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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.

I had been working on a post called “Tomorrow’s The Day” that never got published. Here’s what it said:

9:30am is my scheduled surgery time. I’m supposed to be at the hospital by 7:30am. That means leaving the house by 6:40am. 

Tomorrow it happens and I’m scared. I wasn’t scared the last time, 12 years ago. But right now I’m scared. I haven’t been allowed to eat anything today except drink clear liquids 

And then I got distracted by things going on with my kids going to bed, etc. and it never got finished or published.

Now it’s 2:45am on Wednesday and I’m home from the hospital and I’m struggling a lot.

I was not supposed to stay overnight in the hospital but by mid-afternoon on Monday they moved me from the recovery room to a room upstairs. I was, needless to say, confused. But, basically, I was so anesthetized that I couldn’t stay awake long enough to drink anything and they were not going to send me home without knowing that I could keep clear liquids down and that I was peeing again.

The night progressed normally for a hospital stay (which is to say I got little to no sleep but got prodded and poked a lot). I was sent home around 9:30 am yesterday and came home and slept all day, trying to get sips of liquid into me every chance I got. Believe it or not it’s quite hard to get in the liquid you need when you can only take in about a half of an ounce at a time.

I’m in pain, not crippling pain, but pain nonetheless. The woman next to me in the hospital room had the same surgery with the same doctor and she was being given Tylenol with codeine and dilaudid all night long. I can’t take any of those things because I have a narcotics intolerance. So I got nothing for the pain at all. I’m muscling my way through it because I don’t really have a choice, but it’s difficult. I’m trying to tell myself I’m a superhero who can manage the pain alone but it’s not helping all that much.

I’m awake now and walking around the house to get some movement, which I know is so important to the recovery process, getting rid of the gas in my abdomen, and avoiding developing blood clots. I’m also trying to eat little bits of sugar free jello (on my list of acceptable post op foods) but struggling to get it to go down.

Honestly, it’s tough not feeling sorry for myself at this moment. It’s also tough not feeling like a failure. I can’t believe it got to this point again.  I mean really! But I did and I’m here now so I need to make the best of it.

I don’t have any pithy way of wrapping up this post… It’s 3am now and I should probably check my temperature and then head back to bed. Anyone who thinks weight loss surgery is the “easy way out” has no idea how hard this is. I just wish it was next week already and I was feeling better.

The first month or so after having my band removed was pretty normal with food. Everything I ate was basically the same as what I ate when I had the band. Quantities were also basically the same. I didn’t really think about food any differently than I had before, other than to just be relieved that I could swallow broccoli without needing to vomit.

But the past two weeks or so have been different. Simply put, I can’t stop eating. Anything, everything, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. It’s as though any food that happens to be nearby is suddenly magnetized to me and I feel compelled to eat it even if I don’t actually want to eat it.

I’m also hungry way more than I ever was before. I can eat a full and healthy dinner and then a couple of hours later I’m actually, stomach growling, hungry. Case in point, the other night I had roasted chicken (no skin), with baked sweet potato, and roasted Brussels sprouts. By 9:30pm I was hungry enough to eat another whole meal! I didn’t of course, I told myself, “it’s ok, you’ll eat again tomorrow”. (This was my standard OA mantra.)

But then the next morning I was having my pre-op blood work drawn, which meant I had to fast, and I didn’t get the opportunity to eat breakfast until after 10am. Now I’m no stranger to hunger but it was the first time I could remember feeling so unhinged by being hungry. I was cranky and impatient and just wanted to stomp over everyone in front of me in line at the lab (they were running way behind schedule).

By the time I left and went to get food there was so little time before I had to be at work that I ran into the grocery store looking to just grab something from the salad bar. Which I did, some nice plain yogurt, cut up fruit, and 2 hard boiled eggs. But, then I also went and grabbed two big plastic-clamshells of cake from the bakery department.

?!?!?!?!?!?What?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Then I ate half of one of them with my fingers while driving. I seriously don’t even know who I am anymore.

When I got to work I threw it all the rest of it out, uneaten, in an outdoor, public garbage can so there was no way I could retrieve it later.

I feel as though there is something neurochemical about this because psychologically and emotionally it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. But my behavior has changed in ways I hate.

Holy cow, I am ready for this surgery in 10 days. I want to be free of this weird hold food has on me. I remember this, from ages ago, when I was young, before OA, before the band. It’s like some external being has got a hook in me and can control me in ways that make no sense. But I remember that after the band that all lifted. It was gone and I was just at peace with food for the first time ever. They say that happens with the sleeve. One nurse told me that the bacteria in the stomach and intestines change after the sleeve and that fixation on food lifts.

I hope so. This can’t come soon enough for me. I need the relief.

