Post-Op Update: Week 3

Okay, so I finally realized that trying to make a YouTube video AND blog on Fridays is just not going to happen (plus if you follow both, it would be a little boring, no?), so I’m going to push my weekly updates here on the blog to Sunday, to at least give me a few more things to talk about.

Last week…*sigh*. The dreaded 3-week stall hit. But, the good news is, it was really more of a pause than a stall (it seems anyway). I dropped two pounds on the weekend, and then was literally exactly the same weight everyday of the week until Friday morning when I had dropped one more pound.

So…

My weight loss for week three was 3 lbs, which put me at a weight of 398.5 on Friday, and a total of 21.5 lbs lost since surgery and 61.5 lbs lost from my highest weight at the end of September.

Since Friday, I’ve actually dropped another 1.5 pounds, so it would seem that the “stall” wasn’t much of a stall at all (hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!).

The big news this week was the transition to pureed and soft foods. Oh yes – you can tell from my earlier post that I was real excited about that.

So far, I’ve had chili (from Wendys), a soft scrambled egg, baked Tilapia and the aforementioned Indian Butter Chicken – with varying results.

The soft scrambled egg tasted good (I could eat about 3/4 of one egg), but it didn’t sit right. Felt like a lump of coal in there. Not that pleasant (will hold off on eggs for another week or two and see if that changes).

The Tilapia was yesterday, and it was delicious, but again, didn’t sit right. It was about a three ounce serving, and I ate probably 1.5-2 ounces total. It completely felt like it was just sitting on my chest – really uncomfortable. Although it was soft and flaky, and I chewed it to death, who knows…maybe I wasn’t quite ready for that.

Chili on the other hand – delicious, and no trouble whatsoever getting that in (of course).

Going to be making Ricotta Bake tomorrow, and maybe whip up some chicken salad in the Magic Bullet. Still trying to figure out what I’m going to bring to eat for Christmas dinner.

I’ve actually been baking and cooking the last few days for Christmas parties etc., and in a weird way, it was really enjoyable (even though it’s all stuff I can’t eat basically). I made cookies, lemon squares, Jalapeno Popper Dip and am doing Antipasto Skewers and a Cheese & Veggie Torte for Christmas appetizers. I somehow found it all very soothing – not at all as challenging as I thought it might be.

Tonight, I have my very first Christmas party (I’ve avoided every other one I could) at a good friend’s house, so this will be my first real big “social eating” situation since my surgery. Everyone who will be there pretty much knows about my surgery, so that makes it easier. I know that she mentioned she will have some hummus and she is making Devilled Eggs (one of my faves), so at the very least I’m thinking I could do half a Devilled egg and a bit of hummus. I don’t really care that much about whether I eat or not, but I do feel like in social situations it makes people (especially the host) uncomfortable when you don’t. That and the party is over dinner time, so whether I feel like it or not, I *should* eat.

Just want to stick to things that I know shouldn’t make me sick – although eggs didn’t go that well the other day, it wasn’t unbearable or anything, so I think I’m safe with my choices.

Hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, and I will catch up with y’all soon!

xo

Sarah

PS – A quick shout out to Michael (http://lessofmike.com). My thoughts are with you and I hope that you have answers soon, and are home to spend Christmas with your family!

 

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Solids(ish) – praise! Finally…

So…after nearly 5 weeks of a almost exclusively liquid diet…

Today, I ate pureed chicken. O…M…G. Who knew that pureed chicken could be so delightful?

It was actually Indian Butter Chicken, that I pureed with some greek yogurt, and boy was it delicious (it was also only about 2 ounces, but I totally felt satisfied). Sleevie Wonder seemed to approve as well.

SO happy right now.

Tomorrow, I’m going to try a scrambled egg for lunch, and some Wendy’s chili for dinner (I’ll still have to puree it, but whatever). And I’ve got some hummus and cottage cheese and yogurt etc. in the fridge for snacks.

If everything goes as planned, I’m hoping to make Shelly’s (Eggface) famous Ricotta Bake to bring to Christmas dinner for me.

More updates tomorrow 🙂

xo

Sarah

Post-Op Update: Week 2

Okay, so I’m a couple of days late – but I have a good reason, I swear!

(If you want my real 2-week day-of update, you can always check out the video in the post below)

So…I was really hoping that I would be under the 400lb mark by my birthday (which was Friday, December 14) – wasn’t sure it was going to happen, and I got close, but I didn’t quite make it. I knew it would be VERY close though, and so I decided to hold off on my post until I could say…

I now weigh 399.5 lbs – see ya later 400s. Actually, see you NEVER AGAIN, 400s. NEVER EVER. I know Justin Beiber’s sage advice would be to “never say never”, but this is one time I’m making an exception.

It is a very small victory, but it’s still a victory to me and it put a smile on my face this morning.

So…back to my two week update!

The numbers:

My weight loss for week two was 7.5 lbs, which put me at a weight of 401.5 on Friday (my birthday), and a total of 18.5 lbs lost since surgery and 58.5 lbs lost from my highest weight at the end of September.

So far, so good.

