new walking shoes, thinking the old ones had just worn out, but no, the daily foot pain is back. Maybe it will improve if I lose more weight. Maybe I’ll need to see a doctor. I honestly don’t know.

I think, that actually sums things up best: I don’t know.

I don’t know.

All I can do is one thing at a time, on day at a time.

I’m thinking of going back to the Dukan Diet. Not actually doing the whole diet as in the Attack phase etc., but more like following the basic principles of limiting food to proteins and vegetables with the maximum of one piece of fruit a day.

See, yesterday my son wanted to try Swiss cheese but when he took a bite of the slice he decided he didn’t like it. So, since it was lunchtime, I took the piece and added two slices of deli turkey to it and rolled it up and ate it. Afterwards, I felt as close to full as I have since surgery almost 6 weeks ago. It didn’t last too long, I was hungry again in about two and half hours, but it was the best I’ve had in a long time.

Then, last night I was really hungry after a relatively unsatisfying dinner and I ate another small bit of cheese with a slice of salami. Again, the hunger went away and I was able to go to sleep later without any serious hunger pains for the first time in six weeks. So, I think, even though I’ve been eating enough protein throughout the day so far, from the protein shakes and the protein bars, the concentrated real food protein from the Dukan style of eating, combined with being able to eat slightly more frequently on the Dukan diet, is what I may need to get through this.

It’s not much of a change, really, from what my doctor recommends anyway. His plan is always protein first, then vegetables and fruit, followed by any carbs last. The exception, of course, in both plans is the oat bran (well, my doctor’s plan said cream of wheat but it’s basically the same thing).  I’ve been doing it most days since my surgery anyway because it was part of the post-op plan and eating it for breakfast each day won’t be hard to do.

My biggest concerns are the loss of flexibility and that my doctor might get cranky with me for eating more frequently.

Being on a diet that blocks out a whole category of food is so much harder than being on a diet that allows everything but limits quantity. I mean, that’s one of the things that is a draw about the weight loss surgeries, your stomach size determines how much can and cannot be eaten and the smaller quantities do the trick for weight loss. It makes it so much easier to eat out, go to a friends house for a meal, go to a party, etc. I won’t say that I like the idea of having to once again cut out an entire food group, but let’s face it, I know that this approach works for me. 35 pounds in 5 months might not be up to WLS standards but for a more traditional approach it sure as heck worked. Right now I can’t see how combining it with the benefits of lower intake capacity will be a problem.

But there is the issue of my doctor. As I’ve mentioned, he’s gotten more rigid as he’s progressed through his career. I’m sure that is based on good solid experience and he’s right that when people mess with the established food plan they aren’t as successful. But, I need something that works for me and the plan his office gives out doesn’t seem to be working for me.

The idea of tweaking it, in some ways making it more strict, by following Dukan is giving me a sense of hope right now…

Maybe if I do this I can increase my success and hit the 3 month target after missing the 1 month target.

Maybe if I do this I can stop feeling so desperately hungry all the time.

Maybe if I do this I can feel more normal again.

Maybe if I do this I can stop feeling like this surgery was a mistake.

And let’s be honest, if I stop feeling like this surgery was a mistake I and bound to be more successful in the end.

I’m not trying to declare that I have all the answers here. I might go for two weeks, or two days, on the Dukan plan and discover it just doesn’t work. But I need to try.

So here’s the rub, my husband’s birthday is next week, we’re having family come stay for 4 days, and I’ve already planned and ordered the food for next week. Given the constraints of this I’m not going to be able to get started until Monday the 19th of June. Then, I’m going to be traveling from the 23rd – 27th. So, I know I’ve got a delayed start and I know I’ve got a challenge once I do start.  But, in this and all things, I have no choice but to do my best.

 

 

The visit with the nurse yesterday was, as expected, awful. I cried most of the way home in the car.

The best moment: She told me that I didn’t reach their benchmark for weight loss in the 1st month, which is 10% of your total weight. That should have been 23.8 pounds for me and with the inexplicable 2 lbs weight gain between Wednesday and Thursday mornings my total weight loss was 17 pounds.