My doctor says that there is an 18 month window for weight loss after surgery and that then after that following the rules is about maintenance not weight loss anymore. He describes it as a marathon, not a sprint, but that first 18 months out of the gate seems pretty damn important and messing around with the guidelines seems like a sure fire way to fail. So, if I’m going ahead with this I have to be all in.

I’ve looked online at calculators that tell you what to expect in terms of weight loss after surgery. They tell me I should expect to lose 68 pounds from the sleeve. But the calculators also say that if I were having the band surgery I’d expect to lose 57 pounds and when I had the band I lost 90 pounds. So… I’m wondering what the realistic expectations should be for me. Is 68 the best I can hope for? Or will I be able to hit the 90 pound mark again? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve got 18 months to get it done either way and I’m not going to mess that up.

I’m 12 years older than I was when I got the band surgery, which means my body is older than it was and has been through more (like another pregnancy). But, I’m feeling just as motivated and I’m just as much of a rule follower now as I was then, so I think I’ve got a chance of making a run of it back to the 90 pound loss.

I pulled out my spreadsheet where I kept track of my weight loss and inches loss in 2005. It took me 10 months to lose 85 pounds. Then it took me another 4 months to lose an additional 5 pounds. I know that at the 10 month mark I was wearing a size 6 and decided that I’d essentially reached my goal and was comfortable settling in. I stopped following all the rules and was honestly thrilled that I was maintaining (or very slowly losing) my weight while basically eating whatever I wanted in small quantities.

But I don’t think I’m going to satisfied with that this time. I want to be healthy, not just thin, and I sure as hell don’t want to fail at this again. So, yeah, I’m hoping that by the 10 month mark I’ll be down by the same as I was before. And then I don’t want to slip into bad habits again.

I keep telling myself not to expect too much. But I also keep telling myself that last time I got pregnant and gained weight from the pregnancy and the band being emptied and then I never got restriction back properly after that and that I won’t have these obstacles this time. I don’t know…

I just know I’m gearing up for “a marathon” and the results are going to matter to me so taking it seriously is going to matter. So, here’s to taking things seriously.

I can tell that I’m starting to feel more optimistic about my choice to get the gastric sleeve surgery because I’ve started shopping for the stuff I’m going to need after surgery. With 3 days on a clear liquid diet and then 21 days on a full liquid diet I have to plan for success or I’ll find myself eating and drinking things that I shouldn’t because I won’t have the right stuff on hand.

On Wednesday night I went to my pre-op class where they handed out all of the information about the post-op diet. It’s very very similar to the post-op diet I had after the gastric band 12 years ago and so nothing was really new about it to me. What was new, or will be new, is that the products on the market are different, updated, dare I say improved, and I knew I needed to familiarize myself with them before surgery.

I never liked the protein supplements that were on the market 12 years ago. The one I could stand was the unflavored Designer Whey protein powder which I just put in smoothies and stirred into yogurt. But it wasn’t really a big deal because I never had trouble getting in all of the protein I was supposed to have in a day just from eating. (They really stress protein because with rapid weight loss you risk losing muscle mass and protein helps prevent your body from burning muscle instead of fat.) Without having any trouble getting the protein requirements into my diet in food form I kind of left the supplements by the wayside last time.

But this time I know it’s going to be different because unlike last time they will be cutting and stapling my stomach and the tissue itself will have to heal and that’s going to take longer. Last time I was back on regular foods within 2 weeks. This time, it’s going to be closer to 5 weeks before I can eat regular food again and I don’t want my muscles, skin, hair, and nails to fall to pieces during that time.

So yesterday I went out and bought a bunch of protein supplements, some for the clear liquids phase and some for the full liquids phase, and tried them out. I have to say there really has been progress in the past 12 years. Isopure, which is like a Gatorade style protein drink that has no carbs and no sugar, has 40 grams of protein in a 20 ounce bottle. 12 years ago it was so disgusting to me that I couldn’t tolerate it at all. Now, it’s honestly not so bad. It’s flavoring is so super strong that I watered it down about 2/3 water to 1/3 Isopure Alpine Punch flavor. But once watered down it was actually pretty good and I can see myself drinking it during the weeks I’m on liquids only.

I also grabbed a couple of boxes of Muscle Milk 100 calorie shakes, one vanilla and one chocolate. I’ll be honest, I did not have high hopes for these at all. Years ago all the premixed shakes tasted like chalk (anyone else remember trying Slim Fast in the 80s?) so I avoided these premixed shakes as well. But, once again I was wrong. The Muscle Milk 100 calorie boxes were pretty good and with 20 grams of protein in 11 ounces it seems that these will help me get my protein needs met while I spend weeks unable to eat anything with “chunks” in it.

I think the thing that has me most amazed is not the taste of these products, but rather how much I find I am looking forward to not having to eat. The food cravings, the will power, the exhaustion, and the hunger have been plaguing me for a long time now. As much as I am constantly thinking about food, what and when to eat, I just want to be done with it. The idea of spending weeks drinking shakes and sipping pureed soups in 2-4 ounce increments is actually appealing.