This week I also transitioned from clear liquids to full liquids, although that really just meant adding two things to my diet – pudding and soups. You would be surprised at the difference that makes! I made some protein pudding pops (chocolate) and protein pudding (banana) and bought so really flavourful soups – Thai coconut, Moroccan chickpea and Indian lentil. So good – they are organic soups by Happy Planet, and they are full of flavour and so delicious. I do have to throw them in the magic bullet to make sure they are chunk free, but OMG. So nice to eat something savoury and flavourful right now.

I’m doing well getting in my liquids (80-100 oz a day) and protein (75-80+ grams a day) – what’s doing it is basically one premier protein shake (ready to drink, in tetra packs, from Costco) in the morning and then Isopure Zero-Carb diluted in Crystal Light in a big pitcher, that I drink throughout the day. Once I get those in, I’ve had the majority of my protein and liquids, and I can fill in with soups, water etc.

There are two basic things that are bugging me right now – continued fuzzy tongue and the feeling of a “lump” in my throat when I swallow, which started at the beginning of the week. I mentioned it in my update email to Gaby at Dr. Aceves’ office (and also that I was having the feeling of “hunger”, which I know is related to excess acid). She told me that both the hunger and swollen esophagus are related to excess production of acid (apparently my stomach doesn’t realize it is now tiny and doesn’t need to produce so much acid!) and to up my PPI from once and day to twice a day. I started doing that yesterday so I’m hoping it helps!

My birthday was lots of fun! We did end up going out for dinner (a friend was visiting from Syracuse – E, who we met on our cruise in September) and so it was either I cook (not happening right now), we order in or we go out. I actually wanted to go out, but I let my husband decide on the restaurant, since the most I was going to get was soup.

We ended up going to Canyon Creek, which is a local steakhouse-type restaurant. Everyone ordered prime rib, interestingly enough (which I’m not a fan of, so didn’t care about watching them eat that!) – I got baked potato soup, and the waitress was nice enough to try to not include any potato chunks. It did have some sour cream and cheese on top which I mixed in, so it was quite smooth and so delicious. I didn’t eat a lot (maybe 3oz), but I enjoyed what I did eat!

It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it might be, although the waitress seemed confused by the fact that I was only having soup. Whatever, didn’t really care. One interesting thing was that although I don’t really ever get a “full” sensation (nerves are severed during the surgery and it takes some time for that sensation to return), somehow my body does tell me when I’m done. I can’t really explain what it is, but I literally had a spoonful of soup nearly in my mouth and then I just got the “feeling” and I put it down and that was it. Kind of amazing.

The rest of the night was fun too – went to karaoke where our friend is the KJ. Drank tea all night, sang with my friends, got a lapdance (that’s a long story)…it was a birthday to remember.

Although I didn’t share it with anyone, I had something on my mind all night – just how different my next birthday might be, after a (hopefully) 200+ weight-loss. Trippy to think about.

But for today, I’m living in the now and enjoying every minute of the journey.

xo

Sarah

Mexico, Almater, Dr. Aceves…oh my!

almater

Okay, so I’m going to go a 2-week update blog post (and video) on Friday, but I wanted to post this today for anyone who is looking for information on Dr. Aceves, Almater, Mexicali etc.

I won’t repeat what I’ve already said about how great my experience was, but I wanted to outline what my time at the hospital was like, the surgery, the tests, the hospital etc. I’m going to try and put in as much detail as I can, so a warning…this might be a long one 😉

So, let’s start at the beginning…

We were picked up by our driver (and I believe pretty much the only driver), Ernesto (who is one of Dr. Aceves’ former patients – in fact, he keeps a “before” photo of himself in the van which he’ll be happy to show you!) around 11am at San Diego Airport (Terminal 1).  As I mentioned, there were also two others having surgery that day and so there were 5 of us total in the van – myself, my husband, Ken, Stephanie and her husband. The van was a recent model Honda Odyssey and very comfortable. The drive to Mexicali (mostly through California desert) was quite lovely, and was around 2 hours or so. We crossed the border into Mexico at the Calexico/Mexicali border.

We arrived at the hospital and were greeted by Karla, one of the patient coordinators. She had us sit down and then called us one by one to get our bloodwork done in the (tiny) lab on site. We also were required to give a urine sample as well (so make sure you have some water in the van!). After that we should technically have had our chest x-rays and EKG, but both were occupied, so Karla just suggested we could do them first thing in the morning the day of surgery. At that point we went into one of the rooms and waited for Dr. Campos, who was coming in to chat with us about the surgery as well as the nutritional aspect of things. Dr. Campos is quite young and is very personable, and has a great way of explaining things. One of the things he said is that this surgery is 50/50 – meaning 50% of your weight loss will come from the surgery, 50% from what you put into it. He also reminded us that they can only operate on our stomachs, not our brain, so the mental aspect of this journey is up to us. It was a great reminder, for sure.

Dr. Aceves also came in during Dr. Campos’ talk to meet us and chat with us for a few minutes. Again, he seemed very knowledgeable, kind, and caring. He reiterated some of the things that Dr. Campos had told us, and he explained some further details about the surgery itself. After Dr. Campos was finished speaking, we waited a few minutes for the anesthesiologist (I can’t remember his name unfortunately!) to come in and talk to us about the details of how we would be put under, pain management etc. (he too was very nice, happy to answer questions etc.). Before we left the hospital, we made the remainder of our payments to Karla, and we were given an antibiotic pill we needed to take, as well as a sedative to take before bed. The whole thing was probably about 60-90 minutes total (I think we were at the hospital around 2 and half hours), and then we were taken directly to our hotel.

The hotel is the Lucerna Mexicali, and is quite a large hotel complex with two small pools and three restaurants. It was totally fine for the one night that we were there, and we ate in the Mexican cafeteria-style restaurant as well as the Italian restaurant and both were quite good. We were told that we could have whatever we liked for dinner, and to keep alcoholic beverages to 2 maximum, and that we could not have anything at all to eat or drink after 10pm.

We were picked up in the morning at 7am by Ernesto in the lobby and taken back to Almater. We then had our chest x-rays and EKGs (quick and easy) and were each given our rooms and changed into our hospital gowns (which were HUGE, and actually covered my entire backside…that’s new) and the nurse came in to put in our IVs. We knew that there would be three surgeries done that day, but no idea what order they would be done in (there are apparently a number of factors they consider in how patients are ordered). Of course, I ended up being last, which meant that my surgery took place around 3:00-3:30pm – the rest of the day I was basically just hanging around in my room making videos and fooling around on my iPad. I was given an injection directly into my IV around 45 minutes before my surgery (basically a sedative), and then was wheeled down to the operating room.

I shuffled onto the operating table and the nurses wrapped my lower legs in bandages (to provide support and pressure, to help avoid blood clots), and then got me prepped for surgery until the anesthesiologist came in, and that’s about all I remember, LOL.

The next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room (and thinking, ok, at least I’m alive) – I wasn’t in any pain, but it took me a while to come to, and I realized I was in an uncomfortable position. It actually took me a while to get the coordination to get comfortable, and then one of the doctors came in to ask me how I was doing. I felt fine pain-wise, but I was seriously nauseous. I remember telling them that and then was in and out of it for a while. They then wheeled me back to my room where my husband was waiting. The surgery itself was around an hour and forty-five minutes, and I was in the recovery room for a couple of hours as well. Immediately after the surgery my only issue was nausea, but that got better as the night went on. There was really no pain though, which was good!

I had four small incisions in my abdomen, and one larger incision (upper left of the abdomen) where the drain was attached to collect fluid. The small incisions were stiched closed and covered with steri-strips, the larger incision was left open to allow for the drain.

Because it was already so late, I basically just ended up going to sleep. In the middle of the night, I was just really uncomfortable (hospital beds are certainly not known for their comfort) and I actually asked my husband to switch with me and I slept on the couch (mostly in a quasi-sitting-up position), which was very comfy. That actually went on for the next two nights as well – switching with him in the middle of the night, because I found the couch much more comfortable.

The rooms at Almater are quite nice, with dark woods and furniture and homey touches (not super clinical). You have a full size leather couch, a flat screen tv and a private bathroom with a large shower. You can check out a video I did of the room here.

In the morning, I got up and started walking (not bad, not a lot of pain, just not a lot of energy), but it was a bit of a pain dragging around the IV (which I totally complained about). Karla came in and told me that if I wanted to get rid of the IV, I needed to drink, so shortly after Dr. Campos came in and brought me 4 small medicine cups full of apple juice dyed dark blue. He told me once I drank those and they checked my drain (to make sure there were no leaks) I could start drinking fluids and the IV would come out.

It was a slightly strange sensation when I started drinking, but it was fine, and I had finished all four in about 45-60 minutes (yes, it tasted bad, but not terrible – like bitter apple juice). Dr. Campos came in to check the drain a while later and everything looked fine, so I was then given a bottle of water, Camomile tea, apple juice and gatorade. At that point (and for the next day or so), I pretty much just drank the tea, and it was great. The nurses came in and out frequently, and I was given pain killers, Lovenox injections in the belly (to prevent DVT/blood clots) etc. I did my best to do my breathing exercises and get up and walk every few hours. The weather was lovely while we were there, so I enjoyed going outside and just sitting and people-watching or walking around the front area of the hospital. Even though I was there over the weekend (surgery on Friday, in the hospital Saturday and Sunday), I saw Dr. Aceves and Dr. Campos every day, and also was visited by two other doctors as well.

The next morning I had the barium swallow test and got to see my new tummy in action – way cool (and really tiny). Yes, the barium liquid isn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t that bad – not even close to as horrible as I expected. Once they confirmed there were no leaks, I was able to have the drain removed (they do not stich it, but just cover it with gauze and tell you to let it heal on its own) and then I also got some chicken broth (yummy – tasted like an actual chicken!). The rest of the day passed by fairly uneventfully and the next morning we needed to be ready for Ernesto at 7am to take us back to San Diego. Before we were discharged we got a copy of all our test (including the chest x-ray and barium swallow), the surgical report and some post-op care and diet information.

Sooo…I think that’s everything, but of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment – happy to answer them 🙂

xo

Sarah