But that’s not how the appointment started off. It started with her asking me how it was going and I said it had been extremely difficult bordering on miserable. She asked how and I told her I was constantly hungry. She replied with, “up your protein, up your protein, up your protein”. I looked at her and said, “But you don’t know how much protein I’ve been getting in each day”. She looked confused, as though her formulaic response had never resulted in a response before. She said, “Ok, how much protein are you getting in” to which I replied, “60-70 grams a day”. She actually said, “Oh. Huh.”

There was an opportunity there, in that moment for her to make a switch out of her formulaic canned responses and move towards empathy and understanding by asking me more questions. She chose not to make that switch and spent the rest of the appointment telling me things without taking me, as an individual, into consideration. She actually even “explained” to me that sometimes people get into bad eating habits because they are trying to eat their feelings and that I should see their therapist. Then she explained to me what a therapist does.

I’M A THERAPIST!!!! I KNOW WHAT WE DO!!! I’VE ALSO BEEN IN OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS FOR 25 YEARS AND I KNOW WHAT EMOTIONAL EATING IS. I’VE ALSO BEEN IN THERAPY FOR YEARS. READ MY CHART BEFORE YOU COME IN HERE AND TALK TO ME!!!!

Of course, I didn’t say that, but between that and the “you’re not losing the right amount of weight” bull I just disengaged and stopped listening to her. At least I held back the tears until I had left the building.

The gal at the front desk is pretty awesome and she could tell I wasn’t doing well when the appointment was over. I had to schedule the next follow-up, for 3 months post-op, and when we were making the appointment we had the following exchange:

Me: “Now the next appointment is with the nurse too?”

Her: Yes. You generally see the nurse for all the follow up visits once your incisions are healed. You don’t see the doctor unless there’s a problem.

Her (Then, lowering her voice): Or unless you *want* to… do you *want* to?

Me: Yeah, actually, that would be good. Thank you.

He at least knows me and talks to me like I’m a person. I’ve been his patient for 12 years and he would NEVER tell me I wasn’t doing well enough because I was 5 pounds short of the “benchmark”. So, I’m seeing him next time. Which, I hope, will be better.

In the meantime, I can’t do anything except keep plugging away at this so that’s what I’m going to do. But jeez. That was unpleasant.

Today is 1 month post-op. I’m leaving in about a half an hour to go to my 1 month follow-up. No doubt that will be a whole other post because today I’m seeing the nurse and she is not my favorite person.

I weigh myself on Mondays. My surgery was on a Monday so it seemed logical to have it be my weigh in day. This past Monday I was away for the holiday weekend and used the scale there instead of at home. It said I weighed 219.5 and I rounded up to 220 because, well, it wasn’t my scale. I got home late on Tuesday so Wednesday morning, yesterday, I weighed myself to compare the two scales and I was 219. Seemed ok.

I had decided to also weigh myself on the 1st of each month (the “anniversary” of my surgery) to get a separate set of data to look at. So, this morning I weigh myself and get a scale reading of 221. I’ve gained two pounds since yesterday, despite following all the rules, sticking to under 600 calories a day, getting my liquids, vitamins, and protein as instructed.

The worst part is that for some insane reason last time I was at the surgeon’s for my 1 week post op the runner took off an extra 3 pounds from the scale reading “for my clothes”, which most certainly did not weigh 3 pounds. So, if I try to correct that today that will “show” that I’ve lost 2 pounds in 3 weeks, and goodness help me, I have no idea what sort of crap the unempathetic, fast talking, snotty nurse will give me for it. Ugh.

I’m also 100% hungry all of the time. All. Of. The. Time. My husband has been on a crusade to try to figure out why in the world I would be so hungry all the time after this surgery. His extensive research has lead him to suspect that I am experiencing something called “gnawing acid”. From what I can gather this is basically a type of “heartburn” that doesn’t burn, it makes your stomach feel hollow and empty and hungry all the time.

The treatment is to double up on medications to treat it from multiple angles at once. I take the Prilosec my doctor ordered every day. Now, I’ve added Zantac (which is a different med that works in a different way on the same problem) and I’m taking the maximum strength of Tums as well each day. I’m still hungry.

My doctor said it was “head hunger” which, I know head hunger and it’s not. My stomach is actually growling loudly enough that others can hear it.

My husband thinks it’s GERD so I’m taking the medicine. But again, my stomach is actually growling loudly enough that others can hear it.

Possibly stalled weight loss after only a month.

Constant hunger.

Constant exhaustion from the low calorie intake.

I had started to feel optimistic after I got back on solid foods. I wanted to feel optimistic. But I’m not feeling so optimistic today. I fear I’m broken. Just broken and this will never work. I fear I’ve made a mistake and I don’t know how to fix it.

Unfortunately, no one wants to hear that. Everyone in my life is being so positive and supportive that I don’t know how to say, “So I think this was a huge mistake and I may have doomed myself to a miserable situation of constant hunger and little to no weight loss.” My doctor certainly doesn’t want to hear it. I think he’s gotten jaded in the last 12 years since I first met him because despite his empathy he doesn’t seem to really believe in individual outliers anymore. Despite our good rapport I doubt I’m going to convince him that my failure is due to anything other than me not actually following the rules.

But I suppose that’s why I have this blog. It’s the one place I can be totally honest and not have to worry about what other people think. These are my OA “shares” in written form. Which, I suppose is something.

Onward.

Well, it’s day 19 post-surgery and it took until day 14 for me to start sleeping again. Those two weeks were really truly terrible. Not sleeping for that long felt like torture and it felt like I was losing my mind. 15 minute catnaps were NOT cutting it.

But I’ve been sleeping for the past 5 or 6 nights and it has made a huge difference.

It also made a huge difference that when I saw my doctor he gave me an updated post-op food plan. Now, I’m eating food that is both soft and moist, not just drippy liquids, and even though I haven’t been able to eat more than a couple ounces it at least feels like I’m the road to normal. Of course, the best part is actually that on about day 11 or 12 food started to taste mostly normal again. Not perfect, but significantly more like food than rat poison. The relief from that is better than I can express right now.

The heartburn finally went away yesterday. It was hurting like hell on Wednesday morning and I finally just ate some soft cheese and by the time I was halfway through I could feel it dissipating. I ate mostly dairy products on Wednesday including at bedtime a bit of yogurt drink. I drank some last night too and I’ve been feeling ok ever since. Thank God. I was really getting scared that wasn’t going to end. But now, at least I have a tool that works better than the omeprazole and Tums. Yay for low-fat cheese!

I have no idea what any of this is doing to my weight. I’d like to think I’m losing but I have no idea. Last week’s 2 pound loss was confusing and I genuinely don’t understand it. My calorie intake these past few days has increased from between 300-400 to between 500-600. I can’t get my head around the idea that 600 calories a day is too much to lose weight so I’m just going to throw my hands in the air and say, “I just don’t know but it’s better than starving and better than 2,000 calories a day” and leave it at that.

I’m doing my best to make the right choices. I realize that this surgery only works if I take control over what I put in my mouth. I also realize that much of what is preventing me from eating small amounts of junk right now is simply willpower, and honestly there is a toll that it’s taking. I do worry about what that’s going to mean in the long run but for right now I’m just trying to take the fact that I’m sticking to the plan as a win.

So that’s my mostly optimistic update.

Onward.

Well I’m two weeks in and I’m not only feeling utterly miserable still, I’m confused as to why I’m not losing weight at the expected rate. I lost 2 pounds this week despite my caloric intake being painfully low. I haven’t eaten more than 375 calories in a day since the surgery. Based on my height, weight, and activity level with this level of caloric intake I should have lost over 5 pounds this week. But, instead I lost 2.

This is what I’ve been talking about for years: that there is something wrong with the way my body handles food. I eat next to nothing and still barely lose anything.

I know how this sounds, I do. 10 days ago I was complaining that I’d lost too much and now I’m complaining that I haven’t lost enough. I sound inconsistent at best and like a spoiled brat at worst. But come on, no one with the sleeve loses this little on such a restricted food intake.

On a side note the damn heartburn is freaking awful. It’s constant. I take the heartburn medication plus I also take a bunch of Tums everyday and it never goes away. The longer I go with an empty stomach the worse it gets. I had to get up about an hour after I’d gone to bed last night to eat a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt just so that I could lie down without the burning in my chest being unbearable. This was after taking the omeprazole and Tums.

Everything about this is awful. Sorry. I haven’t been able to be optimistic since this started. It’s not just that it’s so much harder than I expected, so much harder than 12 years ago, so much harder than the other surgery was… It’s that in my heart of hearts I really do fear I’ve made a mistake.

I’m 9 days into this post-op life and I’m just not doing well with it at all.

  1. Of the 8 nights since my surgery took place there is only one where I’ve slept. Last Saturday night I got 6 hours of continuous sleep. The rest of the nights I’ve either not been able to sleep at all (and I mean literally not at all), or I’ve slept only and hour or two in broken chunks, or I’ve slept in little 15 minute cat-naps with an hour awake in between.
  2. I have been hungry every minute of every day since last Tuesday around noontime. No matter what liquids I drink I stay hungry. I either can’t drink enough at one time or I can’t drink anything thick enough to simulate food. Either way it’s driving me absolutely crazy.
  3. I haven’t been able to eat more than 300 calories a day (and that was on my best day) and I have absolutely no energy.

So, basically, if you pull those three things together you have a perfect triumvirate for me to slowly lose my mind.

I was sitting at my computer earlier today getting some work done, sipping at my water, when I realized that it was already 10:30am and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. My honest to goodness first thought was, “Oh well, it’s not going to stop me from being hungry anyway so what’s the point. Forget it.”

This is not healthy. It’s a recipe for anorexia is what it is. I knew that was disordered thinking but instead of doing anything about it I just shrugged and kept on working. It’s 1:15pm now and I still haven’t “eaten” anything. I drank my protein shake and sipped a bit of water but that’s it. Literally nothing I can possibly eat seems appealing.

My doctor’s office called to confirm my post-op visit that is in 2 days and I chatted a bit with the gal who made the call. I see her at every visit and she’s so nice. She had the sleeve surgery herself so I asked her if the not sleeping and being constantly hungry was “a thing”. She was very nice but said that while some people have reported the hunger she never experienced it. Also, she hadn’t heard of the sleep problems before.

She suggested I speak with the nurse on staff and I demurred, saying I’d rather talk to the doctor in two days. But the truth is that I can’t stand the nurse. She doesn’t listen. She has her formulaic answers memorized and whatever question you ask she pulls the keywords from and answers based on the stock material she has. I’ll give an example:

I called after my band removal surgery to ask if since my steri-strips hadn’t fallen off after 9 days, but were very very itchy, if I could remove them in the shower. (I left her a voicemail.) She called back and left me a message that said that I shouldn’t worry if my steri-strips had fallen off and I should just cover my wounds with a gauze bandage.

Nope. Not what I asked.

She also makes me feel as though I am being scolded all of the time. If I say anything to the effect of, “Hey, my body works a little differently in that area,” she gives me this long winded reply about how they have the experience to know what does and doesn’t work and if I don’t want to follow their guidelines then they aren’t going to be responsibility for how it turns out. Here I’m talking about the fact that I can’t take the narcotic pain killers. She’s not a good fit for me.

But that whole thing about the nurse is really a tangent from the fact that I’m feeling so weak, and unbelievably run down, and without hope of things improving. This may have been a mistake. I may have valued weight loss over quality of life and I fear I am now paying the price.

My husband and kids just left to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I knew it was coming out today. I knew I was probably not going to feel up to going (even though I really wanted to). I suggested they go out without me. Heck, I’m the one who reminded my husband to get the tickets this afternoon.

But now that they are gone I’m feeling sad. Not just because I wanted to see the movie. And not just because I wanted to see it with my 9 year old who loves it too. But because they went to 5 Guys for dinner and a movie and not only didn’t I get to go tonight, but I don’t know when I’ll get to go again in the foreseeable future.

You see, my son is 9, has special needs, and a food allergy. There aren’t a lot of places we can go together as a family and have everyone enjoy him/herself. But 5 Guys and a movie is usually a slam dunk. And I can’t participate. It’s not just that I can’t participate tonight, it’s that when will I be able to participate again? I don’t actually know. I didn’t really anticipate how much this makes me sad.

Under normal circumstances if my husband grabs the kids and gets them out of the house so I can have some alone time I’d be snuggling up with some TV and some dinner that I can make just for me without having to worry about anyone else. But tonight, I’m just struggling to “sip sip sip” (as the annoying nurse at my surgeon’s office says) my water hoping I can get to my 30 ounce minimum for the day.

I mustered enough energy today to make a batch of my favorite low calorie, low fat, pureed asparagus and tarragon soup. I thought it would be perfect for my full liquids phase of recovery. But it’s not. I finished making it and took one tiny taste and it tastes strangely, and intensely, bitter. The same thing happened last night when I tried to eat a couple of ounces of the red pepper and tomato soup I’ve been eating for a decade. It was horribly bitter. I defrosted some pureed broccoli and carrot soup I’d made a few weeks ago in preparation for the three week long liquid phase but it too tastes bitter, to the point of being disgusting.

I poured myself some of the clear liquid protein drink I tested and bought before surgery. It’s “alpine punch” flavor and it was surprisingly palatable when I was taste testing these things. Now, it tastes disgusting to me, all syrupy and thick and I can’t force it down, even diluted 3 to 1 with water.

The only things I’ve been able to force down have been the Muscle Milk 100 calorie protein shakes (one yesterday, 1/2 so far today), a yogurt (3 ounces on Wednesday, 3 ounces on Thursday), and the tablespoon of oat bran thinned out with enough skim milk plus to make it a liquid (this is allowed by my doctor’s plan at this point).

Why does everything taste wrong?! How long will these messed up taste buds last?

I’m still so tired. Most of the time I find feeling sorry for myself to be a waste of time, but right now I can’t seem to do anything else. At this moment I can’t remember why I cared so much about losing weight and I just want to have my life back.

Sorry, I try to keep these posts optimistic, but I’m not feeling it at the moment.

It’s Friday morning and my surgery happened at nearly this exact time on Monday morning of this week. I weighed myself, mostly out of curiosity, and I’ve lost 9 pounds in 4 days.

You would think that my initial reaction to that would be enthusiasm and excitement. But, in all honesty it’s not. This just doesn’t feel healthy to me. I’m basically starving myself and feeling “ok” about it because I’m not particularly hungry so I don’t really care that I’m not eating. But 9 pounds in 4 days?

Granted, some of that weight is water weight and not actual fat that has been burned. But still. I’m just so listless and tired and I feel as though no matter how hard I try to get in the minimum on fluid intake I’m still struggling not to feel… just wiped out.

I’ve had surgery before, weight loss surgery and other types, and it’s never felt like this so many days after. I’ll admit I’m worried. Not worried that there’s something wrong with me and I’m actually having complications (I’m not). I’m worried that I made the wrong choice, that being fat is actually better than being starved.

I should probably not have weighed myself. But I was trying to get a grasp on what’s happening and that seemed like a concrete way to quantify what’s going on.

It’s a weird sensation, to want to lose weight but to be scared by the mechanism that’s causing it to happen.

I’ll admit that I haven’t slept well at all this week. Monday was a wash, Tuesday I was recovering from the anesthesia, and I haven’t had a decent night sleep all week from the generalized discomfort. I probably would not feel quite so run down, or quite so concerned about being so run down, if I were properly rested.

I suppose we’ll see. There’s no place to go but forward.