I remember what it felt like after my band surgery, I didn’t want to eat. My stomach organ hurt from being manipulated and the idea of eating was not appealing. I know, with the cutting and stapling, this is going to happen again. I’m looking forward to it. It’s like a hard reboot of my brain and it’s desire for food.

Anyway, at this point this is what counts as optimism and I’m going to take it.

When I started this blog 5 years ago I was 189 pounds and feeling miserable about myself and controlled by food. I lost 35 pounds during that journey and spent two years “on the wagon” of eating well and maintaining my weight loss. Then, three years ago my son developed a series of health problems and my ability to do anything for myself collapsed under the demands of the schedule of doctor’s appointments, meetings at school, and OT, not to mention the emotional toll the whole experience was taking on me. Three years on he’s now stable, and home schooled, and on the track for success that we’ve all worked so hard to get him on. It’s a serious accomplishment and I’m proud of myself for all we’ve accomplished. It took determination, follow-through, immeasurable amounts of patience, and lots of love.

But now, I weigh 236 pounds (at last count) and feeling generally miserable about myself would be a welcome relief as compared to the self-loathing I feel. I can’t bear to look at myself in the mirror. I can’t bear to see my face in profile. I can’t bear to be touched by my husband because anywhere his hand touches reminds me of the profound shame and disappointment I feel about my body and my weight.

This is awful.

The weight loss surgery I had in 2005, the gastric band, stopped working for me years and years ago and I lived through the years of the Dukan Diet without any help from the band. In the past three years it’s become a flat out liability preventing me from eating raw vegetables and “unlubricated” proteins, which meant adding fat to my diet that didn’t need to be there or else I’d be barfing up the food I was trying to eat.

So last September I went back to see my surgeon to talk about what my options were. This began a new journey to find a solution. I’ve had blood tests, an endoscopy, tests, consultations, and a surgery to remove the band from from my stomach. All of this is in preparation for a new weight loss surgery (new for me at least) that’s coming on May 1st. The gastric sleeve.

I’ve been through weight loss surgery before. It’s not the easy way out. It’s so freaking hard and requires so much time, attention, dedication, and consistent follow-through. What you are or aren’t eating is only a portion of what matters. There’s weeks of not eating at all while your body heals from the surgery. There’s making sure you’re taking your supplements, getting in enough water, never drinking and eating at the same time, counting your protein grams to make sure you are getting enough, making sure you’re getting your fiber in supplement form in case you can’t get enough roughage in your diet. There’s feeling constantly tired from lack of calories, and counting, counting, counting, every day without ever stopping. All of this is on top of being a mother of two, one with special needs, being a wife, having a job, taking care of our house and finances. It’s a lot without all of this other stuff to get in the way. It’s even more with it.

I confess I’m nervous about this next step. I’ve been through this before and while it worked beautifully at first, I was 100%. On. Top. Of. Everything. the last time and I had the emotional resources to manage it all. Now, I’m just not that sure.

What I am sure of is that I can’t be 236 pounds forever, and if I don’t do this surgery that 236 is only going to go up (no doubt it will whether or not I want it to before May 1st), but if I do have the surgery it will go down.

I don’t honestly know how far down that number will go. Some estimates say that I’ll end up at 167 pounds some say 175. These were the estimates I got after my first surgery and I wound up coming to rest at 157. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get back to that 157 mark. But at this point 175 sounds pretty darn good. Just being able to be comfortable in my clothes again would be amazing. Not feeling like I’m in “point and laugh at the fat person” territory would be amazing.

Honestly, the last thing that worked for me was the Dukan Diet that I chronicled here. I think that the reason that it worked was that I used my Overeater’s Anonymous tool of “just for today”. No, with the surgery I can’t opt to just stop when and if I don’t want to do it any more. But I know that the OA strategy of telling myself that it’s just for today, one day at a time, get through until bedtime helps manage a lot of the psychological effects of being on a rigorous weight loss program.

Between today and surgery I have a few goals:

  1. Writing here to keep me focused.
  2. Stop drinking with my meals.
  3. Get in 64 oz of water a day (or drink 3 full “cups” from my large straw cup)
  4. Start increasing my chewing.
  5. Start walking a bit each day.
  6. Cut down on sugary foods.

The last one will be the hardest. Honestly, they’ll all be hard but getting in the water will probably be the easiest because I’m already getting in two of the large cups per day so getting in the third won’t be that hard. In fact, I can probably just add a mug of tea in the morning to get me over the hurdle.

I rambled quite a lot here and it’s mostly because I’m trying to get focused and it’s resulting in a shotgun approach so I’ll wrap it up for now. So, that’s all for today. More about my weighing in plans next